In just five years, Jonathan Daou has made St. Pete home and changed the course of its development forever. Daou is the co-founder of Eastman Equity. After 20 years in New York City, St. Pete caught Daou's eye around 2010. He moved a few years later for a change of pace, for the Saturday Morning Market - and for the beaches, of course. Daou now owns a majority of the storefronts in St. Pete's famed EDGE district, as well as a few major 4th St. developments, like the former North Ward school turned Grand Hacienda project, completed in early 2018. Now, Daou is turning his full attention to the EDGE district. The potential he sees is more than hip shops and edgy restaurants. He's looking to make St. Pete a walk-able, pedestrian-friendly mecca that creates jobs and fundamentally changes the city for the better.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
The ArtsXchange, Studio@620, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, Grow Smarter
What gets you out of bed every day?
Doing things that inspire others in ways that they can’t exactly understand how this thing that I’ve worked to create came about, but the sense of wonder that they get from it, and the excitement or the enjoyment. I call it “return on experience,” so if I can create businesses or investments or art or ideas or software that people use and be amazed by using, that drives me.
Why St. Pete?
I did 20 years in Beirut, and 20 years in New York City, and I needed a break.
What is one habit that you keep?
I do something called morning papers. I write whatever comes to mind, generally as soon as I wake up, 5 or 6 in the morning, I’ll just open up Google Sheets and plug in the date and write whatever pours out of my head. It could be gibberish, and it could be thoughts.
Who are some people that influence you?
Generally people who look like they’re having a blast with their lives.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
Mindfulness. I just put a timer in front of me and I try to count breaths. I’m trying to see how long I can extend my breath to. So when I get to a really relaxed state, I probably hit about 45 seconds per single breath.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
How much slower bureaucracy is than I actually thought it was.
Whatever I wake up thinking that I want to do.