Yes Theory's Zack Honarvar on BLM, Entrepreneurship and Seeking Discomfort

Culture

Two years ago, on one particular YouTube binge session, I hit the jackpot when I discovered Yes Theory, a channel centered around the concept of finding adventure in the unknown by stepping far outside personal comfort zones. Yes Theory's videos always elicit a smile and a tinge of regret for all the life instances where we could have said "Yes" to a memorable experience, but instead missed out. The wholesome content, the wild adventures and the brotherhood between the co-founders had me hooked from Day One. With 5.53 million subscribers, Yes Theory is not just a popular YouTube channel. It's a life philosophy, it's an international movement, and ultimately, it’s a brand.

I had the incredible opportunity to chat with Zack Honarvar, the innovative mind who founded One Day Entertainment, the media company that manages Yes Theory and other up-and-coming creators. Zack is an entrepreneur through-and through ever since he was in elementary school selling chocolate bars during recess, with business not only being his profession, but his life's passion. He describes business as being his "love language,” as he expresses his affection for his friends and family by helping his loved ones professionally; a rewarding experience, truly.

On the Black Lives Matter Movement

Before diving into his career, I began by asking Zack about how he is using his social media platform to raise awareness and show support towards the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. Regarding the tragic cases of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, amongst others, both Zack and the Yes Theory team took time to research their back stories and to find petitions that "could impact a decision.”

Zack himself used his platform to get his followers to email their city councilors and personally attended phone calls in order to ensure that their voices were heard. Yes Theory has recently released a YouTube video called "Time to Change," lending their international platform as a "megaphone" to the voices of those protesting for justice, as well as raising money for the Black Lives Matter organization through their Seek Discomfort brand. Recognizing that they are creators with a million eyes upon them, Zack reveals the importance of balancing time for oneself and the "moral responsibility to use the platform for doing good."

I asked Zack to relay the on-ground experience of the protests happening in Los Angeles to our international community of readers and writers:

"It's hard to put into words. There was an energetic feeling of solidarity. People of all backgrounds, of all ages, of all ethnicities were coming together for a common cause. There is an undeniable truth that what was happening was wrong and that real change needs to come from it. From our experience, it was very peaceful and very loving. Everyone was smiling at each other, you could see it in their eyes. People were trying to make a very dark situation an opportunity to show a fellow person love. When the leaders were speaking, it was actually very educational and the closer we got to the front of the march, we wanted to amplify the message of those in the forefront. When we went to city hall, we found out that the leaders who were present there have been protesting every Wednesday, even before the recent events occurred. It shouldn't take something of this stature for us to open our eyes."

On the Founding of One Day Entertainment

Career-wise, moving from finance to sales, Zack's intent from the get-go was to first gain experience in the industry through the Canadian start-up Shopify, and then "one day" run his own company. His "one day" moment came when he decided to join Yes Theory in Venice Beach, Los Angeles as their manager, wanting to "inspire others to take the same leap of faith, knowing that their parachute will open", as his did. Hence, the company name became 'One Day Entertainment!'

When asked about what unique quality One Day Entertainment looks for in the influencers the company manages, Zack believes that fan following plays a big role in the outreach and longevity of the influencer:

"The number one thing I look for is the creator’s 'stans'. We got the word 'stan' from the namesake Eminem song where 'stans' are the super diehard fans of the rapper. I also call them 'Mom fans' because your mom supports everything you do. We look for those fans because in our philosophy, true creators are a lot more like businesses and startups than influencers. Having stans helps them leverage the fact that they are larger than just entertainment. Creators are upholding an ideology or a lifestyle that their followers are trying to emulate themselves. If that's the case, it gives the creator the ability to not rely on social platforms, and instead build on their intimate relationships with their audiences. You don't need millions of followers to monetize your business structure. You don't need a thousand fans, you need a hundred true fans."

In fact, even on the One Day Entertainment website, it is explicitly mentioned that creators need managers "who act like CEOs, not agents" and it is that leadership mentality that sets the company apart.

On Seeking Discomfort and Changed Perspectives

Zack and the Yes Theory team have collaborated with the likes of big-time actors such as Will Smith (for their helicopter bungee jump episode) and managers like Scooter Braun. Working with such big names has changed Zack's perspective on the entertainment industry and the high pedestals celebrities are often placed upon. Zack has since learnt how "everyone is human and we are more similar than different."

He says that celebrities and their "superhuman" status in regards to possibly being "intrinsically better than us" is in fact, just a "manifested story in our minds." He credits perseverance, risk-taking, as well as the "combination of not stopping and working intelligently" for their success. He has thus learned to question if there are any limits to his own potential, using surfing as an example of him not doubting his own physical capabilities compared to others in the water.

The Oprah Effect and the Future of Yes Theory

The role of media and the delivery of online content is constantly evolving, especially now, during the lock down, with the majority of us actively surfing the web. For Yes Theory's future as both a social platform and a YouTube channel, Zack likens his hopes for the brand to the Oprah Winfrey effect. Oprah’s brand name has grown to become greater than the one-woman show, and has become, in his words, "a belief, a way of looking at life and accepting others." To read Oprah's work, attend her events or watch her show, there is an understanding that her content has "a common philosophy and an energy between the people and the messages delivered that makes you want to be present."

Yes Theory plans to pursue a similar path, where their brand name will stand for an ideology versus solely standing for the faces of the three frontliners, Ammar Kandil, Thomas Brag and Matt Dajer. Zack mentions the possibility of a "Yes Theory podcast, Yes Theory books, Yes Theory networking events and one day, concerts and professional conventions. The guys need not show face at every event, but you will know that everyone present believes that 'a stranger is a friend you haven't met yet.' Everyone around you will believe that the best things in life happen outside our comfort zones." Imagining attending such an event, where so many of the "walls that exist in our day-to-day lives" that prevent us from connecting with others will be removed simply by "bringing people together under these common beliefs,” makes me look forward to all that Yes Theory and One Day Entertainment has to offer someday soon.

Advice for Young Entrepreneurs

With so many high schoolers heading into the business industry with startup mentalities, Zack has some well-seasoned advice to all the young, aspiring entrepreneurs out there:

"Surround yourself with people that inspire you and those whom you love working with. So much more than the industry or the goal that you're chasing is who you're chasing it with and what impact they have on your road there. One of my favorite sayings is that, 'If you want to move fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.' One of the biggest lessons I've learnt is that there are a lot of creators out there who are bigger than Yes Theory or have a larger potential, but I would never switch places because I love the team that I'm with and the energy they share motivates me. They bring me more happiness than having more money in my pocket or having more lavish opportunities.

Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely initiative, so the best thing you can do is to share the work load with someone that supports you.There are going to be so many undoubtably low moments, so it's good to know that when those times come, there are people you can vent to, sob with and pick you up, and vice versa."

Personal Interests

In order to pursue his love for business outside his career, Zack has started his own podcast called ‘The Business Behind' (check out on IGTV) where he unravels the business structure of an industry.

"I read a lot, mostly on business, but also on meditation, mindfulness, leadership and coaching." Being healthy and active are two important factors in his daily schedule, be it running, surfing or working out. "I try to start my day by doing things that are productive for both my mind and my body."

Overall, after this inspiring and insightful conversation with a true business-lover, I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for Zack Honarvar and Yes Theory!

Make sure to check out Zack on his social media platforms and website:

Website: www.onedayent.com

Instagram: zack.thecreator

Other: www.youtube.com/yestheory

Nehaa Bimal
20k+ pageviews

Nehaa Bimal is currently pursuing a double major in Journalism & Humanities. She launched the #TTMVoicesonClimateChange initiative for The Teen Magazine, has conducted interviews with famous entrepreneurs, and is a regular contributor to The Charlatan and Her Campus. She was also Entertainment editor and Features co-editor or her high school newspaper The Surveyor. A slam poet and singer, Nehaa likes to add a dramatic flair to everything she writes/performs.