A thought flashed through my mind recently that maybe I’ve passed my Best Before Date and now the only thing I could be good for is advertising a wrinkle cream; Mallorca TV was looking for a female aged 35+ for a TV ad campaign. I’m not going to come up with an amazing invention that nobody has yet thought of, have a star on the Walk of Fame or, at the rate I’m going, be the next Estée Lauder regarding women and global business success. I’m starting to wonder if it is too late to be great.
Literally within days of having this revelation go off in my head, I am reading my favourite magazine Red, and there is a mention of a book which was highly recommended: ‘Never too Late to be Great.’ I immediately opened my Amazon account on my iPad and ordered a copy – paying express post so I can devour its contents ASAP and find out where I’m going wrong.
The book arrives and every spare moment I’m engrossed – the writer Tom Butler-Bowdon is an experienced personal development author and has come-up with the theory of Thinking Long-term rather than aiming for an overnight success story.
The main premise of the book is that the past 10, 15 or 20 years have been the platform off which you can now embark to greatness. It is interesting, in the many examples he gives, that 10 years is quite a consistent figure in terms of the number of years for a business or a person to invest, to build the foundation to achieve real success. Butler-Bowdon calls it the warming-up phase and with life expectancy increasing each decade we can look forward to enjoying full and active careers well into our seventies and beyond.
One inspiring story he tells is that of beauty icon Estée Lauder. Josephine Esther Mentzer grew up in a town outside New York, the daughter of Hungarian and Czech immigrants. The main influencers in her life were her sister-in-law Fanny, who ran a local department store, and her uncle John a chemist who made and sold small batches of face creams. A big fan of beauty products, she set about making her own lotions and potions in her kitchen and selling them to shops and beauty parlours.
At 22, she married Joseph Lauder, and their child Leonard was born three years later. Disappointed with her husband’s lack of business progress she divorced him when Leonard was six. Known by the name Estée Lauder, she divided her time between New York and Miami selling her creams directly to stores, beauty salons, and giving facials and pioneering the idea of free samples with every purchase.
During this time she had a few relationships with millionaires but decided that she was in a better situation while married to Joe and remarried him in 1942 and they had another son Ronald. She later regretted their estrangement and said, “You cannot fly on one wing.”
In 1947 in her late thirties, and against the advice of her financial advisers, she formed Estée Lauder Inc., and within a year achieved her dream of selling her products to Saks Fifth Avenue. The couple worked hard; her on the sales side and Joe handling the production side. Their big success came in 1953 with the launch of Youth Dew, a bath oil-cum-fragrance developed by Estée.
Leonard took over the company in 1972 and continued to grow it to the titan it is today. Estée Lauder was determined to keep her company out of the hands of the conglomerates and in the safe keeping of her family. Still today the Lauder family controls 70% of the voting shares. Estée Lauder did not even think of success in terms of her lifetime but in the longevity of the business for the generations that would come after her.
We all know that in order to be successful you need to be passionate about what you are doing – this is the first step on the ladder to greatness. Butler-Bowden gives numerous examples of late succeeders to convince the reader that no matter what your age is now you can still achieve your dream – whether it is changing your career path, writing a book or starting your own business.
Be inspired – take the necessary steps and believe, no matter what, that yes you can achieve that which you know you can aspire to. Greatness awaits you – so take one step closer today and read Never too Late to be Great – I did, and it renewed my determination to follow my dream and not to give up even in difficult times.
Never Too late to be Great by Tom Butler-Bowdon published by Virgin Books.
Tips to help you achieve greatness:
- Spend time imagining what’s possible in your lifetime.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway.
- Build your reputation with actions, not words.
- Be true to yourself and others.
- Never lose sight of the purpose behind your efforts.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Pursue your passion, not the money.
- If you fail, learn your lesson and continue.
- Don’t squander your time – life is short so get a move on!