Brian Maguire is an accomplished business executive who has worked for several notable companies, including Goldman Sachs, AllianceBernstein, and Lehman Brothers. Most recently, Brian was Head of Investor Relations & Strategy at an energy-transition SPAC. Brian resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and three children.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Sometimes we don’t come up with ideas, instead, they come to us. I had just left Goldman Sachs, where I had spent 10 years following significant changes in Energy-related investment trends – first with the shale gas revolution, then the infrastructure needed to support it, followed by ESG trends driving investors towards sustainability-focused companies. I was looking to work with established companies to help them communicate their sustainability story to investors when the CFO of Beard Energy Transition asked me to help them with their strategy and investor relations effort. That really drove me to think about doing something on my own, in a consulting fashion. So, I started Energy Dynamics with Beard as my anchor client. I was really lucky because the founders of Beard had some incredible private equity and M&A transaction experience, which has really helped expand my offering beyond just investor relations and communications functions.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Running an independent consulting operation provides a lot of flexibility, but also at the end of the day, you are the one doing everything so you need to be efficient. First thing in the morning, I check emails and address any urgent overnight requests. Then it’s time to grab some coffee and a quick breakfast in between getting my 3 kids ready and off to school.
Once the house finally quiets down, then I spend 1-2 hours getting to less-urgent emails and catching up on the latest news impacting financial markets and industries I focus on.
I like to break up the day with a lunchtime trip to the gym for a workout. Right before the pandemic started I got into powerlifting and when the gyms re-opened in 2020 along with the new work-from-home policies I really started a consistent routine of weightlifting. I think it really re-focuses me mentally and I think it’s more important than ever to take care of ourselves physically given the dangers from COVID.
Afternoons are typically a mix of video conference meetings, working on client deliverables, and prospecting new clients. Although nothing replaces in-person meetings, there is no question that virtual meetings from my home office are a major time saver!
Dinnertime is usually around 6 pm and we always eat as a family, which my wife and I think is really important. After clean-up and getting kids to bed, before I wind it down I typically spend another 1-2 hours responding to emails and working on deliverables. I like to wind down by watching something on TV with my wife. Lately, we’ve been into old sitcoms from the 80s and 90s running on Hulu.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think it’s really important to set goals, have realistic timelines, and be quick to reach out to others for help instead of spinning your wheels. Whenever I’m working on a project, I like to start by outlining the steps to completion, so that I have something to reference back to as I’m working through it. This helps me stay focused when sometimes the creative process can get stalled or take you on unnecessary tangents.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I would have to say energy transition since that is what Energy Dynamics is focused on. I think we are only in the early innings of what I expect to be a multi-decade trend that creates lots of high-paying jobs in the US, reduces global dependence on fossil fuels (much of which come from hostile nations), increases electricity reliability and efficiency, and improves our environment.
In the 1960s the US embarked on a “space race” to land a man on the moon. The innovation that came from that endeavor may never be matched in human history. Today, a lot of financial capital is focused on energy transition and I’m excited to see what innovation could be spawned from a push to move from legacy power sources to renewables.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Keeping my email inbox clean. I hate to have unread emails in my inbox. Having an email icon with the number of unread messages pop up really annoys me! I think email filters are an underutilized feature. I use many to not only filter out spam but also to put emails from certain people or about certain subjects into pre-defined folders. This organization helps me churn through any backlog quickly and keep the inbox clean.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t get too comfortable in your job. While it might have been possible for our parents or grandparents to work their whole career for one company, that is very unrealistic these days. I probably spent too much time at each company I worked for before leaving. Despite stagnating and not really progressing or learning new skills at a job, there is a certain inertia to just staying where you are. Later in my career, I realize I probably wasted years doing the same job without really challenging myself.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
College and post-graduate education are overrated. Most people believe that the more letters you have after your name (MBA, Ph.D., MD, etc.) the better your life will be. This may have been true decades ago, but today I think post-secondary education is really just about showing employers you can get accepted somewhere. It’s like a filter for potential employers, so it serves some value there, but the actual education you’re getting isn’t worth anything near the amount of debt you’re likely to be strapped with early in your career. Most of the really successful people I know don’t have post-graduate education and many didn’t go to the fanciest college. I also high schools should push more kids into the trade school route instead of college.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read. And not just about your field of expertise. I think it’s really important to be up on current events, political trends, history, scientific developments – all sorts of things.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Networking. Tools like LinkedIn make it easier than ever to network from home, and I find that most people are willing to give you a 30-minute phone call even if they only know you through a distant acquaintance.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Failing is part of being human. We all fail and make mistakes, but I think we learn the most from our failures. When we do fail, I think it’s important to recognize it (instead of pretending that everything is ok), take responsibility, understand that it’s ok to make mistakes, and then move on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Recycled plastics. I think there will be tremendous demand from packaging companies for affordable recycled plastics in the coming year. Currently, they aren’t very cost-competitive with new plastics, but someone who can bring costs down through technology or scale could really help society.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A Mr. Coffee espresso maker. I used to spend $5 a day on a Starbucks latte every morning. I didn’t think you could get a decent latte from a cheap at-home machine, especially Mr. Coffee, but I was wrong. It’s really a good latte!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Email filters, which I already mentioned. Keep that inbox clean and organized!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There are so many! The best, and most entertaining, book on the stock market is Reminisces of a Stock Operator. It was written 100 years ago but is still relevant and the best. I think that shows that times and themes change, but human behavior (fear and greed) stays the same.
What is your favorite quote?
“Nothing is more expensive than regret”
- Expanding your network increases the chances that a great idea will come to you, instead of having to come up with one on your own.
- Mistakes and failures are a part of life. Recognize them early, take responsibility for them, learn from them, and move on.
- If you’re too comfortable with your career, then you’re probably not challenging yourself enough.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.