Other Successful Women Who Started Over At Thirty-Ish
Recently, I was enthralled with Katie Couric's inspirational read: "The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives." One of the stories that stuck with me most was that of Suze Ormans. She started over AT THIRTY, LIKE ME. SHE WAS ALSO IN A COMPLETE RUT AT THAT AGE, LIKE ME. It got me thinking, wouldn't it be entertaining to break up our Monday interviews with stories of the journeys of other successful women who started over at thirty-ish? I thought so, too.
1. Since Suze was my inspiration for this series, let's start with her.
I've known of Suze for a long time. I remember standing in the book store deep in credit card debt at the young age of twenty two. I was trying desperately to figure out how to handle my money, so I bought a copy of The Financial Guidebook: Put The 9 Steps To Work. I read through it and sighed to myself, "This is for rich people." It wouldn't be until six years later, Michael and I would put her and Dave Ramsey's thoughts about money into action.
Suze started out her work life as a waitress in a locally owned bakery. She had intended to stay there a few months, but ended up working there for seven years! At the time, her aspirations began to build towards potentially opening up her own place. Of course, she didn't have the money, but many of her regular customers caught wind of what she wanted to do, so a group of men she had waited on everyday for seven years gifted her $50,000! They told her to pay it back in ten years, if she could. Suze had no idea where to keep that amount of money, so one of her patrons told her to head to Merrill Lynch to keep the money safe. The investment person she dealt with had given her advice for a very volatile, risky investment product, which within just a short amount of time, all the money was lost! In short, she was devastated. The loan was more money than she ever thought she thought she would see in her life, but that did not deter her from figuring out a way to make it back. Suze said to herself, "I can do this. I can become an broker just like this guy!" The very next week, she waltzed into Merrill Lynch and asked for a job. The manager laughed at her, said a woman didn't belong in finance, and told her she wouldn't last six months, but gave her the job anyway. Monthly she would be earning around $1500, more than triple what she was making at the bakery. Within two years, Suze became one of the top account executives at the firm earning more than enough money to pay back the kind patrons. She also sued Merrill Lynch during her time there to reprimand the broker that had mishandled her investment; she won the case. Suze Orman is now a motivational speaker, author, and world famous financial adviser valued at $30 million dollars.
"A wise woman knows how to summon her courage and do what is right, rather than what is easy." Suze Orman
2. Next up on the motivational chopping block is none other than Vera Wang, y'all!
In case you didn't know, Vera did NOT start her fashion career right out of college. Vera actually was a competitive figure skater until her early twenties. In 1970, Wang and her partner competed to be in the 1972 Summer Olympics, but it wasn't meant to be. It was at that point she decided to hang up her skates (talk about a tough decision!). Upon graduating college and stepping away from figure skating, Vera knew that she wanted to be in an industry that challenged her just like being on the ice. From the start, fashion called to her. She took a job with Vogue Magazine right out of college. Eventually, she worked her way up to being the youngest editor on the team and proceeded to work for Vogue for the next fifteen years. But, that's not even where her story really begins. In 1989, at the age of forty, Vera ended up marrying her boyfriend, Arthur Becker. She was astonished at the limited selection of bridal wear in the marketplace, so she took matters into her own hands. Wang sketched a design of her own and commissioned an expert dressmaker to bring her idea to life. By the next year, she had opened her own bridal boutique in the in the fanciful Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Her bridal shop was a major success as it catered primarily to socialites and celebrities alike. From there, her prosperity only continued to flourish. In the following years, Vera became a household name launching a fragrance, evening wear, a highly sought after wedding guide, lingerie, jewelry, home decor, and a partnership with Kohl's featuring ready-to-wear clothing. At the age of 66, so within just twenty five years or so, she has built her net worth to an estimated $630 million dollars (and the number is only increasing!). It just goes to show you, you can start over at any age.
"We’re all frightened by change and by the unfamiliar, but those who remain open will discover new worlds and opportunities." Vera Wang
3. None other than the infamous, Julia Child.
The daughter of a paper-company heiress and real estate mogul, Julia Child grew up in a privileged household. Ever since she was young, though, Child aspired to be a writer. Upon graduation from high school at eighteen, Julia enrolled at Smith College majoring in English. Even though she wrote numerous short plays and submitted multiple manuscripts to various magazines, none of her work was ever published. After an unsuccessful stint in advertising, Julia moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a research assistant on behalf of the war effort. Fortunate for her, her work for the Office of Strategic Services allowed her to travel to such places as China and Sri Lanka, where she met her husband, Paul Child. At the end of the war, Paul and Julia returned to the United States to be married, only to be sent to Paris a year later. Paris is where the Julia we know really came alive. It was suggested, as Julia was looking for a new career path, that she consider working in some capacity of the food industry since she had such a passion for French cuisine. That's where she enrolled in the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school at the age of thirty six! Prior to that, Julia had never cooked a day in her life. After she completed her training, Julia and two other prior Cordon Bleu students opened their very own cooking school in Paris. In addition to opening the cooking school, the trio of women wholeheartedly wanted to make French cooking accessible to the American cook. That's where the idea of "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking" came to be. Once the book was published, it stayed on the best-selling list for five years after publication. Julia and Paul eventually moved back to the United States where Julia, after achieving some notoriety while promoting her book on Boston Public Television, she was offered her very own cooking show! The French Chef, which aired in 1962, solidified Julia as a local celebrity. Over the next thirty years, Julia would continue to change the way Americans see food and help the home cook be able to master the art of various types of cooking. Even now, after hear death in 2004, Julia is still widely recognized and celebrated for changing the face of cooking forever. Her net worth is surmised somewhere around $38 million dollars.
I have adored learning more about all of these women and their life stories. While I'm sure they endured some difficulty along their journey, from what I can tell, they always knew they would succeed. They had a passion, an idea, and they pursued it wholeheartedly without worrying about if they would fail. It is an admirable quality to have.
Who else do you know that started over at thirty-ish? Did you know these famous ladies' stories beforehand, or is it new to you? What other people do you know that didn't achieve success until later in life?