Keeping Your Relationship Equity in the Black

Grant Marcks The Riverside Company

Our guest today is Grant Marcks, the principal, and Principal of business development for The Riverside Company, here to discuss the idea of your relationship equity and keeping it in the black as well as having a data-driven process while remaining authentic in your networking and business development efforts. Grant talks about paying it forward in a real way, showing that you have taken genuine interest and are committed to the follow-through rather than simply repeating the words you think people want to hear. What is particularly challenging is finding the balance between growing the size and scale of your network while remaining authentic and coming at each relationship from a personal perspective. But Grant assures listeners that they cannot go wrong with authenticity and transparency. He shares how his outreach approach has evolved over the years, how he keeps connected with people further afield, and the role of data in helping you to relate to people in a personal manner. We also get into the difference between activity and productivity, the value of simply chasing down the numbers, and why you should never presume to know where your next deal is coming from.

Key Points From This Episode

  • The importance of finding ways to create real connections with people.
  • What it means to pay it forward authentically instead of just saying things by the book.
  • Follow-through and genuine interest: two things that distinguish those who really want to help.
  • The balance between building out the size of your network while remaining authentic.
  • How Grant’s outreach approach has evolved since he started at Atlantic Street Capital.
  • Advice for getting in front of and staying engaged with “second-degree” connections.
  • Examples of how data and CRM can help you to approach people on a more personal level.
  • Grant’s stance on the best communication mediums from a relationship-building perspective.
  • Keeping focused on deals amid the stunted market presented by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The importance of authenticity and honestly when it comes to relationships and deals.
  • Differentiating between activity and productivity and building purpose-built relationships.
  • Never taking people for granted and presume to know where your next deal is coming from.
  • Making your mark through authentic relationships that become assets to your network.


[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast. Helping middle-market professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.

[00:00:20] AD: Hey everyone, welcome to Branch Out. I’m your host, Alex Drost. On today’s episode, we dive into a conversation with Grant Marks, principal and head of business development for Atlantic Street Capital. We discussed the idea of your relationship equity in keeping it in the black as well as having a data-driven process while remaining authentic in your networking and business development efforts. Hope you all enjoy.

[00:00:45] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.


[00:00:52] AD: Grant, welcome to Branch Out. Excited to have you here today.

[00:00:55] GM: Good to be here my friend.

[00:00:56] AD: So, Grant, you and I a few weeks ago we’re having a conversation around this idea of keeping your relationship equity in the black. Why don’t you start by sharing some of your thoughts around that?

[00:01:09] GM: Yeah. So it’s something that I’ve been subscribed to and really tried to make a meaningful part of my career since really about five, six years ago. It was something that I picked up from one of my mentors. And given what we do it’s something that I’ve found incredibly important, incredibly meaningful, and I really try to take it to every interaction, every relationship that I’m trying to build and work on. And really what it comes down to for me personally is trying to find an authentic way to create real connections, real relationships and the phrase I guess that people tend to glom on to is pay it forward. But pay it forward in a way that maybe doesn’t seem like you just read the book. How to win friends and influence people? How do you do it in a way that’s like, “Okay, I appreciate that you’re ending this conversation with what can I do for you. But are you actually going to try to do something for me at the end of it and are you sincere about your interest in trying to do something for me?” To me that’s the really critical piece, because anyone can end a call or a conversation and say, “Hey, is there anything that I can be looking to do for you today?” The follow through is the thing that I think sets people apart and the thing that sets people apart beyond that is the actual genuine interest in helping people at the end of the day.

[00:02:42] AD: I love that, and one of the things I heard you say there a lot and clear is authenticity, right? And it’s not this idea of just doing it because you read a book that told you to do it. A question to you then especially in your line, and I’m sure you talked to dozens of people a week and you’re constantly on the go and pre-COVID were certainly constantly on the road. How do you keep that view of being truly genuine to what you mean when you say you want to follow up and help people, right? Because in some ways your job is to have a lot of relationships and to be in front of a lot of people. How do you keep that balance between building out the size and scale of your network while also still remaining genuine and authentic in what you’re doing?

[00:03:21] GM: To kind of act as though that’s the easiest thing in the world, it’s not, right? I mean we all go through stuff in our personal lives. We have things going on. And to wake up every morning and say, “How am I going to try to help Alex?” Right? It’s not easy it is actually something that I struggle with even if I try to maintain that level every day. But I think for me the way that I’ve gone about doing it over the course of my career is really try to focus on building a connection beyond the surface level. I am a private equity firm that wants deal X. You are an investment banker that has deal X. Can I please have that? And then perhaps at the end of the day I’m going to say no and say no in a way that makes you feel a little warm and fuzzy.

I mean I look back and think about just you and I, right? Like when we first spoke, I reached out to you cold. I came into your office in Southfield. I think I sat down and I immediately knew a deal that you guys had in market that you were closing that day. So I think about kind of the preparation work that goes into trying to get to know someone without actually knowing them up front. I think I had also arranged for a meeting between one of my managing partners and one of your managing partners at the time either that day or the day after and they were sitting down and talking. You and I, I don’t think we talked about deals for the first 20-30 minutes. It was getting to know you. Getting to know your love of craft beer and dogs, and I think at the time you were not yet married, but maybe your girlfriend and you guys were getting serious. So I try to start from a point of like who are you as a person first and then let’s eventually get to the deals and let’s create interest in each other that’s beyond just that initial deal handoff dynamic that happens across our industry. That’s ubiquitous, right? How do you find a way to do something that’s going to make you more memorable than the other four people that you probably also met that day.

[00:05:33] AD: I like what you said there. You brought up a really good point that when you sat down and we started the conversation, it wasn’t around just peer deal flow. It wasn’t diving into work. It wasn’t sit down at the conference table and slide across your one pager and say, “Hey, this is what we’re looking for. Memory serves that you and I when we talked, it was very much just talking about our lives and things that we’re interested in. And, again, how do you balance that when, for example, you’re on the road, you come in. And I know especially in the private equity world you fly into a city, you try to see all 12 or whatever bankers that are in that city in 24 hours and hop on a plane and fly back home. How do you make sure that you’re still being efficient with your time? Or maybe the better question is do you think it is a good use of your time to maybe talk less deal talk when you’re there in more personal talk and the deal talk can always follow up on the back end?

[00:06:24] GM: Yeah, it is a tough thing to work through and manage. The answer that for me has changed over time. So I think about when I first started at Atlantic Street, relative to now, the types of intermediaries that we felt like we were best suited for in fund one and two and how that has shifted over the course of funds three and four and whether or not we were known entities versus some unknown quantity that needs either an education or a re-education based on market perception.

[00:06:58] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.

[00:07:05] AD: I love your thoughts on how do you keep track or what are some of the processes and some of the thoughts that you go through to ensure that you are staying in front of the right people and having some approach.

[00:07:17] GM: We have a system and a cadence based upon tiers, and those tiers are evolving and based upon our perceived qualitative assessment of a firm and our overlap with them. And then also sort of a quantitative secondary dive into how many deals are we seeing from that firm and how often. How relevant are those deals to us? How far along are we pursuing those deals in our pipeline? And so that’s not rocket science, right? That is just good sales and marketing techniques.

[00:07:49] AD: It’s good strategy too, right? It’s putting some real thought into having strategy behind what you’re doing and not just going ad hoc at it.

[00:07:57] GM: Yeah. But it also doesn’t capture the unknown. So there’re the sellers that don’t know about us, the bankers that don’t know about us. And how do we make sure that we’re getting in front of new groups that are emerging? Being spun out? Being created? Is a constantly evolving market. And so we actually have recently installed a set of processes around basically a go get, right? So let’s not be satisfied with where we are here in our map of the market. Let’s say we want to be evolving and adding new firms, new contacts at X rate per month, per quarter, per year. And then the next layer beyond that is – And we want to actually be getting to know those folks, right? We want to actually start seeing the deal flow evolve from that more data-driven process. And then we want to really start getting to know those folks at more personal levels, right?

So going back to the start of the conversation, it is great to be CRM-driven and data-driven. But what we really want to be doing is being truly kind of relationship-driven and thought of favorably because we are better known than our peers.

[00:09:12] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast.

[00:09:20] AD: I like what you said there a lot. One, it’s being data-driven. We live in the tech-enabled world where being data-driven is much easier than it ever used to be. We at Connection Builders are a big believer in the idea of having process and then accountability to follow that up. And data very much does allow for that accountability. I like that you tied that back to the idea of you still have to be personal in there, and I think so many people view it as if you’re using data to drive this, you have a CRM, that’s not really being personal with your relationships. And I would argue it’s the opposite. I actually think I can be more personal by using some of that data because I can be smarter about it and I’m using less of my time just ad hoc networking or ad hoc reaching out. And rather I’m using my time wisely to build the right relationships in the long term. Is that a fair statement?

[00:10:13] GM: I think about it in practice, right? Whether or not you email someone who you know prefers email versus put a call into someone because you know that they’re expecting to close a deal next week. And you can use data to inform those things, right? I literally put that into our CRM in certain cases where I say, “Hey, this guy is great. He is constantly busy. He appreciates when I reach out. But shoot him an email or shoot him a text.” Versus, not to name names, but you used to work for someone where I know I can better reach that person by sending him a text. And there are some people who say, “Who I perceive,” and I think this is true, “as they’ll appreciate a phone call.” And they’ll probably spend 20 minutes on the phone with me because they want a distraction in their day. We get along well and we enjoy shooting the bull and we don’t even have to talk about deals.

And we use data and we use our CRM data to inform that stuff and inform the cadence at which we do that stuff. So I see the marriage of the two as being table stakes going forward. So we definitely don’t want to get caught flat-footed and just say, “All right, we’re only focused on the relationship.” That’s great, we are, and we will be forever, but we also want to be constantly using our data and our CRM to be able to help us on that front.

[00:11:38] AD: Absolutely. And I want to jump back. One of the comments you made there talking the difference from a phone call versus a text. And obviously my past work life, there are certain people that do not like phone calls or your emails just simply aren’t going to get through to them. What I’ve seen maybe too often is especially certain people that are more seasoned in the business development world believe that picking up the phone and calling someone is the only way. I don’t want to discount the value of it. Picking up the phone and calling someone has a tremendous amount of value, but for myself personally and anyone who knows me, if you call me nine times out of ten you’re going to get my voicemail. I rarely answer the phone because I’m usually busy doing other things. It doesn’t mean I won’t call you back, but at the same time an email or a text, I’m much more likely to respond to that.

So what are your thoughts around as you work to build relationships especially in today’s day and age, we’ve got everything from text, phone call, emails, Zoom meetings, multiple ways to communicate with people. How do you think through that from a relationship building standpoint?

[00:12:39] GM: Yeah. So our mentality and the reason that we take the approach that we do is that there is no displacing in person meeting. And actually I think that that’s something that is the reason that the business development role within private equity and the financial sponsor role within sell side investment banking has proliferated. And I believe very strongly in that. So I don’t see that ever changing. I see it maybe shifting a little bit over time. And we can talk maybe at some point about what coronavirus is going to do to that.

But going back to the question about how technology is impacting kind of modes and methods of communications, the answer is really complicated, right? I mean when you think about what you prefer, right? You prefer that because I know you’re highly productive. You’re a millennial. No offense. I am too or literally the exact same age. We grew up with phones in our hands starting from freshman year of high school. But having said that we rarely ever use it to actually make phone calls, right? We’re so comfortable with the phone in our hands. I’m texting and emailing as often as I am on the phone, but there’s also a dynamic in the market that we operate in where most seasoned investment bankers are in their 40s to 60s and a lot of those folks do prefer a phone call.

And so I try to cater my method of communication to what I think I know about certain people’s preferences based upon age and demographic and dynamics, interpersonally and stuff that I’ve gleaned over time. There’s no cut and dry answer. And then you layer in what’s going to happen with what we’re doing right now talking over a Zoom meeting, right? And it’s definitely going to continue to shift away from more in-person communications over time, but I don’t see it going away.

[00:14:29] AD: I like that. I very much agree that there’s no substitute to looking someone in the whites of their eyes sitting across the table from them. There’s just no better way to build a relationship. What I heard you say loud and clear there was this idea of staying flexible and understanding that there is not a one-size-fits-all way to communication and that people will have different preferences. And that if you try to only approach it with your preference only or a single method, it may be effective in certain areas, but it’s going to be not effective in others. And so staying nimble and willing to adjust around that.

Let me ask you then, Grant. In today’s post-COVID world, and obviously none of us know what things are going to look like going forward on this, but you’re in a what I’ll call especially being in the sponsor seat in an interesting time where I have to assume deal flow has dramatically slowed down at least in the interim and there’s some questionability about what deal flow might look like going into the rest of the year. How do you make sure that when you’re making your calls and you’re building relationships you’re still staying front of mind, but recognizing that it could be 12 months before that relationship has any fruit to bear behind it. How do you keep yourself mentally focused on that?

[00:15:42] GM: Yeah, it’s a very good question, and I’m seeing a lot of things that are happening in our market that maybe I am not a fan of how people are approaching it, because I think a lot of people are doing the scatter shot generic, “We’re here. We’re open for business. Our portfolio is fine.” Suffice to say, any firm that I think is worth something has a level of authenticity about how they go about messaging to the market. That’s really the key for me personally. And a lot of firms want to project a message. I think a lot of firms also are maybe data-driven to a fault, right?

So you think about the standard cadence of what deal flow should look like and it’s X number of deals, X number of deals, X number deals, and you have been running that same hamster wheel for probably four and a half, five, six – I don’t know. We’re almost 10 years now removed from –

[00:16:35] AD: Had a good run.

[00:16:36] GM: Yeah. And all of a sudden you put the brakes on. People are saying, “All right. Well, one, that’s okay, because we’re going to turn to our portfolio right now. But slowly but surely stuff is coming back. There’s some stability at least from cash and liquidity at your various companies. So let’s start to look opportunistically at deals.” And there’s a reality of what deals are available right now. What deals are credibly being marketed? What sellers might expect relative to 10 weeks ago and what bankers can accurately represent about what this business should be worth in a normal environment. And all of that confluences to say that deals are pretty dry. You said it at the start. But the expectation that people are going to continue to do DLC deals isn’t going anywhere. That is constant. That’s driven by all this stuff that you read in Wall Street Journal and everything about the private equity overhang. That does exist. But at the end of the day, I want us to be perceived, is we’re not going to be pounding you for deals because I want to be credible and acknowledging of the fact that deals probably don’t exist right now, right? So don’t just send me something because I’m trying to count a certain number of teasers that I got over the last month and I want that to be only 50% down relative to February. So I want to be the firm that’s perceived as, “All right, I’m glad that you’re able to bring stuff to market. Credibly I think that’s not a category of interest for us or that’s not the right dynamic for us or given the dynamics around that industry or market niche. It’s hard for me to see us moving forward in that particular vertical.” And I hope that that level of honesty and authenticity will eventually translate to, “Hey, Grant told me that this wasn’t the right deal for him. He told me why. He gave me a couple of ideas of some groups that might be interested and are credibly active in this market that I hadn’t thought about before. And because that when I’m going to take the next deal out to market that I think is a good fit for Atlantic Street, I’m going to think of him.”

So, again, calling it back to the way that we started the call, I want to build real relationships by using authenticity and honesty to really make myself and my firm perceived in the right light and feel like we’re differentiated.

[00:19:12] AD: I like that a lot .You said honesty and authenticity. And really in my opinion those two are very much interwoven together in the sense that if you want to be authentic, you have to simply be honest, right? At its core, it’s being genuine to who you are. And one thing you’ve always really impressed me by was back from my investment banking days when we would show you deals and we showed you a lot of them and passed on a lot of them. There’s obviously a few you took a run at, but the ones that you passed on, it was always a follow-up of, “Here’s why we’re not taking a run at it.” And if I actually recall in a few cases you’d come back and said, “Hey, this isn’t a fit for us. But have you thought of X, Y and Z? Have you reached out to them yet?” Because they could be really good for you to place – Or they might be interested in this deal. I admire your ability or kind of your thought process around having that willingness to help.

I would love to ask you from that standpoint, as you think about trying to – I’m sure you see a ton of deals, right? You guys get a lot of teasers, and I’m sure you sent a lot of NDAs, get a lot of SIMs coming across your desk and it forces you to really weed those down to the ones that are important. How do you make sure to continue to build the relationship even with those groups that you’re not necessarily doing deals with today to continue to have them bring deals to you even when you may be saying no time and time again?

[00:20:37] GM: It calls back again to the speed and the sincerity with which we try to do that work. I want us to operate in a way that’s fairly binary. So when I say I’m very interested in this deal, you know that that’s completely true because I’ve said no really quickly and for credible reasons nine times out of ten before that, right? So the other part of this world that’s kind of odd and nuancy and crazy in some respects is that going back to the data, the stat question, firms will be active for the sake of being active. And I want to be productive for the sake of being productive, right?

So if activity inherently generates productivity, that’s great. And I do think that there is some math behind the deal funnel that everyone loves. But at the end of the day, I personally am fairly indifferent whether we collect 10 deals to do five or collect a thousand. In some ways collecting a thousand deals to do the same number that you could have collected 50 or 100 you could argue is activity for the sake of activity.

[00:21:51] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle market professionals.

[00:21:59] AD: You said something really important there I think is activity and productivity. They are two separate words, two separate meanings. Activity can tend to have a correlation with productivity, but it does not mean it’s one for one. And just to be doing things and having activity and trying to fill your funnel just to fill your funnel, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to have a productive outcome on the backend.

[00:22:25] GM: And then there’s also the correlation causation thing. I’ve talked to some of my peers who have said, “I need to have X number of interactions to generate Y number of deals.” And my response to that is, “I mean that’s great,” but you are also dictating how many interactions you’re having to get to those number of deals. So have you ever thought about shutting down maybe not in-person meetings, but doing 15 phone calls a day for the sake of doing 15 phone calls? To then back into what that number should be? Because you can have as many interactions as you want to get to an ultimate deal number. You don’t have to say I need to have 15 phone calls to get one deal. You might be able to have three, four or five, and those three, four or five might be really curated interactions with groups that maybe don’t have the ultimate deal flow, but have connections to people who I heard about this deal in market. Have you thought about calling this guy?

And so there is a nuance to it that isn’t explicitly data-driven. You have to hit certain benchmarks to be able to do, and that’s really what I think about when I go back to the activity versus productivity thing, is are you working your way backwards from a number that you have in your head about what you need to do to generate a deal when you could use really targeted, curated, purpose-built relationships to be able to get to that same number of deals?

[00:23:54] AD: I love that last statement there, purpose-built relationships. I’m a huge fan in having some kind of data-driven process and using technology, but it shouldn’t be done in a way where exactly as you said there where you make 15 phone calls a day just because that’s what you do. I think that approach to business is a little bit antiquated. And at this day and age it’s maybe your goal is to make 15 calls because that’s a personal goal you’ve set out for and you have reasons for it, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to build some of those relationships.

Let me ask you, Grant, if you sit back today and reflect on what you’ve learned in your career, what would you go back and tell the Grant of 10 years ago? What advice would you give him to say, “These are the mistakes that you could avoid or the mindset shifts that maybe you could have made earlier in your career to have greater success.”

[00:24:45] GM: I would say that the one thing that I would pass to 10 years prior Grant is never take a group or an individual or a bank, a prospective deal source for granted, and always be cognizant of the dynamics around a particular group or banker. But never presume to know where your next deal is going to come from. And I think that that small little trinket alone would have served me well, because I’d go back to five years ago what I perceived as the most likely set of deal sources that would ultimately help me build an Atlantic Street portfolio, right? And I can’t say with any level of confidence that any of those groups, and I didn’t maybe explicitly write them down, but wound up being the ultimate groups that sold us some of our portfolio.

So it’s interesting. And both with respect to investment bankers, but everyone else. There’s also I would say a problem a little bit in our industry around how service providers or other third parties are perceived or treated. And one of the first deals that we did, I was connected to through a lender who wound up making an introduction to an entrepreneur. And that lender actually connected to that person through an accounting firm, right? So we have a deal that we’re chasing right now that I have been quietly kind of pushing an accounting firm to try to help facilitate an intro for. I have a wealth advisor network that I’m working with closely to selectively make introductions maybe not necessarily to their clients, because they have a fiduciary duty, but to folks in their network that they know have highly liquid assets that eventually will need to become liquid.

So the thing that I definitely would emphasize to younger me is be welcoming of all ideas, welcoming of all different types of perspective deal sources, because there’s no cookie cutter way to do this particularly at the lower end of the middle market where you say, “I’m definitely going to get a deal from X bank, and that’s going to be the deal that we do. And so I’m only going to spend my time with them.”

[00:27:04] AD: I really enjoy that advice. What I hear loud and clear from you is the idea that you just don’t know who’s going to be value added in your network. And I say that in the sense of so many people try to say, “Well, I know that I get most of my referrals from bankers. So I’m going to spend all my time in bankers.” That doesn’t mean you can’t be smart and strategic and prioritize spending the time on those areas that are more likely to yield what you are looking for. But at the same time, don’t put the walls up and say, “Well, you’re not a banker. So I’m not talking to you,” or whatever it might be. I myself have had that same experience. You don’t know where the relationships are going to go, and it’s always an interesting road to watch how one connection leads to another to another. And when you approach relationship building from the mentality of, “I’m just here to build a network and to build relationships with people,” it helps you accomplish that faster.

[00:27:57] GM: I guess there’s another thing that comes to mind with respect to this topic that I would love to talk a little bit about. The thing that is so challenging about this particular role in this business is we’re selling a product, right? The product is fairly commoditized. I mean at the end of the day we all have capital. And we’re selling it to a couple of different constituencies that comprise a customer base. So one of those constituencies is the seller. We’re going to get to the seller. But the seller is appropriately represented and intermediated by another set of customers, right? And those are really our primary customers. But what are we selling to those folks? What we’re selling to those folks is very different than what we sell to the seller, which is the capital and hopefully a little bit more, right? Some operational resources and a little bit of secret sauce to be able to help them grow and scale and professionalize. But setting that aside, and that is obviously something that’s very important to us, but what am I selling to my deal sources?

And we have a finite portfolio. That portfolio represents fees to invest in banks, right? So those fees can only be spread so far. We have re-financings that we do at our portfolio. We have add-ons, etc. But at the end of the day, they are appropriately relatively indifferent whether they sell business X to Atlantic Street or to firm down the street if there’s nothing else other than fees that they feel like they can generate from us. So that’s a challenge, right? Ultimately, how do you sell something that you don’t necessarily have or have in limited supply? And so we try to get creative around what we can do there.

Think about we brought your firm into a meeting with us where we’re not on the sell side. You had a close relationship with the sellers, and we knew that, because I did the work, I did the research. We stay in close touch, and it didn’t ultimately pan out. We were trying to find ways that we can be differentiated, spread, some love and some fees to other constituencies around a deal. That’s true for so many parts of the business, right? I mean the accounting firm that I’m working with to try to get an intro to a deal I’m ultimately going to try to get them involved in the QOB process and subsequent audit process. And I have to be able to do all that stuff credibly and in a way that is trusted by the intermediary community. And that’s a challenge for a lot of folks to understand and grasp if they think the only thing that a business development person for a private equity firm does is go ask for deals, collect deals, pass them along, right?

So the other thing that I would pass to younger Grant I guess is be commercial. Be someone who is thought of as someone who is looking for ways to get customers paid. And it’s not an easy thing. I get almost as excited, honestly, when I have someone call me and say, “Hey, I don’t know what to do. I need some help. Could you refer me into a couple of different investment banks or buy side firms where I could benefit from their services? Can you help me out?” I’m like, “Oh, absolutely. I can do that immediately. And give me five minutes because I want to really think about how I can do this in a way that’s acknowledging your request, but curated to people that I think are going to be helpful to you, but also will at the end of the day appreciate that it’s coming from me and try to find a way to pay that back.”

So another call back man to the topic of the day. Like how do you keep your relationship equity in the black? We got to find ways to do it however we can. And if that’s going to come from some third-party that I talk to once every quarter, great. If that’s going to come from an investment banker that I talk to once every other week, excellent. However it manifests itself, don’t presume to know where your next deal is going to come from and be hyper cognizant of finding ways to get your customers paid. Those are the two pieces of advice that I would give.

[00:32:09] AD: I’m going to make a play off our brand for a minute here. What I’m hearing you say is be a connection builder, right? Be someone that you’re trying to plug dots and help someone else make a deal, right? Obviously, the sense you’re coming from is, “Hey, if you’re working with an accounting firm who probably isn’t going to be your direct referral source into the ultimate client, in your case, the business owner you’re buying from.” But are you trying to find ways to plug them in in other ways of the process? Finding ways to help them out? And I’ve seen this and it sounds like you’ve absolutely seen this in your career. You get as much value out of just helping people connect and helping people find ways to do business where you’re not even in the middle of it. You’re just putting them together and helping them rather than always just saying, “Well, how am I going to get paid out of this? How am I going to benefit directly out of this?” Because that mentality doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s the pay it forward. It’s helping other people out and knowing that over time if you do that enough it will come back to you.

[00:33:02] GM: Selfishly, and I think everyone is this way in some respects, it makes me feel just as good to be able to say, “I help that person out,” even if it didn’t necessarily benefit me or us directly. I know that they’re in good hands and that they’re going to be well taken care of and that that will eventually come back to me, I hope. This is a long-term game for me and for you and we hopefully have long careers ahead of us. So it doesn’t matter if that manifests itself in a deal two months from now or a deal two years from now when that banker has moved to a different firm or whatever it is. It is a necessity in this world to be differentiated by really creating those relationships.

[00:33:44] AD: I think that’s so well said. And the last point I want to jump into here is in the deal world, and whether we’re talking – Obviously you and I knew each other from the investment bank or private equity role, but anytime you’re in that transactional world, whether you’re the accountants doing the QOE or you’re the attorney who’s drafting the documents or you’re the HR consultant coming in to review the benefits or whatever it might be. I think there’s so much value in people recognizing that when you’re in the heat of those transactions, while you always have a fiduciary responsibility to your client, or in your case, you have to make sure you’re doing a deal that makes financial sense and it meets the objectives of your fund. It doesn’t mean that you do not continue to build relationships with all of the people involved in that process. You walk away from those processes whether they closed or not, no matter what happen, you have an opportunity to interact with a lot of different individuals that can become great assets in your network long term.

I really appreciate having you on here today. I enjoyed the conversation, and looking forward to having you back on again sometime in the future.

[00:34:49] GM: You too, buddy.

[00:34:50] AD: All right.

[00:34:51] GM: Thanks again.


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