I spoke recently with Maddy Dychtwald, the author (with Christine Larson) of Influence: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power Will Transform Our World for the Better (Hyperion, 2010).
Dychtwald was a co-founder (with her husband, Ken) of AgeWave, a consulting firm focused on the impact aging will have on the economy (and more). We spoke specifically about changes going on for Boomer women 50+.
When will the world listen to Boomer women’s financial instincts?
Dychtwald retold a story she shares in the book, about a meeting she and her husband had with their financial planner a few years back. Maddy said that she thought the best thing they could do then was to pay down their home mortgage. Her financial advisor actually laughed in her face. Maddy stood her ground, emphasizing to her husband that it was important for them to feel secure, and he agreed with her. Not long ago her financial advisor called Maddy to say he owed her an apology. This reminds me of two things we know about Vibrant Women. They have fundamentally sound financial judgment (as I’ve written before)
and they aren’t getting the respect they deserve from the financial industry, even when their advisors have known them for years. Maddy Dychtwald’s book shows why women’s financial influence should get more respect.
Why aren’t we training Vibrant Women to run for office?
I shared with Dychtwald my own confusion about our culture, which denigrates older women in general but does seem the respect them in high office. She agreed that we should pair this with the fact that Vibrant Women make great politicians. Dychtwald pointed out that there are lots of training programs promoting younger women to run for office. Yet younger women don’t generally want to step up to the plate at this stage of life. Older women do. An empty nester is seasoned by life and work and raising a family, and has the time now to use her life experiences (and the resulting confidence) to create a better world. I hope that Dychtwald keeps talking about this, and encourages a few Vibrant Women to run for office.
Encouraging signs that Vibrant Women can be themselves
I asked Dychtwald what was exciting her most about women these days, and she pointed to the fact that women in power are getting more comfortable with leading from their “authentic feminine self.” In her book she writes about Indra Nooyi, who as CEO of Pepsico talks deliberately about achieving “performance with purpose,” not a goal that many male CEOs would publicly announce. When a woman is comfortable in her own skin, Dychtwald notes, her voice doesn’t sound like anyone else’s.
I know that Dychtwald is right when she describes the benefits that come from letting women – including Vibrant Women – influence more major decisions. Let’s hope that she can persuade some more men, too.