Jason Nissen

Officer at The Ultimate Fan

A global executive within the ticket brokerage and hospitality sector, Jason Nissen has led a number of initiatives within the industry. These include the ticket sales firm National Events Company, events brand World Events Group, and the Minus Zero Music Festival. Known for his entrepreneurial spirit and ability to efficiently execute bold ideas,

Nissen’s work has seen him involved in practically every major event worldwide, including the Super Bowl, the Final Four, Wimbledon, the World Cup, the Olympics, the Kentucky Derby, The Masters, Coachella, and Hamilton on Broadway amongst others.

During his tenure at National Events Company, Nissen’s leadership transformed the organization into a global provider of sporting, concert, and theater tickets. Under his guidance, the company experienced significant growth, generating revenues exceeding $80 million annually and serving a diverse clientele, from individuals to Fortune 500 companies and global concierge services.

As CEO of World Events Group, he facilitated corporate partnerships and executed exclusive hospitality events surrounding professional sports games. Working with NFL teams to create door-to-door services revolving around away games and even the Super Bowl, his focus on crafting tailored fan travel programs was known to have elevated the company’s offerings.

Apart from his involvement in hospitality and ticket sales, Nissen was also the co-founder and CEO of the groundbreaking Minus Zero Musical Festival. The innovative event merged performances headlined by top EDM DJs with skiing and snowboarding activities inspired by the X Games, and between 2015 and 2017 Nissen took charge of creating and supervising the online platform for marketing, ticket sales, and official merchandise. Additionally, he ensured the secure construction of the venue to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for both performers and attendees.

Currently, Nissen holds a position as an officer for The Ultimate Fan, and is actively working on rebranding the Minus Zero Music Festival for its anticipated return in 2024.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

My days tend to start pretty early – in the past this was because I wanted to make the most of every single day, but if I’m being honest now with three young girls it’s also because we’ve got to do the morning routine roundup before school. That being said, I try to get to the gym beforehand and get some form of workout in. I have found that exercise plays a large role in my ability to manage my stress levels, so I try to make it a priority. Afterwards, I’ll open up my laptop and catch up on my go-to news publications – usually the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

From that point on, as an executive I have found the main trait my schedule should have is adaptability. I will loosely plan out my key priorities for the day and set aside time to ensure I am able to complete them, but other than that I don’t attempt to schedule myself down to the minute.

Generally though, my day is filled with strategic planning, problem-solving, and exploring partnership opportunities. I’m always seeking to take my business endeavors to the next level, and that can mean anything from spending an hour or so in front of my computer answering emails to devoting a whole afternoon to analyzing data and market trends for an upcoming project.

Regardless of how my day has played out, I always try to keep up with a consistent evening routine. It’s important for me to draw a fairly hard line between when I’m working and when I’m not. In the past when I have failed to do so, I have gotten so extremely burnt out I wasn’t able to perform at my best. A nice dinner, relaxing with a game on or maybe watching a movie with my kids, these are the ways I can recharge myself and be ready to do it all over again the next day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I never let anybody convince me an idea I had doesn’t have value. So many of my best business ideas were shot down multiple times, but I didn’t let that deter me. The only difference between a person who finds success and a person who doesn’t is that the former didn’t give up and the latter did. This isn’t to say I don’t take constructive criticism to heart, Instead, I try to use what they say to refine my idea, and use people who are naysayers because of their own fears and skepticism as motivation to prove them wrong. If you approach your setbacks as opportunities to learn and keep moving forward, you will eventually prove the people who doubted your idea wrong. I stay true to my vision and let my passion and determination bring my ideas to life.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Integrating emerging technologies into my industry. Artificial intelligence can be used to analyze things like historical data, weather patterns, and artist popularity to project accurate attendance estimates and help organizers better prepare for contingencies. Holographic capabilities have created a whole new category of events and I’m looking forward to seeing how holographic performances are utilized both within live acts and as separate entities in and of themselves. Drone shows are becoming more popular as well, especially for holidays like New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July because they are more environmentally friendly than fireworks. Virtual reality and augmented reality experiences can be implemented into festivals to create an omnichannel experience.

And this isn’t even to mention blockchain and how it will affect the ticket brokerage industry – I could write a whole book on that alone, but it’s all very exciting and I’m enjoying researching how to best implement the technologies for my own pursuits.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

I turned my email notifications off. I’m sure there are people reading this right now whose jaws dropped in shock, but hear me out. I believe one of the biggest detriments to the modern workplace is the idea that we should always be checking our emails and instantly replying to every single message that comes through. Our brains weren’t meant to multitask, so everytime you stop what you are currently working on in order to check your email, you lose the chance for a deeper level of focus. I dedicate intentional time to reading and answering emails each day – if it’s truly urgent, people know how to reach me.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Get a haircut!

In all seriousness though, I would tell myself to slow down and enjoy it all a bit more. For as long as I can remember I have been go-go-go. It’s how I’ve managed to accomplish what I have and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything, but if I could go back in time and advise myself on how to live a little better, I would tell myself to try and be a bit more present for it all instead of always thinking about the future.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?

New York’s pizza is better than Italy’s. I’ve had both, and I just don’t understand why you would want a soupy slice you have to eat with a knife and fork over a crispy crust that you can eat as you walk.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

AirDrop my contact information. Networking is absolutely one of the most important skills an entrepreneur should hone. People shouldn’t be choosy with who they toss their information over to you or grab a coffee with. It has the potential to open doors to collaborations, partnerships, and new business opportunities, but at the end of the day even if none of those things come from the meeting you will still have learnt something valuable you didn’t know before and walk away with a connection waiting should you ever need it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

Focus on delivering outstanding customer service to enhance the overall experience for your clients. Whether you are B2B or B2C – and for ticket brokerage we did both – I found that the best way to grow your business and ensure you stay competitive is by providing unparalleled customer service from beginning to end. The baseline ways to do this are things such as a smooth interface for your website or app, respond promptly to inquiries, provide accurate information, and address any concerns or issues effectively. However, going above and beyond can be a key differentiator in an increasingly competitive market, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. In today’s day and age people want to be able to move seamlessly from the online to the physical, so consider ways you can utilize technology such as QR codes or augmented reality to create unique experiences that take your product or service to the next level.

What is one failure in your career,  how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

I co-founded the Minus Zero Music Festival, and for two years we put on a very successful event that had a great reputation. Unfortunately, after me and my former partner decided to part ways he ran a separate festival and did not do so to our level of professionalism. While we are hoping to reboot our music festival for the 2024 season under a new name and branding, I have learned from the experience to be careful who you partner with, because who you do business with is a part of your own personal brand and reputation. Develop a strong moral and ethical code within yourself, and use that to guide every decision you make and make sure the people you work with align with that value system.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Someone needs to create a business focused on sustainable event waste management. I don’t have the time or strong desire to do so myself, but I can say from my experience there is certainly a hole in the market for providing comprehensive waste management solutions for events, with a strong emphasis on sustainability. They could offer recycling and composting services, eco-friendly packaging alternatives, and educate event organizers on reducing their environmental impact. It would be a win-win for the environment and for the businesses involved.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Evernote. Talking about seamless interfaces, I love that I can jot down an idea on my phone and pull it up on my desktop later, or make a to-do list in the morning and reference it on my phone when I’m out and about later in the day. I save everything there from scanned receipts to big vision boards for projects. It does a good job of keeping me feeling “organized but not too organized” so I can have some structure in my day but maintain flexibility.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. It has fascinating insights into the restaurant industry and is incredibly funny, but I also found it inspiring. There were so many tidbits that I had to stop and highlight because they gave me pause, such as the fact that he used bedtime for planning as a way to get a head start and reduce stress when there is so much to get done and so little time to do it. I’ve read my fair share of books dedicated specifically to entrepreneurship, leadership, and business, but I have to say I often derive my best ideas from memoirs or books that aren’t intentionally trying to preach a lesson or tactic.

Key learnings

  • Differentiate between constructive criticism and baseless negativity.
  • Focus on creating unique and stellar customer experiences.
  • Always choose a New York slice over an Italian one.