S2-EP9: Kathy Davies on Life Design As a Tool for Women’s Midlife Reinvention

Feb 7, 2020


Debbie talks to Kathy Davies about life design as a process for midlife reinvention — especially for women. Kathy is co-creator of the Designing Your Life for Women workshops.



Debbie talks to Kathy Davies who teaches design thinking at Stanford and is the co-creator, with Susan Burnett, of the Designing Your Life for Women workshops. The workshops grew out of the bestselling book, Designing Your Life, by Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

They talk about how design thinking crossed over from product design to designing your life, how the workshops for women got started, and why it is so important to take that first small step – even if you are dreaming big.

Debbie’s experience attending a DYLFW workshop in 2018 led to a three-minute audio recording that was the prototype for this podcast. So you can thank Kathy if you’re enjoying the podcast.

What they talked about:

  • Dave Evans’s mantra for the book, Designing Your Life: “Get curious, talk to people, try things, and then tell your story”
  • The difficult writing process behind the book (try and fail and try again)
  • Why networking is more challenging for women
  • Start Tiny: the importance of the first step
  • Why women need a safe space to explore and share
  • The importance of embracing uncertainty
  • Kathy’s surprising advice to her younger and older selves

This is a great conversation with some solid tips on how to use the process of life design to reinvent yourself. It applies no matter what your age and is applicable to both women and men.

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Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.


Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."