On Point

The Importance of Empathy in Venture Capital with Brad Harrison ‘94, Founder and Managing Partner of Scout Ventures

Episode Summary

This episode of On Point features an interview with Brad Harrison, Founder and Managing Partner of Scout Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm making the world a better, safer place by investing in frontier and dual-use technologies built by veterans, intelligence leaders, and premier research labs.

Episode Notes

This episode of On Point features an interview with Brad Harrison, Founder and Managing Partner of Scout Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm making the world a better, safer place by investing in frontier and dual-use technologies built by veterans, intelligence leaders, and premier research labs.

Brad is an entrepreneur and seasoned business development executive with a passion for building companies that are pushing the envelope of technological innovation. He has successfully helped incubate several companies out of the Scout office and has deep experience developing concepts to include co-authoring 3 patents in search, geo-tagging, and personalization. Brad was a distinguished honor graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1994 and served as an Airborne Ranger in the United States Army for five years before retiring as a Captain. He also graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management where he studied New Product and Venture Development.

In this episode of On Point, Brad discusses his experience in the military as a leader and why he always put the lives of his soldiers first. He explains how the skills and experiences he had at West Point and in the Army helped prepare him to be an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and mentor. Brad talks about his mission of making the world a better, safer place by guiding and investing in people to help build their business dreams and gain personal successes.


“The advice that I give to people that come out of the academy and out of the military is you need to understand how special you are. You're different than everybody else out there. Right? If you were in combat, you had to make decisions, split-second decisions in an everly changing environment where it was life or death, right. You've got the capacity to think and process information in a way that your peers just don't have.” - Brad Harrison


Episode Timestamps

(02:24) Segment: AAR

(03:37) Brad’s West Point experience

(05:37) Impactful classes at West Point

(07:07) How Brad spent his summers

(07:52) Brad’s experience in the Army

(13:00) Mentorship in the Army

(15:59) Segment: SitRep

(30:27) Brad on founder empathy

(34:33) Sports aligning with VC

(36:35) Funding at Scout Ventures

(43:21) Academy Investor Network and the West Point AOG Entrepreneurs Summit

(45:21) Segment: SOP

(48:39) Brad’s daily routine

(52:15) How to cultivate relationships

(57:11) About the Academy Investor Network

(61:14) Segment: Giving Back



Brad Harrison’s LinkedIn

Brad Harrison’s Twitter

Tim Hsia’s LinkedIn

Lance Dietz’s LinkedIn

West Point Association of Graduates

On Point Podcast


Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] Narrator: Hello and welcome to On Point.

This episode features an interview with Brad Harrison, Founder and Managing Partner of Scout Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm making the world a better, safer place by investing in frontier and dual-use technologies built by veterans, intelligence leaders, and premier research labs.

Brad is an entrepreneur and seasoned business development executive with a passion for building companies that are pushing the envelope of technological innovation. He has successfully helped incubate several companies out of the Scout office and has deep experience developing concepts to include co-authoring 3 patents in search, geo-tagging, and personalization. Brad was a distinguished honor graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1994 and served as an Airborne Ranger in the United States Army for five years before retiring as a Captain. He also graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management where he studied New Product and Venture Development.

In this episode of On Point, Brad discusses his experience in the military as a leader and why he always put the lives of his soldiers first. He explains how the skills and experiences he had at West Point and in the Army helped prepare him to be an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and mentor. Brad talks about his mission of making the world a better, safer place by guiding and investing in people to help build their business dreams and gain personal successes.

Now, please enjoy this interview between Brad Harrison, and your hosts, Tim Hsia and Lance Dietz.

[00:01:47] Tim Hsia: Welcome to on point founded by Eddie Kang West Point class of 2008. I'm Tim Hsia, West Point class of 2004. 

[00:01:54] Lance Dietz: And, I’m Lance Dietz class of 2008. 

[00:01:56] Tim Hsia: And today we're joined by Brad Harrison class of 1994. [00:02:00] Brad, how are you? 

[00:02:01] Brad Harrison: We an older around you guys. but I'm doing great. How's everybody doing today? 

[00:02:06] Tim Hsia: I'm doing great, Lance.

[00:02:08] Tim Hsia: Great as well. Awesome. We're really looking forward to this. Let's get into our first segment AR or for our non-military listeners after action review. In this segment we'd like to touch on specifically what other veterans can learn from you, your process and your journey first and foremost. Could you please tell us about your decision to attend west?

[00:02:25] Brad Harrison: Yeah, I thought I was gonna go play football at Princeton or do something like that. But actually I grew up going to west point as a kid. My mentor is a guy named Dick Parsons who was, uh, chairman of AOL time Warner and city group. And when I was a kid, Dick used to take, uh, my best friend, Greg and I up there.

[00:02:45] Brad Harrison: And so I always remembered the mystique of the cadets marching onto the plane and marching onto the field. And I was somewhere in high school and I had this epiphany that I didn't want to do [00:03:00] what everybody else was doing. And so I, uh, got online, which back then was via dialup. And I figured out how to do a, a weekend visit.

[00:03:09] Brad Harrison: And I went up and I spent the weekend and that was it. I was hooked. And so I applied to early admissions and was, uh, one of the first 25 and the class in 94 accepted. And that was it. That was the beginning of the story. 

[00:03:24] Tim Hsia: And what was your west point experience like? 

[00:03:26] Brad Harrison: Well, as grads, you know what they say, you know, you hate every day that you're at west point and then every day that you're gone, you miss and cherish those days.

[00:03:36] Brad Harrison: I actually loved west point. I did well physically militarily and academically, especially coming from New York. I came from Westchester, so the schools were great. I had taken all AP classes. So my first year academically I did very well. I physically did well. And then one of the most influential decisions in my career [00:04:00] was rather than try to make lightweight football or walk on the football team.

[00:04:06] Brad Harrison: When I went to tryouts, um, a first Dean named Anthony de Toto said, Hey, new cadet, come over here. Have you ever played rugby? And I said no. And so I tried out for the rugby team and I was one of two people from the class in 94 to make the core squad team. And so rugby was a really big part of my cadet experience.

[00:04:29] Brad Harrison: And so we got to travel and we went to the UK and Australia. So it, it was really an amazing experience. You know, I liked the jobs I had. I was a first Sergeant. I was a battalion commander. So for me, I really enjoyed west point. 

[00:04:46] Tim Hsia: And in terms of cadet, a lot of walking hours or not a lot of walking hours.

[00:04:50] Brad Harrison: So I will tell you, I am the luckiest cadet in the world. I never walked an hour. Not because I didn't get in trouble, but I [00:05:00] always got in trouble right before some dignitary showed up and granted amnesty. And then one time I got in trouble and my company T or actually the, the battalion tack thought it was a really bad look.

[00:05:13] Brad Harrison: For his first Sergeant to get in trouble for something stupid. So I think those hours disappeared. So I never walked an hour. 

[00:05:21] Tim Hsia: Any particular classes that were super 

[00:05:23] Brad Harrison: impactful. Yes. I was in a core advanced, theoretical economics track under a guy named Colonel Tom Dala and econometrics. And those classes Doah was such a genius that he would get up on the board and he would draw simultaneous equations in either hand at the same time.

[00:05:49] Brad Harrison: And we would have to split up who took notes on what board and then meet after class to put 'em all together. Although I will tell you, my classmate, Ted Williams was the best note [00:06:00] taker in that class, but really just an amazing, really smart group of, uh, cadets at the time that all have all gone on to do great things.

[00:06:12] Brad Harrison: Todd Morgan fell the Aaron Hood, Ted Williams. I think Dave art Dayo was in that group. Yeah. So was very fortunate to be part of that. econ track. 

[00:06:25] Tim Hsia: Interesting. So your class seems almost as good as, um, my class of 2004 and lances of class of 2008. That sounds about right. 

[00:06:33] Brad Harrison: If either you guys were infantryman, you know, I was the last four phase ranger school.

[00:06:39] Brad Harrison: Four guys died in my class, you know, the old core. Well, it was, it was a little bit tougher back then, but now I'm sure it was the same. I'm curious, 

[00:06:47] Lance Dietz: Brad, what did you do during your summers? 

[00:06:50] Brad Harrison: You know, went to Buckner like everybody and actually won the superintendents award. So finished first at Buckner, which is a trophy that's still in my [00:07:00] parents' basement.

[00:07:01] Brad Harrison: I was pretty proud of that achievement. My next year. I wound up going to Panama for half the summer and working at the world bank for the former epic economic advisor to the former Soviet republics, who was a class of 61 grad. So I actually gave up my summer leave so that I could go to Panama and do the world bank, which was a awesome experience.

[00:07:32] Tim Hsia: And then you talked about branching infantry. Could you talk about your experience, uh, in the army 

[00:07:37] Brad Harrison: for as long as I can remember, you know, I grew up and my grandfather lived with us and he had been in the Navy around world war II. And so we grew up watching John Wayne and the bridge over the river choir and all of these old classic movies.

[00:07:55] Brad Harrison: And over the years, I. Kind of wanted to be SF for Delta. So [00:08:00] the path to be SF for Delta was go infantry. And, you know, I guess I'm also the product of John Rambo and watching the Rambo series. I don't think there was any question. I only wanted to go light infantry. I was fifth in my branch. I contemplated going to Viza, but my year they couldn't guarantee the slots to Viza, which meant if you didn't get Viza, you would've gone me Germany.

[00:08:27] Brad Harrison: And there was no way I wanted to take that chance. So I wound up going to the 25th and was a light infantry officer there and had really, uh, an amazing experience. I mentioned I was in ranger class 3 95, where four students died. Two of 'em Kurt, sand SU and Spencer Dodge were my classmates who were both in my beast company.

[00:08:50] Brad Harrison: So I knew those guys really well. And then Sergeant Tillman and captain Palmer were the other two fatalities. So, you know, I'm [00:09:00] sure you guys remember during military winter session, there's this assignment where they say, Hey, cadet, you did something stupid. As a Lieutenant and two soldiers died, write a letter to their families.

[00:09:12] Brad Harrison: And I remember that the right before we graduated that whatever it was, January or February intercession, and I couldn't get past, I regret to inform you. And I really thought to myself, like I never want to be in a position where I do something and I have to like write a letter to somebody's parents that they've died for me having those fatalities in ranger school.

[00:09:41] Brad Harrison: And then showing up as my. Unit as a brand new platoon leader and everybody in the army knew what had just happened. So it was this really like eye opening experience. Like, Hey, we're going in a profession where. If you do something wrong, [00:10:00] people are gonna die. And so I carried that with me through my military career and really kept it close to my heart, you know, Spence and hurt.

[00:10:11] Brad Harrison: So I made a lot of decisions as a army officer where I always put the life of my soldiers first. And I remember we were getting ready to deploy to Haiti. And I don't know if you guys remember when Haiti went off in, I don't know, 96 or whatever it was. And I remember sitting in the gymnasium and we had the rules of engagement, where they were hanging in.

[00:10:35] Brad Harrison: We had a brief, our soldiers and one of my soldiers was like, sir, I don't understand if they come out and they have a gun, but what do I do? And I remember saying to the soldier, if you don't know what to do, engage the enemy, cuz I would much rather bring all of you home alive. Then have to bring you home in a body bag because you didn't understand the difference between what to [00:11:00] do on the yellow card and the red card.

[00:11:02] Brad Harrison: And, you know, I remember my Plato Sergeant slapping me. He's like, sir, you can't say that. And I was like, Hey man, like it's our job to bring these guys home. And if these guys don't understand the rules of engagement, we gotta get 'em to understand them. But more importantly, we gotta make sure they all come home.

[00:11:20] Brad Harrison: And so that stuck with me during my military career. 

[00:11:24] Tim Hsia: So you went to the 25th, Hawaii, Haiti, any other, I actually 

[00:11:29] Brad Harrison: didn't. I actually went up not getting sent to Haiti. They sent the other battalion and we sat in a gymnasium in a tarmac for, I don't know, 24 hours. And then we came off alert. So I got to do a couple of pretty cool things.

[00:11:45] Brad Harrison: Went to Thailand to do joint training exercise. There went to Australia, did a joint training exercise in the Outback, went to Japan, ran a joint draining exercise. And then I ran a real world [00:12:00] mission on wake island, where I ran a, a detention center for 109 Chinese immigrants that had been intercepted in international waters off the coast of Florida.

[00:12:11] Brad Harrison: Nine of them were members of the Chinese triad. And so it was our job to set up a, a detention center and like process them. So we're on wake island for 49 days. Then I had a detachment of 569 soldiers. So I had an MPS, I had dentist doctors, special forces. It was pretty good. 

[00:12:36] Tim Hsia: You mentioned a few individuals and rather larger than life individuals, Dick Parson.

[00:12:41] Tim Hsia: Tototo, I've heard a lot about him. And, um, I'm curious, did you have any mentors or friends in the army that really helped you? 

[00:12:49] Brad Harrison: My CEO, Brian Pearl, who was my second company commander. Kind of always looked [00:13:00] out for me. And so actually I thought I was gonna go to a ranger bat. So I was interviewing with EXOS for two of the ranger bats and was down to the, the final selection.

[00:13:12] Brad Harrison: And then I got sent to wake island and we were on COMSEC. So I came back from wake island and I called the XOs and I was like, Hey, sir, I'm ready to go. And they're like, Lieutenant, those slots are gone. And I was like, devastated, totally heartbroken. So I decided that I was gonna get out of the army, cuz I didn't want to go spend eight years of staff time rather than get out early.

[00:13:37] Brad Harrison: I wanted to finish my full commit. And, uh, Brian Burlow had also been a, a great CEO of mine was actually the General's aid, the, the commanding General's aid. And he said, why don't you come up to division? I think I got the perfect job for you. And he said, do you know what the G five does? And I was like, sir, I have no idea what the G five does.

[00:13:58] Brad Harrison: And he says, well, the G [00:14:00] five is in charge of military civil affairs. And there's this amazing guy named major ed Olivas, who is the G five. And he needs a deputy. So I went to my interview with, uh, major Olivas and he pulled up in like a 65 cherry red Mustang convertible. And he got out and he had long wavy hair.

[00:14:22] Brad Harrison: And back then only SF guys wore Berets. So he put on his beret and I was like, I don't even need to hear the guy talk. I'm working for that guy. And then actually three months into my role, he got called back to brag and I wound up becoming a primary staff officer as an oh two promotable, which was an amazing experience.

[00:14:45] Brad Harrison: And I feel very blessed that I had the army career that I did. I think when I got out, you do feel like you kind of missed Iraq and Afghanistan. And so you feel [00:15:00] like there's a gap in your service now I didn't control that, but you know, I have a lot of friends that spent. 5 6, 7 years overseas and made that sacrifice, you know, not only putting their life on the line, but with their families.

[00:15:16] Brad Harrison: And so, you know, part of me feels like I should have been there. And then I have a couple of classmates and rugby players that didn't make it home from there. And I feel super blessed that I didn't have to deal with a lot of those PTSD and other downsides of being deployed. So I had a very blessed west point and military career, and I'm very thankful every day for it.

[00:15:43] Lance Dietz: Brad, this seems like a great time to transition to our next segment, which is the sit rep or the situation report where we dive into what you're doing now and how you're transforming industry would love to hear about your time since the military, to where you're at now with scout ventures. And maybe we can dive into scout specifically after that.

[00:15:59] Brad Harrison: When I was [00:16:00] getting out, I thought I was gonna go be a technology investment banker. And then I quickly learned that the real world does not care about any of your experience in the army. So they wanted to make me the same as a first year kid out of undergrad. And that just wasn't gonna work for me. So I decided actually with the help of Tom Dala, one of my, uh, mentors at school, Tom said, I know a guy at MIT Sloan, you should talk to him.

[00:16:27] Brad Harrison: And by the way, this is like the first week in August grad school starts in three weeks. So I called this guy on a Friday and his name is rod Garcia. And rod, it turns out is the head of admissions at MIT Sloan. And so I tell rod my Army's story and kind of that I wanna start companies and I wanna be in venture.

[00:16:47] Brad Harrison: And rod goes, this is super interesting, but just so you know, we're not accepting applications anymore, but here's what you can do. Download the application off of the web. Spend all weekend, do all the [00:17:00] essays, fill out all the application and fax me your application Monday morning. So I went to my parents' house in west Chester.

[00:17:07] Brad Harrison: I was living with two classmates, Ted Williams and rich swift on the east side. They were both in investment banking and finance. I went to my parents' house. I locked myself in my childhood room. I wrote essays all weekend and nine o'clock Monday morning, we faxed the application to MIT and like a good army officer.

[00:17:29] Brad Harrison: I called a 9 45 to confirm receipt. And they said, yep, we got your receipt. We really have no idea what we're gonna do. There's no slots. We'll like, you know, I went back to my computer in about 15 minutes later in my AOL account, there was like a link. To put a deposit down for MIT Sloan. And I was like, what's going on?

[00:17:53] Brad Harrison: I called MIT back and I could hear they were having an admissions thing. And they were like, [00:18:00] everybody heard your story and they wanna give you a chance. So welcomed MIT a week later, I was in Boston and I was, uh, at MIT. I was very fortunate. I got to study exactly what I do today, which is new product and venture development.

[00:18:17] Brad Harrison: I was there 99 to oh one. So right in the middle of the first.com explosion. And so because of that, a lot of second year grad students were dropping out to pursue dot coms. So I had an opportunity as a first year to be teaching assistant for a class called new enterprises, which at MIT used to be 15, 3 90.

[00:18:40] Brad Harrison: I think it's still 15, 3 90. And it was taught by a guy named Howard Anderson, who was the founder of the Yankee group and a guy named Todd DRIs, who was a partner at battery ventures, which Howard had helped start. And Todd actually did the Akamai deal while I was his TA, which is one of the fastest, most successful venture [00:19:00] investments ever.

[00:19:01] Brad Harrison: So I got to basically be at ground zero of some amazing stuff. And then I mentioned earlier in the podcast that Dick Parson's son, Greg Parsons was my best friend, Greg actually wound. Going to Princeton. I wound up going to west point and I went to visit him freshman year. And his roommate was a guy named Steve Papa.

[00:19:22] Brad Harrison: And in 99, Greg called me and he said, Hey, you should call Steve Papa. He's at Harvard business school. And he started a tech company. So I actually started interning for Papa while I was still at school. Papa started a company that he wound up selling to Oracle for 1.03, 7 billion called in Decca technologies, which was one of the first dynamic search engines that was focused on, you know, a attribute based filtering and taxonomy.

[00:19:54] Brad Harrison: And I literally carried the computers from Steve's first apartment into the first [00:20:00] office. And the two things I remember most about that experience is number one, the original name of the company was not in DECA. It was called a Opti grab. So I was part of the original Opti grab company. Opti grab is the device that Steve Martin invents in the movie, the jerk, you guys are probably too young to remember that.

[00:20:20] Brad Harrison: But when we actually raised money from Feld de Harmon, they made us change the name of the company. And we came up with in DECA. And the second thing is that my call sign in the army, the longest of any of the call signs that I had was war pig six. And Steve Papa. Told everybody that they were not allowed to call me anything, but war pig six.

[00:20:46] Brad Harrison: So Steve is now worth a couple of billion dollars has started all these amazing companies. And I guarantee you, if I called Steve pop on that cell phone right now, he would go war pig, six, what's going on. So it was really, uh, an [00:21:00] amazing way to be an entrepreneur, understand venture, sit in funding meetings, and really let guys like Steve Papa be part of my education in what a great entrepreneur is.

[00:21:13] Brad Harrison: I then graduated during a nuclear winter, tried to launch a fund called Patriot venture cap. Originally it was called gladiator group. Then we were called Patriot ventures. With an 83, a Naval academy grad, and we couldn't raise money. And then I wound up deciding to go to AOL in DC so that I could get some corporate experience.

[00:21:36] Brad Harrison: So I was fortunate enough to be there when Steve case and Bob Pitman and Ted Leonsis were still in charge. Got to write a couple of patents, got to work for Ted and as a, be a fly on the wall in the board room. And it was a really amazing experience. Then I fell in love. My wife was in New York. I was in DC, so I [00:22:00] transferred to New York.

[00:22:01] Brad Harrison: And then I went to startup, grew that to about a hundred million in revenue thought we were gonna go public, got hit with web one. Oh, privacy concerns. We wound up not going public. And then in 2005, I went out on my own and really just followed my passion, which was to. People start companies. I was kind of like a paid consultant.

[00:22:24] Brad Harrison: I worked at a handful of clients. One of them was a company called problematic, an amazing, um, entrepreneur named Amar Goyle who took that company public two years ago, which was amazing because I had shares from 2005 that I spent the $5 to buy the options. And then here we were, I don't know, 12 years later and the company went public and I like, they were worth a lot of money.

[00:22:49] Brad Harrison: It was great. So I became really a Conig for early stage venture before the New York tech scene and really become what it is now. [00:23:00] And then I went through the nuclear winter, which was the end of oh seven in the financial crisis of oh eight coming in oh nine. And then finally I got really good advice from Dick Parsons and Todd DRIs and a handful of the, my mentors who said, you know what, Brad.

[00:23:18] Brad Harrison: You wanna be an investor? Go be an investor, stop playing consultant, figure out where to get the money from, but just start investing. So I took that advice and in December of oh nine, I convinced my dad to gimme a little bit of money. And I convinced a class of 95 guy named, uh, clay dinto to gimme a little bit of money.

[00:23:40] Brad Harrison: Actually clay refused to gimme the money. What clay said that he would do is he would write two $50,000 checks. He would wire 'em directly into the companies. And then when I created a fund, he would roll 'em over into LP interests. And that's exactly what clay did. Um, and so with this supportive family and [00:24:00] friends fund, one was born in 2011.

[00:24:03] Brad Harrison: We raised about four and a half million to do a proof of concept. We had a couple of interesting companies where I had been the first or one of the first checks. And we convinced everybody to give us money for a follow on fund. And then 18 months into it. We sold a company that I had ridden the first check, a company outta New York called the Olapic.

[00:24:24] Brad Harrison: We sold for about 149 million of which 130 million was upfront cash. And so we sent everybody back money and all of a sudden we had like a business. And then what I realized, and a lot of this ties in with west point, there was no way I was gonna do what I was doing without getting organized. Building processes, having institutional kind of diligence and all of that.

[00:24:53] Brad Harrison: And if you had come to my very first office, which was so long ago that we worked didn't exist, it was at a [00:25:00] Regis. And I remember I painted the wall with idea paint, which is at paint. You can, you know, use dry erase on. And the guy that was running the Regis had never heard of idea paint. And I was like, all right, don't worry.

[00:25:12] Brad Harrison: I'll take care of it. So I remember in my office, if you came to my office behind my desk, I had 24 notebooks that were due diligence notebooks on every single deal, because just like being an XO in the army, or just like being an S four or just like being a G five, you have SOPs and you have procedures and everything is uniform.

[00:25:36] Brad Harrison: So I couldn't afford a lawyer. I had done all this contract work as a biz dev guy and at AOL. So I was doing my own reviews, you know, doing my own due diligence and I was printing it all out and putting it in a notebook. So if any investor wanted to like see whether or not we were like really doing due diligence, I just hand them the notebook.

[00:25:57] Brad Harrison: And you know, it's funny because in some of the [00:26:00] entrepreneurial interviews we did, one of the first investments we did, which is now called league apps. But at the time was called sports fight. Brian lit Vic, the founder talks about coming into my office and actually being scared of me because I was so organized.

[00:26:16] Brad Harrison: I actually wired him money before we even had an agreement, you know, they needed to make payroll. And I was like, okay, we'll work out the paperwork. And so in my career, While I've been varied by the book and built a lot of institutional things. I would say a lot of what I've done, which has earned the respect of the entrepreneurs is that I really view myself as an entrepreneur.

[00:26:42] Brad Harrison: I don't come from money. I didn't find a big family office to stake me. I would make $2,500 to pay my rent and I'd make $2,500 to cover my living expenses or my wife was working. And then I would take every free dollar I had [00:27:00] have, and I'd put it into entrepreneurs. And so when an entrepreneur was having an issue making payroll and they would be like, Brad, We don't have time to do a financing event.

[00:27:11] Brad Harrison: I'd be like, okay, how much is payroll? And then I would make payroll for three months. And so I think having that entrepreneurial experience, building my own firm and sharing that and doing things that may not be totally by the book. It's funny because at west point we're like totally by the book. But when I was G five, I got to go to the special forces warfare school for civil affairs and SYOP.

[00:27:38] Brad Harrison: And if you hang out with SF guys long enough, or actually any special operators, you'll understand that there's like by the book. And then there's all the other things that you have to do to get the mission done. And I have always viewed myself as like, I have a moral compass. I know the difference between right and wrong integrity is [00:28:00] always at the top of the list.

[00:28:02] Brad Harrison: If they don't have their paperwork, but they need the money to make payroll. I'm gonna wire 'em the. And those were the things that I could do as an emerging VC that I think taught me a lot. Some of those deals didn't work out. Vic sing, who is this? You know, has this successful firm called the Enoch with the four guys?

[00:28:23] Brad Harrison: So it's Vic Hadley, Tim and Neha, who all went to up Penn together. Vic was an entre. Well, a lot of them were entrepreneurs, but Vic had a company and he was in the middle of selling the company to AOL and they couldn't get past this digital rights management issue. And Vic was like the deals not gonna close.

[00:28:45] Brad Harrison: I can't make payroll. And I was like, no problem. I gotcha. So for the next three months, I wired him 50 grand every month to cover payroll. And then we sold the company to AOL. And not only [00:29:00] did I enable that. And make two X on my short term money, which was great, Vic and I have this like amazing bond now and we're on a board together.

[00:29:10] Brad Harrison: And, you know, so I think that being a human combined with being an entrepreneur can combined with being a leader at west point and in the army really gives you the ability to be so much more dynamic as an investor and think outside of the box. And for me, it's some of what I'm most proud of. And it's also some of what I think differentiates me in the world of, you know, some people don't consider VCs in the highest regard, especially if you're, you know, watching we crash or super pump these days.

[00:29:51] Brad Harrison: So it, it really, I think has been good for me. 

[00:29:55] Tim Hsia: I wanna riff on two things. One is a comment. And a second is a question. The first is love the ENaC [00:30:00] folks. The world is really small, Tim young funded, the first company that I personally invested in workflow. And then I found out he was my neighbor, and now he's actually an advisor.

[00:30:09] Tim Hsia: So quick plug on the ENaC folks. Fantastic people. Fantastic guys, for sure. Second is you have founder empathy and, uh, speaking of founders in AOL, in your background, did you ever run into another AOL west pointer? Jim Kinsey? The co-founder of AOL. 

[00:30:27] Brad Harrison: Yeah. So by the time I got there, I don't know Kinsey was worth so many billions of dollars.

[00:30:33] Brad Harrison: I think maybe he came and spoke once, but I was like so low level. So I was never fortunate enough. Now I did get to spend a lot of time with Ted Leonsis and another guy named Barry Appleman, who most people will say invented the buddy. And actually Barry, a huge shout out to Barry Appleman. The first five [00:31:00] years, our LP parties were hosted at Barry apple.

[00:31:03] Brad Harrison: Man's amazing rooftop penthouse in Tribeca. So I always appreciated Barry being very supportive and Barry was one of the smartest guys that I've ever met, just a total genius, but I, Ted was very aware of my relationship with Dick Parsons and always spent that extra five minutes giving me a little bit of advice or pulling me to the side or talking to me.

[00:31:31] Brad Harrison: And as a young executive and a company with a gazillion executives, those five minute sidebar conversations are really impactful. And so I try to remember that in the way that I interact with my entrepreneurs. If you write somebody a million dollar check. All of a sudden that changes the dynamic. You're not the buddy anymore.

[00:31:55] Brad Harrison: Right now. You're the lead investor, but just because you're the lead [00:32:00] investor doesn't mean you can't display founder, empathy, humanity, and actually take the time. To have a genuine connection. And ironically, what I'm gonna say next is Tim was in town and I, I hosted a 50th birthday party and we had some calm challenges.

[00:32:21] Brad Harrison: So Tim wasn't here, but one of my entrepreneurs, who's a PhD named hunter McDaniel who started a company outta Los Alamos. Hunter found out that what I wanted for my 50th birthday was I wanted everybody to bring me a vinyl. I didn't want any booze. I didn't want any gifts. I wanted everybody to bring me a vinyl.

[00:32:42] Brad Harrison: That meant something to them. And hunter showed up at my house. I had never met him in person because of COVID right. I had been on 15 board calls with him. I never met him, but he showed up and he was holding these three albums, you know, super close to his heart. He was so [00:33:00] excited to like share. And that type of connection is the type of connection you want with your entrepreneurs.

[00:33:09] Brad Harrison: right where there's these things that are totally unrelated to the business, but allow you to realize that like at the end of the day, you're just two people trying to build something. And I think it's really important, especially as VCs, that we don't lose sight of that. And I think a lot of my experience in the army was related to that, which is just like, you know, I, I remember hearing, listen, soldiers are gonna respect your rank, but you want soldiers to respect the leader.

[00:33:48] Brad Harrison: That's wearing the rank, the person that's wearing the rank. They're not gonna go above and beyond because you're a Lieutenant they're gonna go above and beyond because of how you [00:34:00] treat them and mutual respect. And the fact that you are the last one to leave the barracks when they're cleaning their weapons.

[00:34:08] Brad Harrison: And so I think you apply the same types of things to the way you deal with your entrepreneurs and the way you build companies. And I think that's something that I try to do as we build companies at scout. 

[00:34:21] Lance Dietz: Brad, I, I, I think one thing, just an observation too, you know, you played sports pretty competitively as well.

[00:34:27] Lance Dietz: And I think a lot of the stuff that you mentioned, team network, having a plan, but having to step outside of that win need, it probably relates a lot to sports too. So I would imagine the background in sports plus the military aligns well with venture 

[00:34:40] Brad Harrison: too, especially rugby. Right because rugby is like organized chaos.

[00:34:48] Brad Harrison: Yeah. Right. You have a plan, but like that guy gets tackled and he goes to the ground and then like a huge bunch of people and you gotta reorganize and I was a fly half. So you gotta [00:35:00] decide or you're gonna go, right. Or you're gonna go left or you're gonna kick it or you're gonna throw it. You're gonna do loop one or loop two.

[00:35:06] Brad Harrison: So for me, it wasn't just sports. It was specifically rugby. And Anthony de Toto, you asked about my mentors, but most people don't know about de Toto. And I is that because I was the, the plea that sat on the core squad tables and tototo was a Firstie. I was essentially his Aaron boy. I had to run up to H lot to get the truck.

[00:35:34] Brad Harrison: I had to take the dirty uniforms. So I think being around tototo and Garth Arnell and bill Marshall and Eric and all of these guys that were unbelievable athletes, I was a good athlete, but these guys were unbelievable athletes. I think being part of a team like that. And I think the four years I played rugby at west point, [00:36:00] we were in the top 10 in the country all four years.

[00:36:03] Brad Harrison: But your point, Lance, I think, is really spot on, which is the same type of teamwork that comes out of organized team sports. It goes into building small elite teams, whether you're at a startup or if you are building a small tactical, you know, team Brad, I'd 

[00:36:24] Lance Dietz: love to spend some time on scout ventures late last year announced, uh, third fund, 55 million, I believe.

[00:36:31] Lance Dietz: Can you give us a quick overview of what you guys are focusing on the team, et cetera? 

[00:36:36] Brad Harrison: Yeah. So I mentioned a little bit earlier that somewhere in between fund one, one a and two, I realized I needed to like be a real institutional like level firm. Unfortunately, I believe that long before the institutions believe that, so the money didn't show up right away, but you know, I actually at scout, we have an [00:37:00] so P.

[00:37:01] Brad Harrison: You know, and people like they, they laugh about it. There's an SOP. It tells you how to do everything. It's a hundred pages or whatever it is, but first let's get back to the main scene. So at scout we focus on is investing in what we call hard taxes, founders, which are founders that are veterans of the military, the intelligence community, and national labs that are focused on cultivating and developing frontier technologies, which broadly defined as artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, robotic drones, physical security, cyber security, quantum, and space.

[00:37:41] Brad Harrison: And, you know, in there, we're also looking at energy and material science and some other stuff, but in general, that's what we're focused on. And what we did a couple of years ago was we added the mission statement of making the world a better, safer place. So we don't do munitions. We're not working on the next [00:38:00] Raygun or ballistic missile.

[00:38:02] Brad Harrison: We don't do any of that. We are working on artificial intelligence, around wave form communication that is used to have backpack radios that have encrypted communications and can prevent being intercepted. And if they are trying to get intercepted, they can jam. But that same technology can also be used for 5g and six G commercial wireless.

[00:38:29] Brad Harrison: And, you know, it's used in electronic warfare on the F 22 in the F 35 and nuclear subs. And that company actually came outta the NSA. So that technology was developed by a PhD that had spent 10 years at the NSA, whose mission is really to listen and, and collect. But, you know, those are the types of things that we get access to.

[00:38:56] Brad Harrison: You know, I have an amazing team. I'll start with the other west pointer [00:39:00] since this is a west point podcast, but I have an amazing grad named Sam Ellis. Who I, I see Tim nodding, Sam's an absolute rockstar and Sam's class of 2012. And he's a partner who runs our New York office. I have a, um, 2003 Naval academy grad named west Blackwell who runs our DC presence.

[00:39:23] Brad Harrison: And then I have a 2016 Naval academy grad named Steven Deb Bartholome who's in Austin with me, Steven and Sambo spent time at the NSA. So I I'd say. They're fairly smart guys. And then I have an amazing bullpen of venture partners. Ryan McCarthy, the former secretary of the army is a venture partner.

[00:39:46] Brad Harrison: Emily McMan, who is a west pointer is a venture partner, Sherman Williams. Who's a Naval academy. Grad is a venture partner. And for anybody that doesn't know, Wes and I stood up an organization called the [00:40:00] academy investor network. We put up our own money to get the business off the ground. And then we recruited Emily and Sherman to be the managing partners and scaled that business.

[00:40:11] Brad Harrison: And part of the reason we did that is that over my last. 23 years of early stage investing. One of the things that I prided myself on was returning every phone call and responding to every email. And as you scale, that becomes impossible. I think I get a thousand emails a day. It's insane, but what we wanted to make sure is that we had a platform for grads.

[00:40:38] Brad Harrison: And veterans to include underrepresented founders, women, people of color. We wanted to have a platform where we could at least connect them in and they could get advice, maybe funding introductions. And so academy investor network was really our idea that [00:41:00] there is no affinity group across the service academies.

[00:41:04] Brad Harrison: So why don't we build one and why don't we create a platform to support entrepreneurship and create funding and mentorship and advisory. And we're hoping at some point that what we're able to do is reach out to grads like Joe dip Pinto that runs seven 11 and Anthony Nodo, who runs SoFi and Steve cannon, who is at Mercedes and go out to this network of grads and say, Hey, can you be the senior advisor?

[00:41:38] Brad Harrison: Related to retail and help build out what that network looks like. I loved Joe dinto. He's an amazing guy. He was very good friends with Anthony tototo, but he doesn't have time as the head of seven 11 to get on the phone with everybody, but he could help as a grad shape, [00:42:00] what we build as an advisory network to address retail or CPG or whatever.

[00:42:07] Brad Harrison: So now maybe it's not Joe, that's the guy you talk to, but maybe it's a network of 10 grads across five different academies that Joe helped curate that then become a source of information and mentorship. So if Kim has an entrepreneur come with him, that has a technology for the retail industry. There's a, an advisory network within our community of grads that could potentially provide advice.

[00:42:41] Brad Harrison: So that's the vision 

[00:42:43] Tim Hsia: I wanna riff on that on three quick notes. First is the spirit of graduates helping graduates. Brad, you helped me when I was starting off that phone call, very helpful candid advice. And that five minute aside can change how you think about things drastically. So first thank you.

[00:42:58] Tim Hsia: Second is I'm [00:43:00] glad you, um, mentioned the Naval academy grads that are part of your team. Surprisingly, a number of Naval academy folks have reached out to us and said they listened to this podcast. The fact that you gave 'em a shout is nice. And then the last point is academy investor network and the west point AOG entrepreneur summit.

[00:43:15] Tim Hsia: So that's gonna happen in Baltimore and October. Can you talk more about. 

[00:43:19] Brad Harrison: I've been fortunate enough that guy Phillipe looped me in when we created the special interest group around entrepreneurship. And I've been fortunate enough to attend all of the west point entrepreneurship summit. And this year they asked me to chair the west point entrepreneurship summit.

[00:43:37] Brad Harrison: So it'll be at the Gaylor hotel, October 6th, through seventh. We are trying a kind of unique format this year where we're, I don't wanna give it all away now, Tim. But I would say that it is designed to be much more interactive with the goal of trying to, you know, have a lot more connections [00:44:00] happen between grads and a, I think it'll be really exciting.

[00:44:05] Brad Harrison: Ryan McCarthy will be giving one of the keynote. We may have, uh, general Millie or general McConville depending on whether or not, if we can get their schedules aligned. and we have some other pretty exciting things. We're hoping to have Taylor justice, the founder of unite. Maybe Socrates Rosenfeld, the founder of Jane technologies.

[00:44:28] Brad Harrison: Talk about what it went to go from west point to building a unicorn. We got some interesting stuff, so I'm pretty excited. So October 6th through seventh, we are still figuring out depending on capacity, if we will open it up to our brothers and sisters of the other academies, if we have the capacity, we will do that.

[00:44:49] Brad Harrison: And it's encouraging to hear that you have grads from air force and Naval academy listening to this podcast, cuz we know they're not organized to run their own podcast. So after I listen to ours, [00:45:00] no, I'm just kidding. I just, I, I, I couldn't like I couldn't let throw one like army Navy riff in there.

[00:45:06] Brad Harrison: Absolutely. 

[00:45:08] Tim Hsia: Let's get into our next and third segment. Yes. O P or standard operating procedure in this segment. We're going to talk about the personal routines, habits and words to live by that have been instrumental to your success. What routines or habits did you form in the military or west point that you still adhere?

[00:45:22] Brad Harrison: Fitness diet mutual respect is a really big one, which is, is really added words to live by in there. But I think mutual respect. And then I think as I've gotten an older meditation in being present, Which you don't always appreciate when you're at west point or in the army where you're like very task driven.

[00:45:46] Brad Harrison: Like I gotta get this done and then I can go to Iraq or whatever it is. I always lifted weights and I was always really fit. And then as you get older, you can't box as much and, you know, do whatever. So for [00:46:00] me, I do, uh, Pilates three days a week, every single week, which I think is a game changer. I wish somebody had taught me about Pilates when I was a lot younger.

[00:46:10] Brad Harrison: I like to do yoga a couple of times a week. I like to do ketlebells and rings. And I have a big mace that I like to swing around. And I try to take my dog for at least an hour walk, five days a week. And so the fitness thing is big. You are what you eat, not that living in Texas, I don't overeat tacos and barbecues sometimes, but you know, if I can focus on trying to be healthy five days a week and maybe cheating two days a week, I think it, it gives you more consistent energy in a clearer head.

[00:46:44] Brad Harrison: And then in terms of words to live by the first one I mentioned is that mutual respect. The second one is a cadet will not lie cheater steal and or tolerate those that do, but there's a lot of bad actors [00:47:00] in the business world, you know? And so I think having your guard up and, and being of the highest moral and ethical fiber is really important.

[00:47:10] Brad Harrison: And I think people know that about us and scout. And I think that's part of our brand. You know, somebody told me once Tim, that I should stop focusing on making money. And I should start focusing on my purpose and my passion. And it was a really impactful conversation. I actually had the, a very similar conversation with two different people.

[00:47:36] Brad Harrison: One was about finding my purpose and the other one was about like, not focusing on how much money you made, but focus on what you're building and what you're doing and all of that. And that has been totally transformational. Once I stopped worrying about how much money I was making or where I was making money.

[00:47:58] Brad Harrison: And I really just [00:48:00] focused on what I was building. I started to be much more successful. I started making better decisions. I started selecting better people to be around and who would've thought that the best way to be successful was to not think about making money. 

[00:48:15] Lance Dietz: Brad, quick follow up to this. And you alluded to.

[00:48:18] Lance Dietz: How your time with fund three and just kinda what you're doing now is, is incredibly tight. How do you manage your day to day now? Do you carve out time in the morning for emails? Like how do 

[00:48:28] Brad Harrison: you manage now? So I rely very heavily on an amazing young woman named Holly love, who is in charge of helping me manage my time.

[00:48:41] Brad Harrison: And that's not only externally, but that's also internally I get on email. I, I know some people say you should limit, like when you're on email, you shouldn't be on your phone all the time. I actually have a totally different view. I try to get as much done anytime I get a work block. So when [00:49:00] I wake up my son and I come to the PC and I bang through the emails, you know, the night before Holly sends me like, What the schedule is, and I kind of have an idea of how chaotic the day is gonna be, and we might decide to move something or bump something.

[00:49:18] Brad Harrison: But I think really planning, having support, and then also really prioritizing, like knowing that I was doing a podcast was a priority for me and Holly knew it was a priority. So we made sure that the rest of the day wasn't set up in a way that was gonna interfere with what was important to me. I talked to Bobby Weinberger, our lawyer probably twice a day, sometimes four times a day.

[00:49:47] Brad Harrison: I think if I don't call Bobby, he thinks there's something wrong with me. So I kind of gotta check in. I talked to Sam, Steven and Wes. Every day. Normally I do check-in calls in the morning to make [00:50:00] sure I know where everybody is kind of going. And then opportunistically. Sometimes you just gotta like put the phone on mute and go for a walk, but I'm a firm believer that, you know, you can like bucket in work blocks and manage your time that way.

[00:50:21] Brad Harrison: And then the other thing is, you know, and I mentioned this earlier when Tim had asked about it, but I just can't meet with everybody anymore. Like I just don't, there's just not enough time. I think we're at a hundred investments. Let's say 60 of those are active. In fund three, we have 25 active. That's just a lot of work.

[00:50:46] Brad Harrison: And we're looking for new deals and we're raising fund four, stay tuned. So I would say we're pretty busy having a companion, like a dog, especially during COVID [00:51:00] is also a pretty good gauge to make sure you're like not being a total crazy person. Like she makes me every day, take 20, 30 minutes and clear my head.

[00:51:15] Brad Harrison: And so I think when you talk about structuring, you gotta put in work block times to do work. You have to have meeting times that are in person and certain amount of time on zoom, but you're not gonna be efficient. If you spend all day on zoom, you're just not. And then you gotta make time to clear your head.

[00:51:34] Brad Harrison: And this morning I got up. I didn't have 20 minutes to meditate. I had six and a half minutes to meditate, so I meditated for six and a half minutes. Then I got on the computer. Then I dealt with the dog. Then I dealt with my son and then the whole day started over. You've mentioned 

[00:51:51] Tim Hsia: several really important mentors and friends throughout your career.

[00:51:54] Tim Hsia: Anthony de Toto, Ted Williams Parsons, and we love to learn [00:52:00] for the audience. How did you cultivate those relationships? 

[00:52:03] Brad Harrison: Yeah. And just to clarify, I wouldn't call Ted a mentor. I would call Ted a classmate. That was very good at taking notes. And you know, now does some stuff with us. I would tell you another one out of the long, great line that's been great is bill Medi the legend, um, in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, I was very fortunate to get bill to invest, but more fortunate to have bill make introductions and relationships.

[00:52:33] Brad Harrison: But I think the way you cultivate those relationships is don't have anything that you need or you ask for. Just go make yourself available and spend time and great mentors. I think that's what they want. They wanna share knowledge. They wanna share their thoughts and their experience with those that are gonna [00:53:00] do something great.

[00:53:01] Brad Harrison: You hope that they see some sort of potential in you that you're gonna do something great. One of the things that Dick Parsons ingrained in my head is that you can't think about where you're gonna be next week. Next year, you have to think about where do I wanna be in five years. And what do I have to be doing between now and then to get where I wanna be in five years?

[00:53:28] Brad Harrison: And so Dick was one of the first ones that made me like stretch out my horizon of thinking. And by doing that and not always feeling so pressured that you gotta get that check tomorrow, or you gotta close that deal tomorrow. But by adding what I would call at west point was taught to me as combat patients, or also taught to me by my second platoon Sergeant first class, Ralph una, who was a former ranger back guy who used [00:54:00] to say two things to me, sir, you're not John Wayne.

[00:54:03] Brad Harrison: Please buckle your Kevlar. And besides saying that all the time, he would say, sir, the key is combat patients. It's allowing the situation to develop, having a plan. Not reacting too quickly and not reacting too slowly, but being able to see the situation, develop and predict some of the things that are gonna happen in that situation.

[00:54:28] Brad Harrison: So combat patients from, uh, Sergeant clona thinking about where you wanna be in five years from Dick Parsons and Anthony tototo and bill mur, teaching me how important it is to honor the long gray line and make yourself available and give advice, even if it's a five minute call or a 10 minute coffee, because it is up to us to play it forward and plan it forward.

[00:54:58] Brad Harrison: If you believe in [00:55:00] karma or whatever, the west point version of karma is grip hands though, a beef throw in the shadows that requires us to make time. And so for me, I, I take that really seriously with what we do at scout. I take that seriously with what Emily and Sherman are building at academy investor network.

[00:55:20] Brad Harrison: And I thank the two of you for taking it seriously and creating this content for people to listen to, and hopefully impart a little bit of advice that makes everybody's day a little bit better, makes a decision a little bit easier. And in the long run makes everybody do better things. 

[00:55:39] Tim Hsia: Two quick notes, observation in question on the observation combat patients love it.

[00:55:43] Tim Hsia: I think it's one of the first times we've heard it in, on this podcast and coming from an enlisted, uh, soldier is awesome. And then the other observation is bill muddy is episode two. That's with Eddie Kane, class of 2008 in the founder of the old grad club. Final question for the segment, we have a lot of guests that have talked about the importance of [00:56:00] networking and growth in their transition out of the military.

[00:56:02] Tim Hsia: It seems like the academy investor network is a great tool and community for helping people as they build their civilian lives and careers. Can you share more about that? 

[00:56:11] Brad Harrison: Yeah, so I, I, I think there's a couple of things that exist today that didn't exist. Back when I transitioned. So I now happen to be a hundred percent service disabled veteran, but when I got outta active duty, I was, I think originally rated 30%, which qualified me for vocational rehab, which allowed me to go to grad school and get access to a bunch of government things.

[00:56:38] Brad Harrison: So number one, understand what opportunities the VA puts in front of you when you are transitioning. Cuz there's some pretty good things out there. Number two, there's the skill bridge program which didn't exist until recently. And actually Steven de Baru came to us under the [00:57:00] skill bridge program. So he was still in the Navy and the last six months of active duty, he worked full time at scout and that allowed him to get industry experience.

[00:57:09] Brad Harrison: But more importantly, it allowed us to basically get. A six month try before you buy. And he was an absolute fit. So I think there's that shift outta org. Some of these other organizations we've been working with them with academy, you know, sometimes academy grads that are still just transitioning out.

[00:57:33] Brad Harrison: Sometimes they're still cadets trying to think about how they need to think through it. I think it's really important to try to do your homework before you reach out to people, like at least know the background of that person. Try to find somebody with something common. Oh, he was in first of the 14th golden dragons.

[00:57:57] Brad Harrison: I was in first of the 14th golden dragons [00:58:00] because when I see that somebody was a golden dragon, I'm gonna at least respond to that. Right. And that's the military comradery, man. If somebody says, Hey, I grew up in Briarcliffe man in New York. I grew up in Briarcliff man in New York. So I think it's like trying to do enough research and homework around the programs that are available and then the people that are out there.

[00:58:26] Brad Harrison: And then I think also have realistic expectations. So Anthony Nodo some of the other people that we mentioned, they're running huge companies. It's not that Nodo is not a great guy, but Nodo just, can't respond to every class of 2019 grad that sends him a note and says, Hey, I'm a grad and I care about FinTech.

[00:58:49] Brad Harrison: So also be realistic about trying to pick like attainable people to talk to, because what [00:59:00] might happen is that person might actually be your contact into Nodo or Joe de Pinto or whatever. And for me, I was super blessed. because my first call was to Anthony tototo, who was the human Rolodex of the academy alumni network.

[00:59:20] Brad Harrison: And so anytime I wanted to talk to somebody tototo already knew him. So it made it really, really easy. But I would say, do your homework, understand what things are out there? Reach out to people, make sure you're like cognizant of the fact that everybody is busy and really have like a quick ass. Because I think that a lot of times, you know, you get your foot in your door, you have a good conversation.

[00:59:49] Brad Harrison: And that hopefully, you know, it was really meaningful. Tim came up to me, I don't know, maybe two years ago. And he goes, man, I'll never forget. Like [01:00:00] I asked you to help me out. And we had a conversation and next thing I know you took me to dinner and that made me happy that in my regular. Append. I was able to like impact Tim positively.

[01:00:17] Brad Harrison: Then Tim carries that forward to the grads that he touches. And so, you know, I think we can all make a difference. It's really important to be a good person and give back cuz all of us were really, really fortunate to get the education that we had at the academy, the experience that we had leading soldiers and in my case, that led to an amazing opportunity at MIT, amazing opportunity with entrepreneurs and has allowed me to build a firm and I'm, you know, doing exactly what I should be doing and say the only other thing is we just gotta get more institutional investors to [01:01:00] agree that we're doing what we should be doing and then it'll be even more fun.

[01:01:04] Lance Dietz: Yeah, no kidding. That's great. Brad, last segment that we end on, which I think is a great transition is we call giving back and you've alluded to a lot of things here, but curious as we have a lot of listeners that are just leaving the military, some of which may wanna start their own company, as you thought about as well.

[01:01:22] Lance Dietz: What's one other piece of advice that you would give that transitioning veteran looking to start their company. 

[01:01:28] Brad Harrison: Okay. I'm uh, I'll answer that, Lance, but I wanna touch on one other thing because when you mention giving back, the first thing that comes to me is giving back to the academy in some form or fashion.

[01:01:40] Brad Harrison: And I think a lot of grads don't realize how important it is, especially for AOG, for us to give back in some sort of meaningful fashion. For me, I've been giving since. Before I could even afford to give, I made [01:02:00] my first $25,000 pledge. I had no money. I put it on an American express card and I donated it to the rugby facility because rugby was so impactful to me.

[01:02:12] Brad Harrison: And then, I don't know, a couple years later I made some money and I paid off the credit card, but I gave that 25,000 that I didn't have because I gave it for the future generations of cadets that I wanted to have the rugby experience and have the comradery and have the leadership. So I think giving back to whatever's meaningful, you know, there's this amazing initiative at the academy called the center for genocide and Holocaust studies, which is privately funded.

[01:02:42] Brad Harrison: If you think about what's going on in the Ukraine right now, it is genocide. If you think about what goes on in Africa and world war II and native American Indians, It's all about genocide. And I think if we wanna create leaders [01:03:00] that are really gonna change the future of the world, they need to understand that.

[01:03:05] Brad Harrison: And so I encourage everybody to support the center for, um, Holocaust and genocide studies at west point. And then I just got asked to join the board of the Jewish chapel at west point, which I think I'll officially get nominated. So the, the reason I mention all of that is sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the academy works really hard to give us all these opportunities.

[01:03:32] Brad Harrison: But when we get out, we need to make sure that we give back. And so I encourage everybody, you know, listen, if it's $19 and 94 cents, Or it's $19,940, whatever it is give back because it makes a difference day OG and it makes a difference to the long gray line. So that's number one. Now, back to the question you really asked [01:04:00] Lance, and I'm sorry.

[01:04:02] Brad Harrison: The advice that I give to people that come out of the academy and out of the military is you need to understand how special you are. You're different than everybody else out there. If you were in combat, you had to make decisions, split second decisions in an Everly changing environment where it was life or death.

[01:04:30] Brad Harrison: You've got the capacity to think and process information in a way that your peers just don't have. And I'm not knocking on somebody that went to Harvard or Yale or Princeton. And of course they're smart, but that doesn't mean that after they graduated, they had the experience of really a lot of the foundational skills of being an entrepreneur or being a CEO, build small [01:05:00] teams, cultivate talent, be a good leader, make sure you've got the resources deal with ever changing environment.

[01:05:09] Brad Harrison: So I think one of the things to do is to really think about your time in the military and develop your own narrative about why you're special. And I think a lot of times we see these military people and they don't translate their skills. To the real world. So when you develop that narrative, part of that is do your C3 PO and your universal translator and develop a narrative that works for whatever you wanna do next.

[01:05:46] Brad Harrison: And if you don't know how to do that, get on Google, read the bios of other people and get help developing your own personal narrative. Because I would say that's what I [01:06:00] did. And the story evolved. The story is much different now than it was in 2001 or 2005. And the other thing that everybody needs to remember is that part of the purpose of life is to evolve and grow.

[01:06:18] Brad Harrison: And as you evolve and grow, you've gotta integrate those experiences. Good and bad. Into your narrative and how you conduct yourself moving forward. And so I would tell everybody, develop your narrative, iterate on your narrative, take honest and open feedback, be thick skin. When people tell you that you're not the right fit, cuz if you're not the right fit, who cares, you're the right fit somewhere else.

[01:06:49] Brad Harrison: So go find somewhere where you're the right fit or build it yourself. And if you are building it yourself and it's super cool and it involves frontier tech and you're a [01:07:00] grad, please come to Sam Ellis. And I first. 

[01:07:04] Lance Dietz: amazing, Brad. Unfortunately, that's all we have time for. This is an incredible episode. And, and I think Tim and I would just really like to thank you for all you've done for one, the academy, two grads.

[01:07:17] Lance Dietz: And you talked about this a lot and I think you epitomize, this is kind of like growing the network and strengthening the network. So just thanks so much for your time and what you're doing as well. 

[01:07:26] Brad Harrison: Yeah. Thanks for having me. I'm always happy to make myself available and I, I guess we'll see you guys, October 6th and seventh west point summit at the Gaylor hotel 

[01:07:40] Narrator: on point is a production of the w P a O G broadcast network.

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