In Amy Wilkinson’s opinion, Sara Blakely qualifies as an “architect.”
That’s because Blakely, the entrepreneur behind Spanx footless pantyhose who became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, builds solutions from the ground up.
“I am talking about ways of spotting opportunities,” said Wilkinson, author of “The Creator’s Code,” which distills wisdom gained from interviews with 200 entrepreneurs whose companies generate more than $100 million in annual revenues.
As a door-to-door fax machine saleswoman in Atlanta, Blakely believed wearing pantyhose under her pants helped her maintain a professional appearance. But in order to wear open-toed shoes, she cut the feet out of the pantyhose.
Her customized hosiery kept creeping up her legs. But when a sales associate at Neiman Marcus told Blakely that women were cutting the feet out of pantyhose and then using rubber bands to keep them in place, she saw opportunity. She pursued her feetless pantyhose concept, even when all the hosiery executives whom Blakely cold-called were men and didn’t get it.
Architects like Blakely, according to Wilkinson, “make better use of anomalies than most of us.”
Wilkinson speaks at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main St. Her appearance is co-sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
No disrespect, Toto
At first glance, this Friday’s performance poetry event appears devoted to disrespecting Dorothy’s cairn terrier.
But no, organizers say. The Dead Toto Festival — a “poetry slam” match — is so named to prepare those unfamiliar with the competitive versifying seen at such slams.
In what’s being billed as Kansas City’s first regional invitational poetry slam, Pound Slam, the home team, is hosting rival squads from Omaha, St. Louis and Fayetteville, Ark., for the right to compete at the National Poetry Slam this August in Oakland, Calif.
“So many people have this notion of poetry as dry, esoteric and academic,” said Jeanette Powers, a Pound Slam member.
“But poetry slam is a salt-of-the-earth street event, fast-paced, with some political and social commentary. Some of it may be shocking, and we wanted to have that name so that people understand that this is a different kind of poetry that is not afraid to be loud.”
Message received. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at the Buffalo Room, a performance venue at the Westport Flea Market, 817 Westport Road. The competition begins at 8 p.m.