At eighteen, I was a college drop-out. My twenties were spent working as a secretary and looking for a man to marry me. And at 29, when I found myself living with my new room-mates Mom and Dad, I realized I needed a better plan.
I had heard “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I loved food and so headed back to college to become a nutritionist. Three months into my studies, I was feeling drawn to medicine but thought I was too old to pursue such a big career.
The best advice I ever got came from my mother. After weeks of watching me vacillate between career choices and lamenting my “old age,” she said: “Susan, one day you’ll be fifty years old. You’ll either be a doctor or you won’t, but you’ll still be fifty. That’s your choice.” And it was.
I worked hard for three years and graduated at the top of my class. Unbelievably, I was rejected from every medical school in the country. I was devastated but not willing to give up on my dream, so I put myself through the year-long application process again. This time it worked, but life had changed.
The day I started medical school, I was 35 years old, six months pregnant and didn’t have a husband. Juggling medical school and single motherhood was a whirlwind of emotions and exhaustion, but I made it through. I picked a career as an Emergency Room doctor so I could schedule a life with my son and found in the process that I loved it!
Ironically, the scheduling that initially attracted me to the emergency room was part of what brought it to an end. Working around the clock was exhausting and so at age 50, I left that lucrative career to open a medical spa dedicated to helping women navigate aging without surgery. I became an entrepreneur.
I had no business training and no role model, but I put a $75 ad in the newspaper and sat at the reception desk myself. Fourteen years later, Madison Med Spa is unrecognizable from its humble beginnings.
At age sixty three, I decided to reinvent myself again. To help others learn from my mistakes, I became an author. My book, Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble: Turn Set-Backs into Success outlines the strategies that transformed me. And then at age 64, I qualified for membership in the National Speakers Association and took my message on the road as a keynote speaker. When I spoke at INBOUND 15 Conference, I shared the stage with Brene Brown and Seth Godin!
In 2011, I was elected to the Board of Directors of the Madison Chamber of Commerce where I started the Women in Business luncheon series. I served as the chairperson of the committee until 2015.
My life and career provide conclusive evidence – you’re never too old and it’s never too late!