SEASON 1, EPISODE 6

Head of Originations at Mag Mile Capital: Matt Weilgus on Communicating Effectively and Managing Expectations

Release Date: August 15, 2022

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In this episode, the Closing Table guest, Matt Weilgus, discusses unique skills he has developed that have helped him rise in the Commercial Real Estate Industry.

One of these skills includes the importance of learning to write in an effective manner and communicate efficiently through email/text. He also discusses why it's important to never sugarcoat things to your potential clients and how being a "yes man" can destroy your relationship with these clients.

Matt Weilgus is SVP, Head of Originations and General Counsel for Mag Mile Capital, a commercial real estate mortgage banking firm focused on middle-market opportunities nationwide across all asset classes. Since 1/1/22 when named Head of Originations, Mag Mile Capital has closed $220MM of financings with an additional $325MM of financings signed and expected to close during Q3 2022.

Prior to joining Mag Mile Capital in 2019, Matt was a practicing transactional commercial real estate attorney with such organizations as Acadia Realty Trust and Robinson & Cole after starting his career out of law school as a landlord-tenant litigator in New York City.

What's discussed:

00:00 - Intro

00:00 - Who is Matt?

2:00 - Why Matt wanted to be an entrepreneur

3:30 - An important skill that helped him get to where he is now

5:00 - Why writing in effectively is so important

9:00 - The leadership skills you need to rise

15:15 - How to find a great mentor

19:00 - How to manage expectations

Transcript:

Intro:

You are listening to the Closing Table by ProDeal, the Commercial Real Estate Industry Insiders podcast. Closing deals is what separates the good from the great in this business. That's why we pick the brains of the world's best lawyers, lenders, developers and brokers. With a reputation for getting the deal closed, stay tuned for insider tips on how to succeed at the closing table to bring your business to the top. Now let's start closing some deals. 

Ian Group:

Welcome back! I'm your host, Ian Group. And today I'm here with my friend Matt Weilgus. Matt and I met a few years ago. We hit it off right away. He started out his career just like me as a real estate attorney working in big firms. And he worked at a publicly traded rate, a family owned portfolio of industrial and retail assets. He's got a ton of experience. And now he heads up originations at the mortgage banking firm Mag Mile Capital, where he also serves as their general counsel. Just a reminder that this podcast is brought to you by ProDeal, The Data Room for Deal teams. If you're looking for a superior experience organizing and tracking due diligence, pro deal was built just for you. We work with some of the biggest lenders, sponsors, law firms and brokers in the industry. If you're interested in ProDeal, check us out: prodeal360.com. Now let's dive into today's conversation with Matt Weilgus. 

Why don't you just give me, like, a summary of your background so everyone knows who you are and how you've come to where you are right now?

Matt Weilgus:

Sure. Sure. Thanks. Thanks for having me on. Matt Weilgus, Senior Vice President with Mag Mile Capital worked at equity placement brokerage firm, working with owners and developers help them finance their deals and solve their capital stacks all asset classes nationwide. My background before moving into the brokerage world, I was a real estate attorney for about roughly 13 years in a mix of in-house counsel roles and law firm roles. I spent some time with Acadia Realty Trust, the retail in their legal department, then Robinson+Cole, Connecticut based law firm in their real estate group. And I was general counsel for a company family owned portfolio that owns and manages a portfolio of retail industrial. But, you know, my background, it's definitely been a journey and had a wide variety of exposure, I would say, throughout the commercial real estate industry. 

And, you know, came to a realization in about 2018 that I just didn't foresee myself being strictly a lawyer for the balance of my career for the next call it 30 or 40 years, and wanted to do something that was more entrepreneurial. Want to do something where I felt like I could leverage the network that I had built and cultivated in a more meaningful way, meaningful to me in the sense that, you know, I did only want to live in the documents. I wanted to get out there and help with putting deals together and really leverage that network and put myself out there in a different way. 

Ian Group: 

I smile because I had a similar epiphany in my career wanting to branch out to. So I love that. I would love to know. So I think it takes a lot to kind of move through different phases of a career, but it's cool that you've sort of kept it all within real estate. Looking back on where you started, what do you think the most important skills are that you've acquired to get you to where where you are? Very different place from where you started and yeah, where you landed. So curious what what are the skills that you focus on? 

Matt Weilgus:

You know what's interesting and this was the first one that came to mind and I would wouldn't expect it to necessarily be a through line from the practice of law to being more of a mortgage broker. But it really has been extremely helpful in my current role more than I would expect. And that's writing, right? Being with writing, being a strong writer. You know, clearly as an attorney and going through law school. And then, you know, in the practice of law, you need to be an effective writer, not only in your legal documents, whether you are writing, drafting a lease or purchasing sale agreement or set of loan documents. But that's more technical, like legal writing. I'm thinking more long form of writing as a means of communication. 

So much of what we do now is via email and text and in the written word. And while a lot of people, particularly on the business side or the brokerage side, can be very effective with whatever shorthand form of writing, whether it's informal or a little more formal. Different things work for different people. What I have found that sets me apart as a broker is my ability to sort of synthesize what's going on, on a deal and convey a position and a recommendation to our clients in a way that I don't see a lot of other brokers having the ability to do, and I attribute a lot of that to the foundation that I had learning how to write effectively and just a skill that I've developed over the years which I've seen to be. It has proven to be very valuable. 

Ian Group:

Now getting to the point, being able to summarize that and in asking, asking the thing that you need to ask and be pointed in the response, that's, that's huge. So if I am listening to this and I'm like, I would love to improve my writing skills, what do you do? 

Matt Weilgus: Yeah, you know, I don't have a magical tool for that, but I would say is you if you're a more junior person in the industry and whether you're a lawyer or a broker or whatever role you're in, seek out that mentorship or, you know, absorb what you see more senior people are doing. You might have to tweak it to make it workable for you and your style. But don't be afraid to take criticism from people that are, you know, constructive feedback from people that are more senior, more experience. 

Like anything else, it takes reps. But I would think, you know, and this is something I try to do all the time and it's another skill, I'd call it more of a soft skill, but understand your audience, right? A lot of people will put things in writing, you know, just in the same way for everybody, regardless of their audience. Step back before you hit send and think, okay, who's on the receiving end of this email or this message or whatever the case may be and think, okay, how are they going to absorb this? What are their pain points? What is their day to day business look like and what is going to be most relevant to them?

I feel like that's just more of a soft skill that also incorporates writing that a lot of people miss. And as a result, it leads to ambiguity, it leads to conflict. So I try to always step back, particularly when it's a more of a longer communication, something that's at a critical point in the deal and making sure that I'm thinking about who my audience is and honing that piece of writing so that it makes it most relevant, most directly significant to the person on the on the receiving end. 

Ian Group:

And especially in the real estate industry where everyone is so busy. 

Matt Weilgus:

Yeah. 

Ian Group:

You don't have time to go for all this back and forth. So that's that's so important. And I would definitely urge anybody who is maybe more junior or trying arise to really, really listen to that again because it's it's it is a soft skill, but it's like paying attention to detail and knowing your audience. I mean, these are like so important. So I really, really like that. 

Yeah, I'll add one anecdote, which was one tip I got from my producer colleague Patrick Jensen was, you know, I would I would tend to want to include a lot in my emails when I first started at the company four years ago and he gave me this tip, it's like the three sentence email and you can kind of you can you could do four sentence, 5 seconds, whatever. But if you really try to limit your emails to three, four or five sentences, it really forces you to keep it very honed in. And I would urge anybody who might think that they're sending very long emails to try it. You're going to wind up cutting a lot of stuff out of there, a lot of the. 

Matt Weilgus:

Flexibility I had to make a similar adjustment coming from the practice of law where lawyers love to hear themselves talk a lot, to write long soliloquies. You know, better writing does not mean longer writing. It often means the opposite variance can make it concise, make it clear, hit on the most important things and you'll be an effective communicator. 

Ian Group:

I want to talk about leadership. So you're in a leadership role at your company? 

Matt Weilgus:

Yes.

Ian Group:

On the origination side, and then as general counsel, which I think is a big it is a big role. But what leadership skills have you needed to develop as you've moved into those roles?

Matt Weilgus:

Yeah. So my role, it is a hybrid role in terms of being head of originations and general counsel with Mag Mile Capital. You know, honestly, the legal side of things is probably less than 10% of my time these days. You know, to the extent we have a legal issue or a document that the company itself and our CEO may need some help with, that's when I'll step in. But on any transaction that we're brokering, you know, the borrower and lender always have their dedicated outside counsel. But from a origination standpoint, you know, as far as being a leader, you know, I am now in like a player coach role since January of this year. 

So it's been an adjustment where I've had to, number one, learn how to allocate my time between my own pipeline and that of the other player in our originators, on our team and in that player coach role. But I enjoy it. I would say, you know, the most important skills that a leader can have, at least in my role and and what I observe and what I've gleaned from others over the years is you got to have that empathy similar to go to that discussion we were saying about knowing your audience, knowing your audience doesn't necessarily always have to be the client or if it's a lender that I'm trying to convince to to finance a deal, it can also be internal, right? 

Like you need to know your audience unique to know your team members in order to be an effective leader. And so I need to know what makes each member of our team make them click, you know, know about them personally, where they're from, what is their background, what is their family like? What is their what are they like to do day to day and what's going to resonate with them and how do they get motivated? You know, some people just you know, you got to build them up and you got to hold their hand. Some people don't need as much hand-holding, don't want to be what feels like micromanagement to them, you know. So you have to sort of understand that you can't necessarily be the same leader to everyone on your team. 

But, you know, at some point what I've also seen is that particularly for people who are a little younger or maybe earlier on in their careers, they're afraid to take a position. You're afraid to have conviction as a leader. At some point, you've got to take you've got to instill the confidence in them to have conviction and take a position meaning like, I think this is the best lender for this deal because it's, you know, value add multifamily in the Carolinas. And, you know, I know that they can go higher leverage as opposed to your local or regional bank. And at a certain point, you know, if they're not comfortable enough yet to take that firm position or are looking to me for direction, I need to have conviction based on what I understand, what's going on in the market. You know, everyone that we're talking to from a capital source standpoint and and help them, you know, generate the confidence that, you know, so that one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, they, too, have the conviction to take a position and be better advisors to their clients. 

Ian Group: 

That's really awesome feedback and advice. So walk back to when you were moving into that originations role. Did you was there a point where you were kind of looking for your own voice to have that conviction? 

Matt Weilgus: 

Yes. 

Ian Group:

So tell me about that. How did how did you like what steps did you take to get there? 

Matt Weilgus:

Yeah. So, look, I I've had great mentors throughout my career, both as a lawyer and now as a mortgage broker. One guy who who was played a key role in helping me transition from legal to now the brokerage side is Rob Bernstein, who's our Head of Capital Markets at Mag Mile Capital. Rob's background was a CMBS originator. He was a lender for about 20 years with different institutions on Wall Street before he moved over to the brokerage side. About a year before I did so, he was still relatively new to the brokerage side, but he had a lot of deep capital markets experience. 

He had a vast network which we still rely on as a company. And, you know, he so a lot of it was relying on him and Rushi Shah, our CEO, to get a feel for how to size up a deal, identify which capital sources and the right ones to go to quickly. A lot of that came through reps in osmosis and I was relying on them to have the conviction because at first I was feeling it out. So I think a lot of it just comes through mentorship, experience, not being afraid to ask questions, having the humility to, you know, you might look stupid from time to time, but but if you manage your expectations appropriately internally, right? You know, then you won't look stupid. Because they knew that I was a lawyer who needed to gain some reps on this side of the industry. 

I had a lot to bring to the table, but I didn't do. Exactly what they did for a long time. So I was going to need to ask questions and essentially rely on them to have that conviction. After about a year to 18 months of, you know, being getting enough exposure, getting enough reps, and then about a year to 18 months into the role the pandemic hit. I saw how things were transitioning and I saw, you know, and at that point, I was far enough into the role and far enough into this side of the industry where I, you know, started speaking up more and taking on more of a leadership role, largely thanks to just grinding it out day to day, getting exposure to those mentors and relying on their conviction so that I could get to the point now where I'm the one with the conviction and I'm the one who's knows where to look in the capital markets and how to solve a specific deal. 

Ian Group:

So in terms of finding mentors, how did you do that? Did you just go up to them and say, I'd like to learn from you? Or were you in their office asking questions? So like, what do you do to get a mentor that is willing to teach you like they did?

Matt Weilgus:

Yeah, it's a great, great question. You know, I would say I've just been fortunate that, you know, whenever I joined a new organization, whether it was a law firm or when I was in-house counsel for a real estate ownership firm, and now at Mag Mile Capital, you know, I didn't necessarily I joined each organization in part because I knew that there was high quality people that I would be working with and learning from but didn't join it necessarily because I had a specific mentor in mind that I was going to learn at their hand or at their knees. But I would say when I was at Acadia, you kind of it's just human nature. I think you end up gravitating towards similar personality types. So I was at Acadia. I worked for a woman named Heather Moore, who was super charismatic, very outgoing. She happened to be a lawyer. Mm hmm. Frankly, a lot of lawyers are not that way, personality wise. And so I gravitated towards her because she was. She was excellent in terms of just being a people person, being a mentor, not only to me, but to many others in the company. And she also had a more of a hybrid role in terms of being partially legal and also helping out in a major way in with the leasing department at Acadia. So she sort of had a a legal slash operations role, which is something that I sort of observing. So I'd like to do something maybe similar to that. 

Further down the road in my career, although I was primarily legal at the time when I went to Robinson+Cole, I worked for the partners. There was a gentleman named Steve Elbaum and his approach also a extroverted, very talented attorney from a substantive standpoint, but really thrived on the interpersonal relationships. He deployed what I like to call like a tactful aggression. He was aggressive without seeming that way, and it was just sort of that a lot of it goes back towards personality. But he had developed that over the years through reps and knowing his audience, understanding that clients come in different shapes and sizes on opposing counsel on the other side of a transaction, come in different shapes and sizes, and he knew how to bring people together in order to get things done. He was very practical about getting things done. 

So those are the things that appealed to me over the years. And now, you know, in capital markets role in a brokerage role, particularly in recent months with all the volatility out there and rising interest rates and the impact that has on everything, reducing loan proceeds, so it affects debt service coverage ratios, the importance of being even keeled, the importance of weathering the storms and, you know, understanding how to manage expectations with clients. I've relied on Rob, Rushi and other senior members of our team who have been through many different market cycles. You know, they've seen this before, right? I you know, we went through a Great Recession, 2829. But I was a young lawyer at the time. I was not in this role, obviously. You know, we went through the early stages of COVID and the market dislocation that occurred at that time. So I've seen a lot in my three and a half years of being on this side of the industry with COVID. And now the, you know, this this macro level volatility that we're all feeling right now, and I've observed and have learned from people like Rob and Rushi now and Mag Mile who know how to navigate markets of all different types. 

Ian Group:

So you said manage expectations a couple of times. And before we wrap up, I want to just ask you, how do you manage expectations? Internally and you can tell me how you do it now or if you have tips on it versus externally. Is there any difference?

Matt Weilgus:

Yes, internally, it's just I think, again, human nature or at least this is the culture of our organization in Mag Mile. We're very open. We're very transparent with each other, very collaborative. What's nice about our firm is because we're more boutique in size and we're geographically scattered. There's no territory restrictions in terms of where each of us are mandated to source deals from or work on deals. We work nationwide, but we are scattered in terms of where our personnel is. That leads to very few, if any, turf wars that you might see in other brokerages. So as a result, I think we're very collaborative and open with each other. 

So if, you know, an originator on our team comes to me, for example, and says, I've got a ground up hotel financing request, it needs, you know, prep equity, it needs high leverage, and it's in a tertiary market. I'm going to tell them, like, you know, likelihood of success here is probably much lower than it would be for your stabilized multifamily property in Miami. But it doesn't mean that we don't have the capability of getting it done. You just need to when you speak to the client or if we collectively speak to you, to the client, you need to let them know that there is a limited universe of potential capital sources for this. And that pricing is, you know, it's probably going to be high single digit, maybe even low double digit in terms of interest rate points and the type of execution that you're requesting is going to yield that result in the market. Mm hmm.

And we're very transparent, direct with them, because it does it doesn't do anybody any favors to sugarcoat things or to be a yes man or woman. Yeah. So we you know, what's going to happen if you're a yes man or woman, you know, for that example, that hard to place deal example that I just referenced, you know, they may end up going with another brokerage firm who is going to tell them what they want to hear. You're going to inevitably be disappointed. Right. And it's going to sour that relationship. Why do that? We take a long view of things. We're long term relationship driven. We don't want to do just one transaction with a sponsor. We want to we want to be a dedicated advisor. It becomes a part of their team over the long haul. And the best way to do that is managing expectations. So I'm a firm believer in that. That's what a lot of my mentors have taught me over the years. It's it's such a vital piece of of being successful. 

Ian Group: 

Yeah. ProDeal we have a saying for all conversations open, honest and direct. We're that way with our internally, externally. And I think whether you are a broker or a lawyer developer or a lender, the more open, honest and direct you can be with your colleagues or outside parties, just the more seamless and smoother the transaction, the deal, whatever you're working on, the relationship will be. Really good point. Let's wrap it up. I really appreciate your time. I think this was a fantastic conversation with a lot of really actionable insights and work it. People find you if they're looking for you. 

Matt Weilgus:

Yeah magmilecapital.com is our company website. You know we're active on LinkedIn like a lot of other brokers in the business advertising our recently closed deals. But yeah, I mean my email contact information is on our company website. You can hit me on LinkedIn. You know, I'm very outgoing, communicative person, love people to reach out and help you, you know, find the right financing solution for your next deal. 

Ian Group:

Who knows? You may find some mentees after this podcast. 

Matt Weilgus:

This is great.

Ian Group:

My pleasure. Thank you. See you.

Matt Weilgus: 

Yeah. 

Outro:

Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of The Closing Table, The Commercial Real Estate Industry’s Insider Podcast brought to you by ProDeal. If you're ready to start closing some deals, I highly recommend checking out produce. Here's why it's a due diligence platform that helps deal teams streamline track and organize due diligence. It's especially helpful for big deals, portfolio transactions or shops with high volume, with endless amounts of documents, checklists and emails. Isn't it time that you and your team use it to a purpose built for your deals? For more information, please visit our website at prodeal360.com and request a demo. Tell us you found ProDeal on the podcast and give you 30 days for free. If you'd like daily content advice on how to rise to the top, please be sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. Now let's go start closing some deals. 

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