Kiel Berry is, in the fewest words, an innovator. With his business savvy and global sensibility built in the world of finance, he branched into brand development and marketing as an entrepreneur, joining Team Epiphany in 2008 and helping the company flourish under his leadership and vision. He continued on that upward trajectory, working first with renowned entertainment and sports firm Creative Arts Agency and is now EVP of Machine Shop. We sit with this millennial to discuss his latest project and get a tutorial on how to ‘STUNT‘.
Tell us a little about your journey from finance to marketing to start-ups.
It’s definitely been a non-traditional journey. After spending high school in Paris, and experiencing the world of international business first hand, I attended the University of Pennsylvania and Wharton, so I could really delve deeper into economics, finance, and accounting. That helped me thrive at JPMorgan’s Investment Bank in New York, London, and Johannesburg.
When I came back to the United States though, I wanted to use my newfound skills in a more creative environment. It was around that time that I had the privilege of joining a NYC-based influencer marketing/PR agency and help grow the company exponentially over a few years. So I really would say that I got into marketing through my finance background. That experience really helped me to stretch my knowledge of business and test it in a truly unorthodox environment where we were setting the standards as we went along.
More recently, I moved out to Los Angeles to enter the world of entertainment. After a few years with Creative Artists Agency, I’m now building Machine Shop, which is a creative think tank owned by Grammy award-winning rock band LINKIN PARK.
Where did the title of the book come from? What is “Stunt?
The title of the book, STUNT, obviously started with the pop culture colloquial version of the term. Hip-hop pretty much etched the word in all of our brains, making it a provocative word to explore. The way I see it, when someone “stunts,” they are trying to stand out from the proverbial “herd of sheep” and show their unique self. In the book, I transition the definition of the word to be a more positive way of communicating ones true self. To me, to stunt is “the art of channeling your optimal lifestyle to inform how you communicate who you are” and for the purposes of this book “the career path you choose.”
Why read this book? How is Stunt different from other marketing books?
STUNT is a lifestyle career guide from the perspective of a millennial who is in search of new skills. We all have an idea in our head of what the “optimal lifestyle” would be, but seldom do we think of this as an attainable goal that we can systematically achieve. Instead we are taught to pick a career and hope we can fit our lifestyle into it…wherever it may or may not fit. This book is meant to be a new way of looking at career building and personal development. It’s different from other books out there because it’s from the perspective of someone still on the journey instead of a 20yr veteran looking back in hindsight.
Here’s a good example to explain the difference; take any music artist from Jay-Z to Adele. When you listen to their first album, it really connects to fans going through those similar emotions. Jay-Z was talking about the hunger for success and the trappings that result from getting it. Our generation can still go back to that Reasonable Doubt and connect with the lyrics because we are still going through those emotions. When we listen to Magna Carta on the other hand, it’s more of a voyeur’s perspective. Yea, he’s looking back on his younger self, reflecting at times. But a lot of the rest is just, well you know…”stunting.”!
This book is my first album.
What’s been the most rewarding aspect of writing Stunt?
To be honest, the first rewarding aspect of writing the book, was finishing it. There are a lot of people who say they want to write a book. We all have unique journeys and there are lessons everyone can teach each other but…it’s another thing to sit down and write it. It took me 2yrs of writing pretty much every night and every weekend.
But now, that answer has evolved. I put this book out to help others and crystalize a lot of the mentoring I do. The responses I’ve received and the people who’ve felt better equipped to chart their path, have really been all the reward I could ask for.
You’ve had a great career thus far, what’s been one of your biggest or toughest learned lesson?
That’s a pretty complex question for me because I feel like I’m learning big lessons all the time. But I think I learned a really valuable lesson over the past few years, which I’m still proactively working on.
We come from a generation where we’ve seen people become “overnight successes,” but in actuality, there is no such thing. For every successful person you hear about, there are years of grinding and honing that took place in the shadows for them to master their craft. I’ve been grateful that people view me as successful, but for me, success is a journey not a destination. I think that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn firsthand. My barometer really had to change from how others viewed me to being more focused on whether I was on the right path to who I wanted to become.
3 tips for someone looking to maximize their lifestyle and career.
Well, if I answer that question, then what’s the incentive for your readers to check out my book?! Haha.
I guess, if I had to focus on some of the key points in my book, it would be to divide your career into 3 distinct stages that build on each other; Foundation, Exploration, and Expansion. The Foundation takes place during those first 2-5yrs out of university when you’re really focused on gathering core transferable skills. The industry is almost less important than whether you are gaining valuable experience. The Exploration is when you should take those skills and make the decision to apply them to what you’re truly passionate about, with no fear of failure or focus on financial gain. The reason is because this stage is really setting you up for the Expansion stage, which is when you take all your experiences up until that point and “cash them in” for the lifestyle and career that will give you both financial stability and personal reward. And the stages continue, I’m sure, but that’s what I know today. Ask me again in 5yrs…or after my next book.
What’s next for Kiel Berry?
What’s next for me is really to focus on continuing to build my experience in international business. I think that’s the constant thread across everything I’ve done. Now at Machine Shop, two of our larger clients are based on Japan, so I’ve been learning about the entertainment, media, and tech world out there. Getting thrown into new business environments and as a result cultural contexts are what I’m always looking to continue to do.
Outside of my “day job” I’m really trying to build strong hobbies. Whether its scouring the city for new coffee beans to try, or partying at the ever-elusive warehouse parties in the city, I’m trying to take my “extra-curricular activities” just as serious. I’m also a contributing writer for Localeur, which is an influencer’s guide to major US cities. So I’m looking to continue to hone my writing skills along the way. Other than that (if that’s not already enough) you never know where you’re gonna catch me next…guess its just best to stay tuned….