EvolveMe Empowers Women To Begin New Careers After 40

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Let’s face it, changing careers at any age can be a daunting experience. But for women over 40, it can feel downright scary! Ageism is alive and well and breaking into a new career midlife? It seems overwhelming.

But two women, Judy Schoenberg and Linda Lautenberg, set out to change this dynamic and, together, they co-founded EvolveMe. Their mission is to “Advance women in mid-career. We work with groups of women in midlife looking to relaunch, reinvent or level up their careers and with companies invested in attracting and retaining top female talent.”

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They accomplish this with training courses that “Make professional reinvention fun, rewarding, and doable” and with “Support from EvolveMe’s curated groups of like-minded women.”

Schoenberg and Lautenberg will illuminate your path, bolster your confidence, and connect the dots to help you understand how your skills and experience are transferable to new opportunities that align with who you are now.

Keep reading for the full interview about the co-founders and their journey with EvolveMe!

Q. Who inspires you? 

Judy: My co-founder, Linda, inspires me every day. She can figure anything out and never shies away from trying something new. It’s so important to have this mindset in midlife – that we can grow at any age and stage. Seeing her passion to pay it forward to other women lifts me up! 

Linda: I’m inspired by my co-founder Judy’s career-long commitment to women’s and girls’ leadership development. I so admire her dedication to this work – she truly lives and breathes it. Passion is a word that is sometimes overused. But Judy – she’s absolutely passionate about the advancement of women and supporting their careers. 

Q. What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

Judy: I would tell my 20-year-old self that it’s all going to be ok. Don’t overthink things too much, and go with your gut and intuition. Trust yourself. Listen to the voice in your head that says, “You’ve got this. You’ve done this before, and you can do it again!” Don’t take life so seriously – make sure to have FUN! 

Linda: I would tell my 20-year-old self to pay attention to what I enjoy, the parts of my work and career that light me up, along the way. Don’t be so worried about sticking to “the plan.” Try to be in the moment more and worry less about getting to the next big thing. 

Q, What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

Judy: The best advice I ever received was from a former male boss who was hired into a job that he wasn’t 100% qualified for. He was very upfront about it to me. He actually used the phrase “fake it until you make it” in a 1:1 meeting with me. That was freeing — and maybe even more so coming from a man who was making himself vulnerable. 

What I took away was that you don’t have to be perfect to put your hat in the ring. Women feel like they have to have ALL the skills before they apply for a job – and men just go for it. We’re trying to change that in EvolveMe. 

Linda: In my early finance career, I had a boss who was an incredible mentor. He put me forward to negotiate a $90 million deal, even though I was very young for such an opportunity. When I asked him if he was sure, he said he had confidence in my knowledge, experience and dedication, and that my age didn’t matter. 

I’ve carried this idea forward in my work at EvolveMe. Age doesn’t matter. What’s important is your mindset, curiosity, dedication, and all the transferable skills you bring to your next opportunity. 

It also taught me the value of not only having a mentor but a champion/ sponsor at work. 

Q. What are you reading? 

Judy: I’m reading I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron. I was at an event recently about women and menopause, and they were giving away free copies. It’s hilarious! I just turned 50 this year and I know I’ve checked the way my neck looks on Zoom way too many times! 

Linda: I love history. I just finished A Place of Greater Safety by Hillary Mantel. It details the lives of three key figures in the French Revolution from their childhood through the execution of the Dantonists. We’re going to Paris this summer to celebrate my daughter’s high school graduation, so I want to brush up on my knowledge. And I’m a HUGE classical lit nerd, so up next: Les Miserables

Q. Briefly describe your business and the inspiration behind it. 

Navigating a career transition can seem overwhelming and unachievable. We know because we’ve been there! We found the process isolating — Linda as a returner after a caregiving break, and Judy as a pivoter from a national non-profit. We knew there were many women in the same position and yearned for a group of like-minded peers to share in the reinvention process. 

After building out a program for women returning to work in the social impact sector, we realized the very real need for programming developed for the specific needs of women in mid-life. And we discovered our passion. 

We founded EvolveMe as a way to help mid-career women kick-start their career reinvention through training, community, and support from each other. There’s a special magic in bringing women together who are moving in the same direction! 

We’re so proud of what we created and it’s transforming women’s careers. Check out our hugely successful signature training program for women in midlife: the Reinvention Collective. 

Q. What made you decide to become an entrepreneur? 

Judy: I decided to become an entrepreneur because I was at a stage in my career where I was craving more autonomy, creativity, and flexibility. I wanted work to align with the rest of my life as a mother, too. 

After a successful nonprofit career in women’s leadership development research, I was ready to bring my expertise out into the world to work more directly with women. 

There was little that existed to help support women as they move into this next stage of their career with confidence and in the company of other women. That’s key! I wanted to create the program that I was looking for when I was pivoting. 

Linda: I never planned on launching a company on my own but, with a partner, it’s fantastic. There are aspects of running your own business that are very freeing. Being able to decide, independently, what things will look like, your values, and who you work with. Controlling your own hours and how you operate. 

Judy and I started EvolveMe because we saw a gap in resources for women in midlife. After running a training for a startup, we realized the very real need– based on our own experiences and those of the women we were working with — for a comprehensive group program for women in midlife looking for a next chapter. 

Career reinvention can be an isolating, deflating process, when tackled alone. And women so infrequently put themselves first. But given support from a cohort of like-minded women, structure, tools and accountability, the possibilities are endless. We created EvolveMe to be the program we wish would have been available for us when we were in career transitions. 

Q. What has been the key to your success? 

The key to our success is we’re both driven and passionate about what we set out to do. We also complement each other well – Linda has a business background in finance and Judy has a background in the nonprofit sector. Linda has older kids and lives in the New Jersey suburbs and Judy’s kids are younger and she lives in the city in Brooklyn. 

We finish each other’s sentences now. And we communicate openly with each other about what’s going on in the rest of our lives so we can bring our whole selves into our work – it’s a true partnership. 

Q. What’s some news about your business that’s exciting to you? 

So glad you asked! Some exciting news about our business is that we’re now working directly with companies that are focused on attracting and retaining top female talent. 

We know why women leave the workforce and we understand what will keep them in roles or within their organizations. And we also know women find it difficult to advocate for themselves at work – that’s where we come in. 

It’s been great to partner with women’s employee resource groups within companies that are supporting women to grow and develop in their roles. You can learn more here: EvolveMe@Work 

Q. What lessons have you learned along the way that you wish you would have known at the beginning of your start-up career? 

We wish we knew the extent to which the ability to change quickly was part of start-up life. We pivoted from an in-person business to digital at the beginning of the pandemic, only months after launching. 

But moving to a virtual format has allowed us to reach women across the U.S. and around the world! Since then, we’ve added additional streams of work to our business and grown in other ways. 

We’ve learned that if it wasn’t a global health crisis that caused us to pivot, it would have been something else, because being agile and adaptable is the nature of being an entrepreneur. 

Q. When self-doubt hits, what do you do? 

When self-doubt hits us, we think of all the women EvolveMe has helped with their career reinvention and all the others who are counting on EvolveMe to help them move forward in the future. This sense of having a larger purpose fuels us and can lessen self-doubt quickly! 

We also focus on how we can own our value even more! We know women have the talents and skills that are needed in the workplace to adapt to our changing world. And we have the emotional intelligence and the leadership skills to contribute to solving the most pressing problems today – like women relaunching into the workforce. 

And we lean on each other. It’s very rare that self-doubt hits us both at once. That’s the beauty of having a co-founder. We reflect together on our accomplishments, how far we’ve come, and what talents we have to pay it forward. This gets us back on track. 

Q. What’s one fun fact about each of you? 

Judy: I’m a lifelong, born and bred New Yorker. There aren’t many of us around! 

Linda: My daughter is a zookeeper in California, training monkeys, orangutans, and lions! 

Q. Coming from the other side of career reinvention yourselves, what advice can you give other women who want to become entrepreneurs? 

One of the lessons we’ve learned is how important it is to rely on the wisdom and experience of women who have come before us in this entrepreneurial journey. 

We’ve learned so much from women we’ve met from networking events and introductions from colleagues and friends. Other female founders have been incredibly generous with their time, and we work hard to pay it forward to lift them up as well. 

Learning from women leading start-ups across sectors and industries is so important. We’re our own tribe! And female entrepreneurs have an incredible #womensupportingwomen vibe!


Have you thought about or changed careers after 40? Tell us in the comments!

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About Judy Schoenberg

As co-founder of EvolveMe, Judy Schoenberg is a career strategist and leadership expert for women in midlife career transition who are exploring a return to the workforce or are pivoting careers. Through the DARE© Method of Career Reinvention she created with her co-founder, Judy helps cohorts of women find the clarity and confidence to own their value and pursue new opportunities. If you need a place to start getting unstuck, download EvolveMe’s FREE career strategy tool: The EvolveMe Career Reinvention Analyzer.

Social links: 
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/evolveme-work
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/evolveme.work/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/evolveme.work

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About Linda Lautenberg

Linda Lautenberg, Co-Founder of EvolveMe, is a return to work expert, women’s career advancement strategist, and champion for all midlife career changers. Along with her co-founder, Linda developed EvolveMe’s proprietary DARE© Method of Career Reinvention to help cohorts of high-achieving women find clarity, gain confidence, and launch the best chapter of their professional life. Get the inspiration you need for your next career move by downloading EvolveMe’s FREE training: 6 Mindset Traps that Sabotage Career Transition in Midlife.

Social links: 
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/evolveme-work
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/evolveme.work/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/evolveme.work

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