While most might be content with a high-paying job at one of Canada’s fastest-growing tech companies, it wasn’t enough for Zack Honarvar. From the moment he joined Shopify two years ago, Zack knew it would be temporary until he found the inspiration and resources to start his own company. Although Shopify opened up many opportunities, he felt like his learning curve had plateaued. It was at this time he felt like he needed to enter another steep learning trajectory.
“A lot of people called me out. They told me ‘You’ve always claimed to be an entrepreneur and do this big thing, but you’ve never really done that. You’re turning 25 and still working at a company. I thought everything was supposed to be built for yourself’”
In March of 2018, Zack decided to quit his job and move to Los Angeles to start his own talent management agency, One Day Entertainment . Every day, Zack is learning what it takes to empower creators, and has even teamed up with Yes Theory as their manager and head of business development.
When Zack met these guys for the first time, their message instantly resonated with him.
Yes Theory is a group of individuals that strive to add more “Yes” to their daily lives and the lives of their viewers. They believe that life is the most fulfilling if you’re willing to “seek discomfort”. From using Tinder to live for free throughout Europe, to swapping lives with a stranger, these guys are the epitome of grabbing life by the horns. Their Youtube channel reached 1 million subscribers 2 months ago, and they’re already well on their way to 2 million.
Being in an environment surrounded by superstars has allowed Zack to work on some amazing projects. Working with individuals that are all about trying new things every day inspires him to learn everything there is to know about the talent management industry and to figure out innovative ways to help creators reach their full potentials. Living with Yes Theory serves as a constant reminder for Zack to push past his comfort zone on a day-to-day basis on his journey to building a company.
Because what’s more uncomfortable than taking a leap of faith to chase an entrepreneurial dream?
What’s holding you back?
I actually told Zack during my interview with him that I was a bit nervous about starting this Medium series. I had a couple of doubts, some pertaining to my own expectations and how others would view my writing.
Zack thinks it’s important to ask those “what-ifs”. He had many as well before moving to LA. What if he runs through all of his savings made from Shopify? What if Yes Theory hates his services and fires him?
What’s more important is envisioning what all that would look like at the end of the day. Although some of his peers might make a mockery of him if he failed, Zack’s worst possible outcome didn’t look too bad. He could always go back to Canada and work for Shopify again. He could always try and start something else with the experience he’s gained from failing.
Zack believes the “what-ifs” of many aren’t always about their own lives getting that much worse. Rather, they contain thoughts of how others will perceive them if they fail, which is the ultimate barrier from taking action.
“Your ‘what-ifs’ should never be centred around other people’s perceptions, because no matter what you’re doing, someone will have some shit to say”
Although not many of us have the luxury of returning to a top tech company if we fail, Zack assured me that this mindset helped him make many decisions throughout his career. Going through your doubts and realizing that some aren’t very important may make some tough decisions seem a lot easier.
Adding value to the lives of others
As business students, we are constantly told to network with professionals in the industry in order to open up potential opportunities and to always continue learning. Zack is no stranger to cold emailing and generating leads. Many of his previous roles required him to do so, and he still reaches out to different people and organizations every day. How Yes Theory got in touch with big names such as Will Smith and Scooter Braun all started off with a cold reach out.
As Yes Theory’s manager, Zack receives hundreds of emails from fans on the daily. 99% of them go something like this:
- Can I intern with YesTheory?
- Can I do an adventure with you guys?
- Would you like to fly out to ____ to sleep on my couch and seek discomfort with me?
Yes Theory’s mission will always be building a strong community through spreading positive messages, but they also face many operational and growth challenges daily. Although Yes Theory would love to personally interact with every single one of their fans, it’s physically impossible to do so. Majority of these types of emails are always centred around the wants of the sender, and do not provide much value to Zack for the time and resources he would have to give up in return.
So how do I get Yes Theory to respond to me then? Not only does Zack believe that adding value and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes is the holy grail of reaching out, he believes its beneficial to do even if you won’t initially receive anything in return. Think about how you can add value before receiving value. Building this mindset changed the way of how Zack reaches out, and he still uses this approach for interactions that may not provide him any immediate benefit. Not only is helping others fulfilling, he knows that doing others a solid will only positively build his relationships.
“Think about what they want. Think about why they care about why you’re asking for something. If your only answer is ‘this only helps me and I hope they do me a favour’, you probably won’t be getting the response you’re looking for”
Zack quickly realized this when he was still a student at Wilfred Laurier University. He once had to find a way to fundraise money for a new MacBook, and came up with the idea for local companies to laser-etch their logos onto the back of his laptop, effectively making Zack a travelling billboard. When looking for companies to sponsor him, Zack didn’t simply beg restaurants for money so he could afford his purchase. He stepped into the shoes of his potential sponsors, and realized that restaurants are looking for any opportunity to differentiate themselves in the competitive campus food space. By presenting companies with a unique opportunity to show that they care about the (not so typical) broke student who can’t afford a computer, Zack was able to provide value in exchange for his ask.