Carolyn Leonard, CEO and co-founder of Dymynd, 79.
“I was the first active female pit trader at the CBOE in the mid 70's. I traded from the opening bell to the close for my own account. Anything where you're going to get outsized dollars, you get outsized egos, and those were men. So, because I was faced with this very egotistical, and very male, and very, very strong male presence all day long, I decided, "Well, if they have a problem with me being a woman, listen, boys, you ain't seen nothing yet." And I became, as feminine as I am. I used to consider myself an iron butterfly because if you looked at me on the outside, it was all very soft and very pretty. But internally, I felt I was at war, and I was going to win.
When I started trading on the first day, men told me they wouldn't trade with me, I didn't belong. I knew that I had the right to be there, and I belonged as much as they did. But if that was their attitude, I was going to have to have a steel spine to overcome their perception, and their desire to get rid of me. So, I used looking very soft and feminine on the outside, and dressing impeccably and really beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous. So that men, who didn't know they weren't supposed to trade with me, and they weren't supposed to like me, who had business would come into my trading pit with orders, and stand next to me, and talk to me. Because they would say, "Oh my God, that's stunning. My wife would like that.”
So, it was using fashion for power and appearance for power. These guys that had the business, that were from other firms that didn't stand in my pit all day long, started developing a relationship, and they liked me. They could see, once they entered the pit, what I was contending with and that I was still there. That week after week, day after day, I still was there.
I grew up with a mom that always told me if I lived, I would get older and that the goal was to be the best you could be for whatever age you are. I have never been fearful of aging. I have always worked to maintain myself to be the best I could be for whatever age I am. There's power in appearance. And it doesn't matter what age you are. You can always dress lovely. I think that it's important to age with grace. Nobody thinks I'm 35, nor do I want anybody to think I'm 35, but I'm comfortable with what age I am and the fact that my body works, that I am healthy, that I can do all the things I want to do, that I'm strong physically, and that's what I want to
maintain through the rest of my life. As you get older, you care less and less about what anybody thinks. I'm much more comfortable with who I am than I've ever been. I recognize all my flaws and all my faults and it's amazing. I find new ones all the time.
Life happens and there's always going to be sad things, there's always going to be problems, but I must take care of myself through it. I can't allow myself to go down a rabbit hole of the problems. I must work on solving them, and those things I can't solve, I have to let go of so that I free myself up, and I don't make myself sick with worry, or anxiety, or other things. I know that, socioeconomically, there is a big difference in how we age. I live in a zip code that I will live, on average, 10 years longer than a woman six miles to the south of me. In my zip code, the average age is 78. In Englewood on the south side, the average age of death is 68 of a woman. So
it goes to environmental things. It goes to a lot of the things we can control. And it goes to the fact that I happen to have privilege to live where I live. You know that woman who's living in Englewood didn't do anything differently. She just was born under different circumstances and didn't have the same opportunities I had.
I have the chance at longer ‘gray life’ and being able to be much more youthful because I've always had access to good healthcare, I've had access to good gyms, I've had access to good food, and I've had access to good schools to get educated. And those were all accidents of birth. I consider myself to be part of the lucky sperm club."