Bridging the gap

between corporate content and entertainment


Don Packett is a raconteur, corporate MC, professional speaker, stand-up comedian, author and strategic advisor.


Don brings a fresh perspective to conferences and events by sharing his experiences with audiences, related to a number of hot topics, assisting CEOs and organisational leaders drive specific messages home. Every talk provides educational and entertaining anecdotes, tales, metaphors, analogies and a healthy dose of recapitulation for good measure.


Building a comedy career balancing between underground clubs and big, flashy, corporate stages has built Don’s style into one focussing on everyday preoccupations that make him, and now you, think a little differently about life, love and everything in between.


With a wealth of deep-set knowledge and appreciation for the corporate beast, Don is hellbent on ensuring that the gap between organisational content and entertainment is not only bridged, but firmly set in order for all audiences to engage with speakers’ content as effectively as possible.


Having co-built an innovation consultancy a decade ago, and working closely with organisations on their strategic intent for twice as long, Don’s magic power is to not only ensure objectives are measured and met in facilitated engagements, but to also ensure that participants are pushed to their paces on the road to excellence.


LEGOrise Your Business

Lessons from one of the most fascinating businesses in our history, guiding teams to think differently (inspired by LEGO) to build their businesses in a better way.

The Psychology of Sales

Shining a light on why people buy what they buy, and how to adapt sales approaches to suit the new world of buying decisions.

Speed Kills

How the rapid adoption of technology is killing incremental progress. Or is it?

In Search of Excellence

Excellence in organisations is not that easy. Tom Peters & Bob Waterman codified it in 1982, but the world has been trying to achieve that ever since.

Culture of Collaboration

How defining a few simple steps in your business will lead to a collaborative and high-functioning team.

Contact Don for more of his available talks, or to create a bespoke talk for your event.

Clients & testimonials

“Don didn’t just present ‘Speed Kills’, he told a fantastic story which resonated with our audience, provoked thought and inspired action. Great energy and objective achieved!”

Jaco Markwat – Wonderware: Sales and Marketing Director

“We invited Don to talk at one of our regular ‘Heavy Chef’ events, on slowing down in the speedy era of digital. It was one of the most popular sessions of our calendar, with Don providing a strong mix of scything humour and fresh insight.”

Fred Roed – World Wide Creative: CEO

“I’ve been working with Don and his team for close on 10 years and not once have I been left thinking, ‘Wow, that’s exactly what I asked for’. The reason for that is I have always got so much more.”

Shaun Edmeston: FNB Commercial

Featured in:

Through business, comedy or off-the-wall strategy summits, Don has been featured in a number of online and print publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur and Khuluma.

Latest from my Blog

Were we born to reach perfection?

I’ve always been a fan of the multitude of skills that Leonardo da Vinci brought to the world. A painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect (thanks Wikipedia), his art – in whichever format it was created – is well-known across the planet, throughout history.

Stories shared through time explain his commitment to his work and how hard to continued to push towards greatness. Which is why I was quite perplexed when I saw this quote the other day, allegedly his last words:

“I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”

Now, I’m not sure about you, but if I had achieved what he achieved over time, through multiple disciplines, I’d be giving myself a big fat pat on the back on my deathbed just looking back at what I had contributed to the world.

His comment has been widely discussed over time, so I’m not going to argue whether it was shared exactly as stated, but I’d imagine someone like Leonardo da Vinci probably did, in his own creative way, feel that his skills should have continued to grow and improve to make an even bigger mark on the world. You don’t get to a position like he did, creating masterpieces, without pushing yourself and expecting more from yourself to achieve perfection.

So it left me with one question: Am I pushing hard enough to achieve perfection? Am I giving my all, giving absolutely everything, in the pursuit for perfection? I mean, I have the words “Don’t hold back” tattoo’d on my arm, so clearly I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve greatness, to achieve perfection, right?

As much as I’d love to say “Yes, I’m killing myself day in and day out to be the best version of myself I can be”, and make Leo-D proud, I can’t. It’s not the case. What I am doing, though, is ensuring that finding the balance between focussing on growing and sharing my ‘skills’ (the work stuff) as much as I can, and ensuring a healthy life (the personal and family stuff), I am indeed driving towards being the best version of myself. Too often you hear of people who stretched too hard, too far, in their pursuit to build their business or profile and leaving the other elements of their lives in their wake. It’s a choice, I accept that, but I’m not on a journey to break the rest of my priorities to focus on one.

My journey is one of balance, of alignment, and staying true to myself.

What’s yours?

Lessons from Ted Lasso’s first cup of tea

Ted Lasso, apart from being one of the most lovable characters in a TV show, has the most incredible way of delivering negative news to people. His upbeat honesty is clear, radically candid, and the receiver of the news is left not feeling bad at all, but with a clear understanding of how and where the exchange has ended. It’s awesome, and there are loads of lessons we can learn from him. One of those lessons comes from the very first episode, and sets the scene for what kind of character Ted actually is.

If you haven’t watched the show, here’s how it starts:

Ted Lasso, an American, has been hired to coach a football/soccer (depending where you come from) team in England. He knows nothing about the sport (he’s an American Football coach) but keen to take on the new challenge.

On arriving in the morning straight off the plane at his new job, he meets his new boss, Rebecca Welton (the owner of AFC Richmond), in her office, and their first exchange goes as follows:

  • Rebecca: Can I get you something to drink?
  • Ted: Yes please! Didn’t get much sleep on the plane so anything you got, a little boost of caffeine should do the trick you know, mochachino, frappucino, any coffee-thing as long as I can taste a hint of coffee is good.
  • Rebecca: How do you take your tea?
  • Ted: Well usually I take it right back to the counter because someone’s made a horrible mistake, but, when in Rome, right?
  • Ted sips the tea.
  • Rebecca: Well?
  • Ted: You know I always figured that tea was just going to taste like hot brown water. And you know what? I was right. Yeah it’s horrible. No thank you.
  • Rebecca: Welcome to England.


  1. When asked a broad question, get to the point, and be clear on what it is that you need/desire, and why.
  2. If the result is not quite what you’d originally had mind, don’t write it off immediately. Try it, test it, you may be surprised.
  3. If the result, however, is completely off-point, let the person know this (in as constructive, candid way as possible) and move forward.
  • Also, always remember: Critique the result, not the person.

The Double-Doov: Unintended consequences of ‘doing your own thing’​

Over the recent past, there’s been a heavy increase in commentary online about ‘taking control’, ‘doing your own thing’, ‘just say no’, etc etc etc. And while I’m a big fan for every single person to always look out for #1 (that’s you, by the way), there are unintended consequences that may result in you just deciding, without really thinking it through, or doing a deeper analysis of what will happen when you make that all-important decision.

A story to illustrate the point:

For years, my wife and I have run a fun little exercise where oftentimes, in the deepest of her slumbers in the middle of the night, she gets too warm and removes a layer of bedding from above her in order to be as comfortable as possible. Completely fair. No one should suffer if the easy removal of a duvet can fix your rising body temperature. However, the unintended consequence of the removal of the duvet from her, means that the duvet needs to go somewhere else: Onto me. With the quick flip of her hand, half of the duvet soars through the air and lands on top of my existing duvet-coverage, making mine a “double-doov”.

The result? I start to burn up as I’m now doubly-covered, and in turn need to navigate my own extra duvet part removal without placing the unwanted half back onto my wife. Tricksy business while half-asleep. The task has made for interesting morning coffee banter over the years. And while a double-doov is pretty warm, even in summertime, when an unwanted additional sheet finds its way onto me at midnight, the result is, again, a too-warm Don. A real pickle, let me tell you.

So why am I telling you about our midnight antics?

Well, sometimes (through no fault of our own) we make decisions that will impact ourselves directly for the better – whether the decision is made consciously or while fast asleep – and there are others left in your wake who have to deal with the results of that decision which impacted them directly. And again, while I’m a big fan of ensuring that each individual needs to drive to be the best that they can be, always be mindful of the butterfly effect of your actions, and where they may lead.

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You’re not in control of your own retirement (and why you should be)

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I am not the guy to talk about retirement or finances with any authority. I’ve always left it to the experts. The smart folks. The people who know what’s going on. Below though, is my own personal money story that I have shared with so many individuals over the past while, and thought I’d share it publicly too, as most people I’ve shared this with are in a very, very similar position.

This journey had turned me from a bystander to a valuable contributor, beyond the one just paying the money.

For years I thought my retirement, when it happened, was pretty sorted. I’d stop working at 65 (that seemed to be the standard retirement age thrown out by everyone) and my RA would kick in and have me covered for a fruitful, old-man lifestyle. At least, that’s what I thought and believed, but I had no true idea of whether that was going to happen, really. Call it blind faith, hope, trust, whatever you want, but the idea of putting money into something called a “retirement annuity” made complete sense to me. Annuity income after retirement. A no-brainer. When I hit 65, I’d be sorted.

How wrong I was.

Now, before you blame me or my financial advisor for not knowing whether this was actually going to be a reality or not, let me tell you that at least once a year since I was 23 years old I was sat down and shown my potential future, except I had no idea what it all meant. I tried, I really did, but the numbers and timeline were just too far away to comprehend. The truth is, I had no idea if that was, in fact, a lot of money at retirement, or how much money I’d realistically need to live on monthly. Would I still be paying off cars or a house? Would I be taking big holidays away? I had no clue.

Research will give you sums of what ‘the magic number’ is. X times your current salary multiplied by Y years you have left to the square root of what year you feel like dying, add sixteen zeroes after that number, and Hey Presto, there’s your retirement number! That’s how much money you need. Simple!

Ummm. Not really.

There’s no one magic number, only your magic number. And just to be clear, that magic number is not necessarily calculated on what you have now, it should be calculated on what you need then. So when you happen to find that elusive magic number and jot it down somewhere you’ll never forget it (we’ve all got that magic number jotted down, right!?) the next step is to put a detailed plan together, considering inflation, all your assets, contributions and savings over time, key events over that time (new car, move house, kids’ university, buy a boat) and you’ll have the perfect dashboard view of what you need. Simple!

Ummm. Not really.

The average Joe (of which I am one) doesn’t necessarily understand how to build these calculations. The idea of creating a future-wealth plan is so incredibly daunting that we don’t even start, so all our trust is placed in experts in the financial services industry to have a look at what we have now and to hope they say we’re on the right track.

With all respect to financial advisors, while they can look at your portfolio – all of your numbers – and have some sense of what you have right now, they really can’t give you a definitive answer (that you can clearly understand) as to whether you’ll be okay or not at retirement. Why? Because it’s difficult! They’re not in your everyday conversations about budgets, plans, goals, holidays, anything to do with your finances. They get 60-90 minutes of your time asking some questions, getting those high-level answers and have to make adjustments accordingly, and we expect them to make the best decisions for us. They’re the experts after all, right? While that’s the norm, that’s a shit norm. And by us average folks giving them all the responsibility to do this in a short space of time means that we are completely outsourcing our plans for financial wellness to someone who sees us once, maybe twice a year.

Shame on us.

So why now, at 99-days-to-40-years-old, do I believe this?

3 key events happened over the past decade that delivered me to this point.

  1. In 2010, when I met my future wife, I had no savings to speak of apart from an RA that I was putting minimal contributions into every month, and life insurance – which wasn’t for me anyway, and not a savings option. My advisor at the time always suggested contributing more into my RA each month, but that BIG number showing at 65 looked good to me, plus, I was 30 and still wanted disposable income for entertainment, so I ignored his pleas. Lauren, on the other hand, was brought up with an appreciation for the power of saving money. She had investments – onshore and offshore – and our financial conversations started to drive an appreciation from my side as well. It was tough because I always had a “make money, spend money” lifestyle, ensuring I ‘lived’ each month by spending what I had. Over the past 10 years, my view shifted, and we’ve been able to save as much as we can where possible, squirreling a little away here and there. My mentality around money has changed dramatically.
  2. Fast-forward to March 2020. I’d just left my business (and a stable income), and COVID happened which killed a large portion of my future potential business, so we needed to adjust our budget, which included pausing any saving plans and to move money around in order to still manage our monthly finances without having to live off credit. Adjusting monthly budgets is never a fun exercise. However you play it, the process of ‘cutting back’ – while smart – is lathered in a feeling of failure and inadequacy. Because Lauren and I have a strong and healthy relationship regarding finances, we took the task on together – including our financial advisor – and shuffled things around. Payment holidays were put in place, and Woolies would be seeing us less. We knew this would put a dent into our savings, but it was a decision we were both happy to make. What we didn’t know, though, was how much of a dent it would actually make.
  3. April 2020, one month later, one of my business peer group forum members, Alex Cook, sent me a message. We’d been discussing my new life’s plan in our forum, and he wanted to help me out by giving me free access to an online finance tool that he’d built to help people understand their retirement and manage their cashflow better. Having some extra time on my hands I happily agreed to check it out. We logged in and plotted our savings, assets and monthly contributions in the respective slots, allocated a detailed budget for both right now and what we believe we’d need at retirement (medical aid goes up, home loan goes away, for example) and the results were delivered. They were horrific! And I loved it.

Why did I love this horrific picture? Because I could finally, FINALLY see the bigger picture. The journey from now to retirement – and beyond – was laid out in front of me. All the numbers that have been shared with me by financial advisors were all there too, except now everything was consolidated and clear. You need X by this date in order to have a safe and happy retirement. Simple!


Because now we had an opportunity to play with our own retirement plan, without needing our advisor present, and adjust accordingly. Can we really afford to retire at 65? What if we moved it to 68? What if we added an extra R100 into that monthly contribution? Building scenarios for ourselves meant that we could now CLEARLY see, in real-time, what kinds of decisions we need to make in order to retire with enough, working toward achieving our own magic number. And with the help of our advisor, be steered in the best direction. Win-win.

I loved the tool, Wealthbit, so much that I’ve joined the team on a contract basis to help get the word out to more people.

Analysing your financial reality is scary, I know. Seeing our not-so-good stats was not followed by popping a bottle of champagne. But ignorance with regards to your retirement is not bliss. Forewarned truly is forearmed. The statistics of people who can safely retire in South Africa, I’ve come to learn, are shocking. With all the collective saving we’ve been doing over the past 10 years, thinking we’re heading to a truly safe and happy retired life, Lauren and my Wealthbit currently shows that we’re still behind, but, I’d rather know that I’m behind, than think I’m ahead and be wrong, when it’s too late.

As Don Packett, the average guy with a previously-average grasp on his future financial happiness and well-being, I’d suggest asking your financial advisor to check Wealthbit out to enable you, the person who needs to know, to truly understand where you’re positioned for retirement so that you can, together, plan accordingly.


Originally posted on LinkedIn.

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Copyright Don Packett 1980-2020