March 8th, 2024

On this International Women’s Day, I want to share some incredible stats for you to consider:

  • 96% of women are expected to be the primary financial decision-maker at some point in their lives
  • $30 trillion of generational wealth is passing to GenX and Millennials in the next 10 years—with the majority of it going to women
  • Women are 54% of primary breadwinners
  • Single women are buying homes at 2x the rate of single men
  • Women own 40% of businesses
  • Women receive over 50% of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees
  • Women make up almost 60% of the labor force

 Women are becoming an economic force. Yet despite our momentum as evidenced by these numbers, women are still locked out of the most privileged places of power and opportunities for success. We receive less than 2% of venture funding, hold just 16% of private company board seats, and only 28% of C-suite roles.*

The average age of the female leader is 45 and up to that point, many women have felt intense pressure to reach the top quickly or risk being passed by. Sadly after that point, we’ve been conditioned to feel that not only have we been robbed of opportunities, but also that our time is running out. On this International Women’s Day, I want you to consider that your time is NOT running out. 

I have talked with literally thousands of women over the last eight years about the professional woman’s desire to serve on boards. For many, this desire stems from a sense of time ticking, and a fear of missing out on opportunities for impact later in life. Up to this point, you have spent your professional career climbing—you’ve set and accomplished goals, worked tirelessly, sought opportunities, and demonstrated your leadership. You’ve achieved great things and have much to be proud of. Now, I would argue, is the time to think less about climbing and more about branching out. Harnessing all of your wisdom, confidence, energy, and passion to expand your reach, unlimit your potential, and unleash your impact. Now is the time to build your Portfolio of Impact™.

As long as your brain and your body continue to cooperate, why not believe that you can meaningfully contribute in a professional sense for another 20+ years (if you want to)? Yes, you can be an advisor or board member, but you might also come in and out of operating roles (after all you no longer have to be there 10+ years), you could become a fractional CxO, you could invest and contribute to building the next generation of companies (even advising some), you could start your own company. You could write a book, launch a podcast, teach at a local university. You can do several of these things simultaneously! You can make your second-half career multidimensional and more reflective of your holistic brand based on themes from your career and life experiences. 

I am continually inspired by the women in the Athena community who are exploring what they have to offer more fully in the second half of their careers. They are challenging the antiquated notion that once you’ve reached a certain point at the top of the mountain, you’re on your way down. Rather, they’re constructing differently to make their mark and realize their impact. What’s more is they’re doing it together.

So, consider this challenge. Next time someone asks you to introduce yourself, try describing yourself through the lens of a Portfolio of Impact™. Here’s mine: “Hi, my name is Coco Brown. I’m the Founder & CEO of Athena. I am a 4-time entrepreneur, actively building Athena Alliance, which is a community platform for women leaders building their Portfolios of Impact. Our members have 20, 30, 40 years behind them. They aren’t done yet. They are now designing for the next 10, 20, 30 years. Some of them want to join boards, others invest, most of them want to do several things. As for me, I’m focused on 4 things right now: 1) building my company to scale as an entrepreneur, 2) investing in next generation businesses through light angel investing, 3) I serve on a couple of private boards, and 4) I’m screwing up my energy and courage to pursue a TED Talk.”


*stats acquired from Prudential Research, Harvard Business School, Bureau of Labor Statistics, McKinsey, and Forbes



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