“Midlife” is a terrible brand. Especially for women.

What do you think of when you hear “midlife woman”? Sexy? Vibrant? Powerful? You should. But most of us probably think “overheated, overwhelmed, and over it.”

the midlife brand

And that’s just wrong. Women in midlife are so much more, yet this is the “brand” we allow to persist. This is the story we’ve been led to believe, and it’s only holding us back. But here’s the great thing about brands – they can be changed.

Juju Hook is an expert brand strategist who’s helped companies uncover and communicate their missions and messages for many years. Now she’s helping all of us better understand what “midlife” really is.

Midlife – or as she calls it, PrimeTime – is a time of deciding what you truly want in life, ditching the excuses that have held you back, and going for it. After all, no one is better at getting stuff done than a woman in PrimeTime.

“If you have a complicated problem where you need to juggle things or have great judgment …
you call a middle-aged woman, 
you call a 50-year-old woman, that’s who you call! They know how to do this stuff!”

We couldn’t agree more.

Have a listen to our conversation with Juju, then check out our review of her book Hot Flashes, Carpools and Dirty MartinisThen, get her book and read it for yourself. (For a limited time, you pay only shipping, so don’t wait.)

Great news: Juju is offering an all-access pass to her Positively PrimeTime program and PrimeTime Posse to one of our listeners! Stay tuned for details on how to enter to win!

Living the “midlife” brand

Jill: Juju, it’s really exciting to be here with you today. Let’s look at, first, your background, because I think that’s what adds some really interesting color to the things we are about to talk about. You’re a brand strategist. Tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to really be focusing on women in midlife, and embracing that as a brand in terms of taking on midlife, and living their best in midlife.

Juju: I started as a brander years ago, straight out of college, in the financial industry, and then, when my son was born, decided to open my own agency. I didn’t wanna travel anymore. At that time, I was the brand director for Jacuzzi. So, it was an international job, and I pulled back on that. I opened a consulting firm, which eventually led to a boutique branding agency, and I specialized in banking and financial and automotive for about 15 years. A real part of my midlife story is, at about 47, I burned out… I know we’re gonna talk a little bit about that, later… and lost my luster for it. What I decided to do is, create an online course so that entrepreneurs could brand themselves the right way, the way big companies do it, with all the strategy behind it, not the steps that get missed when you go direct to the subcontractors. If you go direct to a designer, direct to a copywriter, you miss the part where you strategize your brand. So, as I put this course online, I started coaching people through the course. One of the things I realized is, midlife women, the women over 40, had the best potential, out of the hundreds of people that I coached, to have these killer brands. They were really, really ripe to bring something to the world. But they were unwilling to step into that potential. They were really reticent about claiming what was theirs, about saying, “This is what I’m great at,” “Oh, this is the experience that I have,” or “This is what I’m going to do next with my life.” I met a lot of women who didn’t even feel qualified to do it. They wanted to create a brand, but they were afraid to move forward. So, this light bulb went on, about the way I was feeling about myself, and what I was seeing with these women. And, I started a little research project and it just validated everything that I thought about midlife, which is, that the brand has really bad messaging. The “midlife women” brand is a crappy brand. It was poorly created over centuries, by our moms and our grandmas, as well as, all the men who helped create the brand. The messaging is off. It just doesn’t work anymore. So, I set out to change that.

Why does “midlife” need a rebrand?

Jill: Why does a person need a brand? How do they use it, in terms of setting and establishing their image?

Juju: I am more concerned about the brand of middle-aged women, in general, the brand of middle age. So, a brand really is nothing more than what people think of, or what they feel when they hear a name. If you close your eyes, and I am to go through a number of names, and you just think of the first word that pops into your mind, and I say, “Tiffany” or “BMW” or “the Waldorf Astoria,” you get these feelings, right? And then, when I say, “middle aged woman” or “menopausal woman” or “50-year-old woman,” you get a totally different feeling. The problem with that is that it’s messaging that’s creating that feeling. It’s not real. It’s bad messaging. So, women go into their 50s or they head toward their 40s with this feeling of trepidation, and then they hit it. What they are experiencing, isn’t really validated by the messaging, but they believe the messaging anyway. And, the brand dictates the way they behave or the way they perceive themselves, and that’s really unfortunate, right? So, we buy the crap that the world sells us about ourselves, and it just debilitates us. So, I set out on a goal to rebrand middle age for women. I think it needs a rebrand and I am taking a million women with me to help me do it.

Jill: Well, you started this dialogue in your book Hot Flashes, Carpools and Dirty Martinis. Is that where it began, or did the research begin before that, or, what led… which one came first?

Juju: The research led to the book. Where it really began was my own story. Now, I was 47, I owned this agency, I had a super big client, I had seven or eight people working on this client. I’d had him for a number of years, they represented a lot of my income and I knew that I was gonna lose the client. They were going through a shift, I could see within six months that they weren’t gonna need our services anymore, and I had to ask myself, “Am I gonna go back into a boardroom, put another suit on, pitch another client to replace this… or, am I gonna make a shift in my life?” I was 47, I was feeling very uninspired about my own career, I’d been doing it for 25 years, I was on autopilot. At the time, my son was 13. I was way more involved in his life than I needed to be because I didn’t really have a purpose. So I was all up in his business. So, I had, not really a meltdown, but I had an existential crisis. At the same time, I started talking to all these women, and they were all having it. In some way or another, we were all focused on these problems that they were really there, but they went there in the way that we saw them. If the messaging was removed, if the limitations were removed, then we were free to move forward and do other things, and experience midlife in another way. That led to the book.

Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis

Jill: That’s awesome. We have done a review of Hot Flashes, Carpools and Dirty Martinis … and I loved the title, by the way, it’s just so sassy… we have done a review on gennev.com. Everyone listening to this, should go read the review, but better yet, they should get the book and read it. If you could describe what is the essence of the book, and why did you title it Hot Flashes, Carpools and Dirty Martinis?

Juju: Because, for me, all of this random stuff was happening at the same time. It was an absolute overload. Here, I am still driving my son to school, and he’s had a full on in puberty, and then, at the same time, I am headed toward menopause and having these hot flashes. We’re having a literal hormonal meltdown in our house, something that nobody told me about, nobody said to me, “Hey, listen. If your kid’s at puberty, at the same time you head into menopause, you’re gonna have a hormonal show.” I never thought about it till that happened, and the dirty martinis came because I love red wine. I started drinking red wine and it was giving me hot flashes like crazy. So, I stopped and thought, “I’ll try something new,” and dirty martinis is where I headed. It wasn’t my best choice. But this is how we learn and so, that’s how I titled the book.

Midlife, women, and the “Longevity Economy”

Jill: One thing I know that you have talked about, just from an umbrella perspective around the book, around this part, this place in women’s lives is we’re in the longevity economy, which I think, is a fascinating thing to think about. Explain that, and why does that matter in terms of how we rebrand PrimeTime in midlife in women’s lives?

Juju: Because that’s the truth in the messaging. Any brand that’s really going to crush it needs to have messaging that’s true and I already touched on the fact that the messaging around the midlife women is now untrue. So the longevity economy – this is not my thing, there’s all kinds of books written on this – but that longevity economy really outlines the fact that it’s going to be older people who control massive amounts of money in the US, and otherwise, all throughout the world. Just because of the way demographics are working, women are going to be in charge of the lion’s share of that money. In addition to that, we are going to be taking care of the other people who have the money, because we live longer, and women are working much, much further into their lives. So, what’s happening is, there’s a shift. Women are really, literally, coming into financial power, at the same time, we’re experiencing all these ‘me too moments’ and the year of women, and all of this power shift, that’s so amazingly beautiful for women. But, if we don’t change the brand, if we don’t change the messaging that we tell ourselves, we will miss out on that potential. We will miss out on our opportunity to shape the way the world works, and I know one thing: If you really have a problem, like we have a complicated problem where you need to jumble things, or have great judgement, or have someone step in and solve it, or to help you hide a body or use duct tape, you call a middle-aged woman. You call a 50-year-old woman, that’s who you call! They know how to do this stuff. So, we have this opportunity now, to really make a difference in the world, and to contribute on a new level, and the longevity economy is the facts behind that. So, I’d like to see women step into that, in a way that’s glorious.

Making the change to “PrimeTime”

Jill: I think, what makes this feel overwhelming is that it’s gonna start with each individual person to change this messaging. I know, you work with women through your program. What does that look like, in terms of activating a woman to change the messaging? Or to change those whatever lies or myths or whatever she is hearing in her own head, or society is telling her, so that we do start to activate, and make this big global change, person by person?

Juju: It starts with permission. The number one question that women need to ask themselves is, “What do I want.” And most of us have never asked ourselves that question in any real way. When we do ask ourselves that question, we are riddled with guilt about pursuing what it is that we want, or we are afraid that if we pursue what we want, people aren’t gonna like us, or we’re gonna get pushback, or that it’s inappropriate, or any number of these six lies, that I talk about. So, the very first thing that I ask women… and I work with women in different ways. I have an online group of women, where I group coach and they work with each other, they are called the PrimeTime Posse, and I also do one-on-one coaching with PrimeTime women… so, the first question is, “What do you want,” and that’s not an easy question for women to answer. We have been told our entire lives that it’s wrong to have what we want. If we’re good girls, put other people first, good moms take care of their kids first, good wives take care of their spouse first. That’s the way it works. And that’s just bunk. On top of it, our bodies were wired to procreate and to nurture. So, just about the point that you are approaching menopause, just about the point that your body is shifting, and your intuition is screaming for you to do something else, we are afraid to do it. We are afraid to answer that question, afraid to lean into it. So, that’s the very first thing I do, is direct women toward that question, “What do you want? What’s calling your name?” I don’t need women to find out their life’s purpose. I am not sending anybody under a tree to ask for divine intervention about why they were sent here. “What do you want, what will turn you on, what will float your boat?” Let’s start there. And, women are just delighted to pursue it.

The Lie of Impropriety

Jill: You talk about six lies in the book, and there is one in particular that strikes me, is this Lie of Impropriety. Impropriety around… well, I should dress that way or… and 50, looks completely different today than it did 10 years ago or 20 years ago… Talk a little bit about that lie and how you help women overcome their sense of that.

Juju: In the book, for each of these six lies, I gave an example of a PrimeTime woman who has overcome that lie. For the Lie of Impropriety, I use my mom. She’s 79 now, she’s the hippest woman I know, and she doesn’t ask anybody else what’s appropriate, ever, for her. I think, that’s really the lesson there, is that we have to learn to trust ourselves. One of the things that I realized about myself, just over the last five years, is that I had so many things where I felt that I couldn’t trust myself. I couldn’t trust myself with a bucket of chocolate chip cookies, I couldn’t trust myself to… this is what I thought, this was the dialogue in my head… I couldn’t trust myself to have a couple of drinks the night before something big because I would ruin it. I couldn’t trust myself to pick out an outfit, I looked for somebody else. I couldn’t trust myself to validate my work, I needed someone else to do that. And ultimately, I thought, “Geez, I would never do this to somebody else that I was trying to mentor or raise.” I would teach them, I would tell them, “You’re all right. Your intuition’s good. Trust yourself.” So, this idea of what’s appropriate for me, comes from me, there isn’t anyone in charge. This is news to a lot of PrimeTime women. There is no one in charge, there’s no one keeping score, there’s no one making rules, there’s not written anywhere that “This is okay for 40, and this is okay for 50, and this is okay for 60.” You gotta make it up in the way that you make it up, is to trust yourself, and lean into that and that takes practice.

The F-U 50s

Jill: Is there a point in life, where we no longer ask? Cuz, you hear the FU 50s… I think, that meme is starting to rise up. But, have you seen any sort of trend, or place, in the women you work with, where that request for permission starts to die down?

Juju: I think that I have always heard from women and men that when they turn 50, they stopped caring about things that they used to care about, a lot more. I’m not sure that I ever understood what’s that really meant. But, I think if you wanna give yourself permission, you have to have a practice. If you want something to change in your life, something has to change. So, I don’t think this stuff is gonna come naturally, and if it came naturally, we wouldn’t have the brand issue that we have. So, I think all of this is a practice. It’s a practice to wake up every day, and say, “What is it that I want,” and “What am I gonna do to get it,” and “What’s keeping me from getting it?” One of the things that my coach taught me, that I talk about in the book, and that I talk to women about all the time, is that ‘why’ questions are killers. As soon as you start to say, “Why don’t I have this?” or “Why am I not happy?” or “Why don’t I feel this way?” you give yourself horrible answers. “Well, because I am a piece of crap,” “Because I don’t know how,” “Because I don’t deserve it,” “Because I didn’t work hard enough,” and that’s not helpful. So, who, what and how. Who, what and how can I give myself permission to live the life I want to live? Those are the right questions.

What is “mad girl math”?

Jill: You also, in addition to the six lies… we covered one of them, and to figure out the other five, people gotta go to the book… you also talk about three math problems, which I love cuz it brings some logic and some economics to it all. Explain that.

Juju: I call it “mad girl math.” That started… when my son was really little, they did this thing in school called “mad dog math” where every day, they had to practice their times tables. They had these math problems and they would give all the kids the same math problems. I think they had to do 20 math problems and first, they had to do them all in two minutes, and then, they had to do them in a minute and a half, then they had to do them in a minute. Every kid in the classroom was at a different stage at different times. You advanced when you got the basics. When you knew all of your times tables for one, you moved on. When you knew your times tables for two, you moved on. And, these facts, they stayed with you, these math facts. So, one of the things that I find in women is that we have three math facts, three equations that exist in our heads, that are wrong, like if somebody told you that seven times six was 37, and you carried it around with you your whole life, it would just mess you up every time you went to embark on anything that involved that math fact. So, these three equations are “my thoughts = reality.” The things that I think, are real. Women are so shocked when I tell them that the things that you think are not real. They are just bullcrap. They are happenings like lightning or a door slamming, and we don’t have to believe everything we think. We shouldn’t believe everything we think. The second equation is that “my feelings are facts.” Your feelings are real, they are real, they are happening in your body, they are visceral, they are reactions to them, but they are not facts. Facts exist outside of you, facts are proven. Your feelings are reactions to stimulus. Something happens, you react to it, that’s a feeling. So, I don’t discount feelings, or say that your feelings are unimportant. I just don’t want women to make decisions, especially decisions about their future and their happiness, based on their feelings. I want them to make decisions, based on the facts. Then, the third equation is that “my past = to my future,” or my past is an adequate indicator of my future. This is the most dangerous equation that we have. Just because I have never run a marathon, doesn’t mean I am not the kind of person who runs marathons. Just because I haven’t had success in my entrepreneurial venture to date, doesn’t mean that I am not a successful entrepreneur. What it means is that it hasn’t happened yet, and the day that it happens, I’ll be that thing. So, I really really urge women to look at their evaluation of their past, and how much they are applying it to their vision of the future, and stop. Because it’s not helpful, it’s not useful in any way, shape or form. So, those are the three problems that I talk about in the book at length, and how to get around them.

This is your PrimeTime

Jill: When a woman starts to embrace PrimeTime, and in this notion of “What do I want?” and also embracing those three maths facts that you talk about, this is got to change how she is around her family, around friends. She’s gotta be a different person, and it might cause some friction. How do you coach women through that?

Juju: I tell them not to think about it. You don’t need to involve everybody else. This is your PrimeTime. I don’t need to get…I need permission from me. Here’s the thing about this stuff. Once you start to recognize the truth, once you know the true equations, once you recognize the lies, you’ll be happier and when you’re happier, you’ll have more to give. And, when you have more to give and you are more enjoyable to be around, people are gonna be glad about there. They are not gonna ask you that. When I first started to meditate, my husband bought me… I talked about this in the book… he bought me a trip to Deepak Chopra’s center to do an eight-day meditation retreat, which is about as woo woo as I got, the La Costa Spa and Resort in Carlsbad. When I came home, I was literally a changed person. My son, at the time, was really little. He asked if he could levitate with me. My husband said, “I don’t know what happened to you there, but I hope that you just keep doing it because you are so much nicer to be around.” So, part of the middle-aged women brand… by the way, women don’t like to hear this, is that we’re a little bit naggy and bitchy. We are going through these hormonal shifts, it’s not nice. We’re throwing fits, we’re crying. This is part of the brand. A lot of these things that I reveal to women get you around that. So, I can’t really see how … there are people in your life, who may wanna hold you back, and hold you down, because of their own issues. But, I would not make that part of the journey or the problem. Deal with that as it comes up.

Dealing with rage

Jill: Any strategies on how women can rise above the rage or the anger they sometimes feel at this point in time in life?

Juju: Yeah, the math facts are really all about that. There are people who are just masters at this. I talk about that in the book. The number one person that I recommend about that, is Byron Katie. I love Byron Katie, for anybody who has ever done The Work. Most of the time that you feel really mad at somebody, pissed off, the rage that you feel, it is driven, to some extent, by your hormones. But, I think that a lot of studies have indicated what your hormones, those hormonal shifts really do, especially where rage and depression are concerned, is they intensify what you are already feeling. In other words, a hormonal shift doesn’t make you depressed, but if you are prone to depression, it’s going to affect you more than somebody else. So, the rage really has to do with us sitting down and thinking, “Now, wait a minute. This is what I think right now. This is what I feel. Is this factual? Is this reality? Or is this something that happened in my head?” And, if it happened in your head, don’t let it out of your head just yet. Stop, think about it, because the moment you do something about that rage, is the moment that it’s gonna catch up with you. The moment that you take it out on your husband, or your coworker, or your kid, or your dog, is the moment that it doesn’t serve you anymore, nothing’s happening to benefit you. So, it’s really all about being able to look at that stuff and saying, “Do I really care about this? Do I wanna pursue this?”

Women who are killing it in PrimeTime

Jill: Do you see, in society, places where the messaging is starting to shift and change? You mentioned the ‘me too moments’, those are catalyzing moments, I think, that are bringing women together to start to change the dialogue… but, do you see some positive shifts?

Juju: Yeah. I don’t know if you know who Cindy Joseph is, and the brand Boom by Cindy Joseph. But, she’s amazing. She’s just 62 years old, she is a model. There are tons of women in Hollywood who are starting to talk about this now. There are brands who…fashion brands and makeup brands, who have come out now and said, “We are not gonna airbrush wrinkles anymore. We are going to show women as they really are.” The Get Her Elected movement, which is all about progressive women getting elected, has tons of middle-aged women in it. I think there are all kinds of shifts that are happening that are accommodating this, if we can lean into this and look for them. One of the things I tell them to do, is change what’s in your newsfeed on your social media. If you have a whole bunch of pictures of stuff about dieting, about how to fix yourself and about plastic surgery, or about all this stuff that’s supposed to fix you and make you better, take it out. And fill your newsfeed with positive stuff about women your age, and constantly expose yourself to examples of women who are doing this gracefully and joyfully.

Start your day with “mirror work”

Jill: This has been packed with a lot of things that women can start doing today. But my first and foremost advice is, read the book Hot Flashes, Carpools and Dirty Martinis. What is one thing that you share with women that they should just do every morning when they get out of bed?

Juju: The one thing that I’d like to start with women, and it’s so off putting for women, but it’s important, is mirror work. If you can begin to literally look at yourself in the mirror, not figuratively, and address yourself respectfully and in a happy fashion… Every time I go to the bathroom, every time I wake up in the morning, I look in the mirror and I say, “Hey, gorgeous! How are you?” and I smile at myself. It sounds ludicrous, but I look at myself and I speak to myself more nicely than anyone else in my life does, because I deserve it, I earned it. When you see yourself smile, when you see yourself respond to that, it leads to all kinds of other things. First of all, it leads to the answer to the question, “What do I want?” And I tell a lot of women just look in the mirror and ask yourself what do you want. I had a beautiful woman, a beautiful coach named Yada Golden teach me that, add that to Louise Hay’s mirror work, but it worked for me, and I know it works for a lot of other women. But, it also changes us in other ways. It makes us feel sexier and see ourselves in a sexier way. It works our smile muscles, and gets us out of that rage and that anger that we talked about. But, it really just allows you to see yourself, to… think of a pet name for yourself, I don’t care what it is. Make it a nice one and don’t call yourself “fat girl.” This is the kind of stuff women do, right? “Hey, idiot.” NO. You can call yourself something nice, address yourself in the mirror, look at yourself and give yourself the greeting and the respect that you deserve, and things will start to shift.

Jill: So, positive news in the news feeds, starting… opening in the morning, looking at yourself positively in the mirror, addressing yourself positively.

Juju: And one of the things that I also do in the mirror work, I think, that’s really important, is to tell yourself, “Life loves you” because it does. Life loves you, the universe is on your side and I don’t mean that from a woo woo standpoint. I mean that there’s a 50/50 chance in every experience that you have, that you’re gonna label it a good outcome or bad outcome, and so, if you can constantly tell yourself, “Life loves you,” or “Life has your back,” you’ll start to shift your perception of things. Your reality will change.

An amazing offer from Juju – enter to win a place in the Posse!

Jill: That’s great. What a wonderful note to end on, in a positive way. I’m really excited because you’re bringing an amazing offer to our listeners. Tell them a little bit about that. I’ll let you do the reveal.

Juju: First things first. You can get the book for free. I won’t offer this forever, but if you go to primetimejuju.com, the book is there for free, you just pay shipping. And, you will have an opportunity also to get into Positively PrimeTime and the PrimeTime Posse. That’s all there in the same spot. But, I’m going to give membership to Positively PrimeTime to one of your listeners, and I think we’re gonna give a couple autographed books away, as well. I charge $247 for an all-access pass. You can also pay yearly or you can pay monthly, but $247 just gets you in and keeps you in, and the way that Positively PrimeTime works, is that we have an online group called the ‘Posse’, the PrimeTime Posse, and there, I show up every day, pretty much every day, the women talk to each other, and we go over all of this kind of stuff, in and out, the ins and outs. It’s pretty irreverent and sassy. Then, the second thing that is available to the women who are in the Posse is what I call the “Clubhouse.” So, a lot of things are prerecorded or for consumption on your own. Twice a month or once a month, I do Two-for-One Happy Hour, where I interview two experts on the same subject, and I record that and put that in there. I am just now starting group coaching calls for the group, and I put those in there as well. I have a couple of courses in there. Badass Permission Slip for women who don’t know how to give themselves permission, there’s a six-part course in there. And then, I have a course called ‘Start to Finish’ for women who have big ideas and never do anything about them, cuz that’s another thing that I hear from women is, “Oh my gosh, I have all these great big ideas and all these things I wanna do, and I dream about it after a couple glasses of wine, and then the next day, I wake up and do nothing.” So, this is a 21-day bump bump bump, “How do I get into this, how do I get started, how do I get one foot in front of the other so that when I start, I can finish.” That’s all there, and we’re gonna give one away. For women, who don’t wanna wait for the contest and wanna jump in and buy, you get it. Once you order the book, it will pop upm and you can buy it.

Jill: That’s so fantastic. Thank you, and again, that’s at primetimejuju.com and Juju is J-U-J-U… just want to make sure. And we’ll have that in the podcast notes as well. Thank you. Wow, this has been a fantastic, high energy interview, and thanks to you. Thank you for what you are doing, one person at a time, and we’re huge fans. We’ll hopefully bring a lot more women into the Posse so that it just continues to grow.

How are you embracing your PrimeTime? Share with us in the comments below or on Gennev’s Facebook page, or join Gennev's closed Facebook group, Midlife & Menopause Solutions.

Up next, we have two great podcasts in our lineup: we’ll be talking with Mellicia Marks, who helped us figure out how to buy a better bra, about how to dress – and love – your body, and we have Dr. Lisa Mosconi to tell us about the very important link between menopause and Alzheimer’s disease and how you can protect yourself with brain food. Such great information, so be sure to subscribe to Gennev on iTunesStitcherSoundCloud, so you never miss an episode!

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