Q&A with Denise Restauri on Defining your 30’s

Ahead of our first NYC event of the year on February 19th at Wix Lounge with Denise Restauri, Leadariser Emily Pease asked Denise some of our burning questions after reading her excellent e-book, Their RoaringThirties: Brutally Honest Career Talk From Successful Women

Check out Denise’s responses below and if you haven’t already, sign up for our panel event moderated by Denise and featuring three women from her book, here!

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1. What inspired you to write “Their Roaring Thirties?” 

I was writing a post for Forbes.com about twenty- and thirtysomething women fixing some of the world’s most vexing problems. I Googled “successful women in their 30s” and here’s what popped up:

– Why Are women In Their 30s Still Single?

– Are Professional Women In Their Mid-30s Too Independent?

It made me scratch my head. I know successful women in their 30s and they’re doing a lot more than looking for a date. I wondered, “Have all the women who were media darlings in their 20s gone silent, become invisible or suddenly lost their appeal? Are they too old to be in the ‘Wow! Look at what this 23-year-old is doing’ category, but too young to be a power woman?”

So instead of sitting around complaining (blah, blah, blah) about the lack of coverage about this “invisible decade,” I took action and wrote the book.

2. Your book provides numerous examples of women who had defining moments in their 30s. What was your defining moment in your 30s?

There were many defining moments in my thirties, but the one that really changed my life for a lifetime is when a thirtysomething woman shared her story with me. I share this story in the book, “I had spent the last five years of my 30s going through the torture of infertility treatment and a miscarriage, to say nothing of the heartbreak of a failed adoption after the birthmother changed her mind and reclaimed her child after three days. Two days after the adoption fell through, I met a woman carrying her two-month-old baby. I was happy for her, but grieving the loss of my child. Then she told me her story. She had also endured a failed adoption and understood my heartbreak. She said, “I’ll tell you what I did. It may sound crazy, but I put a ‘baby ad’ in the Pennysaver (a classified ad paper where you have to squint to read the print) to find a birthmother.” I didn’t think she was crazy but I thought putting a “desperately seeking baby” ad in the Pennysaver was. A few months passed and though I was working with a top-notch adoption agency, nothing good was coming of it. Christmas loomed in two weeks; I remembered the Pennysaver story and placed my baby ad. And that’s how my daughter’s birthmother found me—it was the day before Christmas Eve. My life changed, all because a thirtysomething woman shared her brutally honest story with me.” Stories are powerful.

3. After interviewing so many accomplished 30-something women, was there one lesson that stood out to you as the most surprising?

Do not make assumptions. I was certain a 38-year-old woman with five kids would not be impacted by her biological clock any longer — I was wrong. And I was 100% sure that I would write a chapter “Top 10 Things About Thirtysomething Women” and I would have a #1 lesson learned, but what I discovered is that Thirtysomething women contain multitudes and it wouldn’t be fair to them to try to fit them into a list.

4. A common theme in the book is the need for women to support one another during their career. Did you have a support network of fellow women as you navigated the early stages of your career?

I never had a mentor or sponsor, in the formal sense. But I worked with some of the most supportive women in the universe when I was at USA TODAY – both were my bosses, Carolyn Bivens and Janet Costello. We didn’t always agree, but we always had each other’s backs, and learned from each other. And even now, more than 30 years later, we’re friends, still there for each other.

5. If you had to pick one piece of advice for young women entering their 30s, what would it be?

To not be so hard on yourself. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and go on a journey that will lead to finding your “groove.” And realize that your 30s could be a decade of changing grooves. That means take risks, follow your heart and above all be authentic and true to yourself. When you hate something that’s happening in your life, get out. I know so many people today who aren’t happy – they’re in their 50s, 60s and 70s – many are unhappy because they didn’t make a change in their 30s. An example is the woman who becomes a lawyer because that’s what her parents wanted… when she’s 32 and hates practicing law, but sticks with it because that’s what her parents wanted… then 30 years later, she even more miserable. When things aren’t working, get out and move forward.

6. In your own career, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have given up on being a perfectionist because that’s a no win! I want the hours back that I spent on making sure every “i” was dotted and “t” crossed. What would have happened if they weren’t? Would the world have come to an end? I don’t think so. Not even my world would have come to an end. Knowing what I know now, I would have gone with “progress versus perfection.” As I tell my 21-year old-daughter, “You’re going to make mistakes. Just don’t make mistakes that negatively change your life forever or hurt someone else. And keep moving forward – that’s the trick, keep moving forward.”

7. Who/What inspires you?

Young people who are taking action — From creating new models that fix the world’s most vexing problems to designing products that may not be usable today but are the seeds of ideas that will become great inventions in the near future (i.e., the hoodie that texts or edible plates made out of bread).

8. What is up next for you on your mission to ‘amplify the emerging voices of girls and women’?

In February 2015, I’m launching a new series on Forbes.com about “Self-Made Women” – featuring women who did not grow up with privilege or power, but are breaking barriers in their fields and are helping others.

Denise Restauri Bio

As the founder and CEO of GirlQuake and Forbes contributor, Denise Restauri amplifies the voices of girls and women by giving them platforms to share their stories, define the notion of power and create a global force for positive change. Denise is the author of the Forbes book Their Roaring Thirties: Brutally Honest Career Talk From Women Who Beat The Youth Trap. She has been at start-up, speed-up and stay #1 companies in both digital and traditional media, including Vice President of Sales at USA Today. Denise was the executive producer of the inaugural Forbes Women’s Summit, serves on the boards of female-led organizations, and has been named to numerous people to watch lists and has appeared on CNN International, NBC Today, CBS Early Show, ABC News and NPR All Things Considered.

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