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Evolve #40over40: Emily Crookston

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

This article is part of our #40over40 series.

This is our time! We’re stronger when we work together to lift other women up. Evolve is creating the list we've been waiting for -- the first-ever 40 Over 40 list! We're curating profiles of women who have or are in the process of reinventing their careers in their 40s, 50, 60s and beyond. We're thrilled to share these stories of reinvention - women returning to work, pivoting careers or launching new ventures! What prompted your career reinvention? I felt undervalued and disempowered in my academic career. I had been on the job market for 8 years and had applied to over 300 positions. The tenure-track job I was aiming for never came through. It was time to reinvent myself, so I took the leap into entrepreneurship.

What's the best thing about midlife career change? Sometimes I think about whether I wasted my time spending 8 years in grad school and 7 years trying to "make it" as a college professor and I wonder what would have happened if I'd tried to start this business as soon as I graduated from college. But there's no way I could have had this kind of success when I was 21. I didn't have the confidence, the life experience, or the grit to make it happen back then. I'm more comfortable in my own skin now, more resilient, and more willing to put myself out there than at any other time in my life. All of this is crucial for being a successful business owner and I wasn't ready before. What's the biggest challenge?

For me, the biggest challenge has been figuring out where to spend money to move the business forward. I can get my hands on the information to do anything I need or want to do from understanding email analytics to creating an online course, but not all of it is worth my time. Of course, you don't know what you don't know. So it has been hard to figure out what to outsource and how much to invest. And it's hard to find good people to do the work as well.

What's your personal mantra or mission? Why? Personal mantra: Owning your expertise is as important--if not more important--than being the expert. This is my mantra because it's about trusting yourself to recognize your own brilliance. If we sit around waiting for someone else to "crown us" the expert, we're going to miss so many opportunities, not to mention that we're handing over our power to someone else. Instead, we need to focus our energy within to figure out what expertise looks like, then go after whatever it is, until we can own it. Expertise is about taking a seat at the table and trusting ourselves to solve problems for our clients. Your best career advice for other women at midlife is... Learn to reframe fear as motivation to go after your goals. When we embark on a new project, whether it's starting a business or publishing a book, it's natural to feel fear and anxiety. And that kind of fear never goes away. Those of us who are successful, see this fear as a sign that we are stepping outside of our comfort zones and we remind ourselves that that's where the magic happens. Fear becomes the fuel stoking the fire within. Alternatively, if we let fear talk us out of taking a shot, we may be giving up on ourselves 10-feet before we reach the finish line. So, my advice is don't give up on an idea because of fear.


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