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Coaching and consulting firm specializing in helping people transition from working full time to retirement and owning their own businesses. 

Retirement Planning Coaching Consulting Blog

Andrea Huff is an executive coach and an expert at helping clients navigate their third chapter and retirement vision. She is a write, coaching and consulting expert specializing in helping people transition from working full time to retirement and owning their own businesses. 

Filtering by Tag: prototyping

Design Thinking and Prototyping

Andrea Huff

Design Thinking and Prototyping Can Help You Make Decisions at any Stage in Life

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Chapter 2 of my book describes a powerful and simple tool to help you decide what identity you want and how to spend your time once you're retired but still want to work, are in the third stage of your life or want to make changes at any time in your life, career or business.

Design thinking began as a tool in the world of product design and is now being used to solve business issues and help people make decisions in their personal lives. The at Stanford and IDEO, an international design and consulting company, have both been pioneers in design thinking. Design thinking emphasizes action and experimentation rather than simply thinking about alternatives or discussing options. 

It uses what's called prototyping in the product design world and means actually doing the things you are considering. It goes beyond the networking concept we're all familiar with because it's not just talking to people about the activity you're considering, although it's important to do that also. Prototyping means you actually do the work yourself on a small scale to decide whether it's something you want to do more of. 

This means you take a relevant class, volunteer, get an internship, write a blog, become part of an online group, work with a coach or mentor, go on an advisory board or set up an advisory board for yourself. You're trying on a new identity or activity to see what reaction you have to it to decide if it's worth pursuing further. You'll know by how you feel about it and whether things start to fall into place whether you want to do more of it. It helps if you have some background in the area you are prototyping since you need to be realistic that you could do this and be paid if you got some additional training, certification or more experience.

You can use this approach when making a decision in your career at any point in your life. But, in the third stage of your life, it's easy to feel hesitant about taking a risk and trying something new. People can feel they have too much to lose at a later stage in their lives and fear taking a risk. Or they feel stuck and overwhelmed by the number of options that could be possibilities.

I believe the opposite is the better approach and now is the perfect time to take the biggest risks of all because you have no one to please but yourself or perhaps your partner or someone who is making this new journey with you. Planning for retirement is not a time to play it safe because this is the time of your life to find your real identity or do something you always thought about trying. 

The woman in the picture above with me is a client of mine who has used design thinking and prototyping as part of our work together to create her new identity and change her business and career in the third stage of her life. I interviewed her in my book because she did such a good job of using this "experimenting in action" tool. To make it more specific, I'll tell you what she did and how it worked for her.

Lita Reyes knew that the jobs she'd held in the past in marketing, consulting and working with nonprofits were not the right fit for the third stage of her life. She was currently in her own marketing business and looking to find her true calling or something she could feel passion for while she was transitioning to this third stage of life. She knows she will continue to work in her retirement and wants to transform her business now that will be her purpose for as long as she chooses to work. Fortunately, she's starting to plan for this transition early.

After we discussed many options we focused on philanthropic advising as the type of business she wanted to do in the future. She had done some of this work in the past but now wanted to specialize her business in this area. She already had an MBA, but after doing much research she went to New York to take the 21/64 training to become a Certified Advisor since we thought it would give her new learning and contacts, a good process and additional credibility. She also joined an Advisory Board, WINC, Women's Impact Network Committee, and is becoming a member of Northern California Planned Giving Council. 

She re-named her consulting firm Reyes Philanthropic Solutions, modified her LinkedIn profile and other online sites. We created a new resume and two page summary of her new business and had new business cards made. She's done non-stop networking during this process and is now doing her new website and writing an article on mother and daughter philanthropy, an area she will specialize in along with advising younger donors. 

Throughout this process, we continued to question whether this was the right direction for her to pursue for her work in the third stage of her life. She feels more strongly than ever that she is building the right business for the long haul. This is something she could do part-time in the future if she chooses to, but for now, she's full speed ahead building a business with other employees, a board of directors and advisors. 

She'll speak more about how she used design thinking and prototyping to feel confident about this decision at my Book Passage presentation and book signing on Sat. June 23rd at 1:00 in Corte Madera in the SF Bay Area for those of you who live close by. Please forward this if you know someone living in the area who might enjoy coming or learning more about my book.

You can also find my book in Sonoma in the wine country at Reader's Books, a great independent bookstore right off the town square. If you're in the area, stop by and look in the local author section by the checkout and enjoy the great town

There are exercises in the book to help you make some of the same decisions Lita made and more information about the process of design thinking and prototyping. To purchase a copy of the book or get more information and a table of contents for the book, check out my March 7th blog on

Are you on It's a great resource for books to read and a way to track and review what you've read. If you've read my book, I'd love to have you review it on Thanks, Andrea

Book Launch and Responses

Kriz Bell

I launched my new book, Every Night’s Friday Night: Time and Freedom for the Rest of Your Life, a month ago with a book launch party for some of the people who helped make the book become a reality either by being interviewed or being a beta reader. Before it was published beta readers gave me feedback about the book and suggestions for additions or changes.  It was a great launch event, everyone had a good time and enjoyed getting to meet one another.

I’m including a few pictures from the party.  I signed copies of the book for everyone and sold many more. We ate lots of good food, drank champagne and wine and everyone found they had many things in common.

The following week, I launched the book online to a group of people and thanks to everyone for your emails and orders.  We had 10 sales in the first hour! We've had a 75% open rate on the emails and a 50% click-through rate to the website. 

Here are a few responses I’ve received from people about the book:

I started reading your book last night and couldn’t put it down! It’s as if you were talking directly to me. Thanks again for your book, guidance and inspiration.
— Inja Yang, Owner/Designer, Tansu Design
I read your whole book and really enjoyed it. I liked the wide range of topics you addressed in the different chapters and the individual interviews made the concepts and aspirations more real. The short summaries of each person’s suggestions were pithy and perfect. I think a wide range of people who are planning for the next stage in their life their will benefit from your experience, wisdom and the interviews in this book. I will promote this gem!
— Darla Romano, Psychotherapist
I love your book!! Can I buy 10 more copies? I know lots of people I want to send them to!! I liked the way you divided life into the three phases and emphasized the importance of getting out and being engaged during this third stage.
— Douglas Dolton, Owner/CEO San Francisco Motorsports

It’s encouraging to hear people are enjoying the book!  I just found out that Book Passage, a well known local bookstore with three locations in the Bay Area, has just agreed to carry my book!  Book Passage has also asked me to do a presentation and signing of books on Saturday, June 23rd at 1:00.    For those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'd like to invite you to join us.

In future blogs, I’ll discuss some of the tools I use with clients that I cover in the book to help you decide how to prepare for this third stage of life.

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