Article on the Death of Talking
We don’t talk anymore in our new anti social global village and are not making the finish line.
My love and one of very few skills on this planet is getting deals done and quickly. I often think it comes down to seeing the finish line; not getting bogged down in detail, and as long as you have a willing seller and buyer, in any transaction, commercial advisors on both sides, focusing on that finish line and hopefully the next race. This involves an in depth understanding of what the other parties in the transaction want and need to achieve rather than focusing on your own objectives.
That invariably involves regular talking, a skill / norm I see more and more in decline and with it sadly the finishing line is diminishing and often turning into a waste of everybody’s time, effort and money. “People buy people” we should never forget that and saddens me Eighty percent of human communication is nonverbal in 2017
I have bought five companies this year and 10 x development sites to build 65 x new homes. In all of my deals. I insist we have an all parties telephone call after contracts go out with lawyers, principals, agents, sometimes funders to iron out any fundamental differences. This is for a number of reasons, not least it stops lawyers e mailing / arguing over every commercial point at £300~ £ 400 per hour so saves me money primarily, gives the transaction momentum, and sets the tone that any problems we nip in the bud, we don’t let drift. “Time kills deals” is one of my mottos that has served me well over the years. It also shows all parties you are a decent non axe murderer human being type, you look for solutions at every point, not looking to get one over anyone and don’t have a large ego / small penis. Basically My role as protagonist is to step back, support the transaction by whatever means and make everyone’s life easier. I believe the approach gains lawyer and everyone buy in, respect and focuses everyone on problem solving. If we didn’t have that call, I’m the unknown albeit incredibly handsome enemy and keyboard warrior to be wary of rather than work with.
Equally before we even agree a deal. I always insist on meeting the other side for a coffee even though I don’t live in the UK. I will fly in especially. I can tell within 5 minutes of meeting someone whether they either want to sell, will be my buyer or a tyre kicker, will be easy to deal with or waste my time and money, and if they have the fire in their belly and drive to see the finish line like I do. With respect to agents and advisors, they often are focused only on their fees, not the human connection ( a few exceptions and those are the ones we keep doing deals with ) Nothing compares to looking the decision maker in the whites of their eyes and understanding them, their objectives, and how best to handle every eventuality along the process. An average deal takes between 3-6 months to get to the finish line from initial contact. Life is not a dress rehearsal nor is business, so picking up the phone whether it be for good, bad or indifferent reasons keeps all parties feeling included. The puppy that has its belly tickled always becomes a more loving dog or bitch long term.
Balancing my “time kills deals” argument. Youthful exubérance often made me get to the finish line at any cost and learnt through painful experience. “Sometimes the best deals we do in life are the ones we don’t do” Losing over £ 6 million and wiping me out in the 2008 financial crisis taught me this. Now I regularly “lose” my phone when I feel someone behaves unreasonably, looks to move the goal posts or not sure on something. Recently the other side was texting and getting more irate as no response and upped his offer twice over a weekend as had no response. I was delighted to turn my phone on Monday morning ! If we had spoken he would have probably saved himself around £ 50,000. Our quest for instant gratification and answers is a weakness. Sometimes play the long game and “be smart, go dark !” Switch off. Take time to consider things, don’t be driven by emotion from non verbal communication.
If I receive a shitty e mail or text. I wait an hour and pick up the phone to call. I then understand and not second guess ( often wrongly ) someone’s behaviour and thought process and allows all sides to calm down, refocus especially when dealing with fellow testosterone filled alpha male types who I will admit are a dicotamy of appearing complicated yet very simple creatures really. Talking can be awkward, we cannot hide but when we talk, we are aware of our flaws, more transparent, often humble and real. We can hear a smile or sigh and helps us be more honest, uncensored and focus on a solution there and then if possible.
Equally if someone who is not a friend whatsapps me I immediately feel personally violated and like they have turned up unannounced to my home to stay with their extended family for a week .They are called back and this excercise is repeated until they stop. Balancing that unprofessional communication. I find WhatsApp voice notes fantastic as a communication tool as allows people who feel the need to waffle, rant, pass their message in the now to do so as and when they want; and the other end choose as and when They want to listen. In my case often whilst multi tasking on other deals or boxing, sailing, paddle boarding and trying to be in a more relaxed state than the other side to prepare for my call back knowing they are happy they have got off their chest.
My Uk phone has every app on, ( a few exceptions. Grinder etc ) I notice friends and Millenials in particular are often focussed on social media followers, likes which just dosent pay the bills. People look at me like im a mad dinasour when I ask. How many of your followers / likes will you invite to your wedding ? more importantly with no hint of free food how many will come to your funeral ? I suspect the answer is very few which is one of the reasons I’ve recently purchased a phone for travelling with nothing other than numbers, a green and red button and a power button and intend to try and use this more and more In my quest to let us not stop talking in the hope of keep crossing that finish line.