Steve Nson, CEO of streaming platform DMZStream, on set with guest January Barnes.
Location: New York, NY
Job: CEO, DMZStream
Education: B.S. in Housing Studies, University of Minnesota. Masters in Real Estate, New York University
I had an internship in the commercial real estate division at U.S. Bank during my sophomore year in college. The head of the real estate group at the time, Joe Hoesley, would take me out to lunch, and he taught me two extremely valuable lessons: 1. Always think like an owner, and you’ll make the best decisions to advance your career, and 2. If a job hasn’t promoted you after three years, they probably don’t see much growth potential in you. Move on.
I wake up around 4:30am and spend two hours mapping out the day and writing. I usually come up with my most creative ideas during this time with minimal interruption. Afterward, I start booking guests for shows on the streaming platform I created, DMZStream. Subscribers to our channels can view exclusive interviews and content, highlighting entrepreneurs and investors in startup spaces, ranging from real estate to tech. Unless I’m taping a show that day and need to be in the studio, I usually work from home. I spend the rest of the day sourcing new business opportunities, attending events, and meeting interesting people.
I launched DMZStream on my birthday in 2016. After creating my show “The Dealmaker Zone,” I realized the best way to scale it was to get on a streaming platform. Instead of pitching established players, I decided to launch my own network. I also felt there was a void in entrepreneurial related entertainment. We are a team of five people who work both remotely and in the studio. I enjoy coming up with new show concepts, and being in front of the camera is a lot of fun as well. Editing brings out the most creativity in me.
I was once homeless. I was born in Los Angeles and spent my childhood in Cameroon, where my family is from. When I was 20, I returned to the U.S. without anywhere to live for about three weeks. That experience was the turning point in my life. I reminded myself every day that I was meant for greatness and that the situation was temporary. It was not how my movie would end. Eventually, I moved to Minnesota to live with a family friend, and later attended the University of Minnesota. The rest is history. Even today, when I face daunting challenges, I just remind myself that I’ve survived worse, so I definitely have what it takes to weather the storm.
The day I quit my job to pursue entrepreneurship full time was definitely the most memorable moment to date. I was the regional director of marketing for one of the largest property management companies in the nation. The job was okay, but had nothing to do with my passions. I knew it was just a matter of time before I left to fulfill my destiny. I urge everyone in this kind of situation to take the leap of faith. Bet on yourself.
I once interviewed someone for a position who was completely engaged with the information I was giving her. She was, by far, the smartest person I’ve ever hired. It’s important to be a real listener and genuinely curious.
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy really helped me assess my decision making process. I recommend it wholeheartedly. It provides clarity on why you are getting certain outcomes in your life and what you can do differently to increase your odds of success.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” - Arthur Ashe. I have always applied this to my career path and personal life.
Images courtesy of Romel Rodriguez