Not Done Yet – the Value Of Aging

Bonnie Marcus

The value of aging is a topic Bonnie Marcus touches on frequently. Paula. and I talk with her about “Not done yet – the value of aging”.

Bonnie reminds us that we need to be mindful of our own bias and our beliefs that may sabotage the life that we want to have. “Age-ism happens, it’s not just about getting older. A lot of young people face age-ism”.

Entrepreneurs need to understand how they may be holding themselves back thinking they don’t bring as much value as somebody younger and that needs to stop. “ We need to truly own the value we bring and not apologise for it.

How are you putting yourself out there?” Bonnie poses a few questions. “How am I advocating for myself? How do I sabotage myself?

“This is about owning the value, the wisdom, the experience you bring to the table, regardless of your age, your sexual orientation.   We are not really well connected, we’re so externally focused, looking at what everybody else is doing. To serve others, we must first understand what we have to offer. We have got to own our story”

How does the story serve me? How do I use my power to rewrite my story and reach my goals?”  We need to do self-reflection and see what beliefs we hold and how we may be holding  ourselves back.   Words matter. “When we look at our stories we need to ask how the story serves us.  How does it support our success.      What is a really good place to start?  What is that story?

Not done yet! is a powerful book for how women  over 50 can regain their confidence and claim their power.  It’s author, an award winning entrepreneur, Forbes contributing writer and executive coach, Bonnie Marcus in her  inspiring and savvy new book gives strongly steer to do the work we love and need to do and defy all ageist assumptions that suggest otherwise.  “There is research from Yale that shows that people who have a more positive mindset about aging live seven and a half years longer on average than people who have a negative point of view. “

What would I be doing or saying, or being with that kind of positive mindset going on? “Am I mindful of my own bias in this area and do some of my beliefs sabotage the life and career we really want.   If the answer to any of this is yes, don’t despair.  You are NOT DONE YET


Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to “TesseTalks” with your host Tesse Akpeki and cohost  Paula Okonneh. Where we share with you top leadership and management strategies. This is a journey of discovery. We are learning that leadership is personal and professional, and we hope you will walk with us in this adventure. Our guest today is Bonnie Marcus, and we will be talking about “Not done yet! the value of aging”. Bonnie Is an award winning entrepreneur, a Forbes contributing writer, and an executive coach, M E D, and she assists professional women to successfully navigate the workplace and position and promote themselves to advance their careers. With 20 plus years of sales and management experience, Bonnie’s extensive business background includes being the CEO of a service master company and the VP of sales at medical staff in network, as well as two other national companies in the healthcare and software industries. She has held executive positions in startup companies and fortune 500 companies. So we are really lucky to have you here, Bonnie, as a guest of “TesseTalks”. Welcome again to TesseTalk and I’ll let you talk more about yourself and I turn it over to Tesse.

Tesse: 00:01:31 Hi Bonnie.

Bonnie Marcus: 00:01:33 Hi there.

Tesse: 00:01:34 I’m so delighted to have you on the show today, you are one of my heroes. I’ve read your work, I’m a fan, not a stalker. I love the energy that you bring, and really  we’re going to address this first question to people in general, I welcome your views on age and aging. What do you think holds people in general back and how can they sabotage their success?

Bonnie Marcus: 00:02:02 Well, I think they sabotage their success when they believe the agist assumptions, so ingrained in our society around aging, that put limits on us, and it’s one thing that we have to navigate some of those biases in society, and it’s another when we internalize and we believe it ourselves, so we don’t do what we need to do to continue to thrive in our life and in our career. And though, it’s going to take a while I think to build more awareness in society around this “ism”, that people don’t really recognize under the radar. But we can control our own beliefs and we can control our own mindset. And there’s research out of Yale that was done recently that shows that people who have a more positive mindset about aging live seven and a half years longer on average than people who have a negative point of view.

Tesse: 00:03:20 So that positive mindset, how does it show up? How, if I had that mindset, what would I be doing or saying,or being with that kind of positive mindset going on?

Bonnie Marcus: 00:03:29 You wouldn’t necessarily gauge your success based on your birthday, you would own the power of your age and wisdom and experience, and you really own it, you wouldn’t downplay it and believe that if you were younger and if you were more attractive, that you’d be more successful, and that’s the only way for you to continue to thrive. If we believe we’re too old to compete, if we believe we’re too old to get a raise or get promoted, then Tesse, we’re not going to do what we need to do to get the raise and get the promotion we’re going to pull ourselves out of the running and we’re not going to raise our hand with ideas and we’re not going to volunteer for special projects. So I think we need to be mindful of our own bias in this area and how some of our beliefs may sabotage the life that we really want the career that we want.

Tesse: 00:04:33 Yeah, so what I’m hearing is that sometimes what happens is that our limiting belief becomes the fact that when you come into a certain age, you probably can’t be something, do something, feel something, we actually limit ourselves with that by ageist bias.

Bonnie Marcus: 00:04:48 Yeah.

Tesse: 00:04:49 So sometimes a lot of the time the power is in our hands?

Bonnie Marcus: 00:04:52 Well, we do have a lot of power, I mean, we’re going to face age-ism and of course my book focuses on gendered ageism in the workplace,  and  part of the reason why I wrote the book is I want to build awareness that needs to be addressed and unconscious bias programs because it’s still under the radar. But I also want to give women in particular, the tools to understand how their own beliefs may be holding them back, as well as, here’s some tools to help you position yourself with power in the workplace, so things that you should be doing your whole career, but you’re more vulnerable as you approach 50 and beyond. So you need to be even more vigilant. About it now.

Tesse: 00:05:42 Wow! Getting older and getting prouder because of our value and our worth Paula, over to you.

Paula: 00:05:49 I think this is fascinating. You probably don’t know this, but Tesse and I have origins in a country where age is celebrated. So everybody wants to feel older and look older because respect goes with that. And so it was interesting when we moved to this part of the world, to find out that it’s the reverse here, the older you got here, the less respect you got. Meanwhile, you bring so much to the table and then you couple that with gender and it’s. Wow! What do you know? After all I was talking to someone today and I said, the wonderful thing about podcasts is that it focuses a lot on audio, and the first voice that we actually hear is our mother’s voices. I’m yet to see a man have a baby. So really, and truly age-ism and genderism should be a no-no, we should celebrate the two, especially for me being a woman is one of the best things that could ever happen and getting older. Oh my gosh. I think it’s one of the best things. So the things that worried me at 20s certainly don’t worry me at 50 plus, so,

Bonnie Marcus: 00:06:54 you know, and by the way, age-ism happens, it’s not just about getting older. I mean, a lot of young people face age-ism in the workplace as well. They’re told they’re too young they look too young, they sound too young to be considered for leadership, their ideas are also dismissed. So I think that’s the spectrum on the one hand as you’re first entering the workplace, and then after you’re more tenured and more senior. And the other part about age-ism gendered age-ism for women is the motherhood penalty. So this isn’t something that just hits us like a ton of bricks at 50, but I think that, and one of the reasons why I wrote this book is I want women to be aware of it, because if you think that your experience is going to take you necessarily through to retirement, just because you’ve done a great job, maybe not, you need to be aware that there are other factors that may affect your career trajectory and you need to pay attention to what’s going on around you.

Tesse: 00:07:59 What you said Bonnie is really interesting because I’m also thinking about people, cause some people on this call like me and Paula and I will be self-employed people, social entrepreneurs, others are on boards as well. How can these kinds of things show up for those people who are not in the workplace? Those kinds of nine to five or other kinds of jobs, but they’re actually making their way in the world and they’re in it’s in their own way to bring meaning and purpose to what they do?

Bonnie Marcus: 00:08:27 Well, the same thing applies. First of all, you may, as an entrepreneur and I’m an entrepreneur, right? It maybe, age-ism, may not be as overt. I may miss out on speaking opportunities or coaching opportunities because people would say, Oh, well I want somebody younger. I wouldn’t necessarily see it in the same way as I would in a corporate setting. But I think what’s really important for us since the entrepreneurs is to understand the way we may be holding ourselves back, because we feel that we don’t bring as much value as somebody younger and that needs to stop. I mean, we need to truly own the value that we bring, not apologize for it. And the way that shows up for an entrepreneur is when you’re out there trying to get business, it probably most likely affects the way you’re communicating, it affects the way you’re networking, it affects the way you’re putting yourself out there and either advocating for yourself or maybe hesitating to advocate for yourself. So we really need to do some self-reflection and see what some of the beliefs we hold and how they may hold us back.

Tesse: 00:09:59 Yeah, thanks Bonnie, Paula?

Paula: 00:10:01 That’s absolutely the truth, it’s what we feel about ourselves too, and so getting educated on how to accept yourself for who you are and what you bring to the table makes a world of difference in how you present yourself to the world. I agree with that 100%.

Bonnie Marcus: 00:10:18 So in my experience, words matter words are really important. And one of the things I do with my clients as a coach is to ask my clients, what is the story, you tell yourself about yourself? And really not what you think it should be, what you’d like it to be, but right now, today, what’s the story that you tell yourself about yourself? Because words matter, and when you look at that story, you can then say, does that story serve me, support my success, or does it sabotage it because then we have the power to rewrite that story. To be much more empowering to set us up for success, to help us reach our goals and just keep repeating and reading that new story every day, developing positive mantras on that story, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t really know the sad story they tell themselves about themselves that leads to them losing business, losing contracts, especially as an entrepreneur, losing out on raises and promotions in the corporate world, and it can be subtle. But I think a really good place to start is like, what is that story?

Paula: 00:11:48 And that’s the way I guess you come into play. What is that story? Because that story is always so unique. My story is not yours, it’s not Tesse, but everybody’s story matters, about what you’re doing. So now let’s go to your book in your book, you talk about a double whammy can you tell us why is that important and why should we pay attention to that?

Bonnie Marcus: 00:12:11 Well, our whole careers as women, we have faced gender bias. We still aren’t paid equally, and I think equal pay days is coming up. I don’t know when this is going to come out, but it’s definitely equal payday is coming up in March. So we’re still not paid the same, we lack the same opportunities for advancement, for business opportunities, even outside the corporate arena, we often lack the same networking and sponsorship opportunities. We face, as I talked about before the motherhood penalty, lack of flexibility and the ability to kind of balance. So, I mean, gender bias has existed since we’ve all started our careers. Certainly in the beginning, when I started my career in the late 1980s, it was really overt, now it’s probably a little more challenging because it can be subtle, but it still exists. So gender bias has been a reality for women in the workplace for generations. Now, as we start to show visible signs of aging, not necessarily attached to a birthday, but it probably happens around 50 or so. Now we’re subjected to age-ism, and I say it’s a double whammy for women because although men face age-ism research shows that women face it earlier, because of the emphasis on our looks and appearance. So now as we age and we’re showing signs of aging, we are treated differently in the workplace, we are viewed as having less value, less competence we’re seen as irrelevant simply because we don’t look young anymore. So that’s basically the double whammy, we face the consequences, especially as women in the corporate arena, where we are marginalized, nobody seeks our opinion out anymore, we’re not invited to key meetings, our workload is redistributed. And so I definitely want to build awareness around this so that women will be proactive, and make sure that they’re doing what they need to do to stay at the top of their game and stay marketable.

Tesse: 00:14:34 You know, even as you’re saying this, I feel a pain in my chest because I can resonate with that thing you were saying about being marginalized and being used and about being ignored. The thing about people not asking your opinion, and it’s just, you’re invisible, even though you’re visible and it hurts, it really hurts. And I think it’s people lose out and the brilliance that we each can bring, and the experience that we have, that we can actually use to build something golden and something diamond, as I said, and I really am a fan, I’ve been for years of your work and your book Not Done Yet! I love it,I love it so much that I would hazard that every man and every woman should read it. I don’t think it’s just a book for women, I think it’s a book about men as well, who need to support the women in their lives as friends or wives or partners, colleagues, et cetera. I think everybody should read this book. So my question is really your take on it about why this book is an important read for men and women of all ages?

Bonnie Marcus: 00:15:35 It’s interesting since the book launched March 9th, I’ve had, I dunno, there’s 30, some odd Amazon reviews right now. It’s an eye opener to see the reviews by men who have read the book and say that women of all ages should read this as well as men, because age-ism applies to men and a lot of these tools and a lot of the coaching advice and suggestions I make in the book apply for men as well. It’s an eye opener for men to understand what women are going through, how do we feel when we’re looking at ourselves in zoom? When, when we looked in the mirror and we start to see things are sagging and we don’t look like we used to look and how hard we can be on ourselves. And so I think that it’s helpful for men to understand how the pressure that we feel, as professional women, especially as we’re aging in this society that we live in. The book not done yet applies to both men and women. But I think it’s a very personal journeys for me as well, there’s a lot of my personal story in that book about how I feel, about my own aging and the stories that some women have shared with me about their experiences in the workplace, which are horrific. It made me so mad hearing stories about what some of these women are going through and the demeaning comments and treatment, and just being pushed out based on their age, certainly not the value they bring, that I wanted to bring awareness to this issue. One thing, and I guess it was the a couple of years ago now I wrote an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune about how gendered age-ism is the next me too movement. And the reason I said that, and I feel very strongly about it is before we have the me too movement. Women were silent, very quiet about the experiences that they had in the workplace, especially relative to sexual abuse and harassment. We didn’t have a safe environment to talk about it and we didn’t feel comfortable filing complaints, we didn’t have any legal backing. And then when the Me Too movement came, that really changed the dynamics where women feel now more empowered to come forward. But with gendered age-ism I find that a lot of women are ashamed to talk about it, they’re also very quiet, they’re suffering in silence, they don’t want to bring attention to their age, to even file a complaint or to address this with coworkers when they feel this kind of treatment. And I think we need to bring more awareness and more consciousness raising for women to feel more safe, to be able to talk about some of the unfair treatment that they’re getting in the workplace.

Tesse: 00:18:51 Yeah, so what I’m hearing is that there’s work to be done. Yeah, paula, over to you, you have your fun questions, don’t you? that You ask what’s your fun question for Bonnie?

Paula: 00:19:00 Yes, but after such a serious topic where we could all relate, you were like. Yes Bonnie, thank you for being the voice out there, one of the voices out there. I have a fun question, sometimes we get some fun answers back and sometimes we don’t. So I’ll take a chance and ask you, what is your favorite emoji?

Bonnie Marcus: 00:19:27 Yes, it’s pretty traditional, my favorite one is the little heart blowing a kiss, I mean, that’s the most common one that I use a lot of other great ones, but I use that one a lot.

Paula: 00:19:40 Nice, nice I was able to create one. I have a Samsung galaxy, I was able to create an emoji, which kind of took a picture of myself, of me and created the emoji, and occasionally I put it in text messages or messenger and people are always shocked. Oh my gosh, it looks like you

Bonnie Marcus: 00:19:59 we’re so used to emojis. What will we do without them? Like the one where you’re vomiting.

Tesse: 00:20:06 Bonnie you really touched my heart, really. Because even with the thing you were saying about emojis, you just reached the parts, but the other things don’t reach because I had found that now that I can’t hug people, those emojis do the hugging for me. And actually there have been really good proxies that I’m not feeling so emotionally distanced when I can put an emoji with the heart and the hand and they’re the one for support when I can do that, I actually feel not so broken cause I’m a hugger.

Bonnie Marcus: 00:20:36 Yeah, I hear you so am I.

Paula: 00:20:40 She’s a hugger and she’s very articulate, she’s always been my friend with words, I was never one with words, but that’s another story. Any last words for our audience, Bonnie?

Bonnie Marcus: 00:20:54 I, last word are really to probably own your story. That is not just about age, that is about really owning the value, the wisdom, the experience that you bring to the table, regardless of your age or your gender, your sexual orientation. I think that we are not really well connected, we’re so externally focused, especially these days, we’re looking at what everybody else is doing on social media, and we lose the connection with everything that we bring forward and how we can help, whether it’s to our business, how we can serve others or through networking, how we can serve others, we first need to really understand what we have to offer. So owning your story, I think are my last words.

Paula: 00:21:46 That’s the last powerful words for the episode. Not for you, not forever.

Bonnie Marcus: 00:21:50 No, no, you know why because i’m not done yet.

Paula: 00:21:56 Yeah, ah boy, I loved how you tied that in.

Tesse: 00:22:01 I love it. I love it. I love it.

Paula: 00:22:05 So now we’re going to wrap it up. Thank you so much, Bonnie, for coming on to “TesseTalks” and for our wonderful listeners, please head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else where you listen to podcasts and please click subscribe. If you like what you’ve heard, we’ll also ask you for a raving review. And lastly, if you have any topics or questions that you’d like us to cover, please let us know, especially if they’re related to leadership or governance, or it can also be a personal question. And if you’d like to be a guest on “TesseTalks” please head over to to apply. Thank you all for being a faithful listeners. And thank you, Bonnie, and thank you, of course to our amazing hosts, Tesse Akpeki.

Tesse: 00:22:58 Don’t forget yourself, you’re great.

Paula: 00:23:02 And to me.

Tesse: 00:23:03 Yeah, absolutely, Paula, what would I do without my Paula? Bonnie, thank you so much you’re just, if I were the star before follower, like really, follower. I am now a big, even bigger super follower. So it’s super fun, Bonnie, thank you.

Bonnie Marcus: 00:23:21 Thank you so much, this was a fun conversation.

Paula: 00:23:25 It’s always fun, our guests are always amazing and you have not disappointed us. Thank you.