Episode 216: “What The Grateful Dead and Successful Dealmakers Have in Common” with Marc Morgenstern

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Backstage with Bill Walton


In this episode I compare notes and share stories with veteran dealmaker and entrepreneur Marc Morgenstern. 

In today’s polarized world, where people seem intent on not agreeing, Marc has had a long and successful career helping opposing sides come to agreement. 

He’s completed billions of dollars of M&A transactions, buying, selling, and financing businesses as a managing partner of law firm Kahn Kleiman and as a venture capitalist. 

Marc’s new book The Soul of the Deal: Creative Frameworks for Buying, Selling, and Investing in Any Business  creatively reframes and radically changes how we can approach dealmaking of any type.

Marc is a brilliant synthesist who weaves in, for example, what he’s learned as a successful door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, as a leader of several rock bands in college (Yale) and as a lifelong fan of The Grateful Dead.

He’s come to believe – and I think this is right – that much of the conflict in dealmaking comes from seeing the other side as an opponent. They’d do better to listen like musicians rather than as lawyers.

“When you saw the Dead over time in many different venues, in many different cities, a thousand seats to a hundred thousand seats, you realize that they took into account, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, that this is a different audience, these are different acoustics. I’m in a better mood, I’m in a worse mood. It doesn’t matter,” explains Marc.

“So the fact that you played something five nights ago one way, doesn’t mean you’re going to play it that way tonight.” 

“In the deal world, I think of each counterparty as my audience and in every deal I’ve got a different counterparty with different needs.”

A wise and creative man, Marc’s also has taught at UC Berkeley and is on the boards of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rex Foundation, which was started by members of the Dead.

This is a fun and enlightening conversation and Marc has a lot to teach us. Backstage and off the beaten path.

Check out this episode!