International Women’s Day is being celebrated around the world with inspiring stories of women’s success and achievements, yet reminding us of obstacles that still face many on the road to liberation and equality. In support of IWD 2017, I am re-purposing this blog about senior achievers, both women and men who prove that age is no barrier to success in the hope that one day, age, gender bias, pay equality and the glass ceiling will not exist.
Every year Forbes Magazine publishes a list of the world’s 100 most powerful women. It is interesting to see that among the top ten leaders are women of a mature age. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State; Janet Yellen, Chair, Federal Reserve U.S.; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director IMF France and Meg Whitman, CEO HP. U.S. They are still leading and being strong role models for others yet to rise to prominent positions.
What can we learn from these senior leaders and others like them about their professional presence and in particular thwarting the image of older age as being over the hill?
Stay sharp. You don’t get the top of your tree in any profession without constant learning and curiosity. Hillary Clinton a political veteran has risen in the Forbes ranks to the number two position (as at June 2016). To stay relevant and successful in the minefield of politics, she needs to stay abreast of and be knowledgeable of the changing dynamics.
Look good. Looking good just might mean putting the best version of yourself forward. A great haircut to suit your age and face shape and well fitting, flattering clothes to enhance the best you. Michelle Obama of course is known for her fashionable style yet Hillary Clinton looks just as smart and appropriate in colourful pant suit.s A polished, personal presence shows the world you look like a leader and care about yourself.
Do work you love. One of my early teachers was June Dally Watkins who runs a finishing school and modeling agency. Well that business is still flourishing after being founded in 1950 and at the helm is still Ms Dally herself actively involved at the age of almost 90. Attesting to the quote, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius.
Keep healthy and happy. This one may be a matter of luck in many cases, but given that the population over all is aging and we will be working longer, it stands to reason to support a healthy lifestyle as much as possible with good nutrition, exercise and enjoyable lifestyle pursuits. Yoga guru B.K.S Iyengar still taught and practiced daily until his death at the age of 95 and a current YouTube hit is of a 96-year-old woman, who is still teaching yoga. It’s never too late to take up a hobby.
Mentor, encourage and help others. I’ve had many mentors throughout my career and if now I can encourage others just by passing on the knowledge I’ve gained over those years I will be satisfied. Encouraging others also means working in the spirit of collaboration and community. As the African proverb goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” And perhaps a successful community or business.
Leave a legacy, give back to society or make a philanthropic contribution whether large or small is embraced by many people. On a larger scale,number four on the Forbes list is Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and another example, the late 78-year-old, Paul Ramsay (a former employer of mine) who bequeathed his entire estate estimated at over three billion dollars to charity. Your contribution may be just to support and encourage young women and men to #BeBoldForChange.
Learn more about how to shine in the free eBook, The Power of Personal Public Relations.
Read last week’s blog 7 Style Tips to Be Camera Ready