Nancy A. Shenker spent decades working in the corporate world. But at the age of 48 she felt it was finally time to strike out on her own, so that she could disrupt and transform the marketing world in a way that felt authentic to her. Today she runs, The ON Switch, a full service marketing company that is helping other female entrepreneurs grow their ventures. After decades in the biz Scotsdale, Arizona-based Shenker credits her success to the compassion she has for others and her fearlessness in taking on new challenges.
Shenker’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
I was ahead of my time. After reaching the C-suite, I left corporate life after thirty years and started my own business at 48. I was finding that companies were slow to disrupt and transform. I saw an opportunity to help businesses of all sizes launch innovative and create revenue-generating concepts. I have survived a recession and many business and professional challenges, moved cross-country at 62, and re-booted my business, launching a spin-off to create compelling content for SaaS companies and others. Along the way, I’ve written four books (including my latest on AI and robotics) and mentored hundreds of young women, who have gone on to pursue amazing careers. I make time to volunteer — nationally and in my community — and have raised two successful daughters (I am also a grandmother.) I have finally found a way to combine my passions, knack for commerce and interest in self-care and now I teach and empower other women to do the same. As a fintech pioneer, I encourage women to “fear not technology.”
My advice for other entrepreneurs starting up would be to have a business plan! Balance your need for personal freedom with a tight revenue-generating perspective. I would tell my younger self to stress less…never fear math and science…stop worrying about boys, clothes, and girl drama and worry more about yourself. A leadership skill I possess now that I didn’t when I was younger is compassion for and ability to communicate with everyone, regardless of age, stage, or skill set. It helps build stronger and more effective teams.
My definition of success is prospering in all aspects of life — work, relationships, and self-care. My biggest success to date is my daughters. Despite all my professional successes (and there are many) raising two amazing and confident young women while working full-time was not an easy feat. I still have lots of goals for my business though. Although I am looking at scaling through a new product launch, I am committed to allowing time to enjoy everything I have worked for over the past 40+ years. This is my time!
My top challenge is Ageism and the “robotization” of the workplace. I have also recently launched a speaking series, focusing on those topics. Making people aware about ageism, as I mentor the next generation of women entrepreneurs is also important to me. On a personal front, I lost 2/3 of my right lung in my 30s and then my dad died suddenly. That gave me a new perspective on the importance of loving your work and your life. I also had an employee embezzle from me, which was an important lesson in trusting my gut.
My most important role model is hard to pick, but I do love Barbara Corcoran because she has grit, brains, and sass.