Too Old with Shagufta Patel
In our previous blog post “Too Young”, we talked about the negative criticism that young female entrepreneurs face when starting their business. This time we are addressing the opposite side of the spectrum. Gender bias and discrimination are issues most of us face throughout our career life, whether in the most subtle ways or major ones. Age has become a point of pressure for many ladies today, maintaining physical ‘youth’ to secure a job or even attain one has become an ultimate goal these days.
When looking at the concept of ‘Ageism’ and how its perspective changes based on gender, unfortunately, women are most likely always seen through the negative lens. For men, they are often viewed with great value and assets to their workplace as they age. However, for women, it’s the complete opposite, and many times, their credibility is assumed to be ‘lost’ as well.
We discussed this topic with Shagufta Patel, an amazing woman whose career journey became an inspirational phenomenon to many. Shagufta started her journey in the corporate world and after 37 years she took on the challenge of diving into the field of human development. Today, she is the chief Changévangelist at Change With Renaé, a company founded in 2015 that specifies providing services related to conscious awareness, subconscious alteration, and energy attainment.
Shagufta gave us a great perspective on this ongoing dilemma of age and shared her excellent advice on how to overcome obstacles related to this issue.
Q: How can we overcome the fear of “age playing a role in determining our success”?
Fear of ‘anything’ is a very personal thing. It is a person’s conditioning and a belief that they hold about ‘something’ – in this case, age in relation to success.
The answer lies in the question itself… age is a fear and not a rule for achieving success. So how does one overcome it? By looking at success objectively. By looking at history. There are countless examples of men and women who have achieved pinnacles of success at a much later age.
Julia Child learned to cook at age 40 and her first cookbook released launching her career as a celebrity chef when she was 50.
Nancy Pelosi, was 67 years old when elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Vera Wang was a figure skater and journalist before entering the fashion industry at age 40. Today she is one of the world's premier women's designers.
Laura Ingalls Wilder published the first in the "Little House" books at age 65. They soon became children's literary classics and the basis for the TV show "Little House on the Prairie."
Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known as Grandma Moses, began her prolific painting career at 78. In 2006, one of her paintings sold for $1.2 million.
Arianna Huffington founded her namesake news publication, The Huffington Post, at age 55. The success of her digital media publication made her a household name.
Dr. Bhagwati Oza was awarded the National Award for Older Persons for Sports and Adventure at the ripe age of 79.
So you see, fear is internal – it is not a criterion for success. Conversely, we also have achievers who have earned name, fame, and monies at a very young age.
All you need is a change of belief to be able to start doing things you love, no matter what the age.
Q: What are some effective methods of staying up to date with the needs of the market?
Trade shows, Conferences & Forums - Head along to conferences, industry events, and training sessions that give you a chance to take in new industry-related information and network while you’re at it. Online forums and discussion boards can be a valuable source of information on specific topics and industries.
Subscribe to Journals and Periodicals - Subscribe to online trade journals, blogs, magazines, and other publications for news delivered straight to your inbox. There are plenty of independent websites too that are very informative that one can lookup.
Working with a Mentor or a Business Coach - A mentor or a business coach knows the teething issues that a new business faces, which sometimes one may not be able to see or fathom as a new entrepreneur. Being able to ask questions openly without judgment can be key to building knowledge and seeing things from another perspective.
Learning - Refresh the skills you need for your job or learn new skills that can help to better do your work. Constant learning and up-gradation are crucial to stay abreast and progress in your chosen field.
Q: What are your great tips for becoming comfortable with technology and social media?
The UAE government has created multiple avenues to support women in business with female-focused business councils that guide female entrepreneurs in the right direction with their business goals and needs and walking the talk on inclusivity.
Besides there are Councils that support women entrepreneurs by providing education, training, technical support, advice and guidance, and also funding opportunities. The Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) and The Abu Dhabi Business Women Council (ADBWC) are two such councils that women can approach.
The Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) hosts an annual Women Leadership Exchange Programme to guide sustainable leadership practices and also offers great networking opportunities. The Dubai Chamber also offers support in this area through the Dubai Business Women Council.
Q: The UAE is constantly starting initiatives to support women entrepreneurs, for women starting at a later stage of their lives, where should one look for support?
Be a Master of Your Skill, not a Jack of All Trades.
Digital Marketing is churning out content; it is a vast framework that requires a different kind of expertise. Digital Marketing is the broad term under which you have Social Media Marketing, AdWords, SEO, Blogs, Campaigns, Banners, Promotions, Podcasts, the works.
The ideal situation would be where you delegate or outsource the Digital Marketing requirement, let the experts handle it and you can focus on doing what you are best at.
If you cannot appoint someone right away, start with what you feel the easiest to do. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are by far the most popular mediums through which you can make your presence felt.
Use sites like Canva which has great design options and tools for amateurs and complement it with a piece of text that you can get from online research that you can rephrase in your own words.
Q: How can we collectively promote an age-positive culture in our work environment?
Buy from each other. Refer one another to people you come across seeking any particular product or service. Give referral commissions as fair energy exchange. Partnerships and Collaborations go a long way in creating value for all parties involved. Give feedback for improvement and praise where deserved.
Create an all-women Mastermind Group - Instead of wasting time researching or weighing the different choices, you can get answers right away. The suggestions you receive may be something you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.