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  • tessreynolds7

Happy 4th anniversary!

This month marks the four-year anniversary of my nonprofit consulting practice. 

On January 20, 2020, I officially retired from my CEO role at New Door Ventures. I planned to launch a nonprofit consulting practice so this was really “pretirement” as I call it.  But first, a much-needed vacation!  A few days later I boarded a plane for Japan, and spent the next 5 weeks with several childhood friends traveling to Vietnam and various islands in my homeland, the Philippines.

By March 1st, the world began to shut down for the pandemic, and I scrambled to change my flight back home to San Francisco. I made it home ten days before the World Health Organization made the pandemic official. Who knew that the lock-down would last years?  Who knew that the pandemic would change the ways we live and work?

My dream of consulting four days a week could easily have been smashed, but today I celebrate four years of a thriving practice, and I am so very grateful.

I am so grateful for the two dozen clients who have trusted me with their journeys towards stronger leadership and more sustainable lives, as well as thriving organizations.  Several of these clients are foundations and intermediaries who have trusted me to help their own clients and grantees.  With each project, large or small, I have learned and received far more than I have given.  I have been inspired by the leaders I’ve advised and coached, and I’ve been inspired by Boards who give so much for no pay – and in fact, give previous time, talent and treasure for the privilege of contributing to a greater good.

Here are four lessons I’ve learned in the past four years:

1.      It’s okay to be selective.  During this third and probably final chapter of my career, I choose to work on only what I find most meaningful, and not everything that I’m capable of or know a lot about. I decided that I want to help grow leaders – so I do coaching and advisory work with sharp ED/CEOs and their Boards.  That means saying no to important and sometimes better-paying work like strategic planning or Theory of Change development.  In return, I get so much joy from seeing individuals and teams grow, and receiving their appreciation. I am inspired by my clients’ creativity, innovation and dedication, and feel truly privileged to work with them.


2.      Do not fear famine.  Back in my tech consulting days, I had learned an important lesson:  a feast of consulting work is often a famine personally.  And, slow seasons of work can be a feast for personal restoration and enjoyment.  I do not fear when projects end and the pipeline seems light, because it’s a time to feast on beautiful hikes and laughter-filled lunches with girlfriends.  Somehow, work always comes again.


3.      Invest in learning and learning circles. I keep myself busy but not all work is paid.  I serve on two Boards and one Advisory Council, and I participate in several leadership forums/circles. I attend webinars on interesting topics by people I respect.  I’ve always loved learning and must remember that renewing my mind keeps me fresh and always flows back to the greater good.


4.      Maintain a non-professional life.  This is probably the hardest for me because I love the world of work.  However, I’ve learned the value of carving out parts of my life where I can just be, or where I can be the receiver instead of the leader and giver.  I need to be intentional and disciplined about calendaring play time with my two little granddaughters, or traveling with my husband, or visiting my sisters who live two hours away.  Feed my heart, and I can continue to feed others.

To all who have shared my “pretirement” journey so far, thank you, thank you!


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