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Success Story Podcast

Benny Pough – Music Executive, Entrepreneur & Author | Leading Def Jam & Roc Nation

By May 19, 2023September 24th, 2023No Comments

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About The Guest

Benny Pough is a visionary entrepreneur and business executive who has made a profound impact on the music industry. With a remarkable journey that spans from humble beginnings to becoming a celebrated CEO, Pough’s story is one of resilience and unwavering determination.

Born and raised in a modest neighborhood, Pough’s relentless work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit shone through from an early age. Starting out as a paperboy, he embarked on a path that would eventually lead him to the pinnacle of success. Through perseverance and seizing opportunities, Pough transitioned from his humble beginnings to climb the ranks, ultimately reaching the esteemed position of CEO.

Throughout his career, Pough has demonstrated a keen ability to adapt and evolve. He has successfully navigated various roles and labels in the music industry, always striving for creative freedom and innovation. Recognizing the power of collaboration, Pough’s path intersected with influential figures like Jay Z, leaving an indelible mark on his journey.

Today, Benny Pough’s achievements extend beyond his corporate endeavors. He is an inspirational figure, sharing his wisdom and experiences to guide others on their path to success. With his groundbreaking book, “The Six Pillars,” Pough provides a blueprint for lasting success, unveiling key principles that have shaped his remarkable rise. Through his teachings and captivating storytelling, Benny Pough continues to inspire and empower individuals around the world.

Talking Points

  • 00:00 — Intro
  • 02:22 — Unveiling Benny’s Origin: The Remarkable Journey of a Visionary
  • 03:53 — Life-Altering Lessons from a Life-Threatening Accident
  • 07:15 — Unraveling the Link Between Trauma and Triumph: Exploring Benny’s Path to Success
  • 09:37 — Knowing When to Draw the Line: Mastering the Art of Boundaries
  • 13:52 — Awakening in the Hospital: Benny’s Initial Reflections
  • 17:50 — From Paper Boy to CEO: Benny’s Extraordinary Climb
  • 23:32 — Key Steps to Success: Lessons from Benny’s Multifaceted Journey
  • 25:18 — The Label Switch: Benny’s Quest for Creative Freedom
  • 27:45 — The Jay Z Encounter: A Fateful Meeting that Changed Benny’s Path
  • 28:17 — Building a Star: A Glimpse into the Process
  • 31:30 — The Birth of a Company: Benny’s Drive for Autonomy
  • 34:42 — Wealth Abundance: Navigating the Dilemma of Endless Possibilities
  • 41:24 — Unveiling the Six Pillars: Benny’s Blueprint for Lasting Success
  • 43:13 — Betting on Yourself: Benny’s Golden Rule for Triumph
  • 46:33 — Passion vs. Obligation: Benny’s Journey to Finding Purpose
  • 47:33 — Deconstructing Masculinity: Benny’s Perspective on Identity
  • 52:39 — Life Lessons for the Next Generation: Benny’s Most Valuable Teaching
  • 54:09 — Wisdom for All: Benny’s Advice and Ways to Connect
  • 55:05 — Decoding Success: Benny’s Personal Definition

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What is the Success Story Podcast?

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategies for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.


Host of the Success Story Podcast:








Machine Generated Transcript


business, realized, shopify, life, music, work, moment, netsuite, success, point, today, hosting, grow, change, talent, executive, career, give, father, company


Scott D Clary, Benny Pough


Benny Pough 00:00

The most important moment that’s happened to me in my life was the near death car accident, where 90 miles an hour has passed the state level to concussion. Ladies and gentlemen, Fetty pill he’s a kingmaker in the music business,



helping to launch the careers of some of today’s biggest superstars. Rihanna, Jay Z, Mary J. Blige, Travis Scott, and I’m just naming a few.


Scott D Clary  00:27

Coming out of that accident, what do you think that taught you or realize impact? Start telling me to change your life? Do you think that other people can maybe change the way you change without having such a horrible event? So let’s talk about the hustle of The Paperboy to CEO to President.


Benny Pough  00:53

paperboy was my first job


Scott D Clary  01:00

Welcome to success story. I’m your host Scott Clary. The success story podcast is part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. Now the HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible podcasts like my first million hosted by Sam Parr and Shawn Perry. They interview some of the most incredible business leaders, Alex for Mozi Sophia Amoruso Hassan Minh has who share their journey to success and how they made their first million. On a recent episode they featured the acquired podcast hosts Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal to discuss how they scaled their multimillion dollar podcasts. Don’t sleep on my first million if you want to get inspired. If you want to learn from the best, you got to tune into my first million wherever you listen to your podcast. Today, my guest is veteran music industry executive Benny Pough Having held executive roles at major record labels like Motown, Def Jam and MCA Records, including his tenure as a former executive vice president of Epic Records and the former president of rock nation music. Benny has been instrumental in positioning the sound and culture of music worldwide by breaking radio hits for superstar artists such as Jay Z, Rihanna, Kanye West, DJ Khaled the roots Travis Scott future Yo Gotti 21, savage and more.


Benny Pough  02:22

Wow, well, thank you, Scott, for having me on the show. And just speaking with you off camera. You’re an amazing spirit and soul man so I can see why you get the amount of downloads you do. Because you’re a special heart man. So thank you once again. You know what thinking the most important and most traumatic and fulfilling moment that’s happened to me in my life was the near death car accident, where I hit a tree at 90 miles an hour as a passenger sustained a level two concussion that’s when you blacked out between one and five minutes L three l four vertebrae fracture bulging disc in my back, lacerated liver that led me to lose half my blood supply. And we hit the tree so hard that is 72 feet of my small intestine. And in that moment, God put a book inside of me called on impact. And impact is an acronym for intuition, mastery, pivot, authenticity, connection, and teamwork. And it takes the reader through my journey from 11 years old, delivering newspapers, to modern day with an undercurrent of music since I spent the majority of my professional career in the music business. And at the end of each chapter, put together what I’ve call a hitless, which are takeaways from the chapter that people can now apply to their lives. And pretty much they have been in can do it. I can do it too, because I’ve gone from paperboy to President and intern to CEO


Scott D Clary  03:54

that’s a lot to unpack, man. Okay, let’s this is gonna set the tone for the rest of the show. You just you just fucking went through everything that we’re going to talk about in like two seconds. That could have been Hey, all right there. Yeah. No, no, no. All right. So you this let’s talk about this accident. So we’re gonna talk about the accident, then we’re gonna talk about, we can go back to the origin story. And what KNOX obviously is super, super important as well. But coming out of that accident, what do you think that taught you? What did the you know? Why did you did you feel anger? Did you feel hate for the person driving? Did you feel nothing? But gratitude? What was it that came out of that?


Benny Pough  04:28

So none of the above and the negative perspective and I realized that that was the impact was God telling me, you know, it’s time for you to change your life. And that was the inflection point for me to really now become very self aware. And also understanding what my mission and my purpose, you know, in life is it’s not about how much money I make. It’s not about the people of influence that I know. It’s not about how much I’ve traveled. It’s not about the things that It don’t matter. It’s how do you really now take all that’s been given to you and share to as many people as possible. So he was only honestly, just the driver, right? For literally, I needed to go. So no, no feelings, no ill feelings, none of that.


Scott D Clary  05:18

And who and who were you before who were you before that accident


Benny Pough  05:21

man, I was a consummate professional, you know, sales guy, just like probably most folks in America and, and around the world, you know, you just driven on the day to day grind. And when you’re on only thinking about making ends meet or experiencing a great life, because you figured out the code, you forget about the real value of how important the day is, how important it is telling people you love them, how important it is just giving someone a call and giving them you know, a positive aspiration. You forget about like, who you are true to yourself, and what is the purpose for your, for your day to day in your existence. You know, you forget, as a parent, like, you know, your children really depend on you not just to be a figure, you know, they need that input. on a on a day to day, if you have a mate, or you know, someone’s significant, you know, it’s more than just, we’re a couple, it’s like, Yo, I want to really make sure that we’re all the way in tune and tied together. Because if we’re going to take a journey together, we need to be locked in and in lockstep. And you can only do that with commitment and time. So, unfortunately, I realized, although I had success, I really had nothing.


Scott D Clary  06:38

Do you feel like you were like, you didn’t have balance? Is that exactly more or less?


Benny Pough  06:43

Exactly, exactly. And balance? Oh, definitely was uneven. Well, wasn’t balanced on even on the paradigm of life. For me, I was very highly driven in the music business and prior to that, and business as a whole. And realizing that you know, how important my career was, is was was actually the point that I negated who I was.


Scott D Clary  07:14

And okay, so now you have this, this is life changing moment. It’s, it’s sad, because a lot of people don’t have a moment that wakes them up like that. And I’m actually curious, do you think that you think there would have been a point in your life that you would have actually changed? It sounds like change for the better? I don’t make assumptions, but it sounds like change for the better after this event. You think that this is the moment that you need it? And do you think that other people can maybe change the way you change without having such a, a horrible life altering event?


Benny Pough  07:48

So yes, it’s yes and no. So it’s, it’s an individual, individual choice. But you have to realize when the signs are prevalent, so it’s not necessarily you have to hit a tree to change your life, you have to really take a step back and understand what the value of life is right from, from from the from the date of birth, to the day that you die. What do you truly want your middle to be? Is it only about hustling, and paying bills and buying, you know, the next Gucci Louie baton, Mercedes Benz, right, those things? Or is it really about like, Guess what, how am I going to make a difference and make a change every day in my life, to impact someone’s life, because if you impact someone’s life, and you’re the genesis of that, now you, you have begun to train that will truly live on forever, because of what you’ve done. Right? And, and ideally, I think a lot of us get trapped in, you know, life is, as is what it is, meaning, you know, the day to day grind, and don’t understand the value of a minimalist lifestyle, right? Like you don’t need everything. You don’t have to spend $125 150 $300 A night on dinners. You don’t have to do that. You don’t have to drink the best champagne every night or, you know, cognac or smoke cigars, but it’s okay if you can. But if you if that’s not what your situation dictates, then enjoy what you can do. And then you will start to begin a life that’s fulfilling and rewarding for yourself.


Scott D Clary  09:37

You know, now we’re all fucked up because this is what happens, right? You came from UK, you came from paper out and then you worked and you hustle and you hustle and you hustle. And then you hustle so much that you start to make money and you start to succeed and then you’re like shit, okay, now I’m making it and you start benchmarking yourself against people that have made it a little bit more than you and made a little bit more money than you in social media. fucka salah, right? And I’m sure I’m sure this is what happened to you that happen to me happen to anybody who I know, even people that haven’t made money it’s happened to. So I’m just it’s not even a question. It’s just like, it’s like this, maybe just a comment on society as a whole just pushes all these, these ideals and these thoughts and these values on money and wealth and success and it’s keeping up with the Joneses at like this insane scale that is never achievable. It’s just a wild world we live in. And I want to try and teach people over in this particular show, at least, the massive amount of success that you had in that hustle mentality because bro, you were like, an executive at pretty much almost every single record label that I know. But


Benny Pough  10:47

that is any different labels.


Scott D Clary  10:50

So that’s not that’s not like not successful. That’s you hustled for that shit. And then all of a sudden, you’re like, Okay, you had I don’t know what the best word is that come to Jesus moment. I don’t know. You just need a life changing moment. And you’re like, shit, okay, I’ve done this. I’ve and, and you’re in this flywheel when you’re building yourself up, when you come from Paperboy, and you keep going to the next job, next job, next job. Next job. It’s like, how do you stop? Because that’s all you know, now 30 years? If you train yourself?


Benny Pough  11:15

That’s a great, that’s a great question. And it’s, it’s ideally, for me, it was that moment. And you asked the question earlier, had that not happened? What do you think the outcome would have been? I think I’ve probably would have had a heart attack at some point, you know, with the with the level of, of commitment that I was at, you know, you don’t even understand the stress that the body, you put the moments and working in a high output environment, especially when you’re an earner, and you’re responsible for folks. And in doing so, you carve off the back end of your life, right? Like you commit, you know, it’s just like, it’s just like a boxer, you can take heavy punches in your youth, if you know what you protect your head, but you still beating up your body. Right? Yeah, I remember like the other day, I was talking with my son, and you know, just even like certain things in workouts, like lifting weights. When I was young playing football, you know, I put 350 375 pounds on my back to squat, right? But guess what, my back is messed up now. And this age, or even somebody said, Hey, listen, you’re gonna pay for it. In the end, you’re like, Well, you can do it now. So you don’t really think about it later. Because you can do it now. So ultimately, it’s important to not only see the data, the days that you’re in, but each day builds into your future. So you have to find that spot that you’re happy every day. Because the future is not promised. The accident happened literally getting in a car, driving out of the driveway, making a right onto a roadway in the past and the driver pass out with his foot on the accelerator. I couldn’t plan for that. Right? I couldn’t just think about it at that point. I’m still until that very moment, I’m still this guy that’s on the hamster wheel. So everything that I’ve acquired, everything that I’ve done, everything that I’ve gone didn’t matter, because my life was about to end in that moment. So when your life is about to end, and that point, you have in depth really does happen in slow motion, you have to say, Wow, what a wonderful life it was, or you like, got into everything I want. But it’s happening. So which life do you want to live? When the end does come? What a wonderful life, or I didn’t do everything I wanted. And everything you want is in is is in the grasp of your hand, understanding the value of each day.


Scott D Clary  13:51

That’s beautiful. Tell me something. When you hit that tree, you probably out cold for a bit. I think you’d probably pass out or yeah, when you when you woke up? Did you immediately immediately think I’m going to change my life? Or did you immediately think, fuck, I’m in the hospital. I’m gonna miss emails. And I have meetings next week. And I’m going to miss those.


Benny Pough  14:15

So there’s a couple of things. When I realized the driver was passed out, just literally we came down his gate. He made a right. We got on the roadway to lane roadway in rural New Jersey. I heard a thump on the accelerator. And the car shut off. And I picked up my phone was about to make a call and I’m like, What is he doing? Like, way too old to be showboating with a new car. So I looked at the odometer, cut my eyes and the odometer was 75 miles an hour. I turned my head and he was passed out with his foot on the accelerator. So in that moment, I do what I was always taught to do. That was speak to God I, in the first thing I said was Lord, I guess I’m not going to see use, see my family anymore because my wife and my daughter they were in, in the house. And I’d seen from my sister, my father, we celebrated his his 70th birthday. The day before my son took him to boarding school, my daughter, my eldest saw her just a week prior. The second thing was, Lord, I guess I’m going to see you soon because this just can’t end pretty, like you know, a car running through a residential neighborhood on a two lane roadway, and 90 miles an hour, can’t be. And the third thing I got mad with God, because had I known I was gonna die today, I wouldn’t went to the barbecue, right, I would have this. And, and I thought about all the things I would miss, you know, there would be no more birthdays, no more anniversaries, no more celebrations, you know, who would pour wisdom into my children, you know, who would marry my girls. And then at that moment, as the car veered off the road, we hit something and then went flying into the tree. And that’s where I sustained all the the injuries or broke, came to for a moment. And what was really amazing is that this, this person grabbed my hand and held my hand. And that’s when I really understood the value of the human touch. You know, like, we get touch we caress, we’re intimate. But that life transfer was the first time I got that when in all of the pain that I was, I was in an in the moment, the you know, you’re hanging on between this world and the next, and someone’s literally holding on to my hand transferring energy. And at that moment, when they hoist me into, into the ambulance, he let go. And that’s when I blacked out. I don’t want to spoil the book for you. And in that moment, I realized the value of of the human touch and how important it is that we give that good energy to people because you truly do feel it, you know, verbally through motions to them, and obviously, physically so it’s an it’s a valuable experience that I learned. And through that I can now share the story through my book on impact life leadership and betting on yourself available at Amazon and everywhere books. So


Scott D Clary  17:38

I got you, I’m gonna drop all the links. Don’t worry, I gotta get the plugin. And I always give you shots and plug I always get like, I’m not gonna do like that. All right. Okay, let’s do let’s do like pre let’s do pre. Let’s do pre crash. Like now I’m going to segment your life into two, two parts. Chapter one is pre crash, chapter two is post crash. So let’s talk about the coma. Let’s talk about the hospital because the hustle is real for a lot of people. And then the lesson is going to be you got to know when to shut off and you got to know one you have what’s good and you have enough but hustle is mandatory to make it to somewhere and to support and to you know, provide for a family and to provide for yourself and to give back to the world. So paperboy to CEO to President. What like actually that’s that’s multistage because he was it was not even his paperboy was like paperboy intern, an intern to CEO. So why start is paperboy and then how do you do paperboy to intern and then we’ll go from there.


Benny Pough  18:31

paperboy was my first job. And it actually came out of an a very unconditional method. We used to travel to South Carolina every summer up until I was 11. My father was in school and he would take us to visit our grandparents on a farm in Orangeburg, South Carolina. So school ended on a Monday. We left that Friday at school and ended on Friday, we left Friday night and we drove 12 and a half 13 hours to get to South Carolina for the summer, I realized I was definitely not a southern kind of guy. I was more of a metropolitan kid. And it didn’t, didn’t quite fit for me, right. But I enjoyed the experience and all the lessons that I learned. But when I got 11, I was like, I don’t wanna do this anymore. And I’d actually obtained a paper route. So I had a conversation and negotiation with my dad, if, if I leave my paper out, then I’m going to lose that opportunity. And he realized that at that point, the opportunity did mean something to me. And that was the genesis of my true work career. And in doing what I learned from doing that, at 11 was managing up managing down alright, because, you know, you’re dealing with adults and you realize in life that everything’s not easy and everyone’s not a good person. Just, you know, just the real, real general concept of you give someone a product, and they have to pay you. And if you’re a child, you should pay your child. Adults don’t necessarily just in those particular instances, follow the code. So I realize giving the paper that everyone wasn’t going to pay now the paper company advanced you their product. So since they advanced, you, you’re on up for what they give you. They don’t care what what you do with your business. All they want is their return on what they’ve given you. And that was an early introduction for me in the sales aspect in the business aspect of learning, like, okay, life is not going to be easy, but there are rewards if you do it the right way. And, you know, that was the opening moments for me, then I obviously worked several different jobs along the way, my total career I’ve amassed a grand total of 60. W 960, different W nines this lifetime. So I’ve done everything. So it’s, it was it was an experience, how I actually got into the music business came out of another unlikely circumstance. During college, I was a stand up comic, when I went to St. John’s University. And at the end of the show, the woman who booked me worked for Motown Records. And she asked me, you know, what will my plans, and I hadn’t even quite put together, what the next steps were for me in life. So she said, why don’t you come on down to Motown and be my intern? Needless to say, where we come from, no one knows what an intern is. But since I was a sales guy, I was like, Yeah, I can be your intern. Alright, we’ll figure that out when I get there. So when I got to Motown, you know, prior to that, you know, historically, what I’ve done was was sales. So I showed up at a record company with a three piece suit on attache case, and wingtips. And everybody looked at me like, is he, you know, the FBI.


Scott D Clary  22:08

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Benny Pough  23:08

The auditor as somebody, you’re obviously on the wrong floor, because record companies are equivalent to like tech companies then and now. Meaning, you know, very free spirited, you know, dressed down, cool, fly sexy,


Scott D Clary  23:25



Benny Pough  23:26

you’re all stuff. No one does that. So yeah, but that was my discipline.


Scott D Clary  23:31

So okay, so then you started working in the music industry? And how do you move up like there was, I feel like you’re very self aware of the stuff that you needed to know, to succeed. Because you, you spoke about managing a book of business, managing sales, like you’re very aware of like the lessons that you took to the next level. So as you go through the different roles that you had at all these different record labels, what are those key things that are like this is this is necessary to make it in life, make it in the career, make it to the next level, get the next promotion?


Benny Pough  24:05

So wherever you work, whatever you do, you have to become a student of the game, one on one, just just 101 if you sought a job, you need to know that particular job and that company in and out information is power. That’s what’s gonna move you forward. You know, smiles are good. You know, obviously, you know, for those who like to kiss ass, I don’t know that. But you know, that can move you. So whatever these different means of of us will move people up fairly and unfairly, the business is going to be paramount. So those who are really truly successful, or people who have a handle on the business of the business that they’re working in to, always, for me, as I moved into management was assembling great teams. It’s never about you, right? And unless you’re doing something that’s only about you, which in business, it’s very rare that it’s only about you. So I’m Finding, you know, successors, and also great mentees, that you can pour yourself into to that ultimately will alleviate a lot of work on your plate, if you’re giving people the opportunity to grow inside of the organization, and that they believe in trusting.


Scott D Clary  25:18

And when you so when you start to move up, then what walk me through, like, as an executive at, are actually telling me why you moved from Motown to Def Jam to MCA, and then you were epic. And you were rock nation. So you’re jumping around, too. So you’re knowing the game, but like you’re playing the game a little bit, too? I’m not sure if that’s the case. But I’m wondering, I’m wondering why you switched labels, was it, in my experience, at least is because sometimes, sometimes a business or an organization, it’s harder to move up in an organization and to move into a higher role and other organization? Is that the case? Or was it just pure? Right time, right place, right? opportunity,


Benny Pough  25:57

I think is a gumbo of of all of that. But for me, there are a couple of reasons. My mother worked in love the United States Post Office, she lived, she worked her whole career until she were retired. They’re almost 40 years, and she enjoyed that job. For me, I never had the desire. I mean, I mean, I’ve stated in the beginning, I work 60 jobs. So I never had for me, once I’ve maxed all that I can get all that I can give, then I got to move on. Because I need to make room for others to grow, and also for myself to grow. So it’s always about amassing the information, education, and also moving on to what’s next had I stayed in any of those companies, one day longer, I will never be at this point in my life to have this interview, because everything will change. So I always am very selfish, very self aware, both personally in business, when my time has expired, and when it’s time to move on, and what it is that fits into my goals of what I ultimately want to achieve. So I think it’s kind of like a divine order thing, you know, being very, you know, an in tune and and understanding the frequency that I’m that I’m connected with.


Scott D Clary  27:20

You are you are very self aware and very conscious of what you’re working on. And what your I think it’s probably probably manifested a little bit more after a car crash. But I think now, it’s funny, like hindsight is always 2020. Now you see threads in your life of this is what happened, this is what happened, then this would happen. You know, this is why it happened. Everything starts to make a lot more sense. Looking back, it always makes a lot more sense looking back. Rock nation, when when do you meet Jay Z? When? What was that?


Benny Pough  27:50

I mean, the first, the first. The first thing in encountering was at Def Jam when he was the president of the label. So that was the first time I actually truly matter. We have


Scott D Clary  28:02

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Benny Pough  33:21

Yeah, so he was the president of Def Jam Records. During during, during my time there, and then we met again at at his company, rock nation.


Scott D Clary  33:34

And then, like, let’s talk about even like some of the work you did there. So you’d have behind the scenes look at what it takes to make like one of these incredible artists like you know, I have these notes here you worked with, obviously Jay Z. Rihanna, Kanye DJ Khaled Travis Scott future 20 ones that like, insane talent. So I’m sure now like you, to your point. It’s not just you, it’s obviously a massive team of people that finds this talent. But for people that are like, huge into the music industry, what does it actually take to find talent to to put out a hit to actually market the shit out of it? Because that’s, that’s what you’re doing. You’re building this persona of this incredible talent and there’s a lot of talent that’s out there. That’s incredible doesn’t make it so I’m super curious as to like the behind the scenes into what building a building a star looks like.


Benny Pough  34:25

So the behind the scene executive, you know, my my superpower was radio promotions. So I made my bones growing in the business, you know, the guy who you say I hate hearing that record on the radio over and over and over again? Well, it’s because of people like me, right? We pitched and sold you know, the program director who is who’s responsible for the records going into rotation and a very, you know, root root perspective. But what we do at record labels is identify talent At, and we give the artists the the best opportunity to be exposed to the masses. And obviously, the talent is what really drives the business. And the executives enhance, you know, the experience, as well as pushed through all of the different gateways that are known to exploit, you know, the music or exposed to music globally. So, you know, when you think about the artists that you mentioned, that, you know, our team worked on, and that, you know, I’ve worked with is that they were super talented individuals, so they had to actually cut through to rise up to get people like us that will help them fulfill their destiny in their dreams and their goals.


Scott D Clary  35:44

What like, even if you compare it to like pro pro athletes, what’s the percentage of people that actually make it in a music career?


Benny Pough  35:53

There was a stat and don’t quote me, but it’s, you got to feel you got to feel think it’s far less than 5%. And it is all this last? Yeah, yeah. It’s all relative. It’s all relative, though, on how you how you view success, though, right? They’re the mega superstars, which is a very small percentage, right? And then there are people who are making a living, actually, in their, their field of artistry, and being able to sustain themselves. So you know, there’s that, you know, they’re the superstars stars, and then they’re kind of like people who are making livings doing it, or involved, you know, it’s really like a hobby. So it just depends on what you want from it. But you know, the commercial end of it that’s dictated by, you know, the people who come and buy. That’s the only way you can look at them, the big sellers, big toppers.


Scott D Clary  36:46

Now, I’m actually curious, because even after working at all those labels, you started your own company, diverse, diverse media. So I’m curious, what was what was wrong in the industry? What are you trying to change? Like, you’ve been in the industry for 30 years? So what are things that aren’t working? Is the supporting talent? Like I know, I don’t want you to talk shit about the places you work, because you’ve worked. Not to put a hit on it. Yeah, I know. 100%. But there’s, there’s things you’re trying to solve for is what I’m saying? Or else you wouldn’t be doing this?


Benny Pough  37:15

Absolutely. So what’s important for me, the 30 years of being in the business is you realize that there’s an unbalance of information that’s given, right, you see, people come in and on both sides, the executive and as well as the artisan, they make millions of dollars, and they can potentially, you know, a decade, two decades be flat broke, just because they’ve never prepared and they haven’t prepared is because no one has introduced them to different options on what they can do with their money, looking at their career, both in the now and in the future, and how you have to prepare yourself for that. So if you think about a child or a kid or a young adult, that now hit gets a hit record, and you get a half a million dollars, million dollars $2 million, well, you might never even had a checkbook. So what’s important for you, the day that you become successful is a team that you surround yourself with. And unfortunately, you may not have those resources or avenues or ideas, you only know what you know. So what my goal is, at this point is to provide as much information as possible. And that’s why I created the history of time Conference, which I’m, you know, my inaugural conference will hit and Martin Luther King, weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, the 12 through the 15th. So we’re going to give artists an opportunity to audition, which will give somebody $10,000 to bet on themselves, not some Hokey Pokey deal. Like because you know what, at the end of the day, someone may need money to pay their engineer, you know, they might need money to, you know, retain an attorney, they may need money to clean up their books. So giving you a deal doesn’t solve your problems, giving you an opportunity to bet on yourself in your art is more important. And then we’re going to have two days of panels, which will give that information on how you can provide and provide for yourself in your livelihood as an artist. So we’ll do estate, we have a plan panel on estate planning, we have a panel on you know how to get hot and invest in real estate, we’ll have you know, panels on Kryptos you know, the the one on ones of if you’re interested, how do you get involved in a whole host and array of other different things that are educational, whether you’re in music or not, that’s valuable for entrepreneurs, artists, tastemakers, influencers, etc.


Scott D Clary  39:53

Dude, I love that I hear this so much and it’s funny. Okay, so I’m going to explain I’ve spoken to Like all star athletes, I’ve spoken to financial advisors of all star athletes. And I’ve never spoken to somebody who’s worked directly with, like the level of caliber of talent that you’ve worked with, but it’s all the same shit. So these people get this massive check. And you just hope that they align with a good, well meaning business manager. But if they don’t, then they don’t know any better. And there’s taxes and fees and agency fees and insurances and all this stuff. And they have to rent out studio space, or in case of an athlete, they’re, you know, putting money towards their nutrition, or their gym, or their train or whatever. And there’s all these different like vultures that come after these people that come into money real quick. And I think that the issue is that it’s embarrassing to note to say that you fucked up, it’s so embarrassing to say you fucked up or that somebody was skipping out of your bank account or something like that, or somebody wasn’t managing the mitre attack, Steve Harvey said, you know, when his accountant died, there was like millions and unpaid taxes, and his accountant was writing these checks, but never cashing them in his own account or something like that. Like, it’s just wild. So this is what you’re doing, you create a whole conference around it? How do we how do we better serve people like now the onus has to be on the rock nations and the Epic Records and of the world, that when they’re onboarding talent, they’re like, they’re setting them up with the right people, or else, or else if you’re, if you’re not, if you’re just if you’re just a marketing house, and that’s, you’re just marketing, and you’re making money for somebody that may not be able to manage it, or know how to manage it or be aligned with the city manager or something like that. So how do we sort of do better, because this is a plaguing anybody who comes into money real quick.


Benny Pough  41:41

So, I mean, you’re a part of the process. And the solution, you know, I hope to be that as well as we have to push the information out is also incumbent on the individual to do the work, as we stated earlier in this interview, but you have to become a student of the game, like you can’t expect people to do for you more than you’re willing to do for yourself. And I think that just becomes very naive. If you’re going for, you know, heart surgery, you’re gonna have, you know, I would hope, a minimum of two different opinions. Depending on how bad it is, you know, you got time get three. But you know, just like, go sit with the first doctor and go, I cool and never asked him, How many heart surgeries have you done? On my first? Ah, nah, that’s not a good idea. You know what I’m gonna, I’m gonna give myself this whole week. I know, you said it’s seven days, I’m gonna give myself seven days, because I can’t really bank on you. And you have to look at it. You know, that’s an a light note. But seriously, you have to look at your career is serious as a heart attack. Right? Yeah, you got to prepare yourself, right? If your heart’s not in good condition, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best care treatment and person that can work with you because you can change it. Right? You can change your outcome, because now you already know the prognosis and the diagnosis. So therefore, it’s incumbent on you. So if you walk into a music business or any business, knowing what what what waits ahead, and you choose to go down that road, then whose fault is


Scott D Clary  43:27

everyone, I just want to take a second to thank the sponsor, today’s episode, babble. Now, Who here remembers those high school language classes that never really clicked doesn’t matter if you’re learning French or Spanish, whatever it is, I tried to learn French in high school. I can’t remember any of it. I’m sure a lot of people tried to learn French, Spanish, whatever it is. The point is Babel is solving for this. So it offers quick 15 minute lessons that fit perfectly into your busy life. And they focus on real world conversations about travel, relationships, and business. Listen, right now. I’m trying to relearn French. I’m trying to learn Spanish, but I just moved down to the US. And what really sets Bible apart is that their lessons are crafted by over 100 language experts, not just AI, and they’re teaching. Their method is scientifically proven to be effective. So you can choose from 14 languages Spanish, French, Italian, German, and a ton of others. Their speech recognition technology helps you get your pronunciation and accent just write and babble doesn’t just stop at lessons. You can access podcasts, games, video stories, even live classes, and they have a 20 day money back guarantee. So question to you. Are you ready to start your language journey with Babel? Right now? They’re setting up a special offer for all success story podcast listeners. When you buy a three month subscription. You get another three months free that six months for the price of three So what you’re gonna do, you’re gonna just head to And use promo code success story. That’s B, A, B, B, E Code success story, Happy Learning. Agree, we got to do we got to do a better. So people got to take their own, take their careers into their own hands. But also, I mean, like something like, it’s your time. And similar, that should has to be way more prevalent. Yeah, because, yeah, we’re in, you know, it’s funny, even before we’re talking you were, you’re saying like, Oh, there’s a lot of people that gate their content and gate their knowledge and charge these huge fees. And then somebody’s trying to learn, you know, somebody who’s sitting at home, who just has this manager saying, Hey, I’m gonna, you know, I’m gonna cut you in on this deal, I’m gonna write you this check if you and this is going to be your first, you know, it’s going to be your, whatever the proper terminology is, record, or fucking No, but it’s going to be the first thing you put out into the world, like, somebody doesn’t know. But they have to, they have to go and have to find that information, they have to understand that not everybody in the world of business is a good person. And you got to do your homework and do your research. And I think it’s stuff like this, like, it’s your time and more free information. It’s kind of like what I’m trying to do with this, literally, with this show. It’s not targeted towards one particular type of professional, but the point is, like, upskill yourself, like, there’s no, in my opinion, in 2022, and now almost 2023 We’re going to gonna make a sale, we’re not dating ourselves too much. It’s gonna be 2023 and a couple of days. But, bro, you gotta you gotta you got to do your research, and you got to do your homework, but there also has to be people that have done it before that are teaching you. And like that. Yeah. I love that dude. Okay, let’s, I want to, I want to now sort of pivot into the second half of your life, which is the post crash post 2014. Even on the book you wrote, you broke it down into six different pieces. So you did intuition, mastery, pivot authenticity, connections, and teamwork. What does that mean? Why that? Why are those the titles, what what is relevant for that is that your life journey, and all the different things you had to master? Walk me through that


Benny Pough  47:07

those are the pillars, those are the pillars that are living subscribed by, you know, when I looked at it, and the accident pulled it all together, like literally, literally and figuratively, and that while I say God put a book inside of me, the title of the book is on impact. And when I looked at my life, when I decided that I was going to move forward with this, thought about, okay, what is life? What is the value, then, for me? What are the most important things that I can look at, in a literal and symbolic way that says who I am, and pleaser the the acronym then became that in impact intuition, very intuitive, mastery. Obviously, that’s important. In order to advance and grow, pivot is needed. And under knowing when time to move is important, whether it’s business or professional, authenticity, who you see now is who you saw yesterday, and who you will see again, with modifications, right? connections have been a driving force in my life, and is equally teamwork, which is not just the job, but also family and people that you depend on to help you grow as an individual. That’s how it all came together.


Scott D Clary  48:30

I got it. Okay, that makes sense. Talk to me about betting on yourself. I love the concept of betting on yourself. I think more people should bet on themselves, but they’re scared shitless to do it. So how did you figure out you can bet on yourself?


Benny Pough  48:42

It’s, it’s, you know, it’s an overused term. But you know, for me, it’s, it’s driven me to getting to the next step of my life is realizing I can’t be held, I can’t be restricted, I can’t be scared, right? Ultimately, it’s you know, everyone is not at that comfort level, to understand how him how important it is for you to have that freedom. So what you have to do is take small steps to build your confidence so that you can realize that the value once you take that step in believing in oneself, believing in yourself, that everything else is okay. Everything else is okay. And because of that, I’ve made the preparation. And even in instances when I wasn’t prepared, realizing that I would be okay based on you know, the choices I had to make both in good and bad situation. So, and a lot of that is work. It’s no different than anything else. Like you can’t just wake up one day and say I want to bet on myself, but you’re not prepared yourself, right? It’s no different than this. You You probably had 1000s of interviews you you can just go you can just go right because you’re prepared. So now if someone offered you and said hey, listen, I want you to be seen Hey, you got like, maybe yes, go go. Because at the end of the day, Yo, man, you prepared yourself for it. And that’s what betting on yourself is, is was what’s akin to is, is preparing yourself for bigger and greater things that rests inside of you to move forward with.


Scott D Clary  50:22

When did you when did you first feel you could do that? That’s not something that comes out of the gate. Like when you’re maybe it is I don’t know, but it’s a learned experience


Benny Pough  50:31

that conversation with my dad, you know, showed me a lot because my father who is a strong man, no nonsense, and and when I was able to persuade him, right against what he wanted. I realized like, okay, there’s a talent there. Right there’s, I have confidence. And that’s what that moment that spark was that boost of confidence to realize, like, you know what, it’s okay. And don’t give up. Because, you know, the first time I asked wasn’t like, yes, it’s the silent. More, tell me more. Right. So I could have just like, Ah, forget it. But it was like, No, this is what I have passion for. And I realized at that point, selling was my thing. At that point. I realized, okay, if I could get my father to change his mind, then, yo, this is something I need to work continue to work on. And obviously, the paper the paper business, open up. Like, I was excited, man, like I was excited. sellin, I was exciting. Being like, Yo, you trying to beat me? You’re not gonna get over on me. Right? Like, yeah, I just, I just I love the hunt. Right? I just love the hunt.


Scott D Clary  51:49

Do you? Do you take that excitement? Like when you’re looking for the next thing? Because now you’re in now you’re in another phase of your life where you you wrote a book, you’re putting together a conference you’re putting together in the media company? Do you look for excitement and things that you do? Is that kind of like your north star for this is my purpose? This is what I should be working on right now.


Benny Pough  52:08

Yeah, I’m definitely a change agent. i For me, it’s it’s about growing companies growing individuals and obviously growing myself to get the best out of all of the above. And I realized that through my journey in in in corporate is that truly was my gift and superpower was enabling people to find, you know, that essence in them. And that comfort and that comfortability of like someone giving them a chance and surrounding them, and protecting them as they’re able to grow to be who they will become.


Scott D Clary  52:51

I was I was watching like shows before we jumped on just doing my research, as I always do. And there was actually one question that one, one host asked you, and I’ve never asked anybody this on the show before, but you had a beautiful answer. And it was about masculinity. And the reason why I think it’s a great question is because even when you know, you’ve referenced your dad a few times, you’ve referenced your family, you got excited when you found out that I’m trying to start a family and shit like, so I think that I want to hear your definition of what masculinity is and what being a father is, and, and this all ties back to balance and it all ties back to everything you’ve gone through in your life. So what does that mean to you, because I feel like it’s not really discussed enough for people that are fathers and, and trying to build a family and trying to support


Benny Pough  53:43

it’s, it’s really being able to embrace your vulnerabilities, right. Especially in the African American culture, it’s better than it was but you know, you could show no weakness. Like you grew up, you just had to be hard. Like, you know, everything was about defending yourself. Everything was about the fight, everything was about pushing you down, if necessary, or beat you down, to show everyone not to mess with me. It’s about toughness. As I grew older, I realized, you know, the value was actually hearing, you know, the sentiments and concerns about how people felt about me, meaning the people who are cared for, and you know, growing up in the household, like my father, who he was and how he was he was disciplined, you know, emotions. You didn’t even share what your children like. So, you know, we’re still at this point, like my father has never audibly said, I love you. Alright, he showed that he’s, you know, his love and care, but his generation could never say the words. So you go through life, knowing that there’s someone who love you, but that those three words Stevie Wonder Great, carry so much impact, and power. So like, even when I was in the hospital, which was insane, you know, and I never realized this, which was another eye opener, my parents, when they found out I was in the accident, my mother had Alzheimer’s. And they drove for 13 hours, the same 13 hours coming up. And I came out of a coma. And when I looked up, when they came, I saw the weight and the gravity on my father’s face. And when you realize, when you’re in a hospital bed, there’s no mirrors. So you have no idea, the condition that you’re in, like, no one’s like, Hey, look at you, you’re jacked up, you only take it by the actions. And what you see other people seeing looking at you, and when I saw my father’s face, and I saw the gravity, and the thought that he was looking at me, is though he could lose his only son. That’s when I realized that, you know what I was in a bad way. And I couldn’t take the energy. So I stopped everyone from visiting me. And I had to find deep inside of me to get better on my own, to get better on my own. So with that, you know, in the changes that I’ve made in life, you know, although I might not have heard my father’s say, I love you. I always tell people who I love, I love them. Male, female and difference. Right? So breaking the cycle is equally important. And also cherishing the people that you share, that they know exactly how you feel. That’s the wrong answer.


Scott D Clary  56:52

Do that was really no super powerful. And you know, it’s because it means a lot to you. I mean, I think that a lot of a lot of your journey has been self reflection and self awareness and who you are in this world for not just yourself, but the people closest to you. people close to you are usually your family and your friends and whatnot. And then you’re just Okay, those are the people that are closest to me, then what does it mean to be a father? And what does it mean to be a male figure in a household and whatnot, and it’s different for all I mean, you just mentioned it was prevalent in the African American community, I’m pretty sure if I go back to my grandpa, My great grandpa, they weren’t. They weren’t smiling and shit all the time either. Like, it’s there’s definitely cultural differences, for sure. But I mean, I think a lot of old people were hard as fuck, like,


Benny Pough  57:38

oh, I went through it, they went through it in empathy is definitely not on the menu.


Scott D Clary  57:45

Right? And that is not a good way to live. It’s not,


Benny Pough  57:48

but it’s up to us to break the cycle. Right? Yeah, it’s if you want change, then you have to change.


Scott D Clary  57:56

What’s the one thing that you would teach over out of out of the things that you’ve learned in your life and the things that you’ve written about and the things that you’ve experienced with? You know, your own upbringing? What’s the one thing that you’d want to teach over to your kids on what to do different or it doesn’t even have to be different? What’s the one thing you want to teach over to your kids?


Benny Pough  58:13

The value of faith, right? That is That is faith is so important, you know, believing in in the unseen and it’s, that’s what’s carried me you know, ultimately, you spend more time with yourself than you do with anyone else. So you have to believe in you and you have to, you know, you have I am connected, you know, to the creator and for those who aren’t or people who are still trying to find their way on believing in themselves or in a higher power, it changes you. When you have faith you you’re you you know you believe you can do anything and whatever the outcome is, it’s okay because you know, that’s my destiny whatever happens to me man I’m okay with it’s It’s okay. I’m comfortable. Because one thing I rest a rest assured with is that you know, my time is limited here. And, and that’s okay. But while I am here, I’m gonna I’m gonna do a bang up job. I’m gonna give it my best and my kids and friends and everyone who I know I would definitely say the same for you just give it your best.


Scott D Clary  59:25

I love that man. Okay, let’s close this out. I have one question ask everyone at the end but before I pivot floor is yours anything that we didn’t go into that you wanted to drop on the show for the listeners? And also all the socials? Where should they go connect with you? Where should they get the book? I’m assuming Amazon but any anywhere else you want to send people.


Benny Pough  59:46

I think what’s most important for for the audience, and anyone listening to this interview is realized that if I can do it, you can do it too. It only takes you know, just one spark inside of you to make a difference and make it change. So don’t give up on you. i You can find me at Benny pew on all my socials, and come see me at the conference. It’s your time And Charlotte, North Carolina January 12, through the 15th. And most importantly, thank you again, Scott for this amazing opportunity to share with your audience.


Scott D Clary  1:00:19

Dude, my pleasure, man. I’m really happy we did this. Okay, last question. I asked everyone before we cut this, what is six? You’ve had an incredible career, obviously, between what you’re working on with book conference companies you’re building on now previous life of all the executive roles, you’ve killed it. So after all this, after all this, what does success mean to you?


Benny Pough  1:00:43

You know, what success is, is really just being able to take a step outside each and every day, man and be thankful about the moment that I’m in, that my family is healthy. My friends are healthy, and most importantly, that you know what the God I serve is given me an opportunity to be a part of something that’s so precious and that’s like, that’s how I measure success.


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