Seven of this year’s Forty Over 40 Women to Watch honorees share how innovation improves with age.
Red wine. Cheese. Innovation. Yes, these are all things that get better with age. Don’t believe it? Science offers some pretty compelling evidence that wunderkinds are the exception, rather than the rule.
One researcher found that Nobel Prize winners’ age around a significant breakthrough is about 38 (and not recognized until they’re 60) and another posits that a lifetime of learning leads to greater breakthroughs between ages 55-65. Data from the Kauffmann Foundation bears this out as findings indicate people over 55 are almost twice as likely to found successful companies than those between 20 and 34.
These statistics are seldom recognized, much less celebrated, in a youth obsessed culture, according to Whitney Johnson, author and cofounder of investment firm Rose Park Advisors. That’s why she and Christina Vuleta, founder of Women’s career advice forum 40:20 Vision, took matters into their own hands.
They started an initiative, dubbed Forty Over 40 in 2013 to change the idea that mid-life means you’re on the down side of over-the-hill. This year’s honorees range from 40 to over 60 and come from a variety of industries including the arts, law, retail, health care, and tech. Each has an impressive resume, not limited to an accumulation of greater titles and industry accolades.
As Johnson writes, “At age 40 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.”
With that in mind, we asked several of this year’s honorees to share their thoughts on aging, disruption, and transitions. Here’s what they told us.