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Here’s the Wild Idea

Donna’s Wild Idea: To be a positive leader, celebrate counterculture, and create more opportunities for people to enjoy the mountains.

A few weeks ago at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Denver, I sat down with Donna Carpenter, the CEO and Co-Founder of Burton Snowboards. Donna is a true force of nature. She’s always pushing the envelope with her mission and products, and she radiates positivity and go-for-it, attitude.

Donna really opened up in our conversation. She shared about how she became the CEO of one of the biggest snowboard companies ever, some funny stories like how she met her husband, Jake Burton, and what it was like in the early days of snowboarding. We also talked about how they’ve created such a strong culture, overcome adversity, and how they are not afraid to do things like send female staff to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and throw huge parties. It’s a great episode about lessons learned from failure and her keys to success.

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You want to start and run your own business.
  • You want to work at a company with an awesome culture.
  • You love snowboarding.
  • You want to listen to a great female leader.

Key Takeaways

  • 2:00 – People in the outdoor industry used to hate snowboarders.
  • 3:50 – Why the snowboarding tribe is so tight.
  • 4:55 – How coming from snowboarding inspired an anti-establishment attitude that led them to activism.
  • 6:15 – How they’re getting more kids on the slopes with The Chill Foundation.
  • 8:00 – How Donna met her husband.
  • 9:30 – Donna’s first job with Burton.
  • 12:20 – The best qualities of a leader.
  • 13:20 – How they created an amazing culture at Burton.
  • 14:10 – What Donna means when she talks about “The Stance.”
  • 15:35 – Why Burton sent female employees to the Women’s March in D.C.
  • 18:15 – Why Burton isn’t afraid to get political.
  • 19:40 – A crisis that made Donna realize that Burton was a family.
  • 23:10 – The key attributes Donna looks for in her employees.
  • 24:15 – Why innovation and disruption are the Burton way.
  • 26:20 – What it’s like working with her husband.
  • 30:40 – How yoga changed Donna’s life (and made her a better snowboarder).
  • 33:00 – Why Donna would move back to Europe.
  • 35:40 – Donna’s yearly dream party.
  • 37:15 – How women can take care of themselves, holistically.

Learn more about Donna, Burton, and her commitment to gender equality on and off the slopes.

Still haven’t locked down your New Year’s resolutions? Here’s some snowboard-centric resolutions from REI to get you started.

Connect with Donna



Protect Our Winters
Chill Foundation
Listen to Kelly Clark’s episode

Awesome book Donna recommends gifting

Novels by Elizabeth George



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