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Friday, June 03, 2005

On the Cusp

There is an old joke - "Question: What is the difference between a harmonica player and a large pizza? Answer: A large pizza can feed a family of four." This joke applies to most musical pursuits, I am afraid. Early on, I decided that I did not have the stomach for the battle that most professional musicians fight every day. A top performing player generally does not receive compensation from the market that is commensurate with the talent and effort expended by the musician. Only a few make it, and I think there is a significant oversupply of musicians relative to market demand for musical talent. So I switched my college major from music to economics, followed up my undergrad degree with a MBA degree, and embarked on a banking career. I am in my 27th year of that career - time just flows like a river.

For the past year, I have been a partner in a small investment banking boutique in Chicago. There are only three partners - no other employees. We have one client that pays us a fee every month, so we have our expenses covered. In order to make decent money, we have to do deals. We have three deals on the cusp right now. The first is a deal we have been working on since last summer. We have been retained to sell a company; we have a buyer lined up, and we are trying to push things along to close. It is hard slogging, but I think we are going to get it done. The second deal is a prospect that we have been working on for about six months. We are negotiating our engagement letter right now. We have hit a snag. I hope that we work through this, because this company will sell readily to a hungry market. The third deal isn't really a deal - it is a consulting assignment with a very large company that could turn into a long term relationship. We have reached agreement on economic terms; now we have to work through the legal language with the attorneys. If we close on all three of these deals, we will have a fat year. If they all fall apart, we will be in a bit of difficulty.

Everything is hanging on the razor's edge, which is making me a bit edgy. I am waiting for other people to take action; I can't push too hard lest I annoy my counterparties; neither can I be too passive. Finding the right balance requires patience and luck. It stretches the nerves a bit.

Well, it is Friday evening and time to wander over to the train station - the 6:00 PM Union Pacific North Line train will take me home to my happy family. I can get my nerves unstretched by immersing myself music - and this weekend offers fabulous possibilities. The Chicago Gospel Festival is happening this weekend! Solomon Burke is the headliner tomorrow night!!! Business matters will be forgotten while I hang at the Gospel Fest.

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