Lessons Learned from Working Remotely

Brendan McKay Falcon Investment Advisors

Most of us are in some form of remote working position right now and this brings about a whole host of new challenges. Brendan McKay is a Principal with Falcon Investment Advisors who has been working remotely for the last few years and today we have him on the show to talk about the lessons he has learned! Our conversation with Brendan is all about creating a productive remote working environment and the value of maintaining social connections between employees for the firms they are a part of. We kick things off with Brendan hearing about his transition from New York to L.A. and how he set up an appropriate space for working. From there, Brendan details his process of slowly realizing that while he was very productive at home, something was missing. The problem was that working remotely doesn’t allow for those informal ‘water cooler talk’ moments which seem unimportant but actually end up playing a large role for firms as far as decision making, and building trust amongst staff. We drill down on the necessity of this type of social interaction, and Brendan talks about the changes he made to incorporate more of it into his remote work arrangement. Next up, we get into the importance of mentorship, the idea that so much of what you learn at work happens through doing. Falcon has been building formalized systems for this into their corporate culture since even before the lockdowns and we hone in on their value as far as the firm’s long-term vision.

Key Points From This Episode

  • Unforeseen challenges remote work presented Brandan and lessons he learned.
  • How technology has allowed for remote working styles, especially in the investment industry.
  • The value of creating a separate space at home so that work can be focused on properly.
  • How much harder one has to work in a remote environment to stay in touch with people.
  • ‘Water cooler talk’ – its role in decision making and the challenge of replicating it remotely.
  • Regular catch-up calls and increasing travel cadence: Remote water cooler talk.
  • Productivity versus effectiveness, the need for the latter for building trust and decision making.
  • Building a corporate culture that values bringing back the informality that is lost remotely.
  • How the responsibility rests with seniors to reach out to juniors to build informal relationships.
  • The mentorship program at Falcon and the role it plays in formalizing building relationships.
  • ‘You only learn investment by doing’ – stewarding apprenticeships through mentorship.
  • The role of mentorship in ensuring the continuation of high-quality workers for the long term.

[INTRODUCTION]

[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.

[00:00:22] AD: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Branch Out. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today’s guest is Brendan McKay, a Principal with Falcon Investment Advisors based out of Boston and New York City. Now, Brendan lives out on the West Coast and has been working remotely for a number of years now. I asked Brendan to come onto the show to share some of the lessons that he’s learned in working remotely, given that we are all being forced to work in some level of a virtual, or remote world today. I hope you enjoy.

[00:00:53] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.

[INTERVIEW]

[00:01:00] AD: Brendan, welcome to Branch Out. Excited to have you here today.

[00:01:03] BM: Yeah. Thanks, Alex. Really happy to be here.

[00:01:05] AD: I want to start with talking to our listeners for a minute and just setting the stage a bit for what the conversation Brendan and I are going to have today. Brendan made the decision a while back to move out to the West Coast, despite the fact that he works for a New York-based firm. Through that, Brendan’s had some time to understand a little bit about what it’s like to work remotely.

I want to be clear that right now, we’re in the middle of COVID. No one’s an expert and no one knows all the right answers behind this, but we want to just have a discussion around some of the lessons that you’ve learned and how you’ve been able to adapt and maybe share some thoughts that our listeners, ultimately, can take away to learn how to adjust and to work in this new remote environment that we’ve all been forced into.

With that said, Brendan, can you just share some of your general thoughts and some of the lessons you’ve learned and we’ll go from there?

[00:01:59] BM: Yeah, happy to. Maybe I’ll set the stage a little bit in terms of you mentioned the personal move west, that happened two and a half years ago at this point. Early 2018 is when my wife and I moved from the East Coast out to Los Angeles. We’d always wanted to be on the West Coast. I was able to pull together a little bit of a business plan for my firm and my partners to outline how I envisioned the move working.

Going into it, I knew I was going to be remote, that really wasn’t going to be anyone else with me. I had this vision of how remote working worked. Quickly learned that what I thought was going to happen – There was some similarities and I guessed or perceived how some of that working style would go, but I was completely wrong on a bunch of other stuff and I’m happy to talk about my learnings.

I think the biggest learning is that given technology these days, how much work, at least in our industry, in the investment industry and ecosystem, how much work happens over the phone, how much work happens over e-mail. You’re reading documents on a computer screen. Very rarely do I actually these days print something physical out. Technology allows for so many people in this industry to actually work remotely. It’s not like if we were in the restaurant, a retail space, or healthcare space where there’s that absolute human interaction need on a daily basis, hourly, minute basis. That’s not really as present here, although I’ll touch on some stuff in relation to that later on.

Technology allows for it, but it’s a very different style of working. You are by yourself. In my case, I had a little bit of a WeWork space, but just given the hours that I work, they’re more East Coast focused than West Coast focused. I was never really going into that WeWork space, and so I created a little bit of a home office for myself, which is great. The commute is short.

There’s distractions going on in terms of just normal life that happens on the periphery and in the background. Creating a space that functions as your work environment at home to me was super important. It was a way to almost physically detach and get yourself in that work mindset, while still being in your home environment and setting things up from a technology standpoint with your printer right there, phone, a couple of computer screens and your laptop, just creating that little environment that you’re replicating from the physical office environment was pretty important.

I think another big learning for me, and this is probably one that I didn’t really anticipate at the outset is that you need to work pretty hard in order to stay in touch with people. It’s not stay in touch with people. It’s not like you’re e-mailing people any less, or talking to people on the phone any less. It’s the staying in touch with people that doesn’t happen over the lunch table. It doesn’t happen around the water cooler, or a morning coffee break, or things like that that you a 100000% cannot replicate when you’re an office of one working remotely.

That’s so vital to, I think, basically, any workplace environment functioning correctly. Certainly, one like ours, where so much of deal making happens between people. Yes, you read sims, yes you evaluate models and cash flow and things of that nature. At the end of the day, it’s people that are creating a deal between a buyer, a seller, an intermediary, like an investment bank and all of the third-party consultants that wrap around that. It’s people at the end of the day.

I had to work hard and harder than I thought to actually replicate that component that I missed and that I think I – I probably realized a little bit too late that that void was larger than I thought it was going to be, if that makes sense.

[00:06:22] AD: Two things I want to unpack there. First, just reflecting for a minute. You talked about putting the right workspace together. I want to say to our listeners that I’m a big believer in set yourself up for success. Set yourself up in an environment that you’re going to be productive in. Understanding that you in your case knew you were going to be working from home, so you spent the time to get a home office set up.

For our listeners today that maybe aren’t planning to work at home, obviously, COVID has forced us all to do it in some way. By the time this episode comes out, I think we’ll be a little over six months into the COVID epidemic. I would say to people, if you stand back and say either A, you’re going to be working at home a lot more than you were before, which I think will be the case for many of us.

Or, if you’re in a company that has said, “Hey, we’re just not coming back till early next year,” whenever it might be, step back and say, what is the environment I’m working in and how can I make sure it’s most productive for me? Go invest in a few monitors. Go invest in the right equipment to make sure that you’re sitting there and in a space and that you have a space carved out that can be productive for you.

Now, if you have the luxury of having a spare room, or having a space that you can set that in, that’s great. If you’re in a situation where you have to do it at a kitchen table, or something like that, still, make sure that you’re setting that space up in a consistent way, in a way that you feel comfortable going into, into exactly what you said, there’s a little bit of a mental transition. I’ve done this myself a lot, especially pre-COVID. You do the work from home and maybe you’re doing a load of laundry, then you’re going to unload the dishwasher, then you’re going to shoot an e-mail off.

You bounce back and forth. In as nice as that is, and I don’t want a discount, there’s a time and a place where you can have a day to do that, or have some flexibility and freedom in your life to get those personal tasks done. When you really need to get work done and you really need to get focused and be productive, you need to have that space and you need to make that mental transition to, “Hey, I’m here to do work. Not I’m doing work, but I’m also doing that.” Because if you keep that up consistently, you’re going to lose all sorts of productivity.

[00:08:25] BM: Right. A 100%. The power of being able to close a physical door at home and that the closing of that door is that transition from home to work, to me is one of the biggest things. We have the luxury of having a second bedroom that has functioned as my home office for the better part of two and a half years. When I get in there and I shut the door and I can consistently string together four, five hours of work before as you mentioned, taking a break for lunch and you unload the dishwasher while you’re doing that, that’s great.

Because I have had days in the past, where I couldn’t necessarily use the home office. Certainly, with my wife being home now, we’re trading space physically in the apartment. If it’s my day to be at the kitchen table, it’s hard to string together four to five hours. I appreciate that there are folks out there that don’t necessarily have the luxury of creating that actual physical separate space. As much as possible, if you can mentally shut some door to make that transition between the rest of your life and your work life, to me, that’s been one of my biggest takeaways.

[00:09:39] AD: Could not agree with you more. Let’s jump into the second part of what you said there though. I thought it’s really important, this idea of water cooler talk. You step back and say, as a professional in your role, you’re making investment decisions, but I think across the professional spectrum, what you’re really doing is you’re working with people. There’s decisions that need to be made and a lot of those ultimate decisions that are made are made through people having sidebar conversations, having small discussions.

While yes, you may have your weekly investment committee meeting where everything is really being presented and you’re discussing as a group and that is certainly a impactful part of that decision-making and likely where that final decision may be made, the behind the scenes, the small talk, the conversations that go on are so important in moving things forward and making sure that all the people around the table are contributing to the thought process to execute on that.

I know, you and I have talked about this a little bit before. You said that one of the big things you’ve noticed is when you moved out there and you had some of that separation, you lose some of that ability. You lose that connection. What have you done to one, identify that that was maybe missing? More importantly for our listeners, what have you done now and how are you conscious of making sure you’re building that into your day, so that you can continue to contribute in that way and continue to be part of that collaborative decision-making process?

[00:11:05] BM: I realized, probably within my first six months of moving out that something just didn’t feel right. I was participating in our weekly Monday morning meetings the same way I always had, granted I was over the phone, versus a physical member in a room. I was interacting with my deal teams seamlessly in many respects, on the East Coast, between our Boston and New York offices, we cross staff things quite often.

It was not all that weird for one member to be on the phone and the rest to be in person. Nothing had really changed, aside from my physical removal from the office environment, at least from my perception. I realized that I just wasn’t making as much progress internally on moving deals forward, having really productive conversations around investment opportunities, structure, diligence, outcomes, just the soup to nuts of deal-making, as I did six months prior, even though I had been a little bit more junior in my career.

I took a step back and said like, “What isn’t happening now that I’m out here and I had a couple of conversations internally.” The message was, “Listen, Brendan. You’re a known quantum internally.” At that point in time, I had been with Falcon for going on eight years. People understood how I worked and thought and communicated, but we’re missing this component of you and interacting with you in those really tiny five, 10-minute intervals, whereas you put it, the real deal stuff happens sometimes outside of that big broad committee meeting when you’re able to sit down on a Friday afternoon with one of your senior partners and just say, “Hey, this is something I’m working on. I’d really love to get your perspectives, or bounce some ideas off of you.”

Sitting around the lunch table with eight of your colleagues and everyone talking about a deal and people that aren’t on the deal team being able to share perspectives. That’s what was missing. It took me a while to realize that. It’s glaringly obvious when I talk about it now and maybe even in the middle of it, if I had picked my head up from just heads down working at home. I could have realized that a lot of those small, incremental activities and interactions during the day, that that was the one component that was missing.

As soon as I realized that, I said, “Okay. I’m going to take a little bit of a break from work-work and re-orient and try to figure out how can I replicate what I used to have being in a physical office in terms of my interactions with others on the team.” What I’ve done and it’s easier today with everyone being remote. I would say, what I’ve just outlined will probably always be a little bit difficult for one employee, or one team that’s remote and everyone else is in a physical office setting. Because if everyone else is physically together, it’s going to be abundantly obvious that there’s just this other thing, this other group out there that is the same, but distinctly different in some respects.

It’s easier when everyone’s working from home. That’s been a big learning over the last couple of months. Prior to everyone moving remote, I spent some time and said, “How do I want to get back what I lost?” A big part of that was increasing my travel cadence. I went back east, probably once every eight weeks, whether it was for a distinct management meeting, or if I didn’t have any reason to get back, I would just book a trip.

That would get a little bit choppy. Sometimes it would be three months before I came back and other times, it would be literally, I’d be back in a month. Having a little bit more of a distinct cadence around actually getting back physically in front of people, so you could replicate that as much as possible, it was actually putting time on my partners and other deal team’s calendars to not even talk about work. It was just hey, every two Fridays for 15 minutes, I’d like to have a standing call with you. If we miss one, no biggie, but let’s try to just chat. It could be about work. It could be about the Thursday night football game, if you want.

It’s just trying to replicate some of what you got with those really quick interactions, where you could collaboratively bounce ideas off of one another, have that two-way dialogue that isn’t going to happen in an investment committee, where the entire firm is participating. Then the only other thing I would say, is weave internally just to play on the technology point again, we use a system called life size. It’s like a Zoom or a teams.

Basically, it’s the ability to use your camera functionality in your laptop to directly call people. I’ve noticed a huge uptick in people just video chatting. It’s don’t pick up your cellphone and call cellphone-to-cellphone. It’s talk computer-to-computer. You get so much more by reading facial expressions than you do over the phone and certainly, over e-mail, that it makes the productivity around communication a lot better.

I know there’s a lot in there. I think thematically, it’s don’t underestimate replicating the coffee walks, the “water cooler talk,” the lunches that you gain efficiency in your day by no longer having that working remotely office of one. They are vital to being a successful employee. I think more broadly, for a firm to function and fire on all cylinders in this new world.

[MESSAGE]

[00:17:16] ANNOUNCER: This is branch out, a Connection Builder’s podcast.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[00:17:25] AD: Well said. I wanted really highlight the productivity versus effectiveness discussion. We sit back and it’s very easy to say, “Well, to your point, if I am not having those meetings, if I’m heads down, I’m doing the work, the actual job and task at hand, the technician side of what you’re doing.” That’s great and you can be hyper-productive in that process and you can get a lot of work done, but are you being effective in what you’re doing long-term, in the big picture of things? Are you able to continue to be as effective?

There’s two real things that I think jumped out to me as I’m listening to you talk around that. On one hand, it is having those small sidebar conversations, where the members of not on a deal team, or someone who’s not necessarily on a project has an ability to share some thoughts around it and just that collaborative thought time, where you’re just bouncing ideas around. You’re not necessarily in a formal setting, talking about a specific item, but rather, just playing those ideas around. That’s really what my experience, that’s really when things get solved, or that’s when people start to come together and say, “Oh, that’s a really good idea.”

Then you bring it back to the committee meeting, then you bring it back to whatever the next level is, where you start to put those plans into action. The other side of that too is this idea of building trust. We all as professionals, as you said, we work human-to-human and you have to build that trust between two humans. That’s fundamental to what you’re doing. Trust isn’t necessarily something that you just naturally have.

Two people don’t just meet each other and have this deep level of trust for each other. Rather, through multiple conversations and I love the idea of you said, every other Friday, we’re going to jump on the phone for 15 minutes just to talk. In doing that, the more you interact with someone, the more time they have to get to know you, the more that trust level and that starts to build, because they get to really know who you are and start to understand more about your character and what you think and your personal life and all those things that are so important to really trusting someone.

When you start to get the trust of your team, that’s when you can be effective. That’s when you start to be able to say, “Okay. We’re going to be able to get something done.” You ask somebody to get it done and you know that they prioritize it to help you in that project. Or better yet, when they’re not getting something done, you have the ability to say, “Hey, what’s going on here?” Know that it’s not going to be taken from a place of defensiveness, but rather, you’ve built that rapport, you’ve built that respect and trust between you that you can have those real conversations.

If you don’t carve out time to make that happen, it won’t happen. Especially for right now. Again, for our listeners, this is going to be – we’ll be a little over six months into COVID, and my gut tells me that most of us at that point are still going to be working largely from home, while we may be going to the office from time to time and seeing each other. I don’t think it will be the Monday through Friday grind that it was pre-COVID for quite some time here.

In that time period where we’re not doing that, you need to make sure you’re conscious of that and finding ways to get in front of people and spend that quality relationship building time.

[00:20:29] BM: I totally agree. One sounds obvious, two sounds easy. It’s like, “Cool, let’s just schedule five to 10 minutes every couple of days.” It actually does take a little bit of effort, because if you don’t commit to it as the one that wants to proactively do the outreach and replicate a lot of what happens in the physical office setting, you actually need to commit to it.

Then I think, it works both ways. I would say, there needs to be understanding from the broader firm and employee base. Certainly, those that like myself now that have been at my firm for over 10 years, you need to – want to and create an environment for junior and certainly, new employees that join someplace in this environment, where it’s remote from the get-go.

Create an environment where that’s just the norm. Then on the flipside for a younger employee, making sure that it’s important enough to you to make that happen, that you’re also trying to make that happen on its own. There’s probably guys and gals out there that are going to go to every junior employee and say, “Hey, let’s do the virtual coffee for 10 minutes every other day.” I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s incumbent upon new employees whether you’ve been working for 15 years and you’ve just joined our firm, or this is your first job out of school, to where appropriate, try to replicate a lot of what’s just lost now in this new world.

[00:22:11] AD: Two really good points there. One, again, if you are in a senior position, and I’ll say senior, whether that means you have people reporting to you, or you simply have more tenure within the firm. If you are in a place where you are senior to someone else, you should be reaching out proactively, making sure that you’re finding time for those conversations. Exactly as you pointed out, you have to really want to do that.

This doesn’t mean, let me just throw something on the calendar, jump on and I’m also checking e-mails on my other screen and answering text messages while I’m asking how are you doing, right? Because that’s the quickest way to do exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to do. The second you tell someone, “Hey, I want to just catch up with you and make sure you’re doing all right.” Then you say, “Hey, how’s your day?”

You can very quickly tell, they don’t really care. They don’t really honestly care to know what they asked you. They were doing that, because that’s what they thought they were supposed to do.

[00:23:06] BM: How was your day and you say your dog died and they’re like, “Oh, that’s awesome, man,” because they have no idea.

[00:23:12] AD: Exactly. That will do significantly more harm, than just not even doing the meeting to begin with. Make sure that you’re coming at it from the right intention. To your point on what I’ll call more junior employees and whether that be again, junior from a place in the organization, or junior in terms of the tenure you have within the organization, be proactive about reaching out and building those relationships, because the reality is the senior folks, especially in the general professional services industry as a whole, people are busy. People have a lot of stuff on their plate. Someone may not be setting time up for you, not because you’re not important or not because they don’t want to, but they just simply have a lot of stuff going on.

Take it in your own hands. I always say to people, take control of your career growth. Take control of what you want to do and reach out and try to set those meetings up. Now, that doesn’t mean the person on the other side is always going to be open to it. It may not always work out in your favor, but you should be absolutely taking those steps and candidly, if you’re trying to reach out to your senior and spend time with them and they’re not willing to do it, that might be a red flag you want to start considering. You really need to make sure you’re taking those steps to reach out and put yourself in that position to build those relationships.

[00:24:27] BM: We at Falcon, early on, before all this started, having no clue that all of this was going to happen earlier this year, we actually started a more formal mentor program internally. Every firm has different approaches to how firm mentorship works. It could be a formal program. It could be very ad hoc, informal. That’s been, I think, hugely value additive, because every employee is paired up with someone else.

We rotate on a quarterly half-year basis to make sure there’s just cross-pollination across the firm. That’s a really good place to start for the junior employees to just have this direct line of access. Someone can say to me, “Brendan, you’re my mentor. I want to chat with you every couple of weeks,” or even every week, if that ends up being the case. Then you can slowly pivot out from there.

Whether it’s a formal mentor, or just someone that you’re a bit more closer with than not internally. Starting there and then either, using that individual to branch out elsewhere in the organization, or just keeping that cadence going, I think is a great place to start, if someone’s looking for a way of just like, “How do I do this? How do I start this?” Because there’s no right answer. It’s not like there’s this prescriptive way to replicate a lot of the small interactions in the office environment. It’s really, I think, about an intent on both sides of the table at the end of the day.

I just think back to when I started my career as an investment banking analyst that speak when spoken to. You’re not really encouraged to call up your senior banker and say, “Hey, I’d like to have a virtual coffee for 10 minutes.” The MD would just delete your e-mail, or hang up the phone. Maybe the environment’s new now. I don’t know.

Yeah, it can be tough sometimes, as a more junior employee. Finding your in and finding your champion. It’ll take a little bit of time, but that’s probably a good place to start and branch from there. Also, don’t stress about it too much. I think that’s the other thing. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about this. It’s not like, as an employee, if you’re not doing this, that you’re going to fail, or not do the right thing. I just keep bringing it back to my start working remote two and a half years ago, I realized that this is what was holding me back from being more productive from advancing within the firm. It’s really small steps, but you’ve got to make sure it happens. That was the biggest learning for me.

[00:27:14] AD: It takes time. It’s not something that you’re able to one day, when it comes to building those relationships and spending time, being intentional about that. You don’t just flip a switch and say, “Oh, I’m going to have this meeting.” All of a sudden, those relationships are strong and in place. It’s something that you have to be intentional about over a period of time.

[00:27:31] BM: Right. You can also just say, “Well, listen. I e-mail with these people every day. I talk to these people every day. How is this any different?” It truly is different. I don’t really know how to best describe it, apart from the second I started to interact with my team back east in a non-work context, even though we ultimately always talked about work at the end of the day, when there was just no pressure like, “Hey, let’s catch up for 10 minutes.” I started one, feel more connected. I started to notice that what I said and did resonated a bit more in the exact same settings that it had six months prior internally.

[00:28:11] AD: I think you’re so spot on there. Last thing I want to jump into here real quick, you mentioned the mentor program and understanding that every firm is going to be a little bit different in how they approach something like this, but what I would love just to get some of your general thoughts around this. I mean, you all are busy professionals. I’m sure you looked at a ton of deals last year. You have a lot of activity going on. There’s always seems to be more things to do and not enough hours in the day and I think many of us have that feeling. How do you add that extra time? How do you make that happen? Then also, what was the purpose behind that? What was the aha moment to say, “Hey, this is really important. We need to be putting this into the firm and into our daily process, because it’s going to help us grow in the long run.”

[00:28:55] BM: I think, from the first part of the question, I think it’s that intentionality, similar to just in this new world, how does a disparate team make sure they stay connected. You can either go through the motions and just say, “Yeah, we’ll check in every couple weeks and never ultimately happens.” Or physically dedicate time, whether it happens or not, but just physically dedicate time to making sure those interactions have at least an avenue and a lane to happen with our mentorship program.

It’s check in as much as you want, but every month, you have to chat. Once a quarter, make sure that you’re getting together, whether it’s over a lunch, or a drink or something. I say that’s on the mentor to make sure that that happens, because quite often, the mentee as we just spoke about, you might be working with someone from in a completely different division. In my case, I’m working with people that are 3,000 miles away.

Someone that’s more junior, earlier on in their career, I think personally, it’s on the mentor to push that ball forward and make sure those interactions are happening. In terms of why put together something a little bit more formal, I think we realize – I guess, we’ve had this in place for probably 18 months at this point. You realize that our firm’s been around for 20 years and it’s no longer the group of 10 to 12 that started Falcon. Our team is, I don’t know, can’t recall exact head count, but we’re over 45 now. That’s a big team. It’s a very big family of employees.

You were at the size and what we heard in our feedback, our reviews at the end of the year, where employees are allowed to provide feedback is that it was something that our employees were asking for as well. We said, now is the right time to do it. There’s both a desire to do this. We’re just at the size and scale where we need to make sure that we’re cultivating talent, because we want to retain that talent as much as possible, and making sure that because early on in my career, one of the things I loved, he’s actually no longer with our firm, but one of the guys I really liked working closely with, he sat me down at one point. We were just catching up.

I think I was probably a year or two into Falcon. I looked at him and I was like, “I mean, how do –” I think he was a principal at that time and he was a really young principal. He was just a superstar in terms of how I viewed him and how the firm viewed him. You’re so eager early on your career, you want to get promoted to VP and then principal in three or four years. He was like, “Brendan, this job is an apprenticeship. You only learn how to be an investor by doing. There are no number of textbooks you can read. You can’t cram however many hours into one year. If you want to work an 80-hour week, if you want to work a 120-hour week.”

“It’ll advance your understanding of what you’re doing on the margin, but you learn this role by doing and by being around people that have done this for decades and just marinating in that and learning how to be an investor. That just takes time.” That really resonated with me early on in my career.

In terms of mentorship, I think it’s allowing that apprenticeship mentality to germinate outside of the context of an actual deal, because we’ve talked a fair bit over this conversation, around how people are so busy. There’s always more things you can be doing. In the context of deal-making, there’s all – you could fill days and weeks and months with the stuff that doesn’t get done that you want to get done.

Taking a step back and making sure some of that – the stewardship of apprenticeship happens outside of the context of a crazy deal environment, from my standpoint, was one of the biggest things we wanted to cultivate at Falcon is how do we pass the baton, if you will, of folks in a team that has been doing this for a very long time and working together to others in the organization and make sure that that education that can’t happen in a textbook and can only happen with time, that some of that’s going on in the background, if that makes sense.

[00:33:54] AD: 100%. When it really comes down to it, it’s what is the long-term goal of the firm and how do you prioritize the success of that long-term accomplishment. I don’t want to discount what needs to get done in the moment. In the deal world especially, I know it very well from the sense that there’s an unlimited amount of things to do. You can always find more work to fill your day with. If you don’t step back and prioritize that development of the next generation of the team, that development of the talent internally, you’re never going to grow it, unless you’re intentional about it.

Yes. One or two people will certainly excel, because they naturally fit. You’re always going to have the rock stars that will figure it out. The second you become intentional, not only do you allow your rock stars to figure it out faster, but you also start cultivating other talent in the organization that maybe you didn’t even realize existed. When you build that in and you start to make that a priority of what you’re doing, yeah, it’s a time-suck in the short run, no doubt. It’s going to take up time that you feel you don’t have, but fast forward five or 10 years, that’s going to look totally different.

No one wants to get to that point in their career where they’re the senior partner and they look back and feel there’s this massive talent gap that exists between junior and senior. That happens when you don’t spend time developing the right people and working to make sure that they can continue to grow and come up behind you.

[00:35:15] BM: Right. Yep. A 100%

[00:35:17] AD: Awesome. Brendan, this has been great. Really enjoy having you on here. Appreciate the contribution to the show. Looking forward to doing more of these together in the future.

[00:35:25] BM: Yeah, absolutely. Really enjoyed it, Alex.

[00:35:26] AD: Awesome. Thank you.

[OUTRO]

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