Authenticity & Business Development – Jeremy Holland & Grant Marcks
Today we introduce Branch Out’s new mini-series theme: the power of authenticity. As one of the most essential success skills in business, its value should never be underestimated. We also welcome today’s special guests, Jeremy Holland and Grant Marcks, who speak to us about how authenticity has impacted their careers and personal lives. The show kicks off with Jeremy defining authenticity, as listeners discover how this trait is defined by consistency of behavior and transparency. After hearing about the difference between consistency and frequency, we talk to Grant about the challenges associated with authenticity, especially when you’re involved in a business that oftentimes spins on an axis of bad news. Adding positive notes to this, we find out how you can cultivate better relationships with clients and colleagues. Jeremy then tells us what gets in the way of authenticity and shares some personal anecdotes about insecurity and how he used it to launch himself forward in life. He talks about how a family health crisis affected his career and that by revealing his more vulnerable side to his inner circle, he was able to conquer some of the challenges which lay ahead. We then continue by practicing what we preach and find out how Grant has been doing as a young father, having taken on a new role during the pandemic.
Key Points From This Episode:
- Jeremy tells us about the consistency of behavior and why it’s not about frequency.
- Grant talks about how you can face up to your challenges with clients and colleagues.
- Why perfection is worth giving up on.
- The value of creating relationships and rapport with colleagues and clients.
- Why cultivating relationships is like a gardener planting mystery seeds.
- Grant fills us in on his new role at Riverside.
- Jeremy shares what gets in the way of authenticity and how you overcome it.
- We touch on the effects of Zoom fatigue.
- Jeremy tells us about how embracing his insecurities has launched him forward in life.
- Grant’s journey as a young father and starting a new business role during the pandemic.
Jeremy Holland on LinkedIn
Jeremy Holland Email
Grant Marcks on LinkedIn
Grant Marcks Email
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builder’s 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 the Branch Out. I’m your host, Alex Drost. I hope you’ve been enjoying the last few episodes and defining business development. Today we’re transitioning into our next miniseries focused on the power of authenticity. This was a fun topic to dig into and I’m looking forward to sharing these conversations with you.
For today’s episode, we have two special guests, both of which have made an appearance on the first season of Branch Out podcast, Jeremy Holland, Managing Partner of Originations for The Riverside Company, and his colleague, Grant Marcks, Principal with The Riverside Company.
The three of us have an in-depth and insightful discussion on how being your authentic self is key to building meaningful connections, as well as some of the challenges that get in the way of being truly authentic. I hope you all enjoy.
[00:01:13] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.
[00:01:21] AD: Gentlemen, welcome to the Branch Out podcast. I’m really looking forward to this conversation today. Talking for a minute to our listeners. Today, we’re going to be transitioning out of our Business Development Series and into our Authentic Series and talking about authenticity and really the power of that. I’m really excited to have two great guests with us today that are both guests of our season one. So, if you haven’t heard their episodes yet, make sure to go back and check those out as well. But we’re gonna take some of the topics that we talked about from the first season, and really dig in here and talk at a deeper level. And I’m really excited to to be able to do this today.
So Jeremy, I want to open up with you and just ask, just before we hit record here, we were talking about the importance of authenticity in business development, and really where they do go hand in hand. Can you just start with just sharing some of your general thoughts around what authenticity and business development means and why it’s so important?
[00:02:19] JH: I think authenticity is consistency of behavior and transparency. And what it’s not is permission to act badly, to be profane, or otherwise, ill-behaved. But the consistency of behavior and transparency over time, fosters real relationship building, as people get to know you better as a person. And not just as a representative of your firm.
[00:02:46] AD: Consistency of behavior over time. Let’s talk about that in the sense of business development. So, business development is a role that is not about a single touch point. It’s about touch point, after touch point, after touch point over a career, frankly, over the years and years. And that consistency is important. Jeremy, when you think about consistency, what is one area that has really been important to you to always be consistent in as you’re working with people.
[00:03:13] JH: Well, for me, that consistency is less about frequency of communication, and rather, consistency of behaviors over time. So, you’re the same person at a work function, that you are in your backyard hosting someone for a barbecue, you’re the same person in front of your children and not in front of your children. But really, that authentic sense of self and that type of consistency, lets people really learn who you are.
[00:03:43] JH: I like that a lot. And Grant, I want to turn to you on this one now. So, we talked about the importance of, as Jeremy said, it’s not about the number of touch points, it’s really about that consistency and behavior in who you are. You are someone who has done very well in the business development role. Can you just share some of your thoughts in areas where you try to be consistent, and maybe where some of the challenges have come in as you do try to keep that consistency of behavior and working with other professionals.
[00:04:11] GM: To Jeremy’s point about, it’s not about a volume of behavior necessarily. It’s about a quality of interaction. It’s really, really hard in our role in particular, when you have a ton of interactions throughout the day. In this environment, in particular, you’re probably managing dozens of interpersonal relationships and challenges and maybe health issues and what have you to keep in mind that each incremental interaction throughout the day needs to be of that same high quality and we’re in a position where we are saying, no, very often we’re delivering bad news very often and it’s hard to keep that quality level high when you know that 99 times out of 100, you have the potential to leave a negative feeling with somebody.
[00:05:06] AD: I wholeheartedly agree with you. You are in a position where you at times are doing back to back to back to back to back phone calls, right? I think that probably summarizes a lot of your day. For those of you listening right now, Grant is definitely smiling at that one, Jeremy is nodding as well. That is for anyone who does business development as a function. Even for those of you that do it even as a part time function, you recognize the number of touch points, the amount of time that you are on the phone, and that can get exhausting to do that again, and again.
Now, add on top of there, family, stress, life, that the things that we all deal with. Everyone struggles with them, keeping that, I call it that façade, oftentimes, it can’t be a façade, right? It has to be authentic, you have to really – but at the same time, you can’t be on the phone like, “Oh, this is terrible.” You have to at least be somewhat positive. How in the heck do you manage all that? And I don’t have the answers. I don’t know if any of us do. But how do you deal with that?
[00:06:00] GM: I mean, Jeremy, I’m sure you have some thoughts, but I tend to be a pretty open book. And I think that’s in line with the authenticity theme. That’s just the reality of where we are. What I found in the last nine months in particular, which is odd to even think about, I’ve gotten to know people better in the last nine months than I had in the previous five years or decade if I go back that long with you. And that’s because we’re all so deeply entrenched in this intermeshed life-work, there’s no separation. And so, you see the good, you see the bad, you see the challenges, you see the struggles, and I see no reason to hide it, because, well, for one, I literally cannot. It’s happening as we speak.
[00:06:52] AD: It’s life.
[00:06:53] GM: What could possibly be more appropriate in this podcast than for that to be happening.
[00:06:59] AD: It’s part of what is and I want to address this or I want some thoughts around this. And Jeremy, I want to hear your opinions. So, I struggle with this as much as anyone when you’re doing this in a business development setting, you’re doing meetings, you’re doing one to ones and even what we’re doing here. I mean, we’re obviously recording this and turning into a podcast. But at some level, this is us like not working and having a conversation building relationships, right? The conversation topic is not about the business that I might have for sale, and you might be interested in. But it’s the same underlying fundamentals, the relationship building, and there is a part of it, where you have to show up and be there and be present and put the energy in and bring the right level of energy and positivity and mindsets to the conversation because that’s just part of building human relationships.
There’s also the part of it that life is really hard and we all have struggles, and then layer on there, and I struggle with my own insecurities around the times of I have to be perfect, I have to be polished, I have all these things. All these things in my mind that I’m not and I have to be. The more you do those meetings again and again and again, back to back to back, that gets harder and harder and harder and harder. How do you deal with it?
[00:08:09] JH: I gave up entirely, I gave up on being perfect. I gave up on being polished. Nobody’s ever accused me of being either of those things. And to Grant’s point, I’ll call it out. I’ll tell somebody that if you call me in a Monday afternoon, and somebody says, “What’s going on? I just came out of five consecutive committee meetings. It’s all a blur, and I’ve got seven bankers to call back, you’re the first call, jump right into it.” But I think we’ve got all these Zooms back to back. We’ve got all these calls and we just kind of acknowledged the chaos of it all and everybody appreciates a little bit of self-deprecating humor at the beginning of a call and asking about them and how they’re doing. And in a very specific personal sense, asking if they’ve been able to get out and get some exercise recently or any creative ways to take a vacation, something that’s a little bit more than the standard checkbox of how are you are? How’s it been? How’s it going? But specifically, how are you navigating the new normal?
[00:09:19] AD: Well, you said early on transparency, right? And part of its behavior over time and transparency, and what you just said, it’s being transparent. It’s having some of that real honest, and again, you have to balance that. It’s not about just dumping all your problems on someone you’re talking to, but when you are having a conversation with someone, it’s being honest and real and Grant saying, “Yeah, I got a lot of going on and hear the baby crying in the background and that’s my life.” Not having to hide that and be like, “I can’t have this.” And realizing that just taking that –vulnerability is the word. That’s a hot button word, I think, right? It’s a word that gets said a lot and it’s a tough word to fully describe well and to really bring meaning, but it’s about just opening up. And being willing to admit that I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to know everything.
Now, I want to talk about in some of where authenticity and building those relationships that are fundamental to the success of business development. And Grant, I want to come back to you in this and this is a memory from the first podcast you and I did together. You brought up something that was an aha, for me something that hit home for me. And it was, when you call someone, and there are so many times you just pick up the phone to dial and say, “Hey, what’s up? How are you? How’s it going?” And you’re just checking in, and you have no real agenda, and you just want to talk to them. And the value is for that person getting to step away from work for a minute, getting to pull themselves out of everything they’re dealing with that day.
Share some of your thoughts around that, because I just I think that’s a really powerful thing to do.
[00:10:49] GM: So, it’s not like a mantra, or a thesis around business development or anything, but I just think people want to pick up the phone, when they don’t feel like there’s an expectation on the other end of the line. And so, I really try to build myself and I say, constantly on calls, “Hey, I have no agenda. I’m really just here to hear about you, what you’re working on, see if there’s anything that I can do for you.” And if that translates to something, great. If it doesn’t, it really doesn’t affect me. It’s not like I’m losing sleep over that. And my hope is that on the incremental next call, if he does have something, he’s going to think about, “Hey, I really enjoy just catching up with Grant. I’m going to spend some time previewing this with him and who knows, maybe it’s the best possible fit for Riverside and the next deal that they want to do.”
So, I really try to position myself that way and everyone has to call with a teaser in hand, and everyone has to call when they’re passing on deals. But when you’re calling just say hello and see how their last peloton ride went, that’s a different level of relationship and friendship that I aspire to, and you can’t have it with everyone, to Jeremy’s point earlier. But if you pick the right folks to have that type of relationship with what I found is that it can be really beneficial.
[00:12:16] AD: I could not agree more. And Jeremy, I want to come to you in this one. And you have a career success built around business development in an industry that is very difficult to do well and business development. You have really proven and demonstrated your ability to build those relationships. And one of the things that you’ve talked and shared with me, both on I think the first podcast, but also before we’re recording here and other conversations, is you don’t want to be everything to everyone. You want to have a select group that you spend time with that you really know. And I have a wholehearted believer in that. I think to Grant’s point around building friendships and building relationships, if you have a smaller group that you’re spending time with, you can through this business develop enroll, through this networking, just spending time building and connecting with other people, you can build real friendships and real connections out of that, that are much more than just professional.
However, the role also does have a part of it, that is about planting random seeds that you don’t know what are going to come back and sprout. How do you balance that?
[00:13:19] JH: I think you just follow your gut. You’re doing the normal things out there at events and you’re meeting people and some people you click with and some people you don’t. And if you don’t click with them, okay, you can notice that your cocktail is empty and use that as an excuse to politely exit and we all go through these regular business activities, you go to networking events, you meet with a lot of people, and some people you click with, and some people you don’t, and that’s okay. And when they don’t click, you find a polite reason to excuse yourself and move on and then really focus the time on those people where you really click and invest in those friendships.
[00:14:00] AD: There’s a great one that when it comes to to networking, you are out there in business development and you’re building relationships, you’re ultimately expanding your connections. and meeting new people, not every person you come in contact with are you going to click with and part of networking is finding and relationship building and business development is finding those those connections that you really do mold well with.
Now, that doesn’t take out the fact that if you’re in a place where you’re managing X number relationships, and there are certain people you just have to call on and build relationships with, that’s a totally different bucket. But from the side where you are in control, it’s the part of your network that is very much where you’re developing that deeper friendship, those deeper and more meaningful connections, you’re just looking for those people you click with. And knowing that what’s really, I think, cool right now in the world that we’re in COVID, obviously, we all want to get back face to face and there’s so much value in that. But we also can find ways to build relationships with people that are in far distances apart, where you’re still spending time, just understanding how people are, just checking in. That is the level of friendship and its own. Let’s say, someone to talk to, someone to share thoughts with and to bounce ideas off of.
All of that has so much value in this authenticity and as it relates to business development. When you’re approaching it with that mindset, and that’s what you’re trying to accomplish. Isn’t that really the authenticity?
[00:15:26] JH: What I found is that I don’t have work life balance, I have work life fusion. And because some of these people have become true close personal friends, it feels less and less like work as you get to know these people on a personal level over time. And the more transparent you are, and the more you share about yourself, the more comfortable they are, to let their guard down and share about themselves and that’s where you’re crossing the chasm from these kind of platonic business transactional relationships to true friendships. And so, it’s really worked for me to just focus on a small number of people, and really get to know the people you click with well.
[00:16:10] AD: I think that’s a great point. Grant, you got some thoughts you want to throw it on there?
[00:16:14] GM: I mean, I just think it’s funny that just last night, I was having a conversation with a friend who happens to be a banker. It was eight o’clock at night, and my wife was watching The Bachelorette. And I was like, laughing maniacally in the next room, and she was like, “Grant, who are you talking to? What close personal friend are you talking to?” And I was just like, “This is just my friend. This is my life now. My bankers are my friends. My friends are, I don’t know, they’re all somewhere.” But the intersection is very real, as Jeremy was describing.
[00:16:53] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builders Podcast.
[00:17:03] AD: So, let me ask you this, Grant and I have lots of people that I have met through networking that I would call friend. I struggle at times; do I call them a friend? Is that the right title? Are they just a connection? What are they? And I think sometimes, at least for myself, I feel myself hesitating to put that title of friendship. And I don’t know if anyone else has felt or either of you felt that and some of that, that is this a friend? Is this someone that I really have something more than just a – I’m calling to see if they can hand me a deal? I don’t know why I personally struggle with that. I think it’s probably my own insecurities in some ways, or my own kind of negative thought patterns around that.
But ultimately, I think that there are so many opportunities and people that you can call friends that are truly friends for you. And just because you don’t hang out all the time, just because you don’t know every job and every detail about their life. And just because you’re not best friends, but people that you can call and just have a good conversation with, isn’t that a friend? And don’t all friendships have to start somewhere and grow into something? So, just a random thought on my end there.
Let’s go down the pathway, as we think about business development and finding the right way to be authentic and being in the right role in this. Grant, I want to go to you in this one again. For those of our listeners that may not know this yet, you have recently taken on or shifted into a new role at Riverside now. And you’re covering a market that, as you said before we were jumping on, was much more like home. Do you wish to share some thoughts around that?
[00:18:31] GM: For the uninitiated, I went from a platform that was grown and healthy and doing well. And, you know, I was the guy that had a business development there and had my pick of markets that I would go to and fly to and I got a call from Jeremy. And obviously, Riverside is a place that I actually have worked with and for before. I worked here for five years leading up to when I went to Atlantic Street. And so, one it just feels natural and like home for me, because it’s a place I know well. I know the people. I know the culture. I know the values and the integrity of this place intimately well. And so, it felt like coming home from that perspective.
When Jeremy called me, he said, “Oh, by the way, we want you to cover the Mid-Atlantic up through New York for us.” And, again, peeling back to the layer for those who don’t know me. I live in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of DC. I grew up in New York, New York suburbs, spent a decade living in the city, went to school in upstate New York. I’ve got family spread from Pittsburgh to eastern shores of Maryland to Philly and Central Jersey. So, home is where I’m covering. Home is my corridor that Jeremy is outlining for me and just to tie it back to authenticity, I mean, I always love being able to go fly to Atlanta or Milwaukee or LA. But I would go to those places and I would fly to LA and I would say, “Jeremy, I got to go from this place to this place. Beverly Hills to El Segundo, it’s three o’clock in the afternoon.” And he’s like, “Was it raining? You got to building an hour and a half of time.”
So, it wasn’t a place that was familiar to me. It wasn’t home to me. And so, I can relay anecdotes to the people in my territory about how I used to fight my cousin’s over how the Giants were better than the Eagles and that’s still pseudo true. But the point being, this is truly how I connect with people. It’s where I’m from. It’s what I feel passionate about. And to the extent that anyone lives anywhere right now, it’s my territory.
[00:20:55] AD: What I’m hearing from you loud and clear there, you’re covering a territory that you feel home and that you’re comfortable in and it allows you to ultimately be more authentic. It allows you to very much be yourself and spend that time in a market that you connect with and that you feel at home in.
Let’s talk about what gets in the way of being authentic and we’ve touched on it a couple times here, vulnerability is something we hit on earlier. But when we when we talk about really wanting to be authentic, I think everyone says they want to. I’ve never met someone that says, “Well, I don’t want to be authentic.” Everyone says, “Of course, I want to be authentic.” But what gets in the way, and Jeremy, I’m going to come to you on this one. When you sit back and think about it, really what gets in the way of authenticity, and how do you overcome it?
[00:21:39] JH: It’s insecurity. I think back to myself, when I started in private equity in the ‘90s, Fred Ulrich, and Curtice Cornell at Buttonwood Capital gave me a chance right out of state school, no MBA, no investment banking experience, no law degree. In many ways, I wondered every day, did people think that I didn’t belong in the room. I didn’t go to Harvard. I didn’t go to Claremont McKenna, like my colleagues. And over time, I realized that the work experience became more valuable than the degrees and stopped thinking about whether or not I needed an MBA to “cover up” my state school degree. And as I got to know more and more entrepreneurs, they actually loved my bio.
So, where I was embarrassed by not having the credentials when I walked them through in detail where I grew up, working my way through school, got this opportunity to work with Fred and Curtice. And the whole story, they ate it up, because many of the entrepreneurs themselves were self-made, especially the baby boomers, many of them were undiagnosed dyslexics who were told they were stupid, went to work in a blue-collar trade, quickly realized they could run the company. And they went and bought one truck, fast forward 30 years later, and they’ve got this great business, inevitably, the spouse did all the books and balanced out all their weaknesses, would handle all the contracts or whatever they struggled with. And they would really light up. When I walked through my bio, they said, “This is really refreshing.” If I have one more Harvard MBA, come in here, he’s never done anything in their life and try to lecture me about my business, I’m going to lose my mind.
Just by that experience, I learned that we should all embrace our bias, and it is what it is. So, you may as well just lay it out there. Back to the earlier point, they’re going to like you or they won’t. And that’s okay. You’re not going to win every deal. You’re not going to click with every entrepreneur. But at the end of the day, you should be proud of who you are as a person. And that just probably just takes time and maturity.
[00:23:53] GM: I mean, I couldn’t agree more on the flip side of what Jeremy was describing, and not to paint myself as like a white shoe, pure investment banking, bread, high school kid, but my parents were bankers, and they had a long financial services career. And they wound up in a place where they actually are really successful recruiters for investment banking and private equity and hedge funds, and they run their own firm. And a decade ago, I never would have shared that information, certainly not over the airwaves. But I’m so proud of them as people. And I hid it because I was worried that people would have some perception that he was put in here, he was placed here because he has connections and I never shared that. When I think about how much that didn’t affect me, and probably never would have crossed anyone’s mind, it’s just interesting. And fast forward to conversations I have today when I bring up, my parents have been running this firm for the last 17 years. They’ve been entrepreneurs.
Same thing as Jeremy mentioned, people are like, “Wow, that’s great. Yeah, that makes sense. You work in the lower middle market. Your parents are running a small business. It totally lines up.”
[00:25:19] AD: Grant, thank you so much for sharing that. Jeremy, you said right off the bat, insecurities get in the way. Do I belong? Those are the questions, right? And Grant, I hear with you, kind of the same thing, just in wanting to prove that you belong. What I think the point is that I want to hone in. I go through this all the time. My internal self-talk is probably the greatest challenge I have in my life. And I think that’s the truth for many of us. It’s coming over some of those internal conversations. The stories we tell ourselves, and you have to fight those because that insecurity when you start telling yourself, “Well, I don’t belong here”, or “I didn’t do this so I’m not accepted or because of that this”, that’s just a story you’re telling yourself inside. Listen, it’s way easier said than done to overcome that. It’s not a light switch like, “Oh, I realized the story. It’s gone. I’ll never think about it again.”
Grant, I’m sure even to this day, you have those thoughts at times that will cross your mind. And Jeremy, same for your background, and I love that you embrace it and embracing it is such the way to live by it. But it doesn’t mean those stories necessarily go away forever and maybe they do and that’s great if you can change that internal dialogue. But the key is you have to lean into it and tell those stories, “No.” You have to overcome that thought pattern around that and really say, “That’s not the truth. I know that’s not the truth.” And catch that and tell yourself and then recognize that, at the end of the day, and this is something I’m very much a believer in. We’re all products of our own experiences, as simple as that.
So, whether good or bad, no matter what, the person that’s sitting here today, any one of us, it’s because of those experiences. That’s what shaped you as who you are and where you are. And when you start having worries about that and doubts about those, all that’s doing is doubting your abilities, doubting who you are. These podcasts are such a great example like doing these, they’re a challenge. You have put yourself out there and do it and you ever recorded yourself and listen to yourself? Try doing it again and again and again.
[00:27:22] GM: I told Jeremy after the last one, I couldn’t listen to myself back.
[00:27:26] AD: It’s hard.
[00:27:26] GM: It’s not in me.
[00:27:28] AD: It’s so hard.
[00:27:29] JH: That’s probably my biggest one is I had no idea how my voice sounded until I listened to the playback. I didn’t like it. That might be my biggest insecurity, is hearing my phone recorded voice.
[00:27:42] GM: If I listened to it at one and a half times back, by the way, I can convince myself that that’s not actually what I sound like. That’s just the sped-up version of me. A little trick there.
[00:27:51] AD: It’s smart. But, Jeremy, it’s funny you say that. And I’ll tell you, I feel 100% the same way. When I hear it, I cringe and I have been told by multiple people, it sounds great. You have a great voice for radio. And I know I hear those things. And I think all of us sound great to all of our guests. I think you realize that when you’re listening, these people aren’t tearing them apart. They’re not thinking of them that way. Next time you think of a podcast, do you really listen to it and say, “Oh, can you believe how that guy sounds?” Like short of being something really obnoxious. No one’s going to realize it, but yet we all have the same internal thought pattern, right? It’s that that insecurity, Zoom fatigue that everyone talks about, you’re all of a sudden staring in a mirror all freaking day long looking at yourself.
Before that, you never had to worry about that. You looked at the human on the other side of the table thought about them, not thought about, “Oh, well I’ve got this on my face.” All those thoughts that you’re staring at yourself all day long. Again, a little bit of random tangent.
[00:28:49] GM: I just had someone call me Alex and he said, “I can’t go on Zoom. I can’t look at my fat face that has gained 25 pounds over the course of COVID.” So, everyone’s got the same insecurity levels and it’s a real thing.
[00:29:05] AD: What I really want to take us down, this kind of our last topic today, so we know insecurities get in the way. We know, and Jeremy, do I belong and that’s the question you asked me. You have to recognize you do. You’re there, you belong and you have to be telling yourself that story. They will like you they won’t. It just it just simply doesn’t matter. You can’t get hooked up on that.
So, could you Jeremy, do you have any stories or anything in your life where you just sit back and say, I know you’ve embraced your past and who you are, but ways where you’ve just seen that take you so much farther by really just embracing that insecurity and leaning into it a little bit and working to overcome it.
[00:29:41] JH: As many people in the closer inner circle of my network know, a few years ago, I was managing a major family health crisis as we all do from time to time. And with those inner circle type people when they called and said, “How are you doing?” I didn’t just check the box and say, “Fine.” And jump into the work conversation. I tell them what’s going on. I said, “I’m having to take this call in the car because the hospital is 50 miles away, and I got to get out there and handle this.” Juggling and having young kids at the same time and just that vulnerability and sharing what’s actually going on in your life with that inner circle of contacts really allowed them to share in return. And it was healthy for both of us because they too, were going through some kind of major struggle. Often, shockingly, even the family member with the same kind of cancer, and it allowed them to share their struggles and there was an unintentional bond as a result, and we all got to know each other better, and followed up with helpful tips and recommendations on how to navigate that territory.
But it lets people know that you’re not trying to be all things, all people, you’re a private equity professional, sure, but you’re also a father, and a husband, and a caregiver. And there’s only so many hours in the day, and you got a job that requires a lot of travel. You’re just doing your best and the person says, “Hey, did you see the teaser I sent you yesterday?” My honest answer is, “No, I missed it. Tell me about it. Trying to keep up barely keeping my head above water. Really glad you called to follow up. Glad you thought of us. Let’s dig in.”
[00:31:29] AD: You’re spot on there, Jeremy, and one of the things you talked about challenge and struggle and admitting when you’re dealing with it, and it allows the other person on the other side of the table to open up. And I want to be clear, you have to share at the right levels, you can’t just dump everything on the table and spotlight to yourself. You have to be in the right social setting but the idea though of just recognizing that we all have challenges, everyone. It’s so easy to look at other people and they’ll think, “Oh, they have everything together. Their life must be great.” When really, like everyone has challenges. I’m a believer, and I don’t know how to perfectly articulate this. But I do believe that we all only know the challenges that we face. And so, at some level, if every one of us, whatever our hardest challenge that we’ve gone through, feels the same.
We all have this feeling of this big challenge and understanding. Everyone has different levels of challenge that they’re dealing with and dealing with a health crisis is a really big challenge to deal with, in comparison to someone that might just be struggling with having a newborn baby. Well, one feels a lot harder, but they are or may, I guess, that’s all perception. But at the end of the day, they’re both really hard. And everyone has their own challenges, right? We all have challenges, and we’re all facing them and the more you can be open about that and talk, I didn’t get to it, I got a lot of stuff I play or when someone asks how you’re doing and saying, “I’m good.”
[00:33:01] JH: That’s right. It’s it’s not “woe is me”, but candidly, this is what’s going on. And I’m doing my best to which might not be fully an A+ result, but here we are, and let’s go and then they understand, “Okay. It’s not that he blew me off. It’s not that my emails aren’t important to him. He’s a real human too, with his own challenges.” And often those conversations would go way off on a tangent. But it was also the result or the beginning of a lot of good friendships and relationships today.
[00:33:35] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle-market professionals.
[00:33:44] AD: Grant, I want to come to you and kind of the wind is down here. And I want to ask you are a young father that is starting a new role in private equity business development in the middle of a pandemic? Holy shit, how you doing?
[00:34:00] GM: Yes, it is a challenge in the interest of being authentic at times to manage all of it. There’s not unlimited space in this home. I might be sequestered at some point in the next couple of months to a garage office that I’m in the process of converting to keep everyone’s sanity and head above water. You texted me the other day talking about friendships, and you were like, “Hey, are you doing?” I’m like, “Today was not a good day.” And that was my truth in that moment. I think we’re a little bit closer for it.
So yeah, I think that that’s what I’ve seen is a silver lining of this crazy set of circumstances that we find ourselves. Going back to what I said earlier, you really get to see people truly in a lot of situations that you never ordinarily might have in this current pandemic that we’re living in. So, we’ll be on the other side of this soon, Jeremy, and I can’t be more enthusiastic to be able to get in front of people and our wives, I’m sure it can’t be more enthusiastic for us to be able to get out of the home. So, looking forward to it man.
[00:35:13] AD: This is such a great time to get to know people. I mean, just realizing that we all have challenges. So, gentlemen, this has been an awesome conversation. Just a quick recap top to bottom here, we started talking about the need for consistency and behavior. And if we really want to be authentic and authentic in both business developments, but just authentic in general, it’s really about having consistency of behavior, transparency and behavior over time. And the key that we really dove into is it’s not necessarily in a business development function, it’s much about the number of touches, it’s the quality of touches and making sure that you’re having really good interactions. And that really comes down to having the right behavior and people acting the right way.
Again, that consistency, building that that consistency of behavior over time about how am I acting in a way that is appropriate? Am I the same person at home as I am at work? Am I being true and genuine? And all of that comes down to your thoughts and actions being in alignment, which is really how you get to authenticity, having that right mindset, making sure that your behavior is consistent, it is true, you’re not acting, you’re not trying to be someone that you’re not.
Grant, we talked about the idea of calling to check in as how is someone doing, building a friendship and really calling people friends and realizing that when you’re out there building these relationships, and what so often can feel transactional in nature and only about work, the reality is, it can be really personal. You can really get to know people and have real conversations that are so much more. Frankly, it’s more fulfilling, in the end, if you approach it that way. And it can have just as many professional benefits to you. It’s not like the professional benefits go away, just because you start having some personal benefits the seasoned in on top there. So, I really encourage people to think about how can you build real friendships. And Jeremy, you shared by having kind of a smaller focus and really spending your time on those people that you click with, because not everyone you meet are you going to click with.
That’ll really lead us into this idea of what gets in the way of authenticity and insecurity being bad, and insecurity being a huge one and really being able to be vulnerable, and the question that I think that many of us can ask ourselves is do I belong here? Am I supposed to be here? We can feel like, “No. No, I don’t.” But the reality is you do, and you have to convince yourself that. You have to have the right talk, internal mental talk on that. And Jeremy, your point, you said, “They’ll like you or they won’t, who cares?” You have to embrace yourself, you can’t adjust in just to meet the needs of someone else. Don’t be someone you’re not because ultimately, that’s not sustainable, you won’t have that consistent behavior over time. It’s not transparent. It breaks down all of these things that we talked about that really build authenticity.
And all that really was and both Grant and Jeremy and myself all said, it’s that, “I was worried. I was worried what someone would think and how your voice sounds in a podcast”, which we all have to now promise to go back and listen to this. And realizing how difficult that can be but then realizing that no one’s thinking about that. Other people aren’t focused on that. Your own story is you’re telling yourself and we end it with life’s hard. Everyone has challenge. Everyone has struggles. Everyone has things that they’re managing their way through and recognizing that, and appreciating that, and the more you appreciate that the more you recognize that helps you be authentic, you be true, share where you’re struggling or call someone and just say, “Hey, how are you doing?” And building those deeper relationships.
[00:38:43] JH: That was pretty comprehensive. I think that just reminds me that old saying that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That’s not that realistic. Not that simplistic. But conversely, if you have authentic friendships in your network, you’ll find many of your meetings fulfilling as opposed to draining. And so, healthy relationships and contacts in the marketplace are a good thing for for everybody.
[00:39:11] AD: I could not agree more. So, our call to action this week, is actually going to be pretty simple. I want our listeners in the next seven days to find time to make two 15-minute phone calls to just check in and say, “How are you doing?” Maybe that turns into one 30-minute call, if the conversation is long. I know that we all have a lot going on. So, even just the short calls go a long way. But just think about someone in your network that you haven’t talked to in a while that you should check in with and just pick up the damn phone and call them and just say, “How are you doing?” And if they don’t answer, leave them a voicemail and text them and tell them to give you a call. Just make that connection, find that way, no agenda, nothing to talk about, not talking about work. Just get on there, “How you doing? What’s been going on? What’s new in your life?” And just check in. It will go so far.
Grant, how can our listeners get a hold of you if they want to get in touch?
[00:40:02] GM: You can call me always at (646) 285-3657. You can go to riversidecompany.com and find me there. And my email is [email protected]. Find me on me on LinkedIn as well.
[00:40:19] AD: Absolutely. And Jeremy, what about you?
[00:40:21] JH: Sadly, for what we do, I have very little cell reception where I live, which is a real problem. But the office is definitely the best best phone number since it rings straight through to the home office, which is (310) 499-5084 ad for. And certainly, email can be a channel although overwhelming at times, [email protected]
[00:40:46] AD: Awesome. And of course, LinkedIn. We’re all LinkedIn, we should all be connecting on LinkedIn. So, listeners make sure to reach out, connect with Grant and Jeremy here.
Gentlemen, thank you so much. This was a great conversation and looking forward to doing more of these in the future.
[00:41:00] GM: Thanks, Alex.
[00:41:01] JH: Thanks.
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