Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
September 26, 2022
Barbara Brooks | SecondActWomen
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Barbara Brooks and I’m the founder and CEO of SecondActWomen. Our mission, and frankly our vision, is to eradicate gendered ageism. We aspire that women over 40 are lifted up, admired, valued, hired, and helped in this time of middlescence rather than be put down, pushed aside, and forgotten. We connect women by providing them with high-level personal and professional development, boot camps, and conferences. It’s really to help spur the growth of their small businesses, land jobs or stay relevant where they’re today. It’s also a safe space for women over 40 and 50 to talk about the things that we go through: the good, the bad, and the better.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I am a corporate leftover. My life has been spent in mall marketing, radio, and TV. I came from corporate America as a director of marketing and business development for shopping centers all across the United States. I dipped into radio and TV sales, and ultimately back into the shopping center world. In 2011 I left my career with Park Meadows Retail Resort to launch my marketing and public relations company.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I stand for equality and fairness. I stand for ownership of who I am. I stand for equity for women over 40 and 50. I stand for the value that we bring to our careers. My mission at SecondActWomen, alongside my co-founder Guadalupe Hirt, is standing up for women over 40 and 50, particularly Gen X women who have been pushed aside.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
As a pro-age membership community, we’re all about inspiring and powering up women 40+ to confidently start and grow a business or launch a new career if they’d like in middlescence. For some, they believe age holds them back, and the fact is, only we can hold each other back. So, at SecondActWomen, we aim to help women in their 40s and 50s elevate their small businesses and on-the-job skills. Let’s face it, one part is true, and that’s ageism, particularly gendered ageism, is alive and well. We’re here to advocate while educating.
We’re also making an impact in the modern workplace. For instance, we are partners with Western Union, where we’ll be producing pro-age inclusivity workshops. And with their help, we’ve launched a job board, in beta form, on SecondActWomen.com to give seasoned businesswomen and landing pad to find their next career. Our corporate push is to ensure that women in the workplace over 40 are just as valued as their peers and that their soft skills are important and hold value. Our soft skills are innate in GenX and Boomer women – and men, as are their hard skills.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
The person I truly look up to is my mom.
My mother has always worked, having served in the Navy Reserve while full-time in Civil Service at Fort Carson, Colorado. By the way, while raising two kids alone as a 70s divorcee with no checking account. #signofthetimes
The other person is Ann Walters-Pope. When I started my first corporate job, it was at the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs; Ann was the person I looked up to. I interned for her for two years and knew that was the industry I would pursue. I was going to mimic her successful shopping center career. She was respected, smart, Cornell-educated, driven, bilingual, and a Black woman. I looked to her and modeled my career after her. I knew I wanted to be a respected, award-winning marketing director, and I wanted to be known for being good at what I do, much like her. And I did. I earned several global marketing awards from the International Council of Shopping Centers (yes, that’s a thing).
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
It’s two-fold. I’ll be working with middlescent businesswomen as a business and visibility coach under my own brand. Secondly, take our talents, experience, and pro-age knowledge to the corporate America stage, delivering workshops and dialogue about the power of intergenerational teams – and women over 50. My business partner is the same, but she’s also learning about policies, which I can see our company tackling shortly.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
I would like for brands to take us, as in women (and men), seriously. Market to us with messages that resonate. By the way, women 50+ are a $15 trillion buying authority. I would like for them to stand by and up for us. To advocate and encourage age-inclusivity.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Stop SHOULDING all over yourself – and others. Want to launch a business and don’t know where to start? You can, and you’ll figure it out. Want to change careers entirely and not sure you can at ‘your age’? You can. What to make a lateral move in the company and do something different? It’s yours for the taking. Just ask for it. We are a work in progress, and women don’t expire. #WomenDon’tExpire. I put this company’s idea on the shelf for far too long, and I thought it was the idea that had expired. I thought I had expired. But that’s not the case. Women do not have an expiration date. Neither do men.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
Wake up, dress up, show up, and never give up. I wear a bracelet that says “Never give up.” It’s a good reminder on those days when it’s not all rainbows and unicorns in the world of entrepreneurship.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
We have an annual membership program, both IRL and virtual, for those who are looking to grow themselves in business, in life, in middle-essence, or needing tools, resources, and the community. The membership includes live events for women over 40 and 50 focused on career and small businesses. Go to SecondActWomen.com and learn about them. Join us for some of our breakfast club events every month, and get to know us by joining our Facebook group @SecondActWomen 40 & 50+ Women’s Group.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We give purpose-driven organizations that want to do PR the strategy, resources, and support they need to get started so they can increase awareness and maximize their impact. If would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to email@example.com.