Is It Too Late To Be Successful After (Insert Age Here)?

Is it too late to be successful after a certain age

For the longest time, I felt like it was way too late to make an impact on the world and become successful.

I am ambitious and I wanted to be really successful. But the news made it seem like if you did not become a singer, actress, or tech entrepreneur by the time you were 21, it was over. It turns out I’m not the only one. A lot of other people (some into their 40’s) think it’s too late.

But then I got into personal development and did some research. I studied hundreds of the world’s most successful people and I was startled at what I found.

It’s not true at all. When you think it is all over, it’s really just the beginning of an incredible journey.

Get Excited. The Best Years of Your Life Are Ahead.

Napoleon Hill spent his whole life studying the hundreds of nation’s richest people in person, thanks to his connection with the richest person in the world, Andrew Carnegie. During that time, he spent 12 years studying a specific phenomenon that intrigued him.

He realized that almost all the world’s richest people only started getting successful after the age of 40. Their peak years of productivity were between 40 and 60. He wanted to learn why. And he did.

After a dozen years of research, Napoleon found that most people were only successful after the age of 40 because:

  • They channeled their sexual energy, the strongest motivator, into physical forms rather than towards productive or creative work. Only after 40 did they realize they could channel it for other means. (This is the main one)
  • Only after 40 did they learn how to use their “creative imagination”, which takes years of self-analysis and meditation to develop.

In fact, Napoleon went as far to say that you shouldn’t be depressed that you’re about to hit 40. You should be excited and eager to step into the most productive period of your life. 

He cites many billionaires as examples in his book, but my favorite is James J. Hill, who was still working as a clerk at the age of 40.

This also means that if you’re still in your 20’s, you can get rich before 40 by channeling your energy into productive means rather than just diffusing it through trying to get laid (or actually getting laid) all the time.

Warren Buffett’s Advice

The author of the book The Snowball Alice Schroeder revealed an interesting story during a Reddit AMA. She went through a mid-life crisis in the same way. Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, sat her down and told her that when he was 50, he thought his life was over. That was it. He would keep running his company and that would be that.

Yet every year after that, his life became even more amazing and fun. Even to this day, I follow his every move because he is doing some incredibly interesting things in business. As a fun fact, Warren Buffett made 99% of his wealth after the age of 50 (thanks to decades of persistence and the power of compound interest).

It Is Too Late To Be Successful After the Age of 40?

Why Humans Are Impatient

Sam Walton started building Walmart at 44 years old. Before that, he had spent decades honing his business skills humbly. Decades later, it became a multi-billion dollar company and he became one of the richest men in the history of humankind.

Sidney Frank created Grey Goose, a famous liquor company, at 72 years old. Yet why do so many kids complain they haven’t made it yet at 20?

It’s genetics and social media. Humans are short-sighted because we didn’t live that long until antibiotics came along 100 years ago. For 10,000 years+ we acted and planned as if we were to die by 20 from war or disease … because we did. Our race evolves very slowly because of how long we live. Therefore, our genes are still suited to make us behave like our old ancestors, which aren’t ideal for the modern world.

Long story short: people don’t plan or execute as if they were to live until 100.

This shift (and others like it, such as the sudden abundance of salt, sugar, and fat) due to the Savannah Principle is a huge opportunity to get ahead of most people who don’t understand it.

Social comparison has been heightened to extremes due to social media and the Internet. Kids are logging on each day and seeing people show off their lives on social media (usually to make money, build a following, or attract a mate). They are bombarded by images of kids striking it rich early more than ever before in history and get engrossed in a false bubble of how their peers are doing. They feel like they’ve fallen behind when they haven’t.

Life is a marathon. Simple as that.

Make the Most of the Present. Be Patient for the Future.

The entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, calls the process “macro patience and micro speed.” It means hustle quickly, but be patient with how long the results will come. For example, don’t beat yourself because you’re not famous yet after 2 months. Instead, work really hard and enjoy the present moment, while investing for the long term future.

See his video below for further explanation. I think his style is a bit overboard and suited for workaholics, which not all of us can become or should become. Nonetheless, the general principle holds a lot of merits.

He had a 20-year old girl call into his show, which explained the process even better. I suggest you watch it for more details. You can read the transcript or watch the video (at 2x speed if you want) here.

Here are some other examples that may change your life:

macro patience micro speed

Is it too late to be successful after 20?
Credit: Late Bloomers by Anna Vital
Is it too late to be successful after 30?
Credit: Lost in Life by Anna Vital

Colonel Sanders had a number of odd jobs, like fireman and steamboat operator. He franchised KFC at 65 and lived until 90. KFC, as you should know, went onto become a multi-billion dollar company. We often underestimate how long we live.

David Ogilvy, widely regarded as the founder of one of the best advertising and marketing agencies of all time. At 38, he was an unemployed college drop out who had worked as a cook, salesman, and farmer. When he started, he knew nothing about marketing and no American agency would hire him.

What If I’m A Women?

Maybe you feel like you’re worse off if you’re a woman. Watch this video:

Further Resources

I suggest the book Getting There, which profiles even more successful people and their detailed stories that took a while and went through a lot of failures before they succeeded. If you go through my link I get a commission at no extra cost for you.

I did an interview with the author of Getting There:

A 2007 study by Duckworth and colleagues found Grit (perseverance and passion for long-term goals) was a better predictor of success than IQ and conscientiousness for Ivy League undergraduates, military cadets, adults, and spelling bee contestants.

My Audio Breakdown

If you want even more talk from me on this topic, check out my audio podcast breakdown on this topic:

Now, It’s Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you.

Have you ever been tempted by doubters or your own negative thoughts because you thought that it was too late to succeed? Where were you and what happened specifically?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

And, share as much detail as possible in your reply. Many ambitious people come here every day for motivation and knowledge. Your story may be exactly what they need to reach the next level.

Important: share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments below. 

Thanks again for reading, watching, and sharing.

It’s never too late,


Cited Sources

I Spend 20+ Hours A Week Studying Successful People
I share my insights every week in my free newsletter.
I agree to have my personal information transfered to ConvertKit ( more information )
We respect your privacy

By Will Chou

I am the the founder of this site and I am grateful you are here to be part of this awesome community. I help hard-working Asian American Millennials get rich doing work they love.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *