Sometimes you’ve got to admit that Americans do it better. Take 50 Over 50, a new initiative from Forbes magazine in conjunction with Know Your Value that shines a light on women coming into the full force of their power at 50 and beyond.
These incredible women prove that success has no age limit. They include US vice-president Kamala Harris, 56; the TV screenwriter and producer of Bridgerton, Shonda Rhimes, 51; and Nancy Pelosi, 81, speaker of the US House of Representatives.
Mika Brzezinski, founder of the Know Your Value platform, feels the very existence of the list is proof that women over 50 are finally entering a new phase of power, impact and financial independence.
“The dynamic of our society has changed and there’s a shifting attitude towards this age group,” Brzezinski says. “And there’s a big takeaway from this list for women who are in their fifties and beyond: you have extraordinary value. You have skills. You are being counted. You are not a second thought.”
Isn’t that what we’re constantly shouting about here at Studio10? And it seems like the Americans were listening. They’re celebrating a collection of women who aren’t letting societal expectations dictate their professional timelines. They’re rejecting the conventional wisdom that their best years are behind them, and in doing so, they’re leading a movement for change.
The list is based on three main criteria: women’s achievements after turning 50; success at scale (founders and CEOs of companies must drive a minimum of $20 million in annual revenue); and a pay-it-forward mindset. Many of these women aren’t just working to advance their own careers, they’re using their platforms to make life better for future generations.
Vice-president Kamala Harris has a recipe for success. “I eat ‘No’ for breakfast,” she told CNN. At 56, she became the first black woman and the first Asian American to hold the office of VP, and is now first in line for the presidency.
Nancy Pelosi didn’t run for Congress until she was 47; she became America’s first female Speaker of the House at the age of 66. “People make their own decisions about their timing, and they don’t have to comply with somebody else’s view of how that should be,” she told Forbes. “It’s about what works for them.”
Shonda Rhimes is vocal about the idea of timing, too. At 50, the Shondaland founder smashed Netflix’s streaming records with the December debut of Bridgerton. She’s sick of the message of urgency we deliver to women: “Do this before it’s too late” or “The clock is ticking”. Rimes believes you can go big whenever you please – and she deplores the way society speaks to the younger female population. “I always find these young women who have been conditioned to believe or to speak of themselves in ways that make them smaller,” she has said. “It drives me bonkers.”
The 50 Over 50 list proves there is no ticking clock. There is no deadline for success or fulfilment. The older we get, the wiser and more resourceful we become. And while we can’t control our every circumstance, we can control our actions and the way we react to the challenges we meet along the way.
You may not know many of the names on the list – but their stories resonate, inform and inspire. Take Kim Ng, general manager of Miami Marlins, who at 52 became the first woman to run a major-league baseball team. Or Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser, who took the helm of one of America’s biggest banks at the age of 53. Or Cathie Wood, the founder of Ark Invest – at 65, she is one of the gutsiest investors on Wall Street.
Consider Jennifer Doudna, who won the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry at the age of 56 for ushering in the era of gene editing. Or Katalin Kariko, 66, biochemist and senior vice-president of BioNTech, which partnered with Pfizer to develop the Covid-19 vaccine. Or Julie Wainwright, who, at 53, founded luxury online retailer The RealReal, which is now worth more than $1 billion.
The accomplishments of many of these women are nothing short of dazzling. And they prove that, in our fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond, we are unstoppable. We can achieve significant success later in life, even though we may have to overcome formidable odds or barriers to do so.
The 50 Over 50 list demonstrates that success has no age limit. These women embody a new movement rejecting the idea that the most dynamic part of life is the first half. At Studio10, we know that old saw is patently untrue. Achievement can come with age. We must never, ever give up on that.