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When I turned 40, a remarkable thing happened... my world turned upside down and side-ways, and I quickly realized that I was nowhere near the place I thought I would be at that age.

I had to reconcile what had got me to where I was and that was a really hard thing to do.
How I became more successful after turning 40

At first I wallowed in my own self-pity, but then I realized how fruitless that emotion is and how much more I had to offer the world that I live in.

What challenges us makes us stronger - that's a fact. It's something that I have come to realize and appreciate. Most of my life has been smooth sailing other than for a few lunatics that have crossed my path or the odd broken heart. However, when I turned 40, life became real and I don't say that lightly.

One can say that I was in my second quarter and that's not too bad. Or you could say that I was middle aged, depending on how you look at the world. During that period of time, I spent hours and hours looking around me; at the people in my life, those I work with and my family, and it probably took me another 18 months to sort out where I wanted to be in the long term and how I was going to live out my life.

Success is a broad statement. I had one friend who thought being the weather girl was the epitome of success - and that was true to her. Another thought having a family that was happy and healthy was successful and I definitely agree with that one. Yet I had not yet determined at 40 what success looked like for me... and I quickly realized that it was in fact, a definition that only the person looking in the mirror can decide.

I have always:

  • Played by my own rules
  • Never been competitive against another person, only myself
  • Always found the good in people, and quickly forget the bad
  • Tried to be true to my own values 
  • Found integrity is all you have and so many people lack it
  • Championed people that are being bullied, even if in the past they have bullied me
  • Given people the benefit of the doubt
  • Ran my own race, without looking at who is beside me

I've also realized how important health is and the fact that I have such good health and have never had an illness other than allergies, I feel blessed. I suffer from anxiety, but I think that has a lot to do with an introverted personality type, living an extraverts life due to career choices.

My friends are the same people I have had for the past 20 years and they are the only people I trust with my life. Others come into your life for a reason, a season, and if we are lucky, a lifetime. The 'lifers' as we call them will only be determined when one is old and grey.

From 25 to 30 years of age, I built a lifestyle out of a business that I started. I made good money and had a great life, designer clothes and all the things that I thought I wanted at that stage in life. I lived in Sydney primarily and the Gold Coast, and had lots of friends. My life was one of a social butterfly. I remember being 28 years of age sitting at a restaurant and thinking to myself that life couldn't get better. Did I think I was successful at that point? No. I just loved my life and the people in it. I was living in a way I never even allowed myself to dream - so I thought it was pretty darn special.

At 30, with a bit more life and business experience, I cleared the decks for the next chapter in my life. That next chapter would largely define me from the outside world's point of view and would put more pressure on me than any other stage of my life. Starting Marketing Eye was the catalyst for experiencing failure, picking myself up and trying something in a different way. Contrary to popular belief, the first few years were trying. I was still very young and inexperienced and I had this idea that wasn't quite right in the first instance. It would take a few more years before the ah-ha moment and my world became a very different place. The reason it wasn't right is that we were probably too early in the cycle to start a new wave, and we hadn't modelled it quite right. I would go on to spend the next 4 years getting it right. Having said that, I had the finances to play the game, and try new things. 

I also was not totally 'all in'. In fact, I was far from that. I had moved from working with large multinationals to small to medium sized businesses, and it didn't sit right with me even though I knew that that was the niche market I would make my biggest mark. I was half ashamed to tell people that I worked with small to medium sized businesses even though I was one myself. I liked the big budgets and the door-openers that naturally come with big brands, and yet we had a pile of clients that were struggling to survive and every dollar counted. I knew that I had to change my attitude, and even though it was never discussed, it is how I felt at the time. 

I went back to the Gold Coast and worked from there for a long period of time, spending much of my day at the beach and not working overly hard. How the business survived with me out of the action, I don't know, but somehow it did. It didn't grow though and went back a few pegs, but that can be expected.

When I woke up one day and realized what I was doing, I went back to my original business plan and started implementing. At the same time, I embraced small business and took on the challenge of doing as much as possible for as little financial investment from them, to help them reach their own goals. I wanted to empower them and grow my team with a deep understanding of the hurdles that entrepreneurs face.

Our website was at this stage organically number one on Google, so we had an influx of leads, that often converted to sales. When social media became a 'thing' we embraced that at first a little later than most, but somehow got the knack really fast and when blogging became big, we rose quickly to the top. I lost that need to fit into the crowd and became a person who deliberately didn't. I wrote controversial blogs that reached far off the shores of Australia and the US for that matter. 

All of a sudden everything changed.

But 40, was the catalyst for real success and learning the lessons I needed to learn.

I surround myself only with people that inspire me. I don't hang out with people that hang out in nightclubs or do drugs - and believe me, there are a lot of people my age doing this, and in fact I know people in their late 50's and 60's who are businessmen, that hang in these places and take drugs. The people that make up my inner circle are those that make a difference to the world we live in. They are all intelligent and have integrity. If you don't have integrity, you have nothing, and one must always remember that.

When you are younger, you are more forgiving or let people into your circle who shouldn't be there. If you hang out with drug dealers, then you are saying to the world that 'selling drugs to people is ok'. If you hang out with criminals, you are saying that that too is ok. If you hang out with people that hang on to your every word, you are displaying to the world your biggest insecurities. If you hang out with people that lie, then once again, that fits with your own values. I had a conference last week and everyone on the stage was a friend of mine and all of them are people I am proud to have as friends. That says a lot.

So, by clearing the pack, I have found a life of purpose and people with the same set of values as myself and that has been the foundation for becoming more successful. I believe wholeheartedly in hanging out with people the empower you to be the best version of yourself and by doing that, you live that mandate.

My business also flowed more freely. I became so brave in business that it doubled in size year on year. I started looking to the future knowing that I had the power to create a business that would lead my whole industry. My background in technology gave me the cornerstone to build technologies and to do research in areas such as robotics to change our internal processes and build value that I never imagined possible for my business.

As my financial position continued to grow, I realized that it was confidence and being happy with my 'lot' that helped me reach a level of success that I found comfortable. I know I am sitting on a business that 8 figures long now, and in the future I hope to add another nought to it.

Importantly, when you realize that you can spend 6 months on charity and your business doesn't stop growing, you know that something is going really right. The World Incubator is my passion and my give-back. It is very important to who I am and what I stand for. I chose helping rural communities even though sometimes you have gatekeepers who don't want foreigners in town - and that can be testing.

Personally, I am pretty happy and content. I am a good person and I am good to the people around me. To be able to openly say that means a lot because I have realized that few people can say that. I walk the talk every minute of my life and my consistency in how I am, and open transparency is defining.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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