“A dynamic entrepreneur with unyielding dedication to community development.”
Kian Brown is a personal branding expert known for an array of social channel correspondent appearances and coaching strategy seminars in the greater New York area. Kian was raised in the Port City of Wilmington, North Carolina, and attended North Carolina Central University. During his matriculation, Brown served as Student Body President and Senior Vice President of the UNC Association of Student Governments. After college, Kian’s experiences led him to manage programs for the Chairman and CEO of Rush Communications, Russell Simmons. As the co-founder of hip-hop music label Def Jam Recordings, American entrepreneur and author, Simmons exposed Brown to top influential recording artist and notable entertainment industry leaders.
In 2012, Brown became a founding partner of Millennium Sports Management Group, a nonprofit focused management firm anchored in philanthropic development, marketing, and brand management for professional athletes.
With a desire to see young people flourish and living at their highest possibility, Brown co-founded The Urban Male Leadership Academy in 2014. The Academy was housed in one of New York’s most challenged high schools. The all-boys academy included over 85 young men of color, gender-based instruction and a curriculum rooted in self-awareness, empowerment and mentorship.
Kian is laser focused on achieving tangible results in uncharted territory: elevating his own personal brand. In 2016, Brown will release his first book “The Loving Son,” balance home life as a newlywed, serving with his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and continuing as a spirited supporter of his alma mater.
What was growing up was like for you?
Kian: I came from Wilmington, North Carolina. North Carolina is full of life, love, and family. That was something that was very important to me. Just like at an HBCU, my schooling and my education was full of my favorite teachers and counselors who are still my friends to this day as grown individuals. They really covered me and took care of me, and that’s my experience as a child- always taken care of and always afforded opportunities that supported my trajectory.
Who did you look up to as kid?
Kian: A couple people. My dad. The pastors that I followed. My favorite teachers were Dr. Oates, and Ms. Smith, who is now Dr. Smith. Those are some of the folks in my life that really supported me.
Let’s talk about your experience on “The Graduates NYC.” How did the opportunity come about for you?
Kian: A colleague of mine recommended me for the production. They interviewed me a year prior. We did an on-camera interview and we kept in touch. When they got the finances and the green light from Aspire, they hit me up and said, “Let’s go!” It was as simple as that for me. It was great timing.
A lot of people don’t know that AspireTV is Magic Johnson’s TV network. What has it meant to your brand to be associated with Aspire TV?
Kian: I’m so excited and humble that we’re a part of a media outlet that is all about Black opulence, Black positivity and Black performance. This is where I belong and I’m getting my start. I’m lifelong appreciative to Magic Johnson, Al Roker, and everyone that is a part of this. If you have not seen the show, the quality of the show is clear who’s behind it.
What are a few lessons that you’ve taken away from the cast and the experience?
Kian: How to operate on a high performing team. When you are on a team, there are different personalities and you get to manage yourself accordingly. It’s a challenge, but so is life. I think that if you want to circle back to why we chose HBCUs, choosing HBCUs gives you a foundation in critical thinking and also humanity. I think that shows in the season, if you haven’t seen it.
What was your first move after graduating NC Central?
Kian: What people sometimes don’t know is that I was there from 2000 to 2004, left without graduating, and moved to New York. I changed my major, starting in Elementary Education, did some student teaching, and did not like it. You know I’m from North Carolina so you know when you don’t listen, it takes me to a certain type of place! I changed my major to History, which would then support me in secondary education, which was much better for me. I came to New York, worked for Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee, and then went back after two years and completed my degree. The chancellor at that time created a job for me in International Affairs. I worked for the university for a year and a half, then brought myself back to New York where I belong. That’s the trajectory of my path- New York and my work in education. Now I’m doing coaching, training, and presenting.
Talk about what you’re doing as an educator with the company you work for.
Kian: Momentum Education is a 13-year-old personal and professional workshop series. It was founded in the self-awareness transformation industry. Highly experiential training. It’s really supposed to support you in identifying blind spots, and invisible chains that are holding you back. Once you identify the blind spots, you get to break the chains and renegotiate your relationship with fear. These trainings really support people. I graduated from the program and now I work for the company. I work with young people. We have an adult program and a teen program and I’m very active in the teen program.
What are the entrepreneurial ventures that you have?
Kian: First, I have The Brand Elevator, where I work with celebrities, politicians, artists, up-and-coming talent, and other people that just want to go from good to great, from the basement level to the penthouse. We offer personal concierge, brand elevation strategies… but not just logos and websites, and PR. It’s really on the inside. It’s the head and the heart. It’s something that a lot of people don’t touch on so that’s why it’s my niche. I also work with professional athletes through Millennium Sports Management Group, which is a philanthropic centered organization. We help professional athletics with their philanthropic efforts. Anything off the court and off the field we give support to. I don’t play sports but I can tell you how to speak well on camera and answer questions succinctly.
What are your goals in entertainment?
Kian: I want to be a brown Ryan Seacrest or Anderson Cooper. It’s about positivity and it’s about humanity, but you also want to be fair and balanced. I see myself as your favorite talking head on your favorite panel, talking about everything from young men of color, to education, to whatever it is from a perspective of possibility. If we always land on possibility, which we currently do not, I think things will be possible.
Who has been a mentor to you and guided you along your journey?
Kian: My bosses. I’ve always been the number two to the number one. I was an assistant to a principal who is my life coach, and is an extraordinary individual in education. There is somebody that was in non-profit management and we helped turn around a nonprofit in Jamaica, Queens. He was senior policy advisor for Mayor Bloomberg. Lydiel Monte from the Department of Education, Roger Scotland of the former Bloomberg administration, Dr. James Ammon, the former chancellor of North Carolina Central University. Then Sharon Saunders from NCCU taught me everything about public relations, marketing, and branding. They all are attributed to the different seasons of my life. Of course, there’s also Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee, Gary Foster, and all the folks at Rush Communications that gave me my first start.
Are there blogs and brands that you are following to stay sharp and inspired?
Kian: Sure. There are two people that I stay in touch with virtually. Gary Vanderchuck, because he’s always in action like, “Do, Do, Do!” When you’re investing in Twitter, Google, and Instagram, you have the coins to always have somebody with you [taking pictures]. There’s also Brandon Bruschard.
What are some books that have changed your life as an entrepreneur?
Kian: I read, but I don’t read like I should. But I do read! I would say Good to Great, The Four Hour Work Week, and The Maxwell Leadership Bible. I’ve delved more into the Bible in this season of my life more than any other, but the Maxwell Leadership Bible really supports me in leadership distinction and characters in the Bible as leaders, like Adam being the first leader to experience failure. Those are three books that I’m really on.
On social media, you seem very passionate about the political landscape and the history of America, What frustrates you the most about today’s culture?
Kian: Lack of passion and lack of awareness. People are passionate now because they’re angry. It is a valuable emotion if you can control it, because then you start moving in a direction and doing things that you’re not capable of containing, or, the consequences that you aren’t willing to be with. All I’m saying is that passion needs to be 24 hours a day-not just because your candidate lost or someone is pressuring or bullying you. You need to be passionate about what you believe every single day.
What advicE do you have for young people that want to be a successful entrepreneur?
Kian: Seek failure. Failure is a part of winning and succeeding. There are going to be people that are stuck and talking about things but never moving because they are afraid of failing. But then me…I will fail eight times but create 17 results, but you’re still stuck because you’re afraid to fail. Fail forward.