BTU #84 — David Smith: Marine Corps infantryman to CMO of a Norwegian Startup

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Justin Nassiri, founder of StoryBox and a fellow military veteran, to talk about my journey from the military, what I’ve learned, & advice for other veterans. You can listen to the full podcast here on Beyond the Uniform.

Justin Nassiri is a proud veteran and has a strong desire to share the stories of both the successes and hardships of transition from military to civilian life, in order to help shed light on what life looks like for service members. To date, he has hosted nearly 100 interviews on his Beyond the Uniform podcast series. In doing so, he has provided a deeper look into what it takes to achieve a successful transition… which is information of critical importance to veterans, non-profits and funders alike.

Below are some excerpts from my interview. Please visit this website link to hear the full interview version and learn more.

“You should always apply a couple levels above where you think you fit in. I’ve never applied to a school that I actually thought I’d get into; I never applied for a job I actually thought I’d get. I managed to get all of them — it blows my mind every single time but it’s good; it’s a reality check.”
– David Smith

David Smith is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Dogu, a Norwegian Business-to-Business (B2B) software company that creates unique solutions that allow businesses to visualize data and and accelerate sales. He started out in the Marine Corps as an infantry rifleman. Since the Marines he has graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, volunteered as a social entrepreneur doing humanitarian work in over 12 countries, has been part of the Stanford Ignite Veterans program, and many other diverse activities I’m sure we’ll get into during the interview.

The top reason to listen to this episode is:

  1. Courage — David is such an awesome example of courage; the courage he showed when he moved to Norway, where he eventually joined a startup as their Chief Marketing Officer. The courage David showed in taking a year to travel to over 12 countries doing humanitarian work and also doing person development work; the courage he has to talk about his struggle with PTS and very personal experiences he’s had with suicide; and the courage he demonstrates in constantly pushing himself to apply for things just out of his reach… and very often achieving them. I find David to be a passionate and inspiring person, and know you will too.

Our Sponsor:

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at

Selected Links

David shows a lot of courage in discussing his experience with PTSD and suicide. If this resonates with you, three other episodes to look at are:

  • Tim Avery — Tim provides a TON of great resources for vets in this regard
  • Duane France — Duane focuses on veterans mental health and provide a lot of great advice and resources
  • Anthony Garcia — Anthony discusses his own battle with depression in a way that is very powerful

Background on David:

Entrepreneur Resources

Show Notes

  • 1:52 — David’s background
  • 2:30 — David’s decision to leave the Marines Corps and how he approached this decision
  • 3:40 — David’s first job search and what led him to Andrew’s International
  • 4:29 — David’s experience at Berkeley and his advice for veterans considering education after their military service
  • 11:50 — David’s work with Team Rubicon and the George W. Bush Presidential Center
  • 15:12 — International work, touring the world, and David’s work prior to joining Dogu
  • 20:58 — How David moved to Norway after one year of humanitarian work
  • 23:33 — How David found his first job at Dogu when he moved to Norway
  • 27:11 — An overview of Dogu
  • 29:22 — An overview of David’s role as Chief Marketing Officer at a startup
  • 32:14 — Resources that David would recommend to other veterans considering startups
  • 36:32 — How David struggled with PTSD and thought of suicide, and what he learned from this
  • 49:33 — David’s final words of wisdom
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