These days it seems like every time you open up a magazine, newspaper or read an article online from a reputable business publication, everyone is celebrating success in youth. Lists like ‘Top 30 Under 30″, “Top 20 Under 20″ and even the top 40 Under 40” makes one believe that success is not attainable after a certain age. Contrary to what you’d think, the majority of businesses are actually started by people between the ages of 35-65. The reality is, so many people have had phenomenal success stories in different careers, later in life.
So if you’re thinking that it’s too late for you because you’ve passed a certain age, think again. It’s not too late to make a total shift into a new path of life. There are countless people who have done it. You don’t have to be a high-profile person to be celebrated either.
Today, I want to celebrate those women who’ve made a mark, found their way and become a success after they turned 40. It’s never too late to start building your dream.
VERA WANG – Designer
Her success story is one example of women who change careers throughout their journey. Gone are the days when you would stick to a job for 30+ years then retire.
Today, Vera Wang is one of the most celebrated fashion designers, best known for her bridal gowns often worn by celebrities and high-profile personalities. Her career success as a designer was later in life. It was in her forties that she found fame and critical success in the fashion industry.
But leading up to this, she had already built a career which started off as an editor at Vogue for 17 years. Some might argue that her time at Vogue attributed to her success as a designer, but working for a successful magazine doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a good designer. After working for Ralph Lauren for two years, she resigned and started her own label.
ROBIN CHASE – Founder of ZipCar
At the age of 42, Robin Chase co-founded Zipcar, the largest car sharing company in the world. She is also the former CEO of the company and has won numerous awards throughout her career including the Harvard College Women’s Leadership Award in 2014 and Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001.
If you’ve got an innovative idea, don’t be afraid to share it. Find like-minded people who can help guide you and support your dream until it comes to fruition.
Watch her TED Talk, ‘The Idea Behind ZipCar and What Comes Next.” Click here to watch her TED Talk.
JULIA CHILD – Chef & Author
Julia Child became a successful Chef, Author and media personality at an age far advanced than the norm during her time. She was 50 when she published her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book introduced French cuisine to the average American. It was something nobody else had done before. The success of her cookbook, led to regular columns in newspapers, magazines and eventually a television show, The French Chef. She connected with many women across the country, which served to make her more popular and endearing. The TV show was one of the first cooking shows at the time and was on air for 10 years.
Click here to learn more about Julia: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/category/arts-culture/the-joy-of-cooking-with-julia-child/
BETTY WHITE – Actress
With a career that spans over eight decades, Betty White is one of the most loved people in entertainment. She had many acting roles in various projects until the early 1970s when she landed the role that would catapult her career into making her a household name.
She was cast as one of the leading characters on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. At the age of 51, she had finally solidified herself as a mainstream success in the industry. Something that doesn’t happen for everyone pursuing an acting career. This paved the way for a career that continues to keep her working today. At the age of 96, she doesn’t even show any signs of slowing down. She currently has had the longest television career of anyone in the entertainment business, male or female.
She’s now become a pop-culture icon with so many people who love her quick wit, and comedic personality.
So if you’re still pursuing that dream, remember to keep persevering, you never know when that big break is coming.
Dr. Ruth – The Sexpert
Ruth Westheimer is legendary. She’s that woman who looks like someone’s grandmother, but isn’t afraid to get down and dirty talking about a topic that’s been both taboo and filled with pleasure – sex.
At the age of 52, a speech she made about the importance and need for sex education put her into the spotlight and she’s been there ever since. I remember hearing her on late-night radio when I was in high school. She wasn’t afraid to speak openly and talk about those hot button issues other people didn’t want to talk about.
She earned her masters in sociology and is a holocaust survivor. She’s had an incredible career and at the age of 90, she still talks about sex today.
She exemplifies what it means to be a risk taker and to speak openly about things you are passionate about. Without fear of judgement because you know you’re helping others.
PATRICIA FIELD – Designer
Patricia Field has been in the fashion business for over 50 years. She’s been long respected for her work in the design world, but it wasn’t until her friend Sarah Jessica Parker recommended her as wardrobe stylist on the HBO series, Sex & the City, that she gained mainstream notoriety. Her years spent on the show made her even more popular as a costume designer than her fashion design career prior.
She was already in her fifties when the mainstream success came. She’s also known for her work as stylist on Ugly Betty and Confessions of a Shopaholic.
Field’s success is another reminder that you could be working in an industry many years will reap the rewards later as long as you stick with it.
A graduate of Juilliard School in New York City, she is one of the most talented actors in the industry. She spent many years working as an actor in roles on Broadway and appearances in television shows like ‘Law & Order’. Her breakout role came when she was cast opposite Meryl Streep in the film ‘Doubt’. She was 43 years old.
Since that breakout role, Davis continued working in Hollywood, but she solidified her global success and appeal in her late forties with her role as Annalise Keating on ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder.
She was 40 years old by the time her hit comedy series, “I Love Lucy” aired on national television. Throughout her career she had done work as a model and had a number of roles in various projects. But she never had that breakout moment until she and her husband created ‘I Love Lucy’. The rest as we know, is history.
Today Kathy Bates is one of the most critically acclaimed actresses in the industry. It’s hard to believe that she didn’t gain mainstream success until she was 43 years old for her role in the 1990 film Misery. For which she won an Oscar for Best Actress.
It can’t be denied that she did have a successful career by any actor’s standards prior to that. With appearances on Broadway and recurring roles on television programs including NBC’s All My Children, she was no stranger to the public eye and was a working actor. She was getting steady work, she just didn’t have that widespread attention and recognition until her role in Misery.
Nina Zagat and her husband Tim, co-founded the Zagat Restaurant Survey. They were in their forties and working as corporate lawyers in Paris. While there, Nina took cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu all while still working in law. She and her husband soon started writing summaries of the restaurants they visited in Paris and upon moving back to New York, their love of food didn’t end.
They recognized the value in getting ideas and opinions of restaurants and soon turned getting opinions about restaurants from their friends and colleagues into a guide. They published their first one in 1982. It became hugely successful. With that came writing reviews for many other cities including Chicago and Los Angeles. The Zagat Restaurant Guide was so popular the couple was able to leave their jobs as lawyers.
This success story is an example of what can happen when you turn your hobby into a career. Google eventually bought Zagat for $125 million in 2011. They’ve since sold it and the Zagat guide hasn’t been the same.
Remember that it doesn’t matter what you’re dream is or how old you are today, you can find a way to make it happen. Your life is not a failure simply because you haven’t reached there yet. It’s okay because it’s not too late for you to get started.