Leadership advice from women of a certain age

These days, my retirement plans are of greater interest to inquiring minds than is my present and future work. Never mind that I’m eager to plow other fields, to tackle a new challenge or two (or three). It’s assumed I’m ready to head out to pasture.

red hat

But hey, if Hillary Clinton is ramping up for another run at the presidency, a few more years on the consulting/board service circuit isn’t an unreasonable aspiration for this gal, I tell myself.

Then self-doubt sets in. I am, after all, no Hillary.

Imagine my relief, then, to come across an article about women who’ve become better leaders with age. That the piece is from the youth-crazed folks at FastCompany makes it all the more remarkable and appreciated.

Regardless your age – Boomer, Millennial, and everything between – or gender, I hope you’ll read the article for yourself. In the meantime, here’s some of what I’m taking from it.


I love this line. “Science offers some pretty compelling evidence that wunderkinds are the exception, rather than the rule.”

And then this one. “At age 40 (I say 60) we’re just getting to the best part. After spending years on the low-end of the S-curve of experience, we are now ready to accelerate into a sweet spot of competence and contribution.”

Other great pull-outs:

“If you find that you don’t like where you’ve ended up, you always have permission to make another change or reinvent. No one will judge you for it or think you failed. They’ll all be impressed that you were badass enough to give it a go.” Naama Bloom, CEO HelloFlo

“When you’ve already experienced great challenges in your career it gives minor setbacks a different perspective.” Kimberly Bryant, Founder, Black Girls Code

“I am grateful that at this point in my life I know what I want in my professional life, and perhaps as crucial, what I don’t want. I feel equipped to take the risks needed to obtain the former.” Farah Mohamed, Founder and CEO, G(irls)20

“In my career, I view ‘aging’ as ‘seasoned.’ There’s nothing like experience to help you in your career, but I’m still learning new things every day and I still have a lot more to learn.” June Sugiyama, Director, Vodafone Americas Foundation

So the next time you put yourself or anyone else in a box defined by age, think of the inspiring women cited in the FastCompany article. As they tell us, we’re only as old as we lead.

If you need another nudge to keep on keeping on, check out this TED Talk from champion swimmer Diana Nyad titled “Never, ever give up” in which she describes her history-making swim from Cuba to Florida — at the age of 64. There are so many good lines in the talk that I don’t want to spoil it for you with a pull-out or two. You must listen!





  1. dorothy gish says:

    I enjoyed the inspiring video over a cup of coffee AT WORK. i’m so grateful that after retirement form higher ed I had a whole new learning curve into theological ed. I refuse to tell my age because i don’t want to be put in a box marked “old”! But I’ve been in this position for over a decade and i’m still loving it. YOU’RE NOT OLD TILL YOU THINK YOU ARE.

    My motto: Live as long as you’re alive!

  2. Brenda Burkholder says:

    Right on!

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