Like nice wine we just get more valuable with time.
When I started my first business I was 22. It was an ad agency in Houston. I was absolutely fearless. If I didn’t know how to do something, I figured it out. Or I’d find someone who did and delegate it to them.
For years all my staff was older than me. Then one day they weren’t. I realized this in my thirties. Nothing much changed except that bartenders stopped carding me for adult beverages. I had the same drive, same courage and same unstoppable love for my independence.
Then my fortieth birthday came. I got an early forehead lift while I was getting my nose done for the second time. This 2nd round of nose surgery was just about breathing. My rationale for the vanity treatment was, I was going to be under the influence of la la land drugs anyway, why not make it harder for wrinkles to show up and get efficient with my health care expenses.
While recovering and looking like Frankenstein’s wife for at least a month, I read a very good book called Halftime by Bob Buford. It was an excellent read. Even though he is more religious than I am, It was a moving message. The theme was: the first half of your life is good and hopefully full of success, but, the next half is about something much greater called significance. Well that book really shook me up. In fact, when I healed up and finished the book I actually felt younger and even more entrepreneurial, just restless and craving a new challenge. I lead my agency for nearly 18 years.
My next entrepreneurial chapter did not have a happy ending. It was an e-commerce site in the first dot.com era. I transferred my agency assets to this start up and never got paid back. Enron was my primary investor, that was interesting. We had been live for only 30 days and market crashed and funding dried up. Unless you were making money, and we were not, there was no more money to raise. So, I had to put that company on the history channel and took a nice hair cut. Not a high point in my entrepreneurial life, but an education no business school can teach you.
In 2000, I moved to Tampa to leverage my entrepreneurial and marketing experiences, my goal was to speak professionally, write books and consult on branding, as The Branding Diva® and play lots of tennis, something I only took up at 40. It all happened. Got a big publisher book deal, traveled the world.
The past nine years have been pretty unbelievable. My tennis game is solid, even won some titles and my journey has been incredible. I’ve shared the speaking stage with people like Magic Johnson and Mark Burnett, addressed thousands, been featured in tons of media venues including: Bloomberg TV and the Early Show in NY, and contributed a monthly column to Fast Company. Entrepreneurialism has been good to me.
I was born with an entrepreneurial gene. It was apparent at age 10 when I started selling my parents possessions without their permission. I can’t imagine having a boss other than me. Lots of my friends ask, “Isn’t that scary working for yourself?” And I say, “Working for a big company, now in my head, that’s really scary”.
So now I’ve got two companies. My branding, speaking practice, Brain Tattoo Branding and Oddpodz.com, the community for creative-minded businesses and professionals. I love them both. One makes money, one will, hopefully this year. Both require a driven, dedicated 24/7 entrepreneur. Will my now mature entrepreneurial stars interfere with my chances to hit a big home run? I don’t think so. If fact, I believe they will add to my chances of success.
Raising money, attracting super star teams and customers is a fierce, competitive game. Being a twenty-something entrepreneur has advantages. But, so does being a forty-something entrepreneur, as long as you stay in the game with a high-energy and a fearless, open-minded, young attitude.
Just follow these timeless entrepreneurial mantras.
Graying and loss of hair may be happening and you can’t control that. But, you can control your thinking, your team and your attitude. If you hang out with a bunch of senior doers, you will act just like them.
Mix up your world with young, contemporary stuff and stimulation.
Read hip publications, watch MTV and Video 1, invite to Gen Y and Xers to your world of problem solving and spend the day at the mall.
Don’t tell your body how old you are. It doesn’t need to know.
I played tennis every day this week. That’s 7 days of competitive fun, calorie burning and cardio. This helps me be a better entrepreneur.
Don’t let your life experiences muck up free spirit thinking.
A down side of being a seasoned entrepreneur (at least three decades of service) is letting past experiences filter your open mind, and shut out new and crazy ideas. Can’t let this happen. Activate and live the no risk, no reward philosophy and continue to try new things.
Trail blaze with your best wisdom in your saddle.
The up side of experience is that you’ve seen a lot. The good, the bad and the utterly pathetic. This can be a huge determining factor in your success.
Yep, I’m a forty something entrepreneur. I’ve made lots of money and been leveraged out the kazoo too. I would not trade my place in the business world for anything. My stripes earned are priceless. My state of mind is as renegade-powered as it was 25 years ago. I just have different challenges now.
I say bring it on.
And to my fellow forty-something leaders of start ups, remember, a seasoned entrepreneur is a premium being in this world of commerce. Just wait and see who emerges out of this temporary economic down time. The battle tested, experienced, shot at entrepreneurs will demonstrate real valuation and asset appreciation, just like a good cab from 1960.