Social Impact Authors: How & Why Rachel Lankester Is Helping To Change Our World

An Interview With Edward Sylvan


I want to completely change the way the world sees ageing and older people. In Anglo societies, the US, UK and Australia, for example, we’re completely obsessed with youth. Youth is best, older people are less valuable, we’re focused on the young — these are the prevailing narratives. I want to change that, so we see aging as something positive and older people as incredibly valuable.

As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Lankester.

Rachel Lankester is the author of Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond, a midlife mentor, podcast host and founder of Magnificent Midlife, an online hub celebrating and empowering women 40+. She’s on a mission to change how society perceives women, and how women perceive themselves, through midlife and beyond. She’s an ageism disrupter determined to rebrand menopause, midlife and aging so that society sees these as positive transitions rather than the beginning of the end. She helps midlife women get unstuck and resourced, so they can transform their lives.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in Birmingham, England. I was an academic child, good at drama and music, but terrible at sport! I was good at languages and went on several exchange schemes to Germany, France and Spain at a young age. I loved learning about and experiencing other cultures. I always felt cooler when I was abroad than when I was at home! That love of language and travel stayed with me and led me to study Chinese and Spanish at college, going to China for the first time to study, when I was 19. This was an amazing experience and taught me how much we can learn from other cultures and peoples.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

There have been so many books that have impacted my life and still do. One book that massively changed what I thought about myself, and gave me tools to cope in a world that often seemed a bit alien, was The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N Aron. I saw myself on every page of that book and suddenly I could see I did have a place in the world and there were other people like me. I realized my sensitivity was my superpower, rather than something primarily debilitating and at times embarrassing. That book gave me the confidence to start showing up in the world authentically and stop trying to be someone I wasn’t. It’s not easy being highly sensitive, but it’s no longer something I try to hide or fix.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I thought I could be an investment banker! Yes, really. I tried it for a year and a half and hated every minute. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do and no one tried to help me. Looking back I can see that I joined a very misogynistic and super conservative bank where there was no way I could fit in. Eventually, the bank put me out of my misery and fired me! I learned that being fired can sometimes be the best thing to happen to you and that actually, looking back, everything happens for a reason. You can choose to make the best of any situation.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

I want to completely change the way the world sees ageing and older people. In Anglo societies, the US, UK and Australia, for example, we’re completely obsessed with youth. Youth is best, older people are less valuable, we’re focused on the young — these are the prevailing narratives. I want to change that, so we see aging as something positive and older people as incredibly valuable.

Negative perceptions of age and older people are not the same everywhere, but as I write in my book, as countries get wealthier, they tend to take on the negative attitudes towards older people, like in these Anglo countries. Traditionally, in Asian, Catholic and indigenous societies, for example, older people have more status than they do in my own UK culture. But that is changing.

This ageism issue is particularly acute for women because the combination of ageism and sexism is insidious. Women struggle to get or change work after 40 in some industries, older men can age naturally but women feel they need to dye their hair and get Botox just to be taken seriously in the workplace, older male actors are paired with women 20 years their junior. It’s all wrong and needs to change!

The world also needs more older women in positions of power. I believe the world will be a much better place if we achieve that. Women don’t tend to initiate war and are better in general at a collaborative approach. My book is a manifesto for a complete rethink of how we approach aging and the experience of older women especially.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

In the West, we tend to view menopause as overwhelmingly negative. This contrasts with how we think about puberty and childbirth, two other major times of change in a woman’s life. Both of these may be difficult, but the overarching narrative is positive, unlike for menopause.

If I were a Native American woman, I’d likely view the menopausal transition as a neutral or positive experience, as I moved to become a “woman of wisdom” in my community. Many women in cultures where aging is viewed more positively, or where lack of fertility can be viewed in terms of greater freedom, report few menopausal issues, simply a cessation of periods. I find this a very interesting correlation.

We can take inspiration for changing how we see menopause and older women from nature. There are two creatures that go through menopause, human females and whales. When whales go through menopause, at about the same age as us, they become the leaders of their pods, often for up to 50 years. There’s an evolutionary reason for their menopause and I believe that applies to women too. We’re more valuable to our communities as we get older, as leaders than as breeders.

Knowing this completely changed my attitude to menopause and being an older woman. Our personal attitudes towards menopause and aging have a significant impact on our overall experience of both. In indigenous societies, older women have always been respected and revered, but in the West, we’ve often lost that tradition. How about we take inspiration from the post-menopausal whales and bring older women forward to lead our communities, rather than them stepping back into obscurity, as so often happens?

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

Two things happened, both relating to me being given an early menopause diagnosis at 41, ending my dreams of a second child. When this happened, I was given no advice on how to take care of myself. I didn’t understand what had happened to me or why. I found out lots of things and for a time, having made diet and lifestyle changes, my menstrual cycle returned. I realized we can have far more control over our personal hormonal balance throughout life than we might think. I want to share this information with women so they can be prepared not scared about menopause, unlike me. I also do not want menopause to still be a taboo subject.

Secondly, I found the diagnosis particularly hard because I had accepted the negative narratives about menopause and ageing for women. My first reaction was to think that the diagnosis meant I was less of a woman, less valuable, less sexy, less everything. It took me a while to realize I was being ageist towards myself in thinking this. I eventually realized I was no less of anything because I’d gone through early menopause. And aging is something precious not awful. We get nowhere fighting it and the sooner we embrace it, the happier we’ll be. Again, I want to share this awareness with all women, so no one goes through the same self-doubt and sense of shame that I did.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I’m very happy to name names because these two women are amazing! Anti-ageism activist and author of This Chair Rocks, A Manifesto Against Ageism, Ashton Applewhite, taught me that ageism begins between our ears, so we need to change our own thinking about aging first and then change society.

Author Darcy Steinke introduced me to the menopausal whales! In her book, Flash Count Diary, she writes about becoming obsessed with a killer whale called J2, otherwise known as Granny, and how she got in a boat and went to meet this formidable matriarch!

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

  1. Stop the gender pay gap. It still exists in most countries around the world. Women should not be penalized because of their sex nor their tendency to take on more of society’s caregiving responsibilities than men. The pay gap gets wider the older women get. Equal work should get equal pay. Women should be rewarded not penalized for their caregiving.
  2. Outlaw all ageism in the workplace and especially for older women. Ensure that women are considered for senior roles just as much as men, and give them the support they need to do those jobs. Often women retreat from senior positions when they are in their prime, because of ageism, difficulties with menopause or just a disinterest in playing by men’s rules. Age is another criterion for diversity. If we can make powerful positions workable for women, especially older, highly experienced women, we will create a better world, I believe.
  3. Start questioning and campaigning against the way the media and advertising industries portray older women. Point out the double standards when a 50 year older male actor gets paired with a 30-year-old female one. Lobby for more older women in front of the camera both in dramas and current affairs programs. Get rid of the term anti-ageing. How can we be anti a natural process that is happening from the day we are born? Question advertising that promotes potentially dangerous and unnatural procedures designed to make women look younger and which has succeeded, to date, in making teenagers believe they need Botox and fillers!

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I believe leadership is about being authentic and having the courage to speak up for what you believe in. It’s not about always being right and telling people what to do. It’s about listening, learning and helping people move towards positive action. Increasingly, in our modern world, leadership is also often about standing up for something that goes against the majority view. It’s all too easy to follow the crowd. Leaders also lead by their actions as much as their words, so it’s always good to try to practice what you preach! Not always easy, but definitely an aspiration worth having.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Age in no way diminishes us — in fact, we get more magnificent with age not less.
  2. There is no time limit on beauty — we don’t dismiss the autumn leaves in favor of the spring blossom — both are beautiful, just different.
  3. Youth does not bestow some magical luster of ability, relevance and value on the young — we’ve just been brainwashed to believe it does.
  4. Menopause can be a magnificent empowering transition in a woman’s life, rather than just something scary to be suffered through.
  5. We all have a right to live a fulfilled and purposeful life — never accept your status quo just because it’s your status quo.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anaïs Nin

Menopause gave me the courage and I became more whale! My life expanded as a result. The end of my fertility has become the most fertile time of my life.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Oprah, please!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find out all about me at That’s where you’ll find my book, my podcast, my mentoring programs and free resources. On all the socials I’m Magnificent Midlife.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.

In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.

Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.

With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.

At Sycamore Entertainment he specializes in print and advertising financing, marketing, acquisition and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures, and is concerned with acquiring, producing and promoting films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subject matter which will also include nonviolent storytelling.

Also in 2020, Sylvan launched SEGI TV, a free OTT streaming network built on the pillars of equality, sustainability and community which is scheduled to reach 100 million U.S household televisions and 200 million mobile devices across Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV and others.

As Executive Producer he currently has several projects in production including The Trials of Eroy Brown, a story about the prison system and how it operated in Texas, based on the best-selling book, as well as a documentary called The Making of Roll Bounce, about the 2005 coming of age film which starred rapper Bow Wow and portrays roller skating culture in 1970’s Chicago.

He sits on the Board of Directors of Uplay Canada, (United Public Leadership Academy for Youth), which prepares youth to be citizen leaders and provides opportunities for Canadian high school basketball players to advance to Division 1 schools as well as the NBA.

A former competitive go kart racer with Checkered Flag Racing Ltd, he also enjoys traveling to exotic locales. Sylvan resides in Vancouver and has two adult daughters.

Sylvan has been featured in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and has been seen on Fox Business News, CBS and NBC. Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc is headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver.



Edward Sylvan CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group
Authority Magazine

Edward Sylvan is the Founder and CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc. He is committed to telling stories that speak to equity, diversity, and inclusion.