I Love a Good Late Bloomer Story

With our youth obsessed culture it can seem that if we haven’t left our mark by the time we’re thirty we should just give up and settle in. We are besieged by stories of wunderkind who have made their fame and fortune while they were still in their twenties and are now on a mission to change the world.

Think it’s too late for you? Where do you think all this “youth” stuff got it’s start?

In the sixties the slogan of the youth culture was “never trust anyone over 30”. The youth of those time are now budding senior citizens. They are the ones who started the youth culture and they are not giving up on it just because thirty was decades ago.


Harland Sanders didn’t become the Colonel until he was 62 years old. Like many of us he bounced from pillar to post, before circumstance set him on the path that turned his 12 years of frying up his special recipe for locals into an international behemoth.

In some ways our fascination with youth has married with the boomer’s unwillingness to let age get the better of us. We are unwilling to admit that we are actually getting old. This can lead to inappropriate attire and awkward social situations, but it also gives us permission to do things earlier generations might have thought unthinkable.

Clara Peller (the “where’s the beef” lady) is a favorite late bloomer story. She was 80 years old when someone asked her to appear in a local commercial. From that appearance she was notice and at the age of 81 she appeared in her first Wendy’s commercial. And thus was born a character that would live in American’s hearts for decades.

So what if the mega success stories of our day involve people who became millionaires before they could shave? You are still young, you have probably got all the serious adulting stuff out of the way, and now once again have the freedom to do what you would like.

Julia Child is a classic late success story. She waited until relatively late to discover she had a passion for cooking, and was 50 years old when she first appeared on television as “The French Chef”, where she became a fixture for decades.

Thes days, in many respects, a 50 year old is still young. Young in spirit and still healthy, she can look forward to being productive for another 30 years easily. That’s plenty of time to start on something new.

Here is a great quote from Victor Hugo, the author of Les Miserable – “40 is the old age of youth, 50 the youth of old age.”

Looking back on your life, how many times did you pass up some idea or opportunity thinking, “by the time I get started I’ll be X years old, and that’s to late to get started?” Of course, by the time you reach that age you realize that, once again, you had passed up a golden opportunity?

A more recent example of someone who got a late start is Jill Boehler, Designer and Founder of Chilly Jilly. She had always had a creative mind, but had never had the confidence to take action. Then one day a visit to an air conditioned restaurant lead the 55 year old to begin her company designing lightweight wraps that could be carried with at all times.

It’s fun to read stories of people who become fabulous successes late in life. Some such tales can hold their own for hundreds of years.

What are your chances of becoming a billionaire late in life? Probably not great (who are we kidding? Probably none-existent.) But that’s not really the point of stories like these.

You might not become rich and famous, but don’t let another opportunity pass you by with the notion that you are too old. You’re not, and those years are coming no matter what. Take a chance, do what you want. What have you really got to lose?

Got a favorite late bloomer story? We’d love to hear about it. Just leave us a comment below.

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