It happened. Again. My editor axed another one of my revelatory stories — in favor of some feel-good vanilla fluff. Whaaa?!? I was told I'd be helping to create a rowdy, troublemaking, uncompromising site for women over 50. Reality was much more ... corporate. So, four years ago, I started my very own troublemaking uncompromising multi-platform site for Broads with a capital B, at the tender age of 68 … a complete career shift and role I hadn’t taken on before.
I knew I could do it. Again. And again. And again. Because I have. Reinventing in your 60s ain’t easy, and I’ve done so both personally and professionally, the latter including jobs as a designer, art director, writer, editorial director, and social media influencer. Forget the glossy banker-to-baker stories you glance at in your dentist’s waiting room. Transitions aren't usually Instagram-ready.
But they do happen. My friends and I are living proof — varied, fascinating, and long careers, with unexpected twists and turns (one was 62 years old when she started standup comedy). Feel free to loosen up your timeline, people — there’s plenty of it to keep reinventing yourself.
Ahead, three individuals in my life that showcase reinvention at its finest.
Maryjane Fahey (Me), 72: Multi-Talented Media Minx
It took a few rounds for me to get it — that all my career reiterations weren't random. It was all storytelling, no matter the medium. The “you shoulds” and “you oughtas” affected my confidence early on (though I never showed it). If there are any regrets I have at this point, it would be to jump faster, surer.
But some jobs, like ex-husbands, lasted years beyond their expiration dates. I learned in time to be bolder. And believe. I know what I am doing and who I am and what I am capable of. And that is everything.
Real work? Naaaah. I was at Studio 54. As a design graduate of School Of Visual Arts (SVA), I could craft one helluva disco outfit!
Had a decade to make up for. Moved up the ranks as a designer, art director at various glam mags. I had a nagging desire to switch gears for a bigger picture. But what?
Bingo! Left behind individual titles for a think tank at a big deal firm. After 10 years, I realized I was doing all the work, getting a fraction of the dough. Golden cuffs — but outta there!
Started my own international firm. Bigger brands — traveling worldwide. Fab! Until the economy went bust. Saved some money and took some time off to …
Write a fun book (instead of the deep novel I intended — oops). Almost got a TV show produced. Almost got a movie produced. But “almost” doesn’t pay the bills (budget, people). so, I got the editorial director stint mentioned above, which lasted three whole years.
Here I am. On my fifth reinvention. But who's counting? Staring down the giant maw of failure is still scary AF. Contemplating dog walking. Contemplating silver hair modeling. Did I just say that? And I'm not going anywhere. I love uplifting my mission, Glorious Broads, and expectations about what aging looks like: We work! We f*ck! We slay.
The gist: You don’t really know that the dots will wind up connecting — just keep moving. Trust your gut. And, ta-da, believe they will line up.”
Laura Eisman, 56, The Fashionista Pioneer
I knew the glamorous Laura from magazine days in the '80s, and she has always been a visionary. When I was resisting texting in its early stages, her response was: “Get on board. It’s our future.” Ouch.
Laura has a gift for taking — seizing — opportunities. From fashion to cannabis, her “been there, done that, time to move forward” outlook has allowed her to see what needs change, direction, or disruption (or all of the above). And it's always been about and for women. Or maybe one particular woman: “I was doing everything for me,” she told me. “I am my own market.”
Her other superpower was being a techie before tech was cool, or particularly friendly to the ladies. Laura tunes out the noise, the naysayers, the people who don’t get it yet. And keeps moving forward.
Laura was the only designer who didn’t run screaming from the first Apple computers at the ad agency she was interning for. Embracing tech served her then — and now.
Off to grad school for a masters in architecture and landed a part-time gig at Hearst, where her desktop publishing smarts made her the IT girl. Eventually, it was architecture out, magazine development in. Startups were in her DNA.
Over to the fashion magazine Marie Claire. Laura is among the first to imagine how tech and fashion could meld. Now we call it online shopping. Move over, Jeff Bezos.
On to iVillage! As creative director for one of the first online communities focusing on women — founded by women. An intense tech learning curve ensued — including coding. Ewwwwww!
Then, it was Laura’s turn! Launched one of the first online shopping boutiques, Girlshop. In a year, Girlshop grew. Lots. After nine years, competitors were on her, including Amazon, which bought a big one. Free shipping. Time to exit.
Consulted with AOL’s fashion/lifestyle blog and witnessed the birth of clickbait. Like me, the corporate life wasn’t for her. Unlike me, she went off to the country — and had a baby. Reset! (Budget people.)
Partnering up with her fierce friend, Allison Krongard, Laura launches Her Highness, one of the first to make “pot” classy, glamorous and femme — joints that don't singe your nails, marble rolling trays, and the sex oil are a straight up must. At 56, this Broad is soaring.
The gist: “Never start a job saying this will be my career. Think of every job as a stepping stone — and get as much out of it as possible. If it's not helping you, move on.”
Mariann Alda, 74, The Ultimate Multi-Hyphen
A friend of mine since I interviewed her years ago, Mariann is a hilarious activist, feminist, actor — who does not know the meaning of “no.” She thinks of herself as a Roadblock Trifecta: “I’m a woman; I’m Black, and now, I’m old. I had to navigate being Black and female my entire life. So being old was just another hurdle. No biggie.”
This Broad lives with no regrets, and never any hesitations, understanding early on it was never going to be easy. “Are you gonna choose comfort or accomplishment? ‘Cause you can’t have both,” she said.
Grab a huge gin and tonic for this one:
Got a job as an agency copywriter. Her parents came up from the Jim Crow south — lots of teachers and nurses in the family. But not Mariann.
Moved to PR for marketing at ABC. While on a three-month maternity leave, she took acting classes and landed a theater gig. Did the road tour with a baby strapped to her chest.
Seven years after leaving ABC, she’s back — but now playing a leading role in a popular soap opera. Hired for a three-month story arc — which lasted three years.
Moved to LA and faced a lot of “You’re too beautiful to be smart.” What? So, she started playing “girly” — and got TV roles. Lots of ‘em.
What do you do when the pretty girl gets older? Stop working! Or gain 50 pounds. (For character roles, advises her agent.)
Instead, Mariann becomes a hypnotherapist for three years, but missed the 30 years she'd invested in acting — why get pushed out? (Budget people.)
Started a standup comedy show. That’s right. At 62. Developed more solo shows, like “Occupy Your Vagina” as an “Adult Sex Evangeslist,” which morphed into “Getting Old is a Bitch.” Then, COVID.
Mariann is working as an activist for “Aging Shamelessly” — and deeply into standup: “I got some sh*t to say, and you are gonna listen, people — you may not laugh. And I don’t care. It’s time to be me.” Audiences love it.
The gist: “Don’t play it safe. Especially today — there is no such thing. Don’t think about what they want— think about what you have to offer.”
Soooo, next time you get that spark of inspiration, I hope that my friends and I can inspire you to take the leap. What it takes is guts and purpose to remain relevant. And happy. And for f*ck’s sake: Budget!