The big 40!

When it comes to duos, Lise and Sarah are two of our faves! They are funny, quick-witted, intelligent and have no problems singing a rendition of Britney Spears' 'Hit me baby one more time' to a packed-out room of Business Chicks. We sat down with the pair to ask them about their latest book, Forty Favours the Brave, why forty is the new twenty and what they want all women to know as they leave their thirties.

How did you two meet?

At thirty-three, when our youngest children were four months old, we met in the flesh after being introduced online. It became a marathon of five hours of non-stop talking and we often say we ‘fell in friendship love’ that night. In fact, it changed the course of our entire lives. After comparing notes on professional backgrounds and identifying a gap in the market for two female friends in the media and entertainment space, we formed as an emcee duo and began producing our own sold-out events. About a year later, we were unexpectedly tapped on the shoulder by the head of Southern Cross Austereo’s HIT network, who offered us our own radio show. Four years of local and national breakfast shows, two podcasts and a book later, here we are.

Lise, describe Sarah for us …

She’s equal parts whip-smart, hilarious, loyal, and nutty. No one makes me laugh like Sarah does. She’s a human curve ball - you’d never expect the things that come out of this woman’s mouth. She may look like a goddess, but rest assured she is one of the silliest humans you’ll ever meet. ‘This wasn’t in the brochure’ comes to mind. I LOVE that about her.

Sarah, describe Lise …

Meeting Lise changed my life. She has a rare kind of magnetism that draws people in; I mean, it took me four-and-a-half years to marry my husband, but I was in business with Lise within four-and-a-half months! Don’t let the fact she looks like a delicate doe fool you; there’s nothing skittish about her. Beyond the funny/smart combo, Lise is decisive, self-assured, and magnificent in a crisis. For all her larger-than-life French mannerisms and exaggerations (also one of my favourite things), she is steadfast and unwavering in her values and decisions. My only wish is that we’d met sooner! 

Tell us what your 20s and 30s were like in a nutshell …

Our twenties were a blur of university life, jugs of Illusions, living and working abroad, and trying to find our way in the world. Our thirties can best be described as sleep-challenged, maternal grit; a blurry decade of family-and-career-focused endurance.

Did you ever fear ageing? Was turning 40 a big deal to you?

Thirty-nine was a big year for us. Lise was scared of becoming invisible and dull. Having worked as a fashion model in her younger years, she’d indexed her worth to her appearance, which left her feeling both panicked and ashamed.Sarah’s mother-in-law passed away from Motor Neurone Disease. It was a cruel but life-affirming lesson about seizing the day and not putting things on hold.

How did the podcast come to be?

In 2020, the year we both turned forty, we launched FORTY - a weekly series celebrating the life lessons and stories of popular Australian women in their forties and beyond through insightful and entertaining interviews. It’s the podcast equivalent of a little black book for the middle years. We had questions and curiosities about the decade ahead and figured, surely, we aren’t the only ones? FORTY has been downloaded more than 1,000,000 times. We’ve chatted to Liane Moriarty, Sophie Monk, Mia Freedman, Sarah Wilson, Ali Daddo, Ada Nicodemou, Leah Purcell, Yumi Stynes, Kathy Lette, Narelda Jacobs, Sally Obermeder, Paula Joye, stroke-survivor Lisa Cox, reformed ice addict Andre’a Simmons, young widow Megan Daly, and of course, Emma Isaacs, just to name a few!

What have been some of your favourite conversations and realisations from the podcast?

Business Chicks member, author, and coach Kemi Nekvapil has delivered countless ‘A-ha’ moments, such as the strength and power women have as we get older when we’re not so focussed on being liked, or the male gaze, and can focus on ‘what am I here to do?’.Other key takeaways?

Decide, don’t just slide (Angela Mollard); learn to say no so you can say yes to things that really matter (Sally Hepworth); glorifying ‘busy’ will keep you in chains (Julie Goodwin); you have permission to dream new dreams (Justine Cullen); never trust a bloke with a shark tooth necklace (Sarah); there is no greater joy than being home, showered and in pyjamas by dusk (Lise).

What do you love most about being in your 40s?

Now, more than ever, we are a force to be reckoned with. Women in their middle years are resilient, adaptable, and fiercely determined. We are leaning in to, and fully embracing our second act, and that’s exciting. The lack-lustre, middle-aged matron trope we’ve been sold need not apply here!

We like your 40s are the new 20s and are now being celebrated - women are having amazing parties, going on incredible holidays – do you think there’s been a societal shift about turning 40?

Absolutely. In large part because of conversations like these. The fact is, we are experiencing our forties far differently than the way our mothers ever did, so, we’re challenging the status quo about what ageing looks and feels like in 2022. Women like supermodel Paulina Porizkova and menopausal mindset shifter Lou Featherstone are offering us new perspectives on what it means to grow older. Visibility and representation are key in terms of changing society’s dismissive ageing rhetoric. For us, writing this book and hosting our podcast has helped us move from a place of fear to one of gratitude; from erasing to embracing. Surround yourself with age-positivity and witness the shift!

Tell us about the book, what was the writing process like?

This book is for all the women between youth and old age who begin to wonder. It’s a collection of musings, advice, and real-life stories where we, along with women from all walks of life, share insightful tales about entering this decade: the lessons learned, heartbreaks survived, things we wish we’d known, relationship changes, confidence gained … and the surprising, wondrous joy of life in its second act. The dream is that Forty Favours the Brave becomes a go-to coming-of-age, milestone gift for women approaching, or in their forties. Writing it was cathartic and important for our evolution as women and brought about epiphanies by the truckload. Equal parts tears, a-ha moments, and side-splitting laughter. We will sheepishly admit to using old-school Word documents to bounce chapters between the two of us. It triggered memories of uni group assignments back in the late 90s!

From the podcast and the book, what do you see women in their forties struggling with most?

Shaking off the ‘good girl/good wife/good mother’ shackles. We interviewed Sally Obermeder and she said, ‘When you’re growing up, everyone’s like, ‘make sure you don’t eat the cake first, make sure everyone else has the cake first’. But there’s a price to pay for always putting yourself last. Our forties seem to be a time of reckoning and reassessing for so many women.

What messages do you think society gives women in their 40s?

That women get less beautiful as we age; less relevant; less interesting. What a fallacy! The truth is, we get more powerful as we age, and that scares people. Language like ‘anti-ageing’ and ‘fighting the signs of ageing’ is toxic. This isn’t a war! Ageing is a privilege. Our middle years are precisely when we get to step into the truest versions of ourselves. ‘Over the hill’ is a damaging and limiting construct – there is no disposable age. We refuse to subscribe to that.

What would 40-year-old you tell 20-year-old you?

You think you’re at your peak now? Well, the best is yet to come! What lies ahead is character and allure – a magnetism and je ne sais quoi reserved for the beguiling mature woman. You’ll be calmer, and more self-assured. You’ll know things and have stories. All the pieces of who you are will fall into place beautifully. There is something quite magical about an ageing woman, you just wait and see.

What do you want women in their 40s (or approaching 40) to know?

Ageing isn’t a fault in the matrix. It’s an arrival. While the young fillies around us may have youth on their side, collagen in spades, perky glutes, and enviable upper-breast volume, what we mares have is far richer. We have the gift of experience, stories to tell, gumption and a self-assuredness that only comes with getting older. Strap in!


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