New research suggests that Middle Age might be the ideal time to innovate. According to the Kauffman Foundation, twice as many U.S. born tech entrepreneurs have new start-ups in their 50’s as do those in their early 20’s. A Harvard study found “twice as many successful founders over 50 as under 25, and twice as many over 60 as under 20.” So apparently, age provides a noticeable advantage.
There are many detailed theories as to why the aging brain is better at innovation. This quote from Steve Jobs in an interview with Wired in 1994 explains the advantage of having experiences, “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
Here is a sample of well-known innovators who reached their pinnacle after 40:
He invented the lightning rod at 41 and signed the Declaration of Independence at 70.
He opened his first Wal-Mart store in 1962 at the age of 44. In 2012 the net sales were $443.9 billion.
Mary Kay Ash
She started Mary Kay Cosmetics in 1963 at the age of 45. She tapped an army of underemployed women to sell her products.
This famous chef co-authored her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking at age 49.
He joined McDonald’s at age 52. He built it into the most successful fast food operation in the world.
Elliott Cook Carter
Famous American composer who twice was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, at age 59 and 65. He composed more than 40 works between the age of 90 and 100.
We hope this inspires you to use your experiences to guide you to be innovative and creative as you live a productive and fulfilled life.
Scott & Heidi