Blackstone Executive Vice Chairman Tony James says he's less optimistic now than before that the U.S.-China trade war could be resolved, but even a smaller deal could help...World Economyread more
The massive market transformation this month that some on Wall Street called a "once in a decade opportunity" might have just been a one-off technical move because of taxes.Marketsread more
The Pentagon will deploy U.S. forces to the Middle East on the heels of the attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced...Defenseread more
CNBC did a deep dive through the most recent Wall Street research to find stocks that analysts say are underappreciated.Marketsread more
Shares of MasterCard are up 46% this year, and 1120% since 2011, getting a boost from the strong U.S. consumer.Investingread more
CNBC sat in on an "empathy training" at Amazon PillPack's Somerville offices, which is part of new hire orientation.Technologyread more
Trade with China is the 'big unknown' for the Federal Reserve as it decides how best to support the U.S. economy, says Council on Foreign Relations Director of International...Futures Nowread more
Lobbying experts said the visit is likely an attempt to be in lawmakers' ears as they consider legislation that would impact Facebook.Technologyread more
Yardeni Research's Edward Yardeni believes the U.S. economy is picking up steam.Trading Nationread more
Iran's audacious drone and cruise missile attack on Saudi Arabia's oil producing facilities has provided a critical test yet for the Trump administration's foreign policy. A...Politicsread more
When Sara Blakely was growing up, her father would often ask her the same question at dinnertime.
"What have you failed at this week?" Blakely recalled in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box" n Wednesday. "My dad growing up encouraged me and my brother to fail. The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It's really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life."
Blakely's embrace of failure has helped make her the youngest self-made female billionaire in America. The 41-year-old Florida native was selling fax machines door-to-door before she came up with the idea for Spanx, the body-shaping undergarments that have become a global sensation.
(Read more: Apple: Tech company or luxury brand)
Her string of early career failures eventually led Blakely to the Spanx idea. She said wanted to be a lawyer but "basically bombed the LSAT twice," she said. "I ended up at Disney World trying out to be Goofy. They wanted me to be 5' 8", but I was 5' 6". They wanted me to be a chipmunk."
She passed on the chipmunk offer and ended up selling fax machines for seven years. Then she discovered that, as a consumer, "there was a void between the traditional underwear and the heavy-duty girdle." She cut the feet out of control-top pantyhose and made her own modifications to create Spanx.
(Read more: How many women millionaires? Depends on the study)
It was a long, difficult road from idea to marketplace. She said her own lack of knowledge about retailing and clothing was key.
"What you don't know can become your greatest asset if you'll let it and if you have the confidence to say, I'm going to do it anyway even though I haven't been taught or somebody hasn't shown me the way," she said.
Like many entrepreneurs, Blakely said that not knowing industry practices—and the things that supposedly can't be done—is critical in starting a business.
(Read more: The road where millionaires blow the speed limit)
"The fact that I had never taken a business class, had no training, didn't know how retail worked," she said. "I wasn't as intimidated as I should have been."
Her rise was filled with little failures—some of them humorous. When she went to London in an early sales trip to promote the product, she was interviewed by the BBC. She described the benefits of Spanx by saying, "It's all about the fanny. It smooths your fanny, lifts and separates your fanny."
Suddenly, the interviewer lost all color in his face.
"I had no idea," Blakely said, "but fanny apparently means vagina in England."
—By CNBC's Robert Frank. Follow him on Twitter: @robtfrank.