Managing a network of capital providers

Pretty much everyone who gets into doing real estate deals starts with a single deal that looks good to her.

If she manages to raise the money, close the deal, and execute, she probably gets opportunities to do more deals, and that’s how a career in real estate deal-making is born.

But one of the interesting things about how that kind of career progresses is that doing good deals is really only part of the work.

There’s a whole other piece that has to do with managing relationships with capital providers, work that is complicated, (sometimes) thankless, and absolutely critical to success.

It’s about figuring out who to go to for capital, managing conflicts between sources of capital, keeping the accounting straight, prioritizing time and attention among deals, and always, always communicating about what’s going right, what’s going wrong, what you’re planning for the future, what you’re worrying about, etc.

None of this stuff can really be taught in school. It’s all about judgment, personal accountability, and emotional intelligence (the latter of which I’ve been accused of lacking a few times in my life!). And you learn it by getting yourself into complicated situations with people with conflicting priorities, then figuring out how to navigate through those situations in ways that make everyone feel fairly-treated.

In my life, I’ve often found that experience is over-rated. For example, in hiring, I’ve done very well by prioritizing energy, honesty and intelligence over “been there, done that”. But, when it comes to building and managing a network of capital providers, there is no substitute for learning by doing.