The Gentleman’s Journal Podcast
Scooter Braun, music mogul: “There is no retreat. We’re going to figure this out, or we’re going to die here”

Scooter Braun, music mogul: “There is no retreat. We’re going to figure this out, or we’re going to die here”

August 6, 2021

Scooter Braun is a media proprietor, record executive, investor and manager, best known, perhaps, as the mastermind behind the careers of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and many others. He started his career selling Fake IDs at Emory University, before becoming one of the most successful club promoters in Atlanta. After dropping out of college, Scooter jumped headfirst into the music industry — where he discovered an angelic young street busker called Justin Bieber while scrolling through YouTube one evening. The rest, as they say, is history — but that leaves out all the wild highs and lows of the years that followed: the way that the music industry bigwigs described the pair as “that internet kid and his crazy manager”; the trials and tribulations of fame and success; and the succession of canny deals that turned Scooter Braun into one of the most formidable forces in his field today.  

In a fascinating and candid interview, Scooter talks to us how he slept with a gun by his bedside for years; why he loves founders with a ‘burn the ships’ mentality; and how he’s finally re-claiming his real name, Scott, once and for all. 

Charlie Bigham: “If everyone’s doing one thing, perhaps you should do the opposite…”

Charlie Bigham: “If everyone’s doing one thing, perhaps you should do the opposite…”

July 30, 2021

Charlie Bigham is the man behind the gourmet food brand that bears his name — and the saviour of many a weekday dinner time. Known for his wholesome takes on British classics, Charlie’s eponymous company — which celebrates its quarter century this year — sells 80,000 meals every single week, and will likely hit £100 million pounds in sales this year alone.

But for Charlie, you sense that the finances are much less important than the food — and in a fascinating episode of the podcast, the founder tells us how a night on the Iran-Pakistan border provided his lightbulb moment; how the financial crisis of 2007 nearly scuppered the business; why he resents his food being called ‘posh’; and what happened when a noted food critic tasted his lasagne.

“The next Coco Chanel will be a programmer” — Federico Marchetti, founder and chairman of YOOX-NET-A-PORTER

“The next Coco Chanel will be a programmer” — Federico Marchetti, founder and chairman of YOOX-NET-A-PORTER

June 18, 2021

Federico Marchetti is the founder and Chairman of YOOX-Net-a-Porter. He grew up in Ravenna, an ancient town in Northern Italy, which is home to some of the most historically significant mosaics in the world. And Federico describes his career, in fact, like a giant mosaic — a long process of placing building blocks on top of building blocks, slowly working towards a grand design.

After an early career in finance, Federico hit upon the idea of a luxury e-commerce site in 1999, at the height of the Dot Com boom. Most people thought he was crazy for attempting to fuse these two worlds — but after cold calling Italy’s most famous venture capitalist, Federico quickly managed to get the idea off the ground — and the rest, of course, is history. Today, YOOX-Net-a-Porter is one of the biggest e-commerce players in the world, with customers in over 180 countries. 

In a fascinating episode, Federico describes how Apple took some of its inspiration from Italian typewriters; why none of us will be using mobile phones in five years time; and how the next Coco Chanel won’t be a designer — but a programmer.

“The opposite of a good idea is often a great idea” — Marcia Kilgore, founder of Beauty Pie

“The opposite of a good idea is often a great idea” — Marcia Kilgore, founder of Beauty Pie

May 21, 2021

Most of us would be content to have one big hit in our lifetimes, and to milk it for all its worth. But Marcia Kilgore has had four resounding successes with four separate businesses — Bliss, a range of New York beauty spas, of which she sold a majority stake to LVMH for a reported $30million in 2004; Soap & Glory, a toiletries brand thar Boots bought acquired in 2014 and has hundreds of millions in annual revenues; FitFlop, the ingenious ergonomic footwear brand; and now Beauty Pie, a subscription cosmetics service which may well turn the beauty industry on its head. In a fascinating and highly enjoyable episode, we discussed the unique atmosphere of New York in the late 1980s; why bullshit is the enemy of success; and how the opposite of a good idea is almost always a great idea.  

“Fundamentally, culture comes from our streets” — Inside the retail revolution, with Ross Bailey, Luca Faloni and Archie Hewlett

“Fundamentally, culture comes from our streets” — Inside the retail revolution, with Ross Bailey, Luca Faloni and Archie Hewlett

May 7, 2021

On a special episode of the podcast we talk to three figures from the world of retail about the quiet revolution taking place on our streets. Ross Bailey is the founder of Appear Here, the venue marketplace for shops, pop-ups, and just about anything else; Luca Faloni is the founder of the beautiful Italian outfitter that shares his name; and Archie Hewlett is the founder of London footwear label Duke + Dexter. It is a fascinating conversation with three entrepreneurs who live and breathe these issues every day — and they tell us how our high streets might look in the near future; why certain brands have ridden out the storm and others have sunk; the shopping gimmicks that they're tired of seeing; and why, in fact, we should cancel the word ‘retail’ altogether. 

“For our meeting with Rupert Murdoch, I didn’t even have any shoes…” — Jack Rivlin, Founder of The Tab

“For our meeting with Rupert Murdoch, I didn’t even have any shoes…” — Jack Rivlin, Founder of The Tab

April 23, 2021

Jack Rivlin is the founder and former CEO of the Tab — a network of student newspapers. Started while Jack was at Cambridge, the Tab hoped to bring energy, levity, and a tabloid edge to the dull and worthy university papers — and used volunteer student journalists to report on the things that actually mattered to them.

It soon grew to plenty of other universities in the UK, and in 2016 Jack raised a few million pounds of investment from none other than Rupert Murdoch himself, who Jack and his partner met the week after Glastonbury, with glitter still stuck to their faces. After expansion into the US, the Tab’s fortunes began gradually to wane; until Jack decided to sell up entirely at the start of 2020 — a process that became a fascinating ordeal in its own right.

In a wonderfully honest episode, Jack tell us just how hungover he was for that infamous meeting with Rupert Murdoch; give us the inside scoop on the Aziz Ansari story that broke the internet; tells us how one of the Tab’s early legal corrections is now used in Journalism textbooks; warns against the perils of the Facebook algorithm; and discusses why newsletters have become the media outlet of the moment.    

“There’s a reason why I talk to other people for a living…” — Louis Theroux, documentary filmmaker

“There’s a reason why I talk to other people for a living…” — Louis Theroux, documentary filmmaker

April 9, 2021

Louis Theroux is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, broadcaster, national treasure, and latterly podcast host. Louis joined us on the podcast to talk about the release of his brilliant new documentary Shooting Joe Exotic, in which he revisits the star of last year's Tiger King documentary — but the conversation soon became about so much more: the state of America right now; the trouble with social media; the poignancy of shooting horses; the perils of podcast coziness — and the very art of interviewing itself. 

Louis Theroux: Shooting Joe Exotic is now available on BBC iPlayer

 

“Work is the greatest painkiller known to man” — Marco Pierre White, chef

“Work is the greatest painkiller known to man” — Marco Pierre White, chef

March 26, 2021

Marco Pierre White is the legendary chef often described as the enfant terrible of English cuisine, and the youngest cook ever to receive three Michelin stars. Marco’s story has now passed into legend: the childhood on a council estate outside Leeds; the prodigious genius mentored by Albert Roux, Pierre Koffman and Raymond Blanc; the outrageous work ethic and infamous temper; the pre-Raphaelite curls and smouldering brow. But to hear him tell his own story is an unpredictable joy. You don’t so much interview Marco Pierre White as uncork a genie — and so this episode does away with our usual structured conversation format and becomes something else entirely: a rolling meditation on childhood, luck, pain, celebrity, greed, and good food. 

We recorded this episode in one of the living rooms of Marco’s home — a Victorian gothic hotel he is converting near Bath. It kicks off with Marco explaining what walking into a Three Michelin Star restaurant should feel like — and it rolls like a juggernaut from there. Enjoy. 

“You’ve got to be present in your crisis” — Andy Coulson, strategic advisor

“You’ve got to be present in your crisis” — Andy Coulson, strategic advisor

March 19, 2021

Andy Coulson is a strategic advisor, former Downing Street director of comms, former editor of the News of the World — and onetime resident of HMP Belmarsh. Across the nineties, Andy worked his way up from a local newspaper to take on one of the biggest jobs in the UK media, before jumping over the fence to join the Cameron campaign as DC ascended to Number 10. Then, following the News of the World’s phone hacking scandal, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison — a part of his life that inspired his new podcast: Crisis, What Crisis, in which he talks to a wide array of people who have, as he puts it, been up and down the hill a few times. 

In a fascinating episode, Andy tells us how he dealt with what we might call David Cameron’s Toff Problem; discusses the entrepreneurial lessons he learned in prison; and describes the dangerous symptoms of a condition he calls 'Editoritis'. Enjoy.

You can find a link to Andy's podcast, Crisis, What Crisis?, here.

 

The ‘Icarus of bling’ and the joke that felled an empire — Gerald Ratner

The ‘Icarus of bling’ and the joke that felled an empire — Gerald Ratner

March 5, 2021

Gerald Ratner is the former CEO of the Ratners jewellery empire, and a professional corporate speaker. As a young man, Ratner worked his way up the ladder of his family company, eventually turning it into the biggest jewellery chain in the world. And then, at the height of his powers, a single speech changed his fortune forever, and sent his life and his business into a downwards spiral that took some years to recover from. 

His story — and that infamous moment — is now the subject of business degrees the world over, and his name still trends on Twitter several times a year at moments of corporate blunder. This is one of the most interesting episodes we’ve had in a while — a true rollercoaster of a story, with a born entrepreneur whose colourful career has come to be defined by just a few words. With his famously deadpan sense of humour, Ratner talks us through the meteoric rise of the Ratners Group, the morning leading up to that speech, and why, if you want to get something done, it sometimes pays to impersonate a police officer.

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