Meet Donna

 
Donna Kastner
 
 
 
Learning Sherpa
 
Conversation Catalyst
 
Ideation Queen
 
Zoom Whisperer
 
Community Champion
 
These are a few titles clients have given me through the years.

Some have described my career journey as eclectic, starting as a high school band director and segueing through a series of business endeavors where I applied my sales, marketing and communication skills in fascinating ways.

Entrepreneurial? Yep, I checked that box too, launching three successful startups. The first, a home-based typesetting business in NJ that generated more part-time income than my full-time teaching job.

In 2002 I landed a pivotal job in the events industry that would put me on a new path where the focus was on event experience design, marketing and sponsorship. Association annual conferences were largely my domain, as I helped clients explore best ways to deliver more value to their audiences, while doing so in a way that made sense for their organization.
 
 
 
 
 
 
As I look back, I see two overarching questions running through nearly every event experience:
 
 
 
What if?
 
 
 
 
 
What more could we do?
 
 
 
 
 
Outside the box thinking, you say? I’ve lived that code throughout my professional life. It hasn’t always been easy, but the outcomes have been so worth it.

Where others see limits, I see possibilities. Where others see nothing but risks, I’m often playing the long game where rewards are plentiful.

If you’re a fan of Gallup’s Strengthsfinder, my top signature strengths provide more clues about my outside-the-box tendencies: Ideation, Activator, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic

Along these same lines, I’ve been exploring hackathons as a dynamic framework for brainstorming and it’s a new frontier I continue to explore and enjoy. This Smart Meetings article sheds more light on my hackathon life: How a Homelessness Hack Moved Beyond the Cliché.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Retirepreneur
 

Enter Retirepreneur

 
When I take on something new, often it’s prompted by challenges I’m tackling myself. Such was the case with Retirepreneur, a community I created for folks in or approaching their 60s and pondering a future encore career opportunity.

Whether income generating or altruistic, we help this crowd explore the full panoply of options to help them ultimately lock in on an encore path that will be fruitful and joyful. We’re also a pointer channel connecting them with peers and experts who can help them advance faster and make this journey more enjoyable.

“Too young to be done.” That’s the Retirepreneur mantra and truth be told, I’m living my own encore transformation out loud in hopes of helping others. If you’re intrigued, check out the Retirepreneur website for more inspiration.
 
e4 photo 1-min
 
 
 
 

My Pandemic Pivot

 
Like many others, 2020 was shaping up to be my best year yet. Then COVID hit and years of thoughtful building came crashing down in an instant.

Facilitating customer advisory boards, focus groups and other collaborative exchanges at live events had become a growing specialty for me. Now with the quarantines, I had to figure out how to flip this super power to digital.

For months, I studied hard and even hired a digital video coach to help power up my presence on video. I also doubled down on pro bono work, offering my services to non-profits for free.

Colleagues warned me about the perils of offering services for free, but this turned out to be an excellent decision, as I learned faster while actually taking on this digital facilitator role. I was also giving customers a glimpse at what I could do for them.

More details about this here: How a Pandemic Pivot Set the State for Richer Digital Event Opportunities
 
 
 
 
 
So there you have it – a glimpse at my story. Now it’s your turn – I’d love to hear yours.