Breaking the Old(er) Age Glass Ceiling

Most of us find ourselves in the same routine, or rut. Wake up, go to work, time with family, sleep. Repeat. We do this day after day after day with little thought of what’s next. The mundaneness of our lives can be both comforting and sterile at the same time. What if we had the opportunity to begin again? To take the knowledge, interests, and passion we have now and turn them into a second career? To start afresh?

I’ve been fortunate that podcasting has given me that opportunity. An opportunity to share my voice and my experience with others who are traveling the same journey as I am. In my middle-aged mind, I mistakenly believed being a podcaster is for younger people. What could older people offer? Do older people listen to podcasts? I really had no idea. (Confession: I didn’t listen to podcasts until I started thinking about podcasting. So, my view was skewed from the get-go).

The Background

Much of my adult life I have been a stay-in-the-car mom. I was always in the car going somewhere. Either to get to a civic meeting or an event with my four children. As a perennial volunteer in their schools and our community, I was never at home. Thus, the term, stay-in-the-car. I enjoyed what I did immensely, but knew that there was more I inherently wanted to contribute to the world. The issue was that I had no time to step back and ponder what I wanted to be when I grew up.

My pilgrimage began when I turned 40 and, on a whim, decided to start running. As a former couch potato who could put away an entire bag of chips and three Cokes in one sitting, this was going to be an interesting journey. As a novice, I had no idea what I was doing and couldn’t have imagined that it would be transformational.

I enjoyed what I did immensely, but knew that there was more I inherently wanted to contribute to the world.

Soon I learned that the running community is a supportive, encouraging group of people. It’s the only sport I know where you’re supported regardless of your speed. Everyone is doing their best and cheering each other on.

With a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (no exaggeration here) and an incredible support system, I ran my first marathon two years after the beginning of my running career. Crazy, right?

I was on to something. My naivete was becoming a strength. I was beginning to see that If I was passionate about something, then I could make it happen.

When my children all went off to college 10 years later, I finally had LOTS of time to think about what my second career would look like. My background and passion is in education, so I knew this was the arena I needed to focus on. But how? Write a book? Become a speaker? I had no idea how to channel what was jumping around in my head.

The Podcast

It just so happened I met a girlfriend whom I hadn’t seen in years for lunch one day in March 2019. We were discussing our plans for the future and how we planned to achieve them. I was sharing mine, and her advice brings us to the present.

As a mother of two young children, she had no time to read a book or attend meetings. She did, though, have time to listen to podcasts as she spent so much time in her car.

Hmmm…a podcast? Her idea was thought-provoking, but I had no idea where to begin. I’m a 50-something. Can I do that? I mean, come on. 50 is the new 40, but the body and mind are still 50! And we didn’t grow up with technology. For a long time, technology was the bane of my existence and I routinely farmed out my tech needs to my family.

The interesting thing is, podcasting did combine two of my loves: education and talking. So, I began edu-Me and the edu-Me podcast with the desire to help parents become an advocate for children in school.

With little knowledge and even less confidence, I decided to dive in and learn.

Having baseline knowledge of how schools function, how our children’s scores affect the funding of the school, how to build a relationship with teachers and administrators became my mission. We have discussed sensitive topics such as racial discrimination, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and how immigrant parents can learn about the education system.

Not having a clue as to what I was doing (eerily similar to my running quest), I began researching the tricks, trades, and tips of podcasting. How do you start one? Do you need intro/outro music? How long should a podcast be? How do you get your podcast on the major platforms? How much is this whole thing going to cost?

Geez, what had I gotten myself into? Since technology is generally not my friend, I had to figure out how to create the content, understand how to record, edit, upload, and promote. Maybe I was in over my head.

With little knowledge and even less confidence, I decided to dive in and learn. Thank goodness for YouTube, and my technical husband and children, the podcast community, and the great podcasts out there that teach newbies how to start one.

It was a steep learning curve, but I was determined to figure out how to become a podcaster. My technical team (my family) spent hours teaching me how to record and edit in Audacity, how to upload the audio and publish it, and how to secure interviews, to name just a few. However, seven months later, I launched my first episode in October 2019.

I’ve kept working at it mainly because a.) I’m passionate about my topic, and b.) I’ve met some amazing, inspiring, and supportive people. Similar to running, podcasters are my tribe.

It is apparent that I tend to gravitate towards activities and groups where we lift each other up.

Being a 50-something podcaster is a humbling experience with great advantages.

Less than a year into my podcasting career, I’ve found people, young and older, come together to help each other. The Facebook podcast groups have been a tremendous resource in terms of asking questions and receiving support from fellow colleagues. I met some amazing people at the podcast conference I recently attended. One particular younger friend taught me something so simple to most younger podcasters – how to use social media to my benefit. There is so much to know! One day, a younger colleague reached out about how to connect with those older to her. What are some topics she could discuss to entice an older audience? This is collaboration at its best.

Being a 50-something podcaster is a humbling experience with great advantages. Our life experience allows us to share personal stories that may ease others’ challenges. To start something new in your 50s brings about a confidence boost you may have not known existed, and hopefully, inspire others to put themselves in unchartered territories and enjoy the journey.

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