Inventor Joy Mangano, J.Law biopic inspiration, says working women can have it all

Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop and inspiration behind the David O. Russell biopic Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence, has spent the past two decades promoting her products: mops, home fragrances, luggage, steamers, and more.

But now, Mangano is promoting her ultimate product — herself — with the release of a new book, Inventing Joy, which outlines her success story and guiding principles. The book catapults Mangano from serial entrepreneur into a league with moguls like Richard Branson, Spanx’s Sara Blakely, and Zappos’ Tony Hsieh.

Joy Mangano built a multibillion-dollar empire by creating products to solve everyday problems, starting with the Miracle Mop 30 years ago. Mangano has more than 100 patents and trademarks for her inventions. (Photo: CBS)

Among the lessons in Mangano’s “blueprint” for success: “Failure fills your basket,” “Product is king,” and “You are never above it all.” (She really does live by this last one — the home shopping queen, at the helm of a $50 million fortune, admits she still loves to clean her own house.)

To be sure, any book that promises anything — in this case, a more joyful, fulfilled life that may or may not bring with it entrepreneurial success — should be met with a touch of skepticism. That is, volunteering a handful of buzzwords and pithy taglines might not mean much to someone trying to balance parenthood and a career and their sanity — which is very much where Mangano, a Long Island native, was in real life.

So when Yahoo Lifestyle asked Mangano whether Sheryl Sandberg was right to tell women to lean in, and whether women really can have it all, Mangano agreed: “Sheryl’s right — you can have it all,” she says. “But you don’t have to do it all every day.”

Meaning?

“Everybody forgets they’re just one person,” Mangano says. “You can have a career, most certainly! I say you must do it if that’s what drives you, but I say you can’t check every box every day. Your family, the people around you know you and they know you try, so take a step back to take care of yourself. Look into yourself and do whatever you can do — your family knows you love them. And if you miss a soccer game, they will forgive you,” she continues.

OK, so one day you’re supermom and the next you’re working your way toward the corner office. It would be simple enough; yet Mangano says she’s still shocked by how many women are too afraid to go after what they want.

“So many women have that little voice in them, a voice of fear that tamps them down. I say it’s never too early or never too late for sure to do what you want to do,” Mangano says. “Take that fear and tamp it down and be courageous and go after it, one step at a time.”

Again, that’s all good and fine until you apply that philosophy to real world circumstances. When are the stakes just too high to risk it all? Mangano’s got the answer: “If the step you want to take is you’re giving up family, home, or security, I’d say don’t do that. If something seems too risky to go from point A to point B, then go to three points in between if you have to, but do not stop. Just keep moving forward because that’s what will take you somewhere.”

As for the rest of the success recipe? You’ll have to read Mangano’s book.

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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.

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