• Sarah E. Brown

How She Realized Her Dreams After Age 50 with Sylvia O’Connor


Do you feel like there’s this specific timeline that you need to follow in life? Have you felt pressured into trying to succeed as much as you can in life at an early age? And if it’s too late, do you feel like a failure?


Society makes us feel like there's a specific timeline we should be following in life, however, as hard as it is to believe, there’s none. There’s no such thing as being too early or too late in life– everything is at your own pace.


Sylvia O’Connor overcame poverty to be the first in her family to graduate from college. As the master of it is never too late to pursue your dreams, she married for the first time at 55 and then pursued her dream of becoming her own boss. She has a Master’s Degree in Administration and now makes her living as a motivational speaker helping others to fearlessly move on to their next chapters.


In this episode, Sylvia shares with us how she overcame her poverty mindset and still pursued her dreams despite all odds.



What you will learn from this episode:

  • Find out how Sylvia shifted her perspective and overcame the poverty mindset

  • Understand why it is never too late to fulfill your dreams and goals in life

  • Learn how you can become your own boss despite all odds



Never give up on your dreams. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't achieve anything. Do not let society define you or determine your path.
- Sylvia O’Connor


Valuable Free Resource:

  • How to overcome your fear of being too late in life and become your own boss: https://sylvia-oconnor.com/



Topics Covered:


01:25 - How did overcoming poverty look like for Sylvia?


02:49 - What did Sylvia do to overcome the poverty mindset: I had to later overcome a poverty mindset that, "Okay, you're never going to have more than enough."


03:39 - Sylvia shares how she met her husband at a later time in her life


05:32 - What started Sylvia to become her own boss: I always dreamed of being my own boss. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do. But over 10 years ago, I became a whistleblower.


06:31 - The biggest obstacles Sylvia faced: Overcoming fear– the fear of being homeless because of debt


07:39 - Sylvia’s inspiring tip on achieving your dreams: I would say it's never too late to achieve your dreams. Never give up on your dreams. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't achieve anything.



Key Takeaways:


“We do not know how we'll be rewarded in life. But I believe, if we strive to do the right thing, you never know how we will be rewarded.” -Sylvia O’Connor


“You'll never know when the right job, the right spouse, or the right opportunity may present itself. You must be ready to receive it.” -Sylvia O’Connor


“Failure is a part of life. We cannot bypass it. You just can learn from it and move on.” -Sylvia O’Connor



Ways to Connect with Sylvia O’Connor:



Ways to Connect with Sarah E. Brown



Full Episode Transcript:


Sylvia O'Connor 0:00

Failure is a part of life. We cannot bypass it. You just can learn from it and move on.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 0:14

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women, where we talk about challenges senior female leaders face in being happy and successful at work. I'm your host, Dr. Sarah E. Brown.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 0:33

My guest today is Sylvia O'Connor. She overcame poverty to be the first in her family to graduate from college. As the master of it is never too late to pursue your dreams, she also married, for the first time, at age 55, and then pursued her dream of becoming her own boss. She has a Master's Degree in Administration, and she now makes her living as a motivational speaker, helping others to fearlessly move on to the next chapters in their lives. Welcome, Sylvia.


Sylvia O'Connor 1:14

Thank you. So glad to be here!


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 1:16

So, I am really intrigued. Tell me more about overcoming poverty. What did that look like for you?


Sylvia O'Connor 1:25

Well, I overcame poverty by getting an education. I moved from my southern home in Louisiana to Michigan, after I graduated from high school, to live a better life up north. I moved with an aunt who was a widow. She did not have much, but she said her passion in life was to help others. She borrowed some money from her church members so I could enroll in college for the first semester until I got my student loan. Living in poverty was basically, I never had enough, whether it was food. I didn't have insurance growing up as a kid. I always had to go to the charity hospital and, sometime, wait hours just to get treated for a minor cold or what have you. I'm the youngest of five siblings. So, once I overcame poverty, I had to overcome a poverty mindset by getting out of debt. I was in my 50s when I became debt free. So, overcoming poverty gave me financial freedom and security.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 2:39

Can you say a little bit more about the importance of that poverty mindset, and what you did to overcome that? That's a really intriguing concept.


Sylvia O'Connor 2:49

Once I got a job and started making some money to take care of myself, I still had a poverty mindset, because I started getting a lot of credit cards. So, at one point, I had 20 credit cards, and that was just ridiculous! You know, I could buy anything I want on credit, but I didn't have a lot of money saved. So, I had to later overcome a poverty mindset that, "Okay, you're never going to have more than enough." So, I later learned in life that I had to overcome the poverty mindset also.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 3:26

So, you got out of that kind of debt in your 50s, also?


Sylvia O'Connor 3:30

Yes, I did.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 3:33

Wow, that's terrific! And then you met your husband, so tell us more about meeting your husband.


Sylvia O'Connor 3:39

I have always known that I would like to be married but did not think it would happen in my 50s, but I never gave up hope of getting married one day. I lived in Michigan for almost 30 years. Later, after my mom died, I moved back to Louisiana to be closer to my family. I was looking for a church home. So, I decided to go to this one particular church where I met my future husband. He also had recently moved back from Louisiana to be closer to his family. He was living in California. At the new church, I went to, I would always sit by this couple, I had no idea who they were. But I also have a passion for serving others and love volunteering, so I became an usher at my new church. My future husband joined the church later, and he also became an usher. He later told me that he asked his brother, "What kind of person is Sylvia?" His brother told him, "Oh, she seems to be a nice person." Little did I know there were at least three Sylvias at the church at that time. His brother thought he was talking about someone else. He didn't tell me. He said, "I'm talking about Sylvia, the usher." So, I believe God put people or opportunities in our paths. We became friends, got married two years later, and I'll be married five years this August.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 5:22

Oh, what a great story! And then the final part of this is, how long have you had the dream of being your own boss? And how did that happen for you?


Sylvia O'Connor 5:32

I always dreamed of being my own boss. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do. But over 10 years ago, I became a whistleblower. And a whistleblower is basically someone who helps to combat fraud against the government. I worked in health care for over 30 years. And I reported health care fraud because it was the right thing to do. I could have lost my career or faced other retaliation. However, I did the right thing and later received a nice financial reward. We do not know how we'll be rewarded in life. But I believe, if we strive to do the right thing, you never know how we will be rewarded.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 6:25

So, what were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome to get to where you are today?


Sylvia O'Connor 6:31

I would say fear-- overcoming fear. Growing up in poverty, I always had the fear of being homeless. As I stated, I was in a lot of debt at one time and had a lot of credit cards. And I was actually living from paycheck to paycheck, with no real savings to carry me over if something happened. You know, everyone always says, "Have an emergency fund, three to six months, you know, living expenses", but I didn't have that so that always bothered me. Since I failed, I didn't have any family members or friends that could afford to help me. I just thought about, one day, I could be homeless. But once I became a whistleblower, and got a nice financial reward, it helped me to pay off my debt, and live a debt-free life, and also allowed me to pursue my passion to become my own boss.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 7:34

And what is the biggest tip you can leave for the women who are listening to us today?


Sylvia O'Connor 7:39

I would say it's never too late to achieve your dreams. Never give up on your dreams. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't achieve anything. Do not let society define you or determine your path. You'll never know when the right job, the right spouse, or the right opportunity may present itself. You must be ready to receive it. Failure is a part of life. We cannot bypass it. You just can learn from it and move on.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 8:15

Sylvia, just as we leave here, how can our listeners find you to get you to speak to their organizations?


Sylvia O'Connor 8:22

I can be reached at sylvia-oconnor.com.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 8:27

And I will put that in the show notes. Sylvia, thank you so much for being with us today!


Sylvia O'Connor 8:33

Thank you!


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 8:35

Thanks for listening to the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women. If you like what you're hearing, please go to iTunes to subscribe, rate us, and leave a review. And if you would like more information on how we can help women in your organization to thrive, then go to www.sarahebrown.com. You can sign up for our newsletter, read show notes and learn more about our podcast guests, read my blog, browse through the books or contact us for a chat. Goodbye for now.

 

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