Danielle Nolan

Step outside your comfort zone, do something that pushes you beyond what you think you can do…When you do something you’ve never done before it makes you think differently, studies show our brains actually learn more effectively when we are outside our comfort zones. The more you do this the more you will grow


Growing up in the country, being outdoors was always second nature to Danielle. Living in the fast-paced digital age we live in today she 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 Kate and Danielle founded DNK Presents. Together they have organized and guided hundreds of people on adventures in and outside of Indiana. She is blessed to share her passion for the great outdoors while helping individuals and groups build confidence and empowerment through adventure experiences.

Where did the idea for DNK Presents come from?

My wife and I founded DNK Presents. We organize and guide empowering adventure experiences for individuals, groups and businesses. We both love to get outside and we knew the challenges and obstacles we had faced and overcome in the outdoors had improved our lives physically, mentally and emotionally. In the digital age we live in today we know it’s even more important to disconnect from technology and reconnect with ourselves in nature. We wanted to provide a company that would give people the opportunity to step outside their comfort zones, try something new and in turn empower themselves through the great outdoors. This also led us to founding the Live Adventurously Women’s Adventure Giveaway, a nomination-based program where 4 women are chosen to win a 4-day epic backcountry adventure guided by myself and Kate. The Women’s Adventure Giveaway gives the opportunity for underserved and underrepresented women to experience a life transforming outdoor adventure. We produced an award-winning documentary film, “Live Adventurously” that follows the first 4 women who win the trip.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Every day is so different, which is why I love what we do SO much! I run the company day to day operations currently so everything from updating the website, scheduling social media posts, email marketing, planning trips, reaching out to corporations for group events, working with our part time team of guides and ambassadors on new trip ideas, locations. Making videos for online education on You Tube and for our online adventure guide school training program. Building sponsorship and working with our advisory board on how to effectively grow the Women’s Adventure Giveaway program.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I think being an entrepreneur we are blessed and cursed with having many ideas! It’s great to have ideas but figuring out what is best to actually do can be a challenge and how to execute them can be even more difficult. When I have a solid idea I want to move forward with I work backwards from the idea/goal. What are 3 big picture action steps I need to follow through with, what are 3 small steps for each of those actionable steps that I need to work on to achieve those? Then having an accountability person to make sure I’m staying on track is great. Writing it down so I see it everyday helps to make sure I’m doing something, even if it’s small everyday to work towards the goal.

What’s one trend that excites you?

People are realizing that mental, physical, emotional and over all health and wellness is important, and possibly the most important thing in this world. Although, I hope it’s not a trend I hope people focusing on wellness will last forever. I see that more people are talking about mental health, more people are wanting to feel better and that is a great step in becoming healthier and living a happier more fulfilled life.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

One habit that I make sure to do is get outside regularly and enjoy the outdoors for myself! Trust me it’s hard, even owning an outdoor adventure company! Taking time to recharge makes me so much better for myself, my family and our business. I think it’s even harder for entrepreneurs especially since many times our job is our passion, but I know when I give myself those much needed breaks to recharge I am so much better for it!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Entrepreneurial life is a roller coaster, you are constantly going through extreme highs and lows, many times within the same day. A great partnership opportunity just solidified for you and then your website crashes, you just booked a huge client and then you get a complaint email. Knowing how to mentally stay focused when things like this occur is something I’m so glad I was able to learn over the years.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I’m not sure if nobody agrees with me on this but I don’t see many people stepping outside the box to gain media coverage or they are going about it in all the wrong ways. People get bombarded with emails today, and are constantly getting business pitches all day long. You must do something to stand out. If you have to email make it short, sweet and to the point, get laser focused, only send the top 3 things, in bullet point form is best. I recommend doing something creative. For example, one time I went door to door to all the news channels in town dropping off a unique special invitation to a film screening event. You also don’t have to break the bank, I used left over small centerpiece vases from our wedding they were under $5 a piece with one wildflower each that I picked from our yard, printed a flyer and attached it to the vase for a “special VIP invitation”. I then followed up with a personal email to each person I sent it to a week later. I had one anchor contact me that she was so impressed with our PR she wanted to meet right away – mind you our PR team was me! We got a news special on prime time with the top channel network in our area. Think outside the box to get the media attention you deserve.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Stay connected with your community who is actively purchasing from you, whether that’s through email, in person and/or social media. Chances are if they bought from you, they will again, keep them engaged, and listen to what they say. If you don’t have paying customers yet, getting people to “opt in” to your page when they visit your website is huge and start connecting with your community through email.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

We offer free events and I think it’s important that every business offer something free. Consumers are so smart these days, you have less than 3 seconds to make an impression, even less time if it’s online, if you want them to buy something you have to gain their trust. When someone goes to your website, getting them to “opt in” to your email list by offering a free e-book, tutorial, fact sheet, it could be a 3 min. how to video on something. The list is endless. With us we offer in person free events like hiking, bike rides, yoga classes, backpacking workshops, Leave No Trace trainings and more. The face to face interaction is a great opportunity for us to meet people in person and make a personal connection. This may not be feasible for every type of business and it can be much more time consuming, but offering something free can open to the door to more opportunities to connect you and your potential new customer. Perhaps the biggest free event we offer is the Women’s Adventure Giveaway, that program has set DNK Presents apart of the rest in the field of outdoor adventure retreats and trips.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

We have failed at things several times growing our business. We have had to cancel trips before due to low attendance. When things like this happen I try to go back and take a look at what could have gone wrong, discuss it with our advisory board and our guides and see how we can improve. Getting our team’s advice and tips is something we are constantly doing to keep evolving and improving.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

People ask us all the time if they can bring their dogs on our trips. We do not allow pets on our adventures for many reasons but it would be a great business idea for someone to offer outdoor adventures for people and their “best friend”! There’s so many things you could do with this!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

We bought some awesome dye cut stickers with our logo and I love them and so do our customers, it’s a great free giveaway!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I’d have to say Google Drive because I use it everyday! It helps me stay organized, I have shared folders with our guides and coaches that they can see and share info. with us that way. I can send large files via email this way and add more to folders as we work on projects. It’s great for us!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Titanic Effect by M. Kim Saxton, Todd Saxton, and Michael Cloran
The Saxton’s are professors at the Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis, are mentors and friends of ours. This book is great if you have an idea, already have a business or an investor. It gives you real expert tips and advice from a seasoned team on what to do to keep your startup from sinking and how to make sure it stays afloat.

What is your favorite quote?

“The most powerful words in the universe are the words you say to yourself.” – Marie Forleo

Key Learnings:

  • Schedule time for self care, make sure you are taking time to recharge. If you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of your business, family, etc.
  • Offer a freebie to your community, building trust with consumers is so important to gain attentio
  • Get creative and think outside the box when you are pitching, do something different that sets you apart from the everyone else.
  • Step outside your comfort zone, do something that pushes you beyond what you think you can do. Make a list of all the things you do in a year and write down what you learned from those experiences. When you do something you’ve never done before it makes you think differently, studies show our brains actually learn more effectively when we are outside our comfort zones. The more you do this the more you will grow
  • Start an advisory board to get advice, tips and insight to help you grow your business.