20VC Scooter Braun on Being Enough, Insecurity, Wealth, Investing, Fame, Marriage and so much more



In this candid and introspective conversation, Scooter Braun, a prominent figure in the music and investment industries, delves into personal growth, the importance of self-acceptance, and the transformative power of vulnerability. Braun, known for managing top artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande and for his investment acumen through TQ Ventures, reflects on the pivotal moments of his life, including the profound impact of his divorce and the realization of the need for self-work. He emphasizes the significance of embracing one's inner child and the journey towards feeling genuinely successful, independent of external achievements. Braun also discusses the evolution of the music industry, highlighting the role of technology in its growth, and shares insights on parenting in the context of wealth and fame. Throughout the discussion, Braun and the host explore themes of identity, the quest for parental approval, and the struggle with the duality of personal and public personas, ultimately underscoring the universal human experience of seeking happiness and fulfillment.

Summary Notes

Loving One's Younger Self

  • Embracing maturity involves accepting and loving oneself at a younger age, before the complexities of teenage years add layers of insecurity.
  • It's about acknowledging that one was always "good enough" even before creating a protective shell in response to societal pressures.

"Being mature is loving your twelve year old self... you were always good enough at twelve before you started going through that teenage and security stuff."

This quote reflects the idea that maturity comes with self-acceptance, looking back at a younger self without the judgments or insecurities that come later in life.

The Vulnerability of Success

  • Success and happiness are not inherently linked; one can achieve great success without finding happiness.
  • The realization that achieving goals does not necessarily equate to happiness can be a difficult adjustment, challenging preconceived notions of success.

"I'm becoming more and more successful, but I'm not becoming happier."

Harry expresses a common misconception that success brings happiness, but finds the reality to be different, prompting a reevaluation of his beliefs.

The Illusion of Financial Success

  • Financial success can either be a source of freedom or a burden, depending on one's perspective and approach to life.
  • Achieving financial goals can lead to a momentary thrill followed by a realization that it does not change one's internal state of happiness or peace.

"I thought if I got this much, I would feel at peace. And now I could just go through life and be happy. And nothing had changed."

Scooter Braun shares his experience of reaching a financial milestone only to find that it did not bring the expected sense of fulfillment or happiness.

Seeking Approval from Others

  • People often strive to be examples for others, seeking external validation and approval, especially from family members like parents.
  • This can lead to a cycle of achieving for the sake of approval, rather than for personal satisfaction or happiness.

"If Harry Stebings builds this VC firm, if Harry Stebings builds this media company, if these help people, if he can be an example to other people of success, then he doesn't have to tell everyone the fear that he has or the frustration he has, or the childhood that he had to step up to always be an example."

Scooter Braun discusses the pressure to be a role model and the internal struggles that can be masked by outward success.

The Role of Vulnerability

  • Embracing vulnerability can lead to more genuine connections and can encourage others to offer support.
  • Being open about one's struggles allows others to understand and be there for them, rather than maintaining a facade of strength.

"Since I've done this work, not only are there a lot of people there for me, but I also came to the realization that there were always a lot of people there for me and I just wasn't letting them in because I thought that it was weak to do."

Scooter Braun reflects on how his willingness to be vulnerable has opened up his support network and allowed him to realize the support that was always there.

Trust and Relationships

  • Trust becomes more complex with success, as dynamics in relationships can change due to perceptions of power and hierarchy.
  • Setting boundaries is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships and teaching others how to treat you.

"Boundaries are there for you to teach other people how to treat you."

Scooter Braun highlights the importance of boundaries in teaching others how to engage with you, especially when success changes relationship dynamics.

Coping with Public Scrutiny

  • Public criticism, especially from a large number of people online, can be hurtful and challenging to navigate.
  • Understanding that online negativity often stems from the pain of others and is not reflective of reality can help mitigate its impact.

"The Internet is not a real place... if someone is taking time out of their day to write you something negative and they don't even know you online, it's usually because they're hurting."

Scooter Braun shares his perspective on handling online criticism, emphasizing the disconnect between internet personas and real life.

Confronting Conflict

  • There is a distinction between running towards conflict and running towards resistance within oneself.
  • Addressing internal resistance can be more productive than engaging in external conflicts, as it leads to personal growth and resolution.

"What I run towards is the resistance I find within myself. If I find resistance in myself towards something, then I have something unresolved, and I need to look inside myself on what is unresolved and get to that work."

Scooter Braun discusses his approach to dealing with conflict, focusing on internal resistance as a path to self-improvement.

Catalytic Moments in Careers

  • Significant moments in one's career can act as catalysts for success, often arising from unexpected or challenging situations.
  • How one responds to these moments can turn potential setbacks into opportunities for growth and achievement.

"Almost every single time, something bad happens, or you would assume it's a bad situation, I always say, okay, there's something in this for us, or there's a message in this."

Scooter Braun reflects on his experiences of turning challenging situations into pivotal moments that propelled his and his clients' careers forward.

The Power of Vulnerability in Storytelling

  • Sharing personal stories and vulnerabilities can be more impactful than focusing solely on theoretical lessons.
  • Embracing storytelling as a means of connection can lead to deeper understanding and learning from one's experiences.

"I think we both have a love of storytelling, and it's not tied to lessons."

Harry acknowledges the importance of storytelling in creating meaningful discussions and connections, beyond just conveying theoretical knowledge.

Professional Mistakes and Learning

  • Scooter Braun reflects on his professional mistakes, viewing them as essential learning experiences that provide perspective.
  • He emphasizes the importance of these experiences for personal and professional growth.
  • Braun shares a personal anecdote about his decision to give away $50 million of his own stock during a company sale.
  • He learned the value of making everyone feel included and the freedom that comes with generosity.
  • Braun discusses the realization that ambition can cause harm and the importance of transparency in business relationships.
  • He advocates for a win-win approach where everyone involved in a deal or project benefits.

"My most painful professional mistake. I have lots of them, honestly, but I don't see them as mistakes. I see them as the greatest moments of perspective because I needed them."

This quote highlights Braun's perspective on mistakes as valuable lessons rather than setbacks, emphasizing the importance of gaining perspective through challenging experiences.

"So I gave $50 million of my own stock away to my employees and my artists when I received my payment."

Braun shares an example of how he applied the lessons he learned from past experiences to a significant business transaction, choosing to prioritize inclusivity and generosity.

"But ambition can also hurt you. And what I mean by that is there are plenty of times in my career where I can look back, and if someone's frustrated. I said I didn't do anything wrong. I did everything by the book. This is business, and I did everything right. But I, in my heart, I could have done it a different way."

Braun reflects on the drawbacks of being overly ambitious and the importance of considering alternate approaches in business that align with one's values.

The HYBE Deal and Decision Making

  • Braun discusses his personal circumstances during the HYBE deal, including his divorce and self-work.
  • He shares that he wanted partners and a change in his professional role as his children were growing.
  • Braun was impressed by Chairman Bang's focus on what happens after the transaction, which resonated with his own values.
  • The deal with HYBE was influenced by a desire for a partnership that would allow for growth and learning.

"I decided to do HYBE because I wanted partners."

Braun explains his motivation for the HYBE deal, highlighting his desire for partnership and a shift in his professional focus.

"In the west, you guys always talk about transaction, and in the east, we actually talk about what we're going to do after the transaction."

This quote from Chairman Bang during the HYBE deal negotiations impressed Braun and played a role in his decision to proceed with the partnership.

Successful Deal Making

  • Braun recalls advice from his grandfather about deal-making, emphasizing fairness and mutual benefit.
  • He stresses the importance of standing by one's word in business dealings, even if the other party is not meeting expectations.
  • Braun believes in conducting negotiations that leave all parties feeling satisfied with the outcome.

"The best deals are the ones where everybody wins."

Braun shares wisdom from his grandfather, which has guided his approach to business negotiations, focusing on creating deals where all parties feel they have won.

Relationship to Regret

  • Braun discusses his approach to regret, explaining that he has learned to accept the past as necessary for his present circumstances.
  • He considers the concept of future regret and the importance of making decisions that minimize potential regret later in life.

"I don't have as much regret anymore."

Braun expresses his current perspective on regret, indicating that he has come to terms with past decisions as integral to his journey.

Venture Investing

  • Braun shares the story of his early interest in investing, including a missed opportunity to invest in Facebook.
  • His experience with Facebook opened him up to the world of investing, leading to investments in various companies, including Uber.
  • Braun discusses the importance of betting on entrepreneurs and his philosophy of supporting founders through challenges.

"And then something called thefacebook.com launched, and Emery was one of the first eight or twelve schools."

Braun recounts his initial encounter with Facebook, which sparked his interest in the tech space and venture investing.

"It was a company that was valued at $400 million in San Francisco, and it was only in San Francisco, and it was a cab company called Uber."

Braun describes one of his early investment decisions, which turned out to be highly successful, highlighting the importance of recognizing potential in new ventures.

TQ Ventures

  • Braun talks about his partnership with TQ Ventures, their investment strategy, and their success in various sectors.
  • He praises his partners for their hands-on approach with founders and their ability to support companies through difficult times.

"We have over a billion in under management."

Braun provides an overview of the scale of TQ Ventures and the success of their investment strategy.

"I'm very honored to be in business with those guys and it's been a lot of fun."

He expresses gratitude for his partnership with TQ Ventures and the positive experiences they've had in the investment space.

Work-Life Harmony

  • Braun discusses the concept of work-life balance with Jeff Bezos, who prefers the term "harmonize" over "balance."
  • Bezos believes in integrating work and personal life by sharing passions and priorities with family and colleagues.
  • Braun has adopted this philosophy, aiming to harmonize his passions and be transparent about them in all areas of his life.

"Why should you have to balance two things that you love? You should harmonize them."

This quote from Jeff Bezos, shared by Braun, encapsulates the idea of integrating rather than balancing work and personal life, which Braun has embraced.

Self-Acceptance and Trust

  • Self-doubt and lack of self-acceptance can lead to projecting insecurities onto others.
  • Trust issues may stem from not fully accepting oneself.
  • People often blame external factors for their feelings of inadequacy when the root cause is internal.

"It's not that they are scaring you, it's that you don't trust them to see you fully." "It's because maybe we don't trust them to see us fully because we haven't accept ourselves fully."

These quotes discuss the idea that trust issues with others may actually be a reflection of one's own lack of self-acceptance. The speaker suggests that people might project their insecurities onto others, blaming external factors for their own feelings of inadequacy.

Personal Growth and Self-Reflection

  • Personal growth is sometimes hindered by using crutches, such as alcohol, to navigate social and business interactions.
  • Reflecting on one's personal and professional aspirations can lead to a better understanding of what truly brings joy and fulfillment.
  • The fear of being alone can be a powerful motivator in both personal and professional contexts.

"It took me years to get up drinking because, said, I look at my biggest deals, it's because I went drinking with them and I went drinking with them and I used it as this crutch to keep on going for myself."

The speaker reflects on how they used drinking as a crutch in their professional life, suggesting that personal growth often requires confronting and overcoming such dependencies.

Perception of Success and Expectations

  • Investors often bet on individuals not solely for their achievements but because they believe in their potential and character.
  • The pressure to succeed can stem from self-imposed expectations rather than external demands.
  • Understanding that success comes from who you are, not just what you've achieved, can alleviate the burden of self-doubt.

"They're betting on you because they like you and they want to see you win."

This quote emphasizes that investors or supporters often choose to back individuals because of their potential and character, not just their current achievements or age.

Integration of Passions and Vision

  • Combining passions, such as media and venture capital, can lead to the creation of innovative firms.
  • The speaker aspires to build a firm with media at its core to support and elevate companies.
  • The challenge of balancing time between different ventures is seen as a non-issue when they are aligned with one's passion.

"I believe that one of the next great firms will be built with media at the very center of it, and leverage media to find. To pick, to help the best companies in the world."

The speaker shares their vision of integrating media into the core of venture capital to create a unique and impactful firm.

Loneliness and the Pursuit of Personal Fulfillment

  • The speaker expresses a deep sense of loneliness despite professional success.
  • There is a struggle to balance the pursuit of ambition with the desire for personal connections and family.
  • The fear of mediocrity and settling for a conventional life can deter one from seeking personal fulfillment outside of work.

"I'm desperately alone, bluntly. And you turn off the lights at night, and you're suddenly. The silence is very loud."

This quote reveals the speaker's personal struggle with loneliness, highlighting the contrast between professional success and personal fulfillment.

Sacrifice and Presence in Personal Life

  • Entrepreneurial sacrifice is often acknowledged and respected by peers.
  • Personal relationships and opportunities should not be overlooked for professional gain.
  • Being present in personal relationships is as important as achieving professional success.

"I think if it shows up, just pay attention to that."

The speaker advises that personal relationships and opportunities should be valued and not be sacrificed for professional success alone.

The Impact of Parenthood

  • Parenthood can lead to increased efficiency and a shift in priorities.
  • Having children can change one's approach to work and life, often for the better.
  • The experience of divorce can lead to a deeper appreciation for the relationship with one's children.

"Those kids are the best thing that ever happened to me."

This quote expresses the profound impact that having children has had on the speaker's life, shaping their priorities and mindset.

Dealing with Personal Trauma and Growth

  • Personal trauma can lead to a lack of presence and appreciation for the current moment.
  • Transitional years of pain are common and often lead to significant personal growth.
  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of self-work to overcome past traumas and build a stronger self-identity.

"I think that trauma was in me. And I just thought, well, I'm building this and it's significant."

The speaker acknowledges the impact of personal trauma on their ability to be present and appreciate their achievements, highlighting the importance of addressing such issues for personal growth.

The Fear of Mediocrity

  • The fear of mediocrity can be a driving force behind the relentless pursuit of success.
  • The perception of mediocrity is subjective and can be influenced by one's values and aspirations.
  • The speaker challenges the notion that leading a conventional life equates to mediocrity.

"Are you not fearful of mediocrity? I'm almost like, I don't want to go into a relationship. I don't want to have kids because I'm like, I'll be mediocre like everyone else."

This quote reflects the speaker's internal struggle with the fear of mediocrity and how it affects their personal decisions regarding relationships and family.

Role Models and Influence

  • Role models can have a profound impact on one's aspirations and self-perception.
  • Achievements of role models are often celebrated, but their personal qualities and relationships are equally important.
  • The speaker reflects on the influence of Richard Branson as a role model, not just for his entrepreneurial success but also for his qualities as a father.

"Richard Branson was, like, the entrepreneur that I looked up to massively."

The speaker discusses the influence of Richard Branson on their life, highlighting the importance of role models in shaping aspirations and values.

Self-Work and Mental Health

  • Taking time for self-work is crucial for mental health and well-being.
  • Self-work involves confronting oneself and addressing deep-seated issues and discomforts.
  • The speaker emphasizes the transformative power of dedicating time to self-reflection and self-improvement.

"Once a year, take a week off, no phone, no emails and do a week of self work."

This quote advocates for the practice of taking dedicated time away from distractions to focus on self-improvement and mental health.

Identity and Authenticity

  • The struggle to separate personal identity from a public brand is a common challenge.
  • Building an authentic self requires acknowledging and valuing the person behind the brand.
  • The speaker reflects on the importance of recognizing one's own strengths and contributions to their success, separate from their public persona.

"You were paying attention to Richard Branson because of all the achievements."

The speaker points out that while achievements are celebrated, it is important to recognize and value the personal qualities and relationships that contribute to one's overall success and identity.

Faith and Control

  • Entrepreneurs often struggle with faith and the need for control.
  • The illusion of control can be a barrier to trusting the natural flow of life and the universe.
  • The speaker discusses the concept of faith and the challenge of relinquishing control to trust that things will work out.

"I think the most important thing is starting to realize that this brand you created was created by you."

The quote emphasizes the realization that the strength and success attributed to a public brand actually originate from the individual's own capabilities and efforts, not the brand itself.

Influence of Wealth on Children

  • Concerns about raising children with wealth and maintaining their hunger and ambition.
  • The importance of accountability and identity in children raised with wealth.
  • The challenge of children competing with successful parents and finding their own path.

"I do worry about that. So I spoke to a lot of kids who I thought were amazing human beings who came up with a lot of wealth and two common denominators I found after interviewing so many kids and their parents, of the great ones, one, accountability is the number one common denominator."

This quote highlights Scooter Braun's concern about the influence of wealth on children and the importance of accountability as a key factor in raising well-adjusted individuals.

"I think having a sense of your own identity is really important. And I want my kids to know that they're allowed to have their own identity."

Scooter Braun emphasizes the significance of children, especially those from wealthy backgrounds, developing their own identity separate from their family's achievements.

Parental Approval and Love

  • The debate over the importance of telling children "I'm proud of you" versus unconditional love and support.
  • The potential negative impact of seeking parental approval based on achievements.
  • The importance of children knowing they are loved and supported for who they are, not for their accomplishments.

"I want my kids to know. And I think you deserve to know. And I deserve to know that you don't need to do anything to have love this way."

Scooter Braun expresses his belief in unconditional love for children, where they don't have to earn approval through achievements.

"I think the most important thing a kid can hear is that the parent feels the exact same way, that I'm proud of you because of who you are, exactly the way you are."

This quote conveys the idea that children should be assured that their parents' pride in them is not conditional on their successes or actions.

Self-Acceptance and Success

  • Personal growth and the journey to self-acceptance.
  • The realization that success is not solely tied to achievements but also to self-acceptance.
  • The role of past experiences and generational patterns in shaping one's approach to love and success.

"I think for the first time in my life, I'm getting there."

Scooter Braun reflects on his evolving perception of success, which now includes a sense of self-acceptance.

"Being mature is loving your twelve year old self."

This quote from Scooter Braun's grandmother encapsulates the idea that maturity involves embracing and accepting oneself, including the person one was at a younger age.

Impact and Legacy

  • The transient nature of fame and the humility that comes with realizing one's impact may be felt but not personally remembered.
  • The advice to avoid ego and drama in personal and professional relationships.
  • The importance of acknowledging the role of financial safety in personal development.

"In 100 years, no one's going to remember him, so they sure as hell won't remember me. So don't have an ego."

David Geffen's advice to Scooter Braun serves as a reminder of the fleeting nature of individual legacy and the importance of not letting ego drive one's actions.

"I have the financial freedom to take time off, to go work on myself."

Scooter Braun acknowledges the privilege of financial security and its enabling role in allowing for personal growth and breaking generational patterns.

Personal and Professional Growth

  • The challenges faced by artists growing up in the public eye and dealing with personal struggles.
  • The importance of understanding mental health and providing support.
  • The evolution of the music industry and the global opportunities it presents.

"I think the biggest struggles in life aren't getting on that stage or how do I make another hit song? Or how do I build a vc? Or how do I build a company? It's how do I get through the suffering of the human experience?"

Scooter Braun reflects on the universal struggle of navigating the human experience, which transcends professional achievements and industry success.

"I think a company like Spotify is going to grow 10% to 12% year over year for the next ten years."

This quote highlights Scooter Braun's optimistic outlook on the growth potential of the music industry, specifically the role of companies like Spotify in driving this expansion.

Personal Reflections

  • The value of introspection and taking time for self-work.
  • The uncertainty and excitement of not knowing what the future holds.
  • The importance of being present in one's children's lives and continuing personal development.

"I think for the first time in my life, I don't know. And I'm excited about that."

Scooter Braun expresses his openness to the unknown future and his commitment to being involved in his family and personal growth.

"I'm very proud of the achievements of. But when you asked me that question, even though I posed it to you, I felt this visceral reaction inside of me of then he's asking the wrong person."

Scooter Braun discusses the internal conflict he feels when considering his own success, indicating a shift towards self-acceptance and pride in his identity beyond his achievements.

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