It’s Never Too Late to Find Success

It can sometimes seem like life goes by pretty fast. Months turn into years and you can get down in the dumps, thinking about how this isn’t how you pictured your life. Maybe you just need a vacation. Or maybe you really are on a less fulfilling path and are ready to jump ship. But how old is too old to try something new? The short answer: never. If you want to change careers, launch a business or follow your lifelong passion, you should do it. Not “one day.” But right now. You’re not alone.The average American changes jobs 10 to 15 times between the ages of 18 and 46, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. And trust us when we tell you that there are more late bloomers when it comes to success than wunderkinds. Here are just ten inspiring examples.

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert

Colbert trudged through the comedy and improv trenches in his early days and worked briefly as a freelance writer for Saturday Night Live before landing at The Daily Show as a correspondent. When The Colbert Report premiered in 2005, he was 41 years old. And it was then that he started racking up Emmys, Grammys, Peabodys and named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People—twice. Then, at 51, he took the helm of The Late Show.

Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain

For most of us, we’ve only known Bourdain as the gray-haired lovable curmudgeonly travel god who has the enviable job of traveling (and drinking) around the world. But before he published Kitchen Confidentialthe book that changed the course of his career at 44, he was a guy who dropped out of college to attend the Culinary Institute of America before working his way up from line cook to head chef.

Vera Wang
Vera Wang

Vera Wang

Wang was a competitive figure skater and later worked as a fashion editor at Vogue for 17 years before deciding, at age 40, that she wanted to try her hand at being a designer. She commissioned her own wedding dress for $10,000 in 1989 and opened her first bridal boutique the following year. Since then, her eponymous fashion label has won prestigious design awards and remains the preeminent name in wedding dresses.

Stan Lee
Stan Lee

Stan Lee

Just shy of his 39th birthday, Stan Lee found success with the creation of his comic book The Fantastic Four. Following this, he rose to fame creating the now legendary Marvel Universe, including such iconic characters as Spider-Man and the X-Men. He’s now estimated to be worth around $50 million.

Rick Owens
Rick Owens

Rick Owens

Owens was studying fashion design in Los Angeles before losing interest and dropping out. He then started taking pattern-making and draping courses at a local trade school which lead to a job in LA’s garment industry doing knock-offs of designer clothing. In 1994, at the age of 32, he launched his own label based off of his daily uniform consisting of tight black jeans, black platforms, a black T-shirt and a leather jacket.

Robin Chase
Robin Chase

Robin Chase

Back in 1999, Robin Chase was 42 years old and learned about the concept of car sharing from a friend who had just returned from Berlin. A stay-at-home mother of three with an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chase wanted the flexibility that came from having her own business. She wrote up a business plan and secured financing and within a year, Zipcar launched. The business quickly became widely popular and was later sold to Avis Budget Group for nearly $500 million.

Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels

Lee Daniels

The very first film from Lee Daniels Entertainment, Academy Award-winning Monster’s Ball, came out in 2001—right before the producer turned 41 years old. But Daniels didn’t really start to come into his own until he directed 2009’s Precious and 2013’s The Butler. Now, at 58, he’s overseeing hit shows like Empire and commanding a level of fame, accolades and respect reserved for a select few in film and television.

J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling

Joanne Rowling has a now legendary rags-to-riches story: going from living on state benefits to multi-millionaire status in the span of about five years. Of course, the road to get there took some time. Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling considered herself a jobless failure. As a single mother, she wrote her first Harry Potter manuscript which was rejected by all 12 publishers it was sent to. It was eventually published when she was 32. And now the Harry Potter franchise is a global brand worth an estimated $15 billion.

Tim and Nina Zagat
Tim and Nina Zagat

Tim and Nina Zagat

When Tim and Nina Zagat began asking friends for restaurant recommendations in 1979, they didn’t know they were laying the groundwork for a business that would change the way people dine out. The husband and wife team had each turned 42 before they gave up on their legal careers to write their first restaurant guides. They started by driving boxes of books to New York bookstores themselves, but it steadily grew in size and stature before Google bought the company in 2011.

Ray Kroc
Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc spent the first decades of his professional career as a beleaguered traveling salesman, selling milkshake machines from the trunk of his car. After discovering the clever production methods employed by the McDonald brothers, he knew the local burger joint could be a massive success. At 53, he came onboard and over the next two decades, transformed McDonalds into the global empire it is today. “I was overnight an success,” Kroc once equipped, “but 30 years is a long, long night.”

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