The Success Story of Kiarash Behain
Photo: Kiarash Behain with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (left) and music mogul Shawn “Jay Z” Carter (right)
Though it may not seem like it these days, the American Dream is very much alive and well. The definition has evolved over the years and continues to do so as time passes.
In its truest form, the American Dream is a social ideal that stresses the doctrine that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
It is the belief that anyone—regardless of where they were born or the class they were born into—can achieve their own version of success through sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work.
Jeff Bezos is currently the richest man in the world. He turned a mail delivery service for books into the biggest e-commerce platform on the planet and the world’s largest retailer.
In his early days, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter was a street hustler who shopped his music to radio stations, and now, he owns a popular music streaming service and boasts a personal net worth of over $1 billion.
These two successful businessmen were born on opposite sides of the spectrum, yet they somehow figured out how to not only live their versions of the American Dream, but also become highly regarded figures in their respective fields.
Like how Jeff Bezos created Amazon and how Jay Z turned a rap career into becoming a billionaire music mogul, every great achievement started in the mind of someone bold enough to believe that their dream could, against all odds, one day become reality; someone who was willing to put in the work to see it all the way through.
Kiarash Behain is one of those people. He is the CEO of a company that works with the biggest brands and celebrities, and it all happened because he dared to dream.
Photo: Kiarash Behain, CEO of Rundown Media, a Los Angeles based creative and social media agency.
Behain immigrated to the United States at the age of three when he, his mother and brother fled Iran during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. His father, unfortunately, passed away back in Iran while the family was waiting for him to get to the States on a pending visa.
Kiarash’s mother was left with no option but to do whatever it took to make a way for herself and her sons. This inspired Kiarash Behain and led him to where he is today.
“As a child, you never notice the sacrifices your parents make until you experience them in the real world as an adult,” Kiarash said. “I am extremely blessed and grateful to have a hero like my mother. Someone who faced the odds and paved the way for us.”
Kiarash considers himself to be a big dreamer. To connect himself on the levels of the top business and music moguls is a reach, but one thing that we find interesting comparing the three focuses on their individual circumstances growing up. We all know the stories of Jay Z and Jeff Bezos; the ultimate dreamers. But in Kiarash’s case, he was an immigrant child who made his way to America by sheer luck and what many would consider “God’s timing.” His father made the sacrifice to send his family off to freedom in America as soon as the window of opportunity opened during tragic times of war in Iran. Like many parents, Kiarash’s mother and father sacrificed their lives for their children. Like many, Kiarash found his way through the pulse of the city culture, streets and neighborhoods. Kiarash, too, had ambitions to dream big in America.
Armed with the knowledge he attained through his personal life experiences and using the tools made available to a whole new generation of dreamers, like social media for example, Kiarash set out to start his own media company in 2006 called Rundown Media.
Now, more than a decade later, Kiarash’s list of clients—past and present—include world-renowned celebrities, top brands and Fortune 500 companies. Rundown Media has also contributed to award-winning marketing campaigns for Hollywood blockbusters including “Fast & Furious,” top Billboard albums and hit TV shows.
There are people out there who will lead you to believe that the American Dream is just a myth, but people like Jeff Bezos, Sean “Jay Z” Carter and even Kiarash Behain are proof that it does exist. Speaking via Zoom, the mogul in the making assures us that attaining the type of success people dream of isn’t impossible, as long as you’re willing to do the work to get there.
Finding your niche
The world is full of people who have many things to offer, but it’s important to find that one thing that separates you from everyone else. Ask yourself: “What makes me different? What is the one thing I can do that no one else can?” Identify your own personal interests and passions and find problems that you have the capability of solving.
Kiarash found his niche quickly into his journey after he started helping celebrities and influencers go viral on social media.
“I worked directly with entertainers and popular influencers. These playing grounds helped me find ways to help them go viral online,” Kiarash explained. “I then used the strategies that I discovered for larger brands and created accomplishments for myself.”
Finding your niche is the most important step during your journey of dreaming. Once you find something that you truly enjoy doing, whether you’re getting paid for it or not, you are in the first stages of living your dream.
Taking intelligent risks
It’s impossible to experience success without taking some risks but be sure to have a process for making good risk decisions. You simply cannot afford to take poor risks because taking risks without considering the consequences can negatively impact the trajectory of your success. Taking an intelligent risk will either leave you with a reward or experience (maybe both if you’re lucky) that will take you to the next level.
An intelligent risk Kiarash says he took early on was forgoing the experience of college to jump right into entrepreneurship out of high school.
“My passion for attending college came from wanting a better understanding of business, marketing and psychology. Unfortunately, and fortunately, my school years were cut short as I was sidetracked by the after-college experiences that occurred as a result of me growing my online businesses,” he said.
“Conducting my own independent research and working with limited resources helped develop and strengthen my creativity. These experiences of producing media while networking on the world wide web required for me to direct my focus towards the success that I was developing for myself.”
Taking intelligent risks was a strategy Kiarash Behain used throughout his journey of dreaming.
“In the world of media, having my own platform and media equipment was key for me to reach out to managers, security, and promoters beforehand to give them the heads up that I was coming to get exclusive content and share it with the world on their behalf,” Behain said, recalling the time when he snagged a Lil’ Wayne exclusive for his media company’s flagship entertainment outlet, The Rundown.
“Power 106 Los Angeles had a concert headlined by Lil’ Wayne, who was the biggest rapper in the world at the time,” Behain continued. “Just hours before the show, I introduced myself to security and management to get an early green light so that they would remember my face when things get hectic. I ended up on stage with Lil’ Wayne and landed an exclusive as a result.”
He quickly realized that not being afraid to go against the grain or step outside of his comfort zone would lead to a path of success.
Increasing your value
In today’s economy, people are compensated not just because they work hard, but because they add value to the world around them. Think about it like this: If you’re currently being paid twenty dollars an hour, the money that’s given to you isn’t just because you showed up to work for those sixty minutes, but because you’ve added twenty dollars’ worth of value during those sixty minutes.
So, essentially, the monetary reward you receive isn’t determined simply by how many hours you work or how “hard” you work, but by how much “value” you add. This is why increasing your value is so important to achieving your dreams. If there are 100 people who do the exact same thing you do, but you do it the best, you’ve increased your value just by standing out amongst the crowd.
You should be asking yourself: How can I make myself valuable to someone else? At a young age, Kiarash used to walk around with an inexpensive camera around his neck while working the red carpet at major events, and still ended up scoring interviews with big stars.
“I remember one time, I was invited to the ESPY Awards official after-party at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood to do press and media,” he recalled. “On the red carpet was ESPN, FOX Sports, etc. with their cameras worth $20,000 or more. Then you have me with my $500 camera, and we’re all conducting the same interviews with Super Bowl champions and legendary entertainers. My ability to talk big and make everything clear allowed me access prior to them even knowing what level I was really playing on.”
Another way to increase your value is to be assertive. Don’t be annoying but be sure to follow-up if you reach out to someone or a company and don’t hear anything back in a reasonable amount of time. You should be relentless and know that any response is a good response. Even if they say no to whatever you’re requesting, at least you got their attention.
Kiarash explained once he found himself in the “the room where it happens” by being aggressive, he learned a new skill.
“I’ve outgrown the business card phase,” he said proudly. “Instead, I will text a new big client a link to a site or a pitch deck with all the information needed. This allows me to always update the link or pitch without always having to get new business cards. Everything they need to know is in one location. Once they are done checking it out, they know exactly how they want to utilize me and my services as a benefit to them.”
More importantly, the person at the end of the communication wants to know what’s in it for them. A fancy resume and a long work history is cool, but what does that have to do with them? How do you directly benefit them? You have to make it as clear as day what you’re going to be doing for them and what they will gain as a result of them working with you. You want to make whatever you do mutually beneficial. “Yes, this helps me, but this also helps you, maybe even more than me.” You can successfully win someone over by telling them how they will benefit from something, even if they know that you will benefit from it as well.
The world is driven by money. We all need to earn a comfortable living in order to sustain our lives. But, in Kiarash Behain’s case, there were times where he had to work for free in order to grab the attention of a client. In his experience, working for free, at least at first, allowed him to make a comfortable living in the end. He increased his value not by demanding more money for his work, but by making himself indispensable.
“It’s okay to work for free if it means growth or an asset you can add to your work history or resume. Don’t be money-hungry,” he advises. “Everyone notices true intentions. Pick and choose your opportunities and be open to growing with people.”
Living the dream
In the words of four-time olympic gold medalist, Jesse Owens: “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”
Big dreamers come in many forms. Some are neutral, some are on overdrive. Founder of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs said it best: “Here’s to the crazy ones!”
Successful dreamers are those who accepted and conquered the challenges presented to them. Regardless of their circumstances, these dreamers developed the ability and skill set to block out the noise and focus on their goals. They dared to dream and they did it with minimal excuses, even if others brought doubt to their purpose.
Take a look at Kiarash Behain’s life as a prototype to the digital hustle while living in a social media era.
“I was an aspiring entrepreneur trying to live the American dream,” Kiarash says. “I found hunger and motivation in those who were the ultimate dreamers and took a page out of their book to make one for my own.”
“We all have access to the world wide web,” he adds. “Just imagine what the dreamers of yesterday could have accomplished if they were tapped into a top social media platform in their era!”
The perspective that we all have more access to the world compared to the dreamers before us should be motivating enough for anyone to develop and achieve their goals. With that being said, when you go to sleep tonight, make sure you dream big, and tomorrow, turn your big dreams into reality.