Listen & Learn

I’ve been addicted to Podcasts since I discovered them five years ago and, if I had mastered the art of listening to them while also being productive, I could cram in even more in a day than I already do during my short commute. I subscribe to a wide variety shows and they’re always on shuffle in my iPhone, running the gamut from NPR shows to local media and entertainment podcasts. My listening habits vary by my mood of the day, but one consistent theme is entrepreneurship and building a business–specifically women-owned businesses. I am sufficiently nerdy enough to dictate notes to myself in my phone while driving.


I always find it inspirational to hear from women who were bold enough to make the jump from corporate serf to entrepreneur, and I hang on their every word, listening for some nugget of insight or wisdom that might be applicable to my own journey.  Some days, I get deflated when I hear how young and unencumbered they are by the trappings of what keep people like me saddled to someone else’s payroll. They’re not worrying about paying a mortgage, or financing their kids’ braces, or having good enough health insurance to cover them in the event of the unthinkable. Saving for retirement is still a far off worry–not a fear that keeps them awake at night. Oh, how I envy them in some ways.


On the other hand, I never would have had the chutzpah, much less the skills and business acumen I’ve acquired over two-plus decades in the workforce, to venture out on my own in my 20s. Nor was the internet ubiquitous. Social media did not yet exist. Smart phones were still something from a futuristic movie. I’m not suggesting young entrepreneurs of today have it any easier; I’m simply proposing that technological advancements have enabled breaking free of the shackles of a cubicle in a way that would have been unimaginable early in my career. 


Those same technological advancements also have leveled the playing field for people like me–people who began their careers before the digital age, but who learned the tricks and tools of the internet online community from within someone else’s corporation–to make the leap into business ownership in middle age.


I see it as a win-win. Many of today’s young entrepreneurs may have the edge of being as-yet unencumbered by the demands of family and mortgage and rapidly-approaching retirement. Yet there is so very much they can teach people like me. Let’s be honest, there wouldn’t even be the podcasts I’ve come to love if it weren’t for someone much younger than myself producing them.  I look forward to learning and growing, and I hope as I do, I can also teach someone else.