Last Updated: Nov 21, 2023

On Being a Creator

My Random Musings On the Last 8 Years

Donny Kimball
10 min readNov 21, 2023


The village of Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture during autumn when the fall foliage is at its peak.
This story was originally published on and has been syndicated here on Medium

Whelp… another 365 days have passed. It’s hard to believe that I am now already 38! Where the hell did the time go? Despite traveling 3–4 days out of every week, I’ve barely made a dent in my ever-growing bucket list. What’s more, I am now so inundated with offers (both as a freelance media buyer and as a creator) that I basically live on the constant edge of burnout. Still, looking back at my path and where it’s taken me in the tireless service of Japan, I don’t think that I’d trade it for anything.

For what it’s worth, many moons ago on my 30th birthday I made the decision to become an “influencer.” At the time, I had just launched Spotify into the Japanese market, an ordeal that I barely survived due to the crazy workload involved. My team and I oversaw the big press announcement and also developed all the marketing positioning and messaging that the streaming service would use going forward. It was an arduous task, but one that I am still quite proud of. Unfortunately, client case studies aren’t just something that you can print on the back of a hoodie.

Once I had caught up on sleep, the massive undertaking of the Spotify launch got the gears in my head turning. Wanting to showcase to the world what I knew about marketing, I settled on the idea of putting out content as a means of building my personal brand. As I’ve written elsewhere before, my original plan was to become yet another online marketing guru. You see, there is a dearth of information online about the media landscape in Japan and I reasoned that I could develop my reputation by shining a light into this black abyss.

Osaka Castle set against the backdrop of the fall foliage at sunset

Almost from the outset, though, I knew something was off with my ploy to become a publicly known marketing maverick and quickly pivoted to something else. At the time, I had just exited being the de facto CMO of my friend’s Airbnb empire in Osaka. Looking to develop a standalone identity for the 500+ listings, we envisioned what we called the Mia Project — an online concierge that would bridge the divide between known and unknown, thereby…



Donny Kimball

I'm a travel writer and freelance digital marketer who blogs about the sides of Japan that you can't find in the mainstream media.