Your first act is school, your second act is work, but have you thought about what you’re going to do in your third act? Join host Liz Tinkham, a former Accenture Senior Managing Director, as she talks to guests who are happily “pretired” – enjoying their time, treasure, and talent to pursue their purpose and passion in the third act of their life.
Inspire others to get more and to do more later in life.
Athena helps women achieve executive-level leadership expertise, polish their boardroom and executive knowledge, get closer to board seats, and make leaps in their careers.
“Sports helped define me. And wow, did they ever.”
Donna Orender grew up playing stickball in the streets, defying her father’s expectations of what was a suitable pastime for young girls. Her dedication to expressing who she was never faltered, despite the lack of other women pursuing sports careers through her first act. Playing collegiate basketball at Queens College in New York and then going on to play professional women’s basketball in the Women’s Pro Basketball League, Donna’s passion for athletics drove her to never-before-seen heights. She successfully made a career of sports, including broadcasting, marketing, and eventually becoming the commissioner of the WNBA.
Now in her Third Act, Donna is returning to her roots, devoting time to mentoring the girls and women in her hometown. From events and programs to clubs and books, Donna is bolstering the female community through her company, Generation W. Follow along as she shares the highlight reel of her fascinating career.
(02:22) First Act: Poetry in motion
(06:00) The first women’s basketball league
(14:44) Second Act: Fighting for the greater good
(16:59) Third Act: “Start a company right now.”
(22:26) Launch Her
(28:24) Invest in your own community
(29:19) What’s next for WOWsdom?
Listeners can connect with Donna on LinkedIn or visit her Facebook for more information about her journey. You can also find her on Twitter. Get involved with Generation W at https://genwnow.com/, or look into her book, WOWsdom.
To hear about more Third Act stories, subscribe to and follow the Third Act podcast at http://thirdactpodcast.com. And if you enjoyed listening, please leave a review at https://ratethispodcast.com/thirdact.
Liz Tinkham (00:18):
Hi, this is Liz Tinkham, and welcome to Third Act, a podcast about people embracing the third act of their lives with a new sense of purpose and direction. The third act begins when your script ends, but your show’s not finished.
Liz Tinkham (00:32):
Today I talked with highly energetic Donna Orender, the game changer. In our discussion she says, “Sports helped define me. And wow, did they ever.” Donna grew up playing stick ball in the streets, she played college ball at Queens College in New York, went on to play professional women’s basketball in the Women’s Pro Basketball League, and eventually made a career of sports, and broadcasting, marketing, and by becoming the commissioner of the WNBA. When she stepped back from her sports career in 2010, she wanted to share and give back some of the valuable lessons she learned to the women and girls of her community of Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
Liz Tinkham (01:08):
So, she founded Generation W, a one day event to bring together and build thought leadership, confidence, and engagement around the currency of great ideas. Donna believes that when people, especially women, come together, magic happens, and indeed it has. Today, Generation W has grown nationally and includes programs for girls, community, and a book of inspirational stories called, WOWsdom. Generation W just keeps on growing. Talk about a third act, Donna is nonstop. Please enjoy my conversation with Donna Orender, and if you like what you hear, submit a review on your favorite podcast platform.
Liz Tinkham (01:50):
Donna, welcome to Third Act, third time’s a charm, I’m so happy to have you here today.
Donna Orender (01:56):
I am thrilled, Liz.
Liz Tinkham (01:57):
Thank you, thank you. So, third time’s a charm because we’ve had this scheduled two prior times. I had to cancel once because it was 108°… It was 96° actually in my house here in Seattle and then my internet broke. Anyway, appreciate you putting up with me. First question though is, you’ve got a multi-sport background and we’re going to talk a lot about basketball, is it your favorite sport to play? Do you still play?
Donna Orender (02:22):
I do. I love it. I still love it. To me, it’s poetry in motion. There’s something magical about it. It’s funny, I took dance lessons when I was young, for eight years, if you see me, grace would not be anywhere associated with me. If that were my name, somebody would make me legally change it. But yeah, there’s this grace in the game, there’s this intuitive sense of motion with other people. I also like to shoot, so it works out pretty well.
Liz Tinkham (02:53):
Did you… just as on the side, you’ve got two kids, do they play basketball?
Donna Orender (02:57):
Interestingly enough, my husband’s a professional golfer, he’s now on the PGA tour and both my sons now, they play golf, but growing up we were a basketball household. Yes, and one of them, right now actually, is playing professional basketball overseas. It’s fun for me because I get to play with him and it’s such pure joy for me.
Liz Tinkham (03:17):
Just to build on that sports discussion, you’re the first person I’ve ever interviewed whose first act was playing college and pro basketball. You and I are about the same age, and I have to say I didn’t know any girls or women who went to college to play college sports, those were the early days of Title Nine. So, how did you decide to play sports in college and did you get any push back from your parents?
Donna Orender (03:39):
Yes. I’m going to answer the second question first. Yes my parents, for a very long time, did not understand my fascination, the time I spent around sports. To this day, as I travel around the country and I speak in different places, places where my parents are, I’m always looking to them and they’ll say, “Mom, Dad, do you see? It worked out okay.” It’s a big challenge for all of us, I think, as we parent. As we are continuing to be parents, it doesn’t matter how old your parents are, they’re always going to have questions about what you do and why you do it, right? Matter of fact, as the older you get, it’s even more surprising about how strong they are about their feelings about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
Liz Tinkham (04:17):
Donna Orender (04:19):
Going back to your first question though about sport, I was definitely an anomaly, there weren’t many like me. Not that I was so unique, it’s just that we weren’t encouraged to play sports. It wasn’t like there were a lot of teams, there wasn’t equipment in the marketplace, there wasn’t a lot of scholarships if any. And so therefore, I remember being I think, I don’t remember what grade I was in maybe sixth grade, and I used to like to play stick ball on our street. I grew up in New York, and stick ball is a game you play in New York and I played with all of the boys. And one day my father came home he said, “Guess what? I don’t think you should be playing that anymore.”
Donna Orender (04:57):
So, you talk about my parents. I’m like, “Why not?” He goes, “I just don’t think it’s right.” What I really internalized was you’re a girl, and this is not something girls do. Maybe you’ll end up being a tomboy, I don’t think so. So, what I used to do is, I would play and then I would hear his car coming around the corner and then I would sit on the curb and say, “Look Dad, I’m just watching and cheering the boys on.” I don’t know why he thought that. I honestly don’t know why he thought that would be a better thing, but that’s it.
Liz Tinkham (05:24):
So, you went on to play in the Women’s Pro Basketball League coming out of college, what was that then, and what was it like to play pro ball at that time? Give us some color on that.
Donna Orender (05:34):
Well, there’s a lot of… First of all, I played at one of the best teams in the nation in college. We made history, which was Queens College in New York, part of the City University System. I had played for one of the greatest coaches of all time in, Lucille Kyvallos, and she’s still around.
Liz Tinkham (05:49):
Oh yeah, I’ve heard of her.
Donna Orender (05:50):
I continue to thank her to this day for what she taught us, and what I’ve been able to take away from her teachings. We played at Madison Square Garden, the first women’s…
Liz Tinkham (06:00):
Oh my gosh.
Donna Orender (06:00):
… game ever played in the mecca of basketball. I was really just learning the game as a young woman, we didn’t get to play a whole lot, and I was really distraught because I felt like I was just starting to come into my own, in terms of understanding the game, playing the game. I wanted more and there was no more. I played AAU, I guess I could have gone to Europe, and then all of a sudden this league popped up. This guy Bill Burn, it was called the… God, I have my ball right around here somewhere… The Women’s Professional Basketball League, the WBL, and I got a call and said, “Do you want to try out?” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m in graduate school now,” and I’m like, “Yes, I want to try out.”
Donna Orender (06:38):
It was the greatest three years, I have to say, it was in some ways like a cartoon of people just scrambling all over each other, but there was a genuine desire to create this new path, there had never been a women’s professional basketball league before. We played in different markets, and one day the market was there. There wasn’t a whole lot of money, I negotiated my own contract, but I have to say that it was a tremendous highlight and to this day, an accomplishment that helps define how I think about the world.
Liz Tinkham (07:14):
Oh, that’s so cool. So the WBL, is it still in place or has that morphed into the Women’s Basketball League, what is it now?
Donna Orender (07:22):
No, it didn’t morph. It came, it was born, it had three seasons, and it went away. It died. Then it took, after that, many years before the ABL came, and then David Stern says we’ll do the WNBA, so that began ’96, ’97, so it was many years later that those two leagues then rolled themself into being. And, ultimately, the WNBA, here we are 25 years later and I’m eminently proud of having a role in that. But at that point in time, did I ever, ever foresee that as an option? No, never thought of.
Liz Tinkham (08:03):
What do you think of the NCA ruling around letting athletes own their images and being able to potentially make money while they’re in college. Do you think that’s good for women’s sports?
Donna Orender (08:13):
I think, actually, it’s very good for women’s sports. When it first came out everyone was like, “Oh, this will be terrible for women’s sports.” I’m like, “Actually not.” Women’s sports tend to get buried in hierarchy of consideration and import. There’s so many fans of women’s sports, especially at the collegiate level. Every sport has its own ecosystem of fandom, so this gives them, each of those teams, the ability to have their athletes earn on their own merits and I think that’s really great. I think there are dangers and I think there are tremendous assets and they will be played out over the next couple of years as we learn how to make this work to the betterment of all.
Liz Tinkham (08:57):
I think I saw a headline that the gal from Minnesota, I think she plays for Connecticut and I think her first name is Paige, do you know who I’m talking about? The basketball player?
Donna Orender (09:06):
Yeah, Vickers? Yes.
Liz Tinkham (09:07):
Yeah, she might be able to make upwards of a million dollars next year. I thought, “That’s great,” because her… I don’t know if you’ve read this story. Her best friend is the kid at Gonzaga, who’s the super star and they grew up playing basketball. Of course, she’s going to go on to make God knows how much money, right? It’s nice that she’ll be able to earn it. Back to you, how did you go from the WBL to the PGA tour? How did you get into that?
Donna Orender (09:31):
There were a couple steps in between. I’m playing professional basketball, and I spend a lot of time engaged with the media, and I ended up having my own cable television show in Chicago, and I did actual sports broadcasting on the radio. I still do love the radio. Then I was able to get a job really, really networking through a friend at ABC Sports at the network, which is the king of all everything. That’s where I began my media career, was in sports television.
Liz Tinkham (10:06):
All right, and then you end up over on the PGA tour, and what did you do for them?
Donna Orender (10:12):
I spent three years in… Actually, I always like to talk about this because we’re talking about different kinds of acts, Liz. I worked at the network which is big corporate life, right? Experience, an animal unto itself, right? I then work for an up and coming company, which is now a huge corporate entity, but I worked for… It was called Rainbow, now it’s called All the Sports Channels, but it was when… It was an up and coming, barrier breaking technology, right? You’re in this challenger industry and so that had its own rhythm, and then I had my own company when I was in my 20s.
Donna Orender (10:49):
So, I learned how to work out of my pocket, and I will also say, when you have that myriad of experiences where you work for a big company which is cushy in its own way and it has its own political essence, and then you work for a startup, right? Something that’s going to change the world, and then you work out of your own pocket? It prepares you for whatever might come. I felt fortunate for all of that, at the time, and I still do. I still do. I still think if you really want to learn about business, you work out of your own pocket because it teaches you so much.
Liz Tinkham (11:20):
You were really young to be doing that. Most people don’t get into some of that stuff until they’re much, much older. That’s fantastic.
Donna Orender (11:27):
Yeah, it was good. It was really good. But I didn’t have a plan, I just want to let you know that, I never had a plan. I think the other day was the first day I sat down and think, “Maybe I need a plan.”
Liz Tinkham (11:43):
So, eventually you become the commissioner of the WNBA. Tell us what the state of the women’s game was at that point and how’d you get that job?
Donna Orender (11:51):
I was 17 years at the PGA tour, loved it. Was given tremendous amounts of responsibility and sway to create and develop, and build businesses, and one day I got a call and it was Adam Silver.
Liz Tinkham (12:09):
Oh my gosh, okay.
Donna Orender (12:09):
We had become friends over the years and I had lots of friends in the industry, everybody loved golf and I was out there. I developed our overall global media strategy, presence, business, whatever. He said, “Hey,” and he knew how much I loved basketball because when I had my own company I’d actually done a pet project for the commissioner at the time, David Stern. He said, “Hey, it’s time. We’re looking, would you be interested?” That never crossed my mind either.
Donna Orender (12:34):
I was totally immersed in the world of golf, men’s golf, professional golf. And I said, “Let me think about it.” We kept talking and talking and talking. It meant a huge dramatic change. I was very, very comfortable in every single way. This job worked for me, I worked for it, I didn’t live far from it, I had young children, I had access to the airplane, I was paid well, there was no reason to leave, but I was intrigued. I was intrigued. I felt like, as I have said, sports helped define me and I feel like everything I’ve been able to achieve is because of the role that sports played in my life. And now I had a chance to pay it forward, by leading a women’s sports organization in the sport that I loved. I love many, don’t get me wrong.
Donna Orender (13:24):
So, I had a long talk with my family and decided that, “You know what, there’s not many jobs like this to be a commissioner, a president of a league,” especially one that was rumored to be failing.” So, I said, “I’m going to do this.” So, I said, “Yes.”
Liz Tinkham (13:42):
Today, I think of women’s basketball and I live in a town that’s basketball crazy, so I just think of it as so positive, but when we were prepping for this you said that there was a really bad toxic vibe then. Tell us about that.
Donna Orender (13:57):
I’ve written about it recently as part of our 25 year old memories. There was a racist slant to the way people felt about the women’s game, in general. There was a homophobic trope out, continued to play out. Obviously, a misogynistic if you will, and people felt like, “Why is the NBA supporting this? They should make it on their own, but they can’t because they’re not that good. The business doesn’t make sense.” It was very challenging. Now, at some point, what you just got to do is you just got to say, “Hey, I see the greater good here.” I did and I got to experience it in arenas across the country.
Donna Orender (14:44):
I’m going to fight for that greater good. I’m going to fight for these athletes who have every right to be where they are, to be rewarded and awarded with compensation and the kind of social prizes that come to elite professional athletes. It wasn’t an easy road. It’s not an easy road now, but I am happy to say for the first time, I honestly see it getting better.
Liz Tinkham (15:09):
Yeah, if you look back on that experience, what are you most proud of?
Donna Orender (15:14):
I am most proud that we were able, against all odds, to accomplish what everyone said we couldn’t. So, when I came in, all the business metrics were going in the wrong direction and we were able to turn them around. Our attendance was going down, when I left the attendance was going up. Our television ratings were going down, the television ratings were going up. We increased national sponsorship for the first time, we actually raised enough money to pay teams from the center, which is what a league does, to our individual franchises.
Donna Orender (15:48):
Our local sponsorships went up, all those things, we had a digital presence that we didn’t have before, we created our own network, we were the first ones to pioneer patches on jerseys, and by the way, I read a thing yesterday, that the NHL’s doing it. The NBA now has it in their practice jerseys, we were the forerunners for that, other than the European soccer market, right? We weren’t part of the business group that wouldn’t do it. Lots of pride, and then of course, of course, in the great relationships with the athletes, the owners, the coaches. That has continued to this day.
Liz Tinkham (16:28):
You’ve taken time out, so you decide to come home, back to Florida and spend some time with your twin boys. Take us through that decision and did you know what was going to be next? Did you know what your next act was going to be?
Donna Orender (16:40):
I did not. I knew it was time to come home. I had got some great advice, right? You call your girlfriends, call your whatever, and I called one of mine and she said whatever you do, just start a company right now. You don’t have to exactly—.
Liz Tinkham (16:53):
Oh, what. That’s easy advice. Nobody ever gave me that advice, that’s great advice. Okay.
Donna Orender (16:59):
Start a company right now. And I said, “Okay.” My phone was ringing, lots of people were calling me to do things, she said, “Start a company. You’ll figure out what it’s going to do.” So, I did, and she was right, and I did.
Liz Tinkham (17:13):
Is that how you started… Is that when you started Generation W?
Donna Orender (17:17):
Yeah. Not long after that. One of the things I really wanted to do was, I wanted to bring something… All of a sudden, after living I don’t know how many years here, I was going to really live here in Jacksonville Beach. I wanted to be a part of where I was living, and perhaps bring some value to where I was living, as opposed to being a traveling visitor. That’s how Generation W started. I knew from my work at the WNBA that working on behalf of women and girls and our vital impact, our vibrancy that we bring to communities in which we live at so many different levels, was a place I wanted to be engaged with and help amplify. So, I just began and said, “Okay.” I’ve seen this, this, and this, let me try and do something. Let me try and do something here, and that’s how it began.
Liz Tinkham (18:10):
What is Generation W?
Donna Orender (18:11):
Generation W is a not for profit, but it is a community that is focused on educating, inspiring, and connecting both women and girls in the service of building better communities. It’s about helping us be the best that we can be and we do that through the way we look at ourselves, but also how we connect with each other and lift each other up. The product of that are healthier families, healthier companies, healthier… Did I say communities? Healthier families, healthier companies, healthier communities, right? The power of social engagement, which if there’s anything we’ve learned from the pandemic and there is a lot we have learned, but what has really stood out to me is how incredibly essential social capital is. How it defines our humanity and how bereft we are without it.
Liz Tinkham (19:16):
It includes now, Generation Wow, Generation Works, and then your book WOWsdom. Take us through what is each of those separate programs?
Donna Orender (19:26):
Well, W is our big community, it focuses on… Men are included, we’re very inclusive, we’ve always been inclusive, we’ve been always very, very intentional about representing all. Our diverse inclusive… We don’t really have to talk about it, it’s who we are, it’s how we operate. I always want to do something with girls and our second year we did this panel on, we called it Generation Wow, I always wanted to call our girls Generation Wow because they wow us with what they can be, and who they are now, and what they’re accomplishing. We had seven girls on the stage and we had almost a thousand women in the audience and we said, “Who are you, what’s important to you, and how do we help you?”
Donna Orender (20:05):
It was so incredibly impactful that we left and I said to one of my colleagues, we got to create Generation Wow, we got to create something like Generation W. We will create an inspiring educational mentorship, leadership event and the following October or November, we launched. We did that for a couple of years and then the girls wanted more and they created a club. I said, “Okay, if the girls are going to create a club, then we have to really figure out how we’re going to program those clubs and build clubs.” So, then we wrote this book called WOWsdom, the girls guide to positive in the impossible, which was the real key question.
Donna Orender (20:41):
What we saw happening was, how do you take the WOW of girls and combine it with the wisdom of women, and that’s ultimately how we came up with WOWsdom.
Liz Tinkham (20:50):
Is the programs that you offer, are they just in Florida or you have them across the United States?
Donna Orender (20:56):
Right now, we’re actually preparing for a big partnership with the Portland School District in Oregon. We’ve had clubs in New York, in Virginia, across Florida, in Louisville we did a program, and we’re strategically thinking through what we can deliver, what we want to deliver. Theoretically over the next… Yeah, now I need to plan this, so now we need a plan. What’s important to us, and we have to say, “Okay, what is it. We want to make the greatest impact on the greatest amount of girls, what does that look like and how do we accomplish that?”
Liz Tinkham (21:35):
Obviously the pandemic didn’t necessarily slow you down, you just switched to all virtual programming?
Donna Orender (21:39):
We did and it also made us more national as those kind of things did matter of fact, we have a monthly show called WOWsdom Live, where we bring on a great guest and we surround her and we bring girls from all over the country for that with really exciting, fun conversations. They get access to people they otherwise wouldn’t in a very personal way, so that’s pretty exciting. And to each other, by the way, which really try to connect them with each other because it’s so good to know in this world that you are not alone.
Liz Tinkham (22:10):
Yeah, and if our listeners want to get involved in Generation W or Generation WOW, how would they do it?
Donna Orender (22:16):
Well, first of all, I’m hoping they will.
Liz Tinkham (22:18):
Yeah, I think a lot of them would.
Donna Orender (22:20):
You go to Genwnow.com.
Liz Tinkham (22:26):
Okay. We’ll put that in the show notes, so people can get involved. Yeah, absolutely. What is the Launch Her program that you’ve got?
Donna Orender (22:33):
What happens, because we are a community gathering, we have people come from 30 states, by the way. Maybe this year will be 31, I don’t know, but we have an area where people gather in our lobby and we said we want to use that space to its best possible purpose. Women like to shop, but they also like to support other women, so we decided that we would create a more formalized program… I would always meet people and they would say, “Oh, I’m working on this new business.” I’m like, “Okay, great. Do you want to share your business with our audience?” And they’d say, “Yes.” So, essentially we said, we’ll pick four to five companies, we will help support them by giving them a space to share their wares, we’ll give them some marketing support throughout the year on our website, we’ll highlight them in our program, but really try to give them an additional lift as they’re developing their business.
Donna Orender (23:25):
So, that’s what is Launch Her. We’ve had some really great women companies come through. We’re actually doing quite well right now and I can’t say we’re responsible, but I’d like to think that we’ve been a very positive and confidence building, as well as, market awareness builder for them as they look to create something special.
Liz Tinkham (23:43):
Oh, very cool. Similar… Kate Isler, my very first guest on the show, introduced us. So, similar to what she’s doing with TheWMarketplace.
Donna Orender (23:51):
Yeah, Kate’s doing it on a great scale and we love what Kate’s doing, really supportive. As a matter of fact, we’re looking to partner with her as well. I love her sense of connectivity.
Liz Tinkham (24:02):
As I think about all my Third Act guests, you stand out because you’ve succeeded in what I would call the menace of man’s careers. You were in a sport, and you played, you broadcast, you’re leading the PGA, the WNBA, and arguably in a much harder time for women because, again, I think about what age you are and what age I am, and people just weren’t doing that. I might have thought, boy, if I’d made it against all the odds, you girls have it easier… I might have just kicked back. But you’re giving back, right? You’ve parlayed it. What, in those experiences, teach you that things should be different for girls today? Do you think things are different, what you have learned since then that gives you hope that women who go into sports and sports careers, things are going to be better for them?
Donna Orender (24:47):
Well, I think there’s certainly a greater awareness, but there also seems to be more social acceptability, not accountability, if you look at women on boards for example, interestingly enough I am, for the first time, this was one of my goals so this is… Maybe this is my fifth act, I wanted to be on a public company board.
Liz Tinkham (25:06):
I’m not sure, I think you’re on 20, I’m just listening to this whole thing, but keep going.
Donna Orender (25:11):
But I wanted to be on a public company board and if you look at that the numbers were abysmal. The way it always is and now they’re growing. Why? Because there’s an accountability. Companies are being held accountable for the diversity of who they have on their boards because that has a direct impact on how they run their businesses and their businesses are not just directed to just one group, right? We know, obviously the consumer economic impact of women, so when I look at that I think that things are better, but I also don’t ever fool myself to think that it’s all all right, because it’s not. Cultural themes, social behaviors, they are born from tens to hundreds of years of systematized behavior and it takes a while to change things. It really, really does.
Liz Tinkham (26:11):
If we just look at basketball as an example, do you ever foresee in your lifetime that women’s WNBA players would make the same amount of money as the NBA players?
Donna Orender (26:26):
I choose not to say they should make the same thing, although I have to say, I did a press conference earlier today because I’m involved with this up and coming women’s golf professional event coming to our area and we’re doing all the women’s programing for it and I’ve had, obviously, a lot of background in golf and one of the commissioners said, “Oh, I really think women and men in sports, they’re about equal now.” And I honestly took a deep breath and I’m thinking, okay, if he thinks that then we’re losing.
Liz Tinkham (26:55):
Yep, he’s not following women’s soccer to begin with, that’s for sure.
Donna Orender (26:59):
Or women’s basketball.
Liz Tinkham (27:00):
Basketball, or anything. Yeah. Any of these sports.
Donna Orender (27:02):
The economic disparity, in some ways, is very disheartening, but it’s starting to move and I don’t know. That’s why I love Billie Jean King. Her new books out, by the way, All In. I promised her I’d go buy a bunch of them. What she did, she’s just amazing and we have too much to grateful to her for.
Liz Tinkham (27:29):
For our ambitious listeners, of which we have a lot of them, who are thinking about starting a program or movement for women and girls, and we’ve had some women on who have done stuff like that, notably Kate and some other ones. What’s your advice? How do you get started?
Donna Orender (27:44):
Well, first of all, have a passionate pursuit. Try to figure out how you want to channel that desire to help women and girls. Who exactly are you targeting? Because it’s a big space. I had a woman call me months ago who said, “Hey, I want to do something for elementary school girls.” I’m like, “Great.” And she just sent me, she wrote this incredibly gorgeous program, but she knew where she wanted to go and the advice that I gave her was about focusing on where she wanted to go, and then also understanding where the girls were and how the schools worked. So, understanding what’s going to impact, the area of impact you want to have is also important.
Liz Tinkham (28:24):
Yeah, and I think you started fairly locally, right? You said you decided to invest in your own community, and then take it broadly from there.
Donna Orender (28:31):
Correct. I knew that I wanted to build it here, but I always felt that I wanted to have national impact as well. My friend Jerry said to me, “You know what? Build it to be national, but have deep roots in the community and that will make it really different because then everyone here continues to benefit from the goodness and the programming that you will bring.” And I thought that was great… She’s the same woman, by the way, that told me to start a company. So, she’s filled with good advice.
Liz Tinkham (29:00):
I see her looking at you now going, “Wow. I didn’t realize that it would go to that.” But that was fantastic advice. I thought about naming this podcast, I’m Not Done Yet. So, what aren’t you done with yet?
Donna Orender (29:11):
It’s funny, I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t know, I got a couple of other ideas in my head. I do.
Liz Tinkham (29:16):
Are they around women and girls or what are you thinking?
Donna Orender (29:19):
Well, listen, there is tremendous amount of opportunity and expansion around the work that we do. Obviously, or maybe it’s not that obvious, our WOWsdom book has been really successful, I love it. I would love to write another one that is a followup to that, so that’s part of it, and really thinking about really valuable, meaningful content especially targeted to girls, so there’s that piece of it. Our clubs, the amount of requests now to create clubs for girls, there’s just not programming, there’s just not enough programming. I got to think about, we are, our whole team, about what does that look like and how do we want to play in it. Our Generation W programming continues to soar and so where do we take that across the country, working with companies and their special affinity groups and things like that.
Donna Orender (30:09):
There’s a lot of opportunity to do lots of different things. We created a program called Team WOWsdom, which was dedicated towards young teen athletes, female athletes, they have their own special psyche in needs and wanted to provide some programming for them. The danger for me is just to become too diffused and not stay focused and see things all the way through, so I just got to be careful about that.
Liz Tinkham (30:33):
Well, that’s fantastic. Hopefully you’ll come back to the show on your sixth, seventh, tenth, twentieth, hundredth act. Thanks so much for joining today, Donna, and we’ll publish the information on Generation W in the show notes.
Donna Orender (30:44):
Thank you, Liz.
Liz Tinkham (30:45):
Liz Tinkham (30:48):
Thanks for joining me today to listen to the Third Act podcast. You can find show notes, guest bios, and more at ThirdActpodcast.com. If you enjoyed our show today, please subscribe and write a review on your favorite podcast platform. I’m your host, Liz Tinkham, I’ll be back next week with another guest who’s found new meaning and fulfillment in the Third Act of their life.
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