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January 12, 2022

Founder Feature: EvolveMe

EvolveMe is a professional development company for women in midlife.

The #1 piece of advice we give all women, over and over again, is that career reinvention is an “inside job”. It starts with you!

Judy Schoenberg & Linda Lautenberg are the co-founders of EvolveMe, a consulting practice for women in midlife who dream of a next career chapter. 
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Please tell us a bit about your practice, and what makes you unique in this arena?

EvolveMe is a professional development company for women in midlife. What makes us special?  We work with a community of women in career transition, giving them the structure and tools to make reinvention doable.

We founded EvolveMe to support mid-career women returning to the workforce after a break, pivoting careers, or emerging from a personal transition. It’s rare for women to find a space dedicated exclusively to exploring a professional next chapter in midlife - that’s where we’re filling a gap. 

And we would have never imagined, when we founded EvolveMe two years ago, that our mission would be even more relevant today, with so many women wanting to reset professionally after the pandemic. 

What else makes us stand out? We get you - because we’ve been there! As co-founders, we can identify with the women we work with - Linda as a career relauncher after a significant break from a finance career, and Judy as a career pivoter who took a leap after a long tenure as a non profit executive.
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Do you work with companies or just individuals? (pls explain here the variety of services you offer and make clear that you aren’t placing women in jobs)

EvolveMe is on a mission to advance all women in midlife and to elevate the profile of women in -- and returning to -- the workplace as a valuable untapped talent pool. This is our time! We work with cohorts of individual women looking to relaunch, reinvent or level up their careers and with companies invested in attracting and retaining top female talent. 

Our signature virtual training program, the Reinvention Collective, is a comprehensive 12-week cohort-based program that takes women through the must-do steps to successfully relaunch or change careers. With structured training and like-minded peers providing accountability and support, women in the Reinvention Collective go farther, faster, and spend less time spinning their wheels.

With EvolveMe’s DARE© method of career reinvention, women come away with greater clarity, renewed confidence, a refreshed toolkit (“pivot” pitch, resume, personal brand, LinkedIn profile, networking and interviewing skills) and a group of women invested in their success -- which is priceless! 

While EvolveMe doesn’t actively place women in roles, Reinvention Collective alumni are making it happen -- landing coveted roles and starting new businesses from media to technology to finance to nonprofits and startups. Women in the program call our work “transformative” and “life changing” -- we want that for more women in 2022!

And we’re on a mission to help companies leverage the talent of women in midlife with the pipeline we’re creating! Through our [email protected] initiative, we work with businesses committed to women in the workplace. We partner with women’s ERG’s and business leaders to curate programming to support women in advocating for themselves, mentoring each other, negotiating and gaining confidence to level up.
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What’s the #1 piece of advice you give all women, over and over again?

Women come to us in career transition knowing they want more meaning and fulfillment but not knowing how to get there. There’s no “user manual” for your next chapter in midlife.

The #1 piece of advice we give all women, over and over again, is that career reinvention is an “inside job”. It starts with you! And that means getting clear on your values, your skills, talents, what you love to do, what fills your cup, and your purpose. 

But this inner work is vastly more successful when women go through this process with other women who are at a similar stage as themselves.

We see so many women skip this inner work because it’s hard to do it on your own. We tried ourselves when we were in transition several years ago and it was isolating and confidence killing. 

When women don’t take time for self-discovery, they quickly feel lost when updating their resume without clarity and direction. If you don’t have a career vision as your northstar, you’ll have a harder time vetting (and getting!) opportunities --  and you may continue to doubt yourself along the way. 

And it’s easier to gain an appreciation of the value you bring when other talented women act as your mirror.

What do you think is the biggest reinvention obstacle for women over 50?

We are soooo lucky to work with incredibly accomplished, credentialed, and motivated women in our Collective cohorts. The biggest challenge we see them face is owning their value in midlife -- feeling confident they can make a change, be visible, and have an impact. 

Many women we work with question: Is it too late? Am I too old? Do I have what it takes to move into a new industry? How can I compete with younger colleagues? And how can I keep up with technology? 

One of the most important shifts you can make in midlife is your mindset. We view midlife career change as an opportunity. You’re not starting from scratch! You have experience, wisdom and passion to jump back in and align your work with who you are, what you’re good at and what you love to do. 

In midlife women have so many transferable skills -- like leadership, communication, judgement and perspective -- that you can only get from being in the workforce (including volunteer work!) for years. Once women start to know, own and show their worth, magical things start happening. For real!
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Is there an area/type of work that you see crying out for the talents of women our age?  

What a timely question! With the great resignation and reset, there’s currently a huge talent shortage. Accomplished women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s can and should fill the talent pipeline. 

Startups are a great place for women to be the “Jill of all trades”, pulling on their experience from many different roles over the course of their career. And because startups often lack the resources to hire full-time senior roles, women looking to make a change or relaunch their careers can fill the gap working alongside the founders in fractional roles as a way of trying out something new. We got our first opportunity at a social impact startup, and it was great to learn from other women across generations. 

Also women with diverse backgrounds often are a great match for Chief of Staff roles since they have a breadth of organizational experience. We’ve seen women land roles in Big 5 accounting firms, HR (an area eager for talent to bring back workers), in banking, media, e-commerce/retail, marketing and branding companies and in nonprofits.

And many women in midlife are perfectly positioned to launch their own ventures - like we did!

It’s no secret that the pandemic has displaced so many women in the workforce. Companies are now more accepting of resume gaps and are thinking creatively about talent pipelines. They’re also eager to hire people who can jump right in and manage others with emotional intelligence. Women in midlife have that in abundance!
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Where do you think we are in our society on ageism? Are we moving the needle at all? 

Great question. Ageism does feel like the last acceptable “ism”. But the good news is companies are starting to realize they need to address ageism within their diversity initiatives, which is a sign of progress. 

And have you noticed women in midlife are “trending”? There are 50over50 lists popping up, pro-menopause campaigns, women letting their gray shine like the Sex and the City crew, and companies addressing the unique needs of women in midlife. 

In our work with women, we also see that “internalized ageism” is a thing. We all need to look at ourselves and see what attitudes we carry around about what’s possible for us. Mindset is critical. 

But we do believe our culture is slowly shifting...The average age of a successful startup founder is 45. And we founded EvolveMe at 48 and 53. Let’s go! 


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