Late bloomers: Famous people who became successful after 40

Not everyone has their lives figured out by the time they hit 30. To many, this is a defining age that should go down with a stable career, a home and even a car.

But people hack it in life at different ages. It may be success at such a tender age as that achieved by 29-year-old Juliette Brindak, an American whose billion-dollar fun website was developed when she was only 14.

Success may also be realised later in life the same way that Harry Bernstein, a celebrated British writer, made his first breakthrough at 96. Bernstein authored countless books that gathered dust at the publishers’ before getting attention later in life. His first book to be published, The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers, would precede three others in a row before the British writer of Jewish descent died at 101.

When he died, the New York Times profiled the author whose memoir detailing a life of poverty and struggles earned him belated literary fame on its publication in 2007.

Bernstein is not an isolated case on the list of people who found success late in life, after countless hurdles. Here, we provide more examples that not everyone hits their peak in their 20s. Hopefully, they are inspiring accounts that prove you don’t need to panic that others are succeeding while you are not, despite your hard work and dedication.

Julia Child

Julia Child was an American chef, author and television personality who didn’t hack it until she was 51. At this age, she introduced French cuisine on American television after releasing countless cookbooks.

Before this, Julia traversed continents working as a clerk for the intelligence agency of the United States during World War II.

While working with the American intelligence unit, Julia developed a shark repellent by cooking various concoctions that would be adopted by the United States Navy in the Pacific Ocean during World War II.

The concoction is said to have been her first real attempt in cooking.

A cooking icon, Julia never learnt to cook until she met her husband. It is said that her husband who loved home-made food enticed her into trying out recipes at home. She then enrolled for cooking classes and even joined cooking groups to get additional skills.

Lynda Weinman

At 40, Lynda Weinman founded, an online teaching library that would later be bought by LinkedIn, a professional networking platform.

The innovation was born out of several stints in graphic arts, both in employment and as an independent contractor.

Ms Weinman worked as a graphic arts professor and in the film industry as a special effects animator. She also worked as an independent contractor doing animation and special effects where she worked on several films.

She would later procure a computer lab that eventually turned into an online learning platform with more than 6,300 online classes and 267,000 video tutorials. teaches computer skills in video format to members through monthly and annual subscription-based plans.

A self-taught career woman profiled on Forbes as ‘the Mother of the Internet’,  Ms Weinman made an interesting twist from her career in humanities to a new found interest when she taught herself to operate a home computer using a manual.

One of the failures she sailed through, which she disclosed in an interview with Forbes is losing every penny of a $20,000 loan she received from her grandfather to start a retail store.

Henry Ford

In the automobile industry, most people know about the Ford brand of the Ford Motor Company.

What’s hidden from most, however, is the story behind the American multinational automaker founded in the early 90s by Henry Ford.

Likewise, the story of Henry Ford is an open book to read especially by those seeking to keep their dream on course. Ford didn’t wake up one morning to unveil the Ford Motor Company and neither was the journey towards achieving the dream of owning an automobile easy.

In his youth, Ford worked as an engineer under Thomas Edison, where for many years he set aside a few hours to work on ways to improve the then new automobile.

It was not until he was 40 that he founded the Ford Motor Company, which now sells all types of automobiles.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin is a name engraved in those of us who studied science in school. Our knowledge of him, however, might not go beyond the man who tried to prove where human beings came from in his studies of evolution by natural selection.

Darwin was not the famous person we know today until very late in life. It wasn’t until he hit 50 that he finally published the Origin of Species.

This was after countless years spent on expeditions, most of the time exploring on land and sea.

He is also known to have kept to himself all this while, researching on geology. It is in this silence that he is said to have a developed the art of theorising.

Here is one of Darwin’s most powerful and inspirational quotes that could help you build resilience as you wait for your breakthrough: “It is not the strongest of species that survives. Nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Harland Sanders

If you find Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) delicacies irresistible, then you must find the background of its founder equally salacious.

Harland Sanders was 65 when he saw his restaurant that served fried chicken fail. But Sanders never gave up until he saw the restaurant become the biggest fast food chain in the world.

And now, KFC, which is headquartered in Kentucky, is the world’s second largest fast food restaurant that specialises in fried chicken.

Few know that KFC was born in a humble roadside restaurant where Harland Sanders sold pressure-fried chicken pieces with a special seasoning of herbs and spices.

Out of a need to take care of his siblings and single mother, Sanders learnt how to cook professionally when he was only seven.

He started his first eatery, which passed for an amateur restaurant, at a Shell filling station in Kentucky.

On this one-table restaurant, he served fried chicken and other dishes. He accumulated enough to expand to a six-table restaurant, still at the filling station and later to 142 seats. This is the time he purchased his first motel, seven years after his first ever stint in the industry.

KFC grew gradually and 20 years later, it had 600 restaurants, making it the largest fast food outlet in the United States.

Today operating in more than 20, 000 locations across the globe, KFC offers a variety of other chicken products including chicken fillet sandwiches, salads and other side dishes.  

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