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Evolve #40over40: Madeline Schwarz

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? The short answer is a sprained ankle and a layoff.

In reality, I had wanted to start a business for years. I had been thinking about and dreaming of business ideas since my early twenties but I was at a point in my life and career where walking away from a full-time job was scary.

Then my employer went bankrupt and my job walked away from me. The universe gave me a sign and I took it. I spent the summer soul searching and thought about the contribution I wanted to make in the world and the role model I wanted to play for my child. I stopped pretending I liked project management. I walked away from a 10 + year career in fashion and retail design and enrolled in an intensive coach training program.

Now I use my creativity and sense of process to help other people communicate their vision and speak like experts. I have always loved being around creative people and I noticed that the skills that make creatives great problem-solvers and great at the creative part of their jobs doesn't always translate to being great at talking about their work and communicating their ideas to other people. I set out to fill this gap. I teach teams and individuals how to tell compelling stories and articulate their vision in ways their clients and teammates understand. I love seeing the direct impact of my work and the confidence people gain from giving presentations they never thought were possible.

What's the best thing about midlife career change? It's never too late to reinvent yourself and do something you care about. Starting a business at 40 meant I had a network to lean on and years of life experience to bring to my work and my clients.

What's the biggest challenge? There's only one of me

What's your personal mantra or mission? Why? My mission is to bring all voices to the table, to create diversity in leadership, and to allow introverts and quiet leaders to effect change in their organizations and the world. My mantra is experiment. I find this an incredibly helpful mantra for public speaking and for life because it gives you permission to be imperfect. Not sure how something will work in a presentation? Experiment. Not sure how a decision will play out? It's an experiment.

Your best career advice for other women at midlife is... Embrace Change. There are great things that await on the other side of change.


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