If you're in your 40s, 50s or even 60s, you may think it’s too late to startup. Wrong. A recent study of 2.7 million startups conducted by the Census Bureau and two MIT professors found that the most successful entrepreneurs are between 40-60 years of age. Wait, what? A matter of fact, the ideal age of a successful startup founder is in the middle of life and a large percentage of them are us – women.
On a weekly if not daily basis, we are being told we’re too old to do something and oftentimes, we believe the messenger – even if the messenger is us. We are too old to have kids, wear skinny jeans and two-piece swimsuits. We are too old to get hired or shift careers mid-life, and certainly too old to start a business. Hmmm. Seems society says we are just too old ‘to do' life. Lies!
The truth is that today we are entering our second act boldly with unwavering confidence, paving the way and disrupting ageism at every turn. It's the dawn of a new era for women over 40 and we refuse to be put on the shelf midway through our lives.
We are wonder women wielding power unlike any other time in history. We're holding the key to our own future, designing our careers and life experiences. We are boosting the economy [SHEconomy] each year with a $15+ trillion purchasing authority and we are opening businesses like mad. Get the picture? #WeOwnOurSecondAct #Truth
The Start –- Your Start
Women are opening 1,821 businesses each day in America and it’s about time you do the same with that big idea you've held on to for so long. Even if you have a passion project that would make a good side hustle, start it up. Just START! And if anything, these stats from INC. Magazine should convince you:
Get over your fear if you have it. Get over the shame if you feel it. Get the hell over your ‘I’m too old’ mentality if you think it. It’s only our second half. You're not too old to startup. #MicDrop.
Check out Women Starting Up After 40, moderated by Barbara Brooks and featuring an all-female all-STAR panel of entrepreneurs in their 40's and 50's on Wednesday from 2-3:30 p.m.
According to multiple sources on the Internet, an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. While there are many factors that influence our decision-making like biases, reason, emotions and memories, ultimately, it is me, myself and I that makes the decision.
While some decisions are trivial, many decisions pose opportunities for change and growth. When Barb asked me to join SecondActWomen, I hesitated. At the time, I was working on another project, and I didn't feel I had the time or the energy to take on another passion project. Let's just say, I'm glad I changed my mind!
I have found that in these situations, my mind becomes a worthy adversary, giving way to that little voice inside that is quick to remind me that "I can't do this" or "I don't have any real value to add." Sadly, my mind has won more than I'd like to admit, but instead of just saying "no," I've since adopted a few strategies that have helped me even out the battlefield with my mental adversary that could work for you as well.
1. Pause before you answer. Often, my first thought is informed by fear, doubt or sheer laziness, which usually results in a "nope." But, now instead of impulsively responding, I now take a minute or two to let the idea land and candidly ask myself "What can I learn from saying 'yes' to this decision."
2. Avoid saying "no" for a day. If you're a Jim Carey fan, you know all the amazing things, people and places he experienced in Yes Man. Many decisions require me to step out of my comfy zone, which naturally makes me uneasy. But it's these decisions, that have fueled the most growth. There have been days when I wake up and I tell myself, "today I am saying yes at least 20 times."
3. Life is a classroom. Through SecondActWomen, I've changed my outlook on success vs. failure, and I now look at both as blessings. There is inherent learning and growth in both and when I consciously decided to reduce the stress and burden associated with each, I learned to be a little nicer and more forgiving to myself. I've developed (and still developing) a new lens to look and learn from life experiences.
There you have it. Your day is filled with thousands of decisions (aka opportunities). Some will be easy, others will be harder, some will change you and others will open new doors, but in the end, you are the maker of your day and you are the decision maker of your life.
Big hugs and here's to growing together! Speaking of growing together, click here to join our Facebook group.
Guadalupe Hirt,  Co-Founder of SecondActWomen
Originally posted in the blog, RockingOver40 by Cynthia C. 
It’s 2011, I’m 44, and here I was a 21+ year corporate left-over. Someone who had worked for national and global companies in the world of marketing and sales from Texas to New York. I’d held these fabulous MarCom and Biz Dev positions yet in 2011 when I became an accidental entrepreneur I was lost, unable to find a job in terms of how society labeled me – by age. Sadly, my age was standing in the way of getting the job I wanted. But notice, I said age was in the way of the companies. In their eyes, my age represented being too experienced, too old to learn, too this and too that but mostly, it was my number and that pushed me into a self-inflicted midlife crisis.
I decided to take control of my own career and open a marketing agency. I hit the ground running building connections, closing business, and learning new skills I never thought I would need to learn. And now, my midlife crisis is now a full-blown quest for happiness and success on my own terms and that includes partnering with another agency to go bigger and bolder. Business was steadily coming in and we were securing a wonderful collection of clients from schools and colleges, shopping malls and lifestyle centers, high-end hotels from Colorado Springs to Aspen – and it was fun, for a while. Because after two years, the company left us empty, bored, and passionless.
Now it’s spring 2018 and my business partner and I consciously uncouple. I’m 51 and clueless. It was then that I begin questioning my life’s purpose with thoughts of, “What am I on this earth to do? What’s next? Is this really it and what do I want to do when I grow up – again?”
I started thinking about an idea I’d been holding on to for five years. I never thought this alpha-female (with a soft heart) lacked confidence and for years I held steady gripped in a bit of fear of failing or even worse, doing. Yet, there it was, stashed in folders, Evernote, stickies, bar napkins, and the ears of so many friends – for FIVE long years. My next move to design the life I wanted and suddenly, I was ready. My gut was screaming for me to move before someone did it first. But girl, guess what happened? The negative self-talk set in and I was back to my old school doubt, fear and the thought of ‘would anyone support it.’
I waited and waited sitting in unhappiness and depression until – for the umpteenth time, I said, “That’s it. I’m jumping in.” By that time, I’d been listening to motivational speakers and authors, podcasts and YouTubers, and supportive friends. Plus, what was stopping me? After all, my idea had all the makings of what I needed to bring me joy. My idea you ask. It’s purposely crafting business and lifestyle experiences for women in a way that connects, educates and empowers. Yep. But wait, what makes this different is that we’re focused on the woman over 40 and 50. A first of its kind in the country a matter of fact and I roped in my former business partner to co-find the new company.
We held brainstorm sessions and I began hearing the words I had felt for years. Boredom. Passionless. Unchallenged. Stuck. Lost. These women over 40 were exclaiming what many others were feeling about life and we pivoted from the original idea of a women’s business week (still happening in 2021).
My new mission and purpose in life was born. I’d found clarity and it was amazingly freeing, fulfilling and passion filled. This new company would become a social impact communications company helping others 40 and beyond find their way, their mission, and their desires while emboldening them to do so through special events and programs. You see it turns out, all that I had gone through over the course of my crisis and life overall lead me to this moment and you know what?
It was meant to be.
My Two Cents
When you give in to that whisper, that thing you’ve wanted to do, that connection you’ve wanted to make, that career you’ve wanted but never thought you could have; I’m telling you to own your age and listen. I’m telling you to stop the self-doubt, fear and negative self-talk. I’m telling you to jump. The minute you do, the opportunities are limitless.
Barbara Brooks, Founder of SecondActWomen and a proud 52
We did it! First event in the can last April 2019 and many more inspirational events and programs to come. I took the leap. Will you?
Only 8% of companies even consider age when they design diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Many companies love to tout the success of their Diversity and Inclusions programs. Glassdoor publishes an annual list of the Top 20 companies with diversity programs. Fortune partnered with A Great Place to Work to create a list of the best workplaces for diversity. There are many more lists like this, but according to PwC, only 8% of these companies include age in their D&I strategies.
The reality is, companies don’t give ageism the same attention as other forms of bias. D&I initiatives rarely address the intersectionality of ageism and sexism, and there isn’t a lot of focus in gendered ageism for women. In a survey by Forbes Insights, more than 300 senior executives from large global companies—32% who were in HR or talent management—reported on their ‘companies’ diversity and inclusion priorities. Just 28% said managing the cross-generational issues was a focus, and that gender diversity programs were the most common.
AGE DISCRIMINATION IS ALIVE AND WELL
According to AARP research, nearly two out of three workers in the United States over the age of 45 experienced or witnessed age discrimination. Fifty-five percent say discrimination starts in their 50s. And research from the EEOC shows that women over 50 experience it earlier than their male colleagues. As women show visible signs of aging in a society that emphasizes the importance of beauty and youth, they’re perceived as less competent and less valuable in the workplace. These assumptions—often unchallenged—form the basis of decision-making about hiring, firing, and promoting. As a result, older women are diminished, marginalized, and pushed out. It happens every single day, but it’s not on most people’s radar. That’s because companies often disguise these terminations as downsizing, consolidation, and other reasons to mask the unfairness and potential legal liability.
Read the entire story at FastCompany.com.
Chicago Tribune, March 20, 2019 by Bonnie Marcus
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dominates the headlines each week. At 78, her power and political influence has earned her respect and admiration. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the subject of two newly released films, is an icon at 86. Glenn Close, 72, received a standing ovation when awarded the Golden Globe for best actress.
With all the media attention on accomplished older women, one might assume that women over 50 are now vigorously embracing their age and rejecting society’s ageist assumptions.
However, here’s the truth of the matter: Beyond the celebrities who are in the spotlight right now, there’s a tribe of older women in the workplace who are struggling to keep their jobs due to ageism and sexism. These women suffer in silence as they are marginalized, passed over and pushed out.
“Look around you. Everybody in the company is young. You’re too old,” Blair David-Garett’s 34-year-old supervisor at Anthropologie told her. David-Garett, 52, was initially thrilled to work there, but subsequently experienced ongoing age discrimination then retaliation after she complained on the company hotline. She was fired and eventually filed a lawsuit.
“Blair isn’t the only one who’s gone through this,” her attorney, Brian Heller, told a Manhattan three-judge panel in October, “This is the next #MeToo movement.”
According to a 2018 AARP report, 64 percent of women say they’ve been the target of or witnessed age discrimination. But it’s also just a tip of the iceberg. It’s estimated that only 3 percent of older workers have ever made an official complaint to a supervisor, human resource person, or another organization or government agency.
One woman I spoke with, youthful and hip at 50, had a 22-year track record of excellent performance. A managing director for a bank, she was subjected to demeaning comments from her younger colleagues and subsequently fired. The company said they were downsizing. She suspected otherwise, yet she left without a fight.
Similar to the shame women felt about sexual harassment prior to the #MeToo movement, many professional women remain silent when subjected to ageist behavior in the workplace. They choose silence, afraid to complain and draw attention to their age for fear they’ll lose their jobs. Because then what? For many, it’s almost impossible to get rehired as a woman over 50.
“I’ve been in this emotional slump but for no reason other than my own anxiety,” another woman confided in me. At 62, she uses Botox and filler to hide the signs of aging. She is an executive in the fashion industry, where looks and age matter. “I can’t breathe at night because of the fear,” she said. “If I lose my job, (who’s) going to hire me now? And it’s this fear, this gripping fear.”
The stress and fear of losing a job just as it’s becoming more difficult to get rehired is one critical part of the equation. But the humiliation older women feel about aging compromises who we are as women. We’ve adopted society’s ageist assumptions that we need to be young and attractive to succeed. So we hide our age, and as a result, we relinquish our power.
Researchers have come to the conclusion that aging is a gendered process and that women face grave challenges and discrimination during the aging process especially when it comes to financial and work-related matters. Women understand that with every new wrinkle they lose more credibility. Their once sought after opinions are ignored; their workload reassigned.
In a recent study, economists sent about 40,000 invented resumes to employers who’d advertised jobs, then analyzed which applicants got callbacks. “The callback rate declined with age. But the age factor proved even stronger for women.”
This should be our time. We’re 50 and beyond. We’ve endured the demanding juggle of work with family time for decades. Most likely we’ve had to play the political games at work, danced the #MeToo tango to survive. And now we’ve reached a point where we have the time and passion to do the work of our lives and we’re cut down because we no longer look 20.
Frustrated, David-Garett told me, “I just wanted to work. I wanted to move up. I wanted a career. I just wanted what everyone else wants.”
The next #MeToo movement calls for older women to dispel the myth that they no longer have value. It’s time for us to overcome the fear and shame about aging, to emerge from the shadows to celebrate who we are, and proudly claim our history and experience. Now that’s real power.
Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed., is an executive coach and author of “The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead” (Wiley 2015).