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Danielle Wolter Nolan, CEO, DNK Presents

Growing up in the country, being outdoors was always second nature to me. Living in the fast paced digital age we live in today I realized that there was a need for more people to unplug from technology and reconnect with themselves in nature. This was one of the many reasons why my wife, Kate, and I founded DNK Presents. Together we have organized and guided hundreds of people on adventures in and outside of Indiana. I am blessed to share my passion for the great outdoors while helping individuals and groups build confidence and empowerment through adventure experiences.

DNK Presents organizes and guides empowering adventure retreats for individuals, groups, and businesses. We focus on getting people to step outside their comfort zones, try something for the first time and in turn gain confidence through experiential learning. Our adventures range from backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and yoga retreats.

More about Danielle:

1. What is the mission of DNK Presents?

Our mission is to get people to try something new, connect with nature and reconnect with themselves again through the great outdoors.

2. What brought you outdoors in such a BIG way?

I grew up in the country, so being outside was always second nature to me, I also played golf since I was 7, played in college and then went on to coach at the college level as well. After moving to the city and working in an office setting, I realized how much I missed nature and how much I needed it for my own well-being. My wife and I started making sure to put nature and adventure back into our lives by taking on new adventures for ourselves. Soon we developed somewhat of a following and we noticed that others wanted to experience adventure too. In the digital world we live in today, it's now more important than ever to make sure you get outside and unplug.

3. What kind of training did you go through to make you such an outdoors expert?

Kate and I carry our Wilderness First Aid certification, which is a weekend course outdoors that goes through mock training of emergency situations. I am a professional mountain bike instructor certified through the Professional Mountain Bike Instructors Association (PMBIA) with a course that is taken over 3-4 days, usually in the mountains, to test your technical skills, teaching, and stamina. I am a Leave No Trace Trainer, so I am certified to teach workshops and courses on wilderness ethics. I also have been through a 200-hour yoga teacher training immersion in Costa Rica, learning not only the teachings of yoga but self empowerment training for people. I am CPR trained and also have organized and guided groups from day hikes to week-long backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon. Together Kate and I have guided hundreds of people on trips in and outside of Indiana.

4. Why do C-level women need to get outdoors consistently?

Going out into nature has been proven again and again to increase wellness and improve our mental, physical, and emotional health. 75% of our doctor bills in this country are attributed to issues related to stress, or health problems that are preventable. When women reach the higher executive levels of organizations, they are unfortunately more likely to be stressed than before. Simply walking in nature has been proven to reduced stress levels, increase mood, immunity, creativity, and revitalization, just to name a few benefits. Therefore, getting outside, trying something new, and unplugging from technology is a surefire way to improve your quality of life, health, and wellness, and increase your performance at work.

You can read more about the benefits of nature that have been proven by scientific research here:

5. How will technology help you grow your business nationally?

I sometimes say our company in anti-tech since on some of our adventures we actually take away participants' iPhones or other technology away, but without technology our business would not be what it is today. We just went through our first website overhaul since our first website was created in 2014. We are heavily active on social media and advertise a lot on Facebook - 93% of our participants on our open to the public adventures found out about DNK Presents through Facebook.

We also plan to use technology in a bigger way to scale and grow our company and a specific event we host each year, a women’s adventure contest. This contest takes place in Indiana each year but we are working on scaling the contest to different parts of the country and eventually the world.

6. You produced and starred in an award-winning film called Live Adventurously. What the heck made you do that?

It was a crazy idea for sure! When we decided to do this big give back event for the community, the women’s adventure contest, I knew it could be even more impactful if we could document the women and their experience. We noticed that women (who didn’t think they could do our trips) would email us after watching some shorts videos of trips I had put together say, “I never thought I could do what you offer but once I saw your videos and I saw other women doing it, I knew if they could do it I could”. If we were to create a film to showcase the women and their transformational journey throughout the weekend, we could reach people all over the world and show them the impact of going outside, stepping outside your comfort zone, and what adventure has on your mental, physical, and emotional health and wellness. It was a lot of work - we had never created a documentary film before. But now, after winning Best Documentary in the Alhambra Film Festival and being an official selection for the Heartland Film Festival, we are beginning to have screenings of the film at schools, private events, and conferences to continue the conversation of living adventurously and grow our business.

7. What’s the biggest “aha!” moment that one of your adventurers had on a trip with you?

There have been countless aha moments I have experienced on our trips that have truly impacted my life. Sometimes I get caught up in the day-to-day routine of running a business and I forget about the lives we have impacted. One woman who went on a trip with us came back and told us she realized that she was so excited to finally be looking forward to something good and exciting in her life. She recently admitted to having worst year of her life., but ater reflecting on the weekend we had together she said something along the lines of, “I realized that I was simply existing through life. I was doing the bare minimum as a human: waking up, working, going home, etc. I realized that after this adventure I was actually living my life instead of just following the motions, and that living and really thriving felt so much better than what I was doing before. I decided that I was going to make sure that my life would never fall back into existing again and that I made myself a promise to let my life be my greatest adventure.” It's moments such as these that I will never forget and they are what keeps me going.

8. You always ask, “When is the last time you did something for the first time?” What’s your answer?

That’s a great question, I definitely ask that a lot and I usually don’t answer! Over the weekend we just had our first guide summit, meaning we met with all of our local people who guided or co-guided adventures for us last year. It may not sound like a big deal but it was SO awesome! Everyone got to meet each other, which was great because although we offer different activities, people only knew others in their “sport”. We discussed our 2018 calendar, what their goals were within the company and personally, and their big ideas on adventures they want to lead. I have dreamed of this moment. Sometimes when you own your own business and it’s just you most days, it’s nice to meet with the members of your team that believe in and live the mission. We have to see what their goals are and get new and different perspectives. We are also forming an advisory board this year and having our first meeting in February, which I have also wanted for a long time. I can’t wait to get feedback and insights from again more amazing people who believe in DNK Presents.

9. What advice do you have for other women thinking about starting up a business?

First, if you are a woman and reading this you already have an advantage, because YES! Women are better business owners than men. Data shows we are 1.7 times more productive than men, and that startup businesses with women founders are more likely to succeed. Read more about this here:

Yet women are still very low on the totem pole in business ownership. Luckily the rate of women starting companies is growing each day - in the last 15 years, women owned businesses has risen 54%. If you have an idea, the best way to decide if you should really go after it - especially if you believe this is a scalable idea - is to attend or better yet join The Startup Ladies. There is no other place that offers professional presenters who can directly connect you with potential investors, and get you on the path to success. Like Amelia Earhart once said, “The most effective way to do it is to do it.” - If you were looking for your sign this is it – do it!

10. How have The Startup Ladies helped you grow?

Women are more likely to have a successful business than men, but women have a much harder time securing funding for their businesses when they are starting up or in the “is this idea viable” phase. Enter The Startup Ladies. The Startup Ladies has been part of DNK Presents practically since the beginning: we started in 2014 and I went to my first Startup Ladies event in early 2015. I have increased my busines and connected with business leaders in Indianapolis who now have become my friends and mentors. What is also amazing is that those thought leaders, who have been presenters for our 2x monthly Startup Study Hall events, want to help DNK Presents. They have taken adventures with us, offered business advice, and we have also shared many laughs together. There is no price tag you can put on what The Startup Ladies has done for me and what it could do for you. I could not have asked for a more inclusive, engaging and impactful organization to belong to. No other group or organization that DNK Presents has been members of has impacted and increased our business in such a way.

Twitter: @DNKPresents

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