Every year Forbes Magazine publishes a list of the worlds’ 100 most powerful women. Likewise in Australia we have lists of the most influential, women of the future and more.
Women of all ages and professions from politics to entertainment, fashion and technology are making their mark. It is also interesting to see among the top leaders both in Australia and beyond, are women of a mature age.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Nancy Pelosi, American politician; Ita Buttrose, ABC Chairman and journalist and Gina Rinehart, Executive Chairman of Hancock. They are still leading and being strong role models for others yet to rise to prominent positions.
Mature women are also carving out a huge following on Instagram as a “new generation” of influencers appealing to a demographic that doesn’t want to be defined as, “over-the-hill” or “past it”. They also have been identified as having a disposable income and like to live well.
We know life expectancy is longer and we will most likely have to work for longer. Mature women are mostly overlooked as employment candidates yet are starting up businesses in droves. So, what can we learn from these senior leaders and others like them about their professional presence and in 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. Oprah Winfrey is arguably the most well-known on the Forbes list. As a leading talk show host for over 25 years, her signature style was empathy and listening to her guests. Now running her own media and business empire, she has stayed relevant and successful by keeping abreast of the changing dynamics of media and technology.
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. Leading women always present a polished look that shows the world they look like leaders and take care about their appearance. On Instagram the look is generally more fashionable and creative like Lyn Slater of the Accidental Icon who has amassed a huge following of over 700,000.
Do Work You Love. One of my early teachers was the late June Dally Watkins of the well renowned business finishing school and modelling agency. That business is still flourishing after being founded in 1950. Ms Dally herself at the age of 92 was still actively involved and teaching etiquette in China, attesting to the quote, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius.
USP. Do you have a niche or a specialty that you can own and become well known for? Ita Buttrose has carved out niche as a leading media identity. Still working as Chairwoman of ABC, at speaking engagements and appearing on television aged in her 70’s. From editing Cleo magazine with its controversial male centerfold to becoming the youngest editor of Women’s Weekly, she has blazed the trail for many women following in her footsteps.
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 pioneer Roma Blair who introduced yoga into Australian lounge rooms via her TV show in the 1960s, still practiced daily until her death at the age of 90. It’s never too late to take up exercise and a healthy way of life.
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 six on the Forbes list is Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Giving back doesn’t have to be on this scale. There’s a growing movement of women supporting and funding female innovators and entrepreneurs through various organisations.
Speak Up. I don’t believe any of these women would be afraid to speak their mind. For many women who aim to succeed in their career or business, they must acquire the confidence to speak on the platform. Whether that is public speaking at a conference, putting across your pitch at an investor meeting or speaking up in the boardroom and voicing your opinion. You must become a confident communicator on and offline and not just rely on email, social posts and content. Be seen and be heard.
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Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal PR to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her professional development and profile building programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.