Do you ever find yourself wondering… what’s next?
As in, what’s your next big move? Or big project? Or legacy?
If you’re pondering ways to make your golden years more fulfilling and purposeful, this article is about not selling yourself short.
What’s more, your creative output can peak at any age. It’s about when you decide to put your heart and soul into something.
For instance, if you think entrepreneurship is mainly for the risk-taking youth, think again. It turns out entrepreneurs are mostly late bloomers.
Contrary to what most people assume, according to a study by Kauffman, it turns out that the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to the 55-64 age group.
And, in fact, the lowest rate of entrepreneurial activity goes to the youngest group, those between the ages of 20 to 34. That was the case between 1996-2008, anyway.
When you think about the famous high-tech companies started by young entrepreneurs (like Google and Facebook), this may come off as surprising.
But, if you put it in terms of the growing life expectancy trends these days, it makes total sense.
By 2050, for instance, American life expectancy is poised to be 83 years, compared to today’s 78 years.
Which means the age distribution bump is moving further and further to the right towards the 45-64 age group, and that means the 65+ age group is expected to bulge in the coming years (more specifically, by 2030).
Another way of looking at it is seniors are expected to outnumber children by 2035.
All this to say, there’s a growing opportunity for late bloomers to go big.
To inspire you to dream big, here are 10 all-star late bloomers who started to make their (more renowned) marks later in life.
10 Late Bloomers to Look to for Inspiration
#1. Harland David Sanders
Speaking of entrepreneurship, Harland David Sanders (aka Colonel Sanders) opened his first franchise of the famous Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1952, when he was 62.
It’s worth noting that Colonel Sanders did not have a previous career in the restaurant and food industry. In fact, his early life jobs included a steam engine stoker, insurance salesman and filling station operator (according to his Wikipedia page).
Couldn’t be further from food franchising, right?
It wasn’t until the Great Depression that Colonel Sanders started selling his secret recipe fried chicken, which, of course, expanded rapidly across the US and overseas. So much so that he sold it for $2 million (today’s $17 million) in 1964, when he was 73 years old.
#2. Ruth Thompson
Another entrepreneurial spirit, Ruth Thompson, launched her passion business, Hugs Cafe, in 2013 when she was in her late 50s.
While Ruth found her passion for working with special needs adults, as an instructor, 15 years prior, she founded Hugs Cafe without any previous experience running a nonprofit or business.
Ruth is now 66 and spearheading her thriving nonprofit business with a mission to “empower adults with special needs to change their lives for the better by creating jobs and providing extensive training every day.”
#3. Tao Porchon-Lynch
Known for being the oldest yoga instructor, late bloomer Tao Porchon-Lynch is another one of the inspiring late bloomers who also had a passion for helping and teaching others. After a career in modeling and acting, Tao decided to pursue her passion for teaching yoga, at the age of 49.
She was so serious about being a yoga master, she became a founding member of the Yoga Teachers Association in 1976 (age 58) and flew to Israel to attend the Yoga for Peace International Peace Conference in 1995 (age 77).
In 2012, at age 93, Tao was recognized by Guinness World Records as the globe’s oldest yoga teacher.
#4. Gladys Burrill
Another woman with remarkable physical strength, Gladys Burrill, was an avid runner who holds the world record for the oldest woman to compete in a marathon. This is an impressive record that Gladys achieved in 2010 at the age of 92.
It was the Honolulu Marathon (which, by the way, she completed five out of seven attempts) where she set the Guinness World Record after completing the race within 9 hours, 53 minutes and 16 seconds.
If you think Gladys must have been a runner all her life, think again. She ran her first marathon at age 86 in 2004.
#5. Ida Keeling
On the topic of setting running records, Ida Keeling is another late bloomer woman known for her racing.
In 2011, when Ida was 95, she set the world record in her age group for running 60 meters (which she did in 29.86 seconds). If you think that’s impressive, prepare for more awe:
- In 2012 (age 97), she set the W95 American record at the ESATF Eastern Regional Conference Championships.
- In 2014 (age 99), she set the fastest known time for a 99-year-old-woman in the 100-meter dash at the 2014 Gay Games.
- In 2016 (age 100), she set the record for being the first 100-year-old woman in history to complete a 100-meter run at the 2016 Penn Relays.
And Ida did not spend most of her life training as a runner. In fact, her daughter Shelley, who’s also a world record holder, convinced her mom to run her first mini-run when Ida was 67.
Physical activity isn’t the only awe-inspiring format, though. Look to the next late bloomer for an author’s perspective.
#6. Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder was an American writer, known for the Little House on the Prairie series of children’s books. She didn’t become a disciplined writer until 1924, at age 48, after a decade of writing as a columnist for the Missouri Ruralist.
But, Laura’s real fame hit at age 65, when Little House in the Big Woods was published in 1932. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal was established in 1954 when she was 87, only three years before her passing.
#7. Harry Bernstein
Another late bloomer author, Harry Bernstein was a British-born American author who started writing his book, The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers, when he was 93. His book was published in 2007 when he was 96.
If you’re wondering what the catalyst to Harry’s creativity was, it was spurred by the passing of his wife, Ruby, in 2002, when he experienced a bout of loneliness after an amazing 67 years of marriage.
#8. Peter Mark Roget
For a writer who left a legacy publication that’s been worked on by three generations, look to Peter Mark Roget, who authored Roget’s Thesaurus. Peter was another late bloomer author who started working on his newfound passion for writing as an older adult.
After retiring from his medical career in 1840, at age 61, Peter worked on his thesaurus as a way to battle depression. His thesaurus first printed in 1852, when he was 73, and had 28 printings.
Following his passing in 1869 (age 90), the thesaurus was revised and expanded by his son, John, and then again by his grandson, Samuel.
#9. Anna Mary Robertson Moses
Beyond the written format, Anna Mary Robertson Moses (known as Grandma Moses) was an American folk artist who started her late bloomer painting career at age 78.
While she dreamed of being a painter since childhood, she didn’t pursue this passion until later in life. After working as a live-in housekeeper for 15 years, Grandma Moses married, at age 27, and then lived and worked the farm life with her husband and five of her children.
Grandma Moses’ legacy includes her renowned works:
- The Old Checkered House, 1862 – painted in 1942 with an approximate $100,000 value
- Sugaring Off – painted in 1943 with an approximate $1.2 million value
#10. Clara Peller
The final inspiring late bloomer (in this article, certainly not in general), Clara Peller, was another shining star who started a bonus career as an older adult.
For 35 years, Clara worked as a manicurist at a local beauty salon in Chicago and, at age 80, she worked as a temporary manicurist for a TV commercial set and then became contracted as an actress because of her unique voice and no-nonsense personality.
In 1984, at age 81, Clara hit stardom.
She starred in a famous Wendy’s ad campaign, known for its “Where’s the beef!” commercial. Clara also made the three-word phrase a cultural phenomenon. Not to mention, she also boosted Wendy’s worldwide sales a whopping 31% to $945 million.
Your Turn to Shine, Late Bloomer
Even after all your amazing accomplishments, it’s never too late to partake in big purposeful dreams that energize you.
How do you want to show up in the world? Which of these late bloomers did you find the most inspirational?