Career Regrets, NOT a Career of Regret
Things are bad for everyone in 2020. Even if you’re “doing well” by current standards, that doesn’t mean you’re not dealing with the mental/emotional/professional/economic/social fallout that seems to be touching every aspect of life this year. A fuck ton of my friends have been laid off, most of them are in the oil and gas industry but it’s not an isolated instance, this shit has spread through the economy like a cancer. People are having to face new or possibly undiagnosed issues like depression as a result of being locked down, quarantined, and treated like dogs that have to wear a muzzle. That’s going on while we all see tens of thousands of people saying “fuck the man!” and trying to burn down everything just because they don’t know who to be mad at, where to direct their anger and frustration, or how to process those emotions. Some of the people reading this post might be directing their anger at the oil and gas industry. If this is your first downturn, that’s normal. I’ve been through a couple, and am always available to talk through things if you need someone to listen.
Over my career as a landman, which I always said I would never be a “career landman,” I’ve seen a lot of shit. Done a lot of shit. Drank this, smoked that, notarized the fucking world, and I’ve had to deal with the inevitable crushing defeats along the way. Listen to me, I don’t call LandmanLife “the road trip to nowhere” for nothing. Sure there have been times that I have been extremely lucky and fortunate to be in the right place/know the right person at the right time. That doesn’t mean I haven’t spent a couple of months scraping, scrapping, and struggling to get something going. It’s FAR too fucking easy to fall into a rut in this business. “I’ll just take a few weeks off.” Famous last words.
Through all of the ups and downs, I’ve spent a lot of time working on my own with no support whatsoever. That can be either extremely liberating or extremely isolating depending on how you react to the circumstances. I chose to treat that as an opportunity to learn the best way I could, by doing shit. Yeah, I fucked things up. I learned how to fix them. Total self responsibility was one of the biggest lessons I learned. It was not an easy lesson. That shit hit me so many fucking times like a freight train out of hell. Being on my own, there was literally no one else to blame. I went into a very dark place in 2015/16 which were ironically the busiest years of my professional life. LandmanWife knew something was wrong but she trusted me when I said I was “fine, just stressed.” Coming out of that dark place was a whole different story, and not the intention of this post. That’s the “fortunate” part of my road trip to nowhere…
Let’s talk about the things I haven’t had the opportunity to do. This is my personal list and I know every landman/o&g person will have their own take on things…so let’s kick this off with the biggest regret I have throughout my career.
…all of those?
First: I never worked in house. This is something that almost daily in the Landbros chat I’m reminded of. I am trying to augment the lack of experience in this crucial area of the landman/o&g industry by learning whatever I can from the other guys (who now encompass some Landbros, plus a Geo and Engineer). For any of you that think I use the term “Landbros” to describe anyone in the land side of the business, you’re wrong. I would say landbros for that. They’re always firing off about companies/people/deals/fields/leases/wells/packages/etc that I literally have no clue about, because I never encountered any of that in my road trip to nowhere. Thank God they’re all patient and sarcastic fucks like me and are willing to educate a feral field landman, because otherwise the group I started would have voted me off the island already for not being able to contribute to those conversations. They are my insight to the in house world.
Second: I never worked West Texas. The furthest west I went was a due diligence project based out of Nolan County. I’ve been told by plenty of people that’s “not west Texas.” Other people say anything west of FTW is “west enough.” The lifestyle in Midland just seems to be an experience all in itself. Even if I was only there for a year, I’d at least have a bit of an idea what everyone always talks about. Most people talk about Midland as something they don’t want to go back to, but you can always hear the hint of…possibility in their tone. If they got a call, I’m sure a lot of them would pack their bags and head right back into the belly of the beast. Once it gets in your blood, it’s something you can’t escape.
Third: When I was working on my own, I didn’t push hard enough to make things happen. Don’t get my wrong, I did well enough to support me and LandmanWife, but I look back at so many instances where I could have done something more to make a deal happen. I took the “building my reputation/career/etc” “high road” too many times. It costs money to sit on that high horse. There were times I should have charged more for my services, but I felt a connection to the client so I underbilled, or I felt compelled to undersell myself time just to get the work. That was part of a desperation to keep things moving forward, but also a lack of confidence and experience dealing with those situations. Ultimately, I’ve learned that the less I say the better off things will be when contracts are signed.
Put Yourself Out There
Fourth: I didn’t put myself out there enough with OTHER industry professionals. If you’re a landman and you don’t know me by now, clearly I’ve done something wrong. But I never took advantage of the opportunities to meet people working in different parts of the business. Networking is 100% the most important thing you can do with your time, besides working to keep a damn job, and I always excelled at networking with other landmen…but I stopped there. Rick Perry did famously say to me once, “you’re a landman? I love that!” I never got any jobs from that conversation though. The time I’ve wasted over the last decade only seems to add up in retrospect, because I always feel like I’m utilizing it well in the moment. Put yourself out there, who knows who you might meet.
No Regerts, Not Even a Letter
I don’t regret being a landman, or part of the oil and gas industry in any way. The life I have been able to live is something I consider a blessing, and I’m damn glad I have had the opportunity to be a part of this industry. Learning about the ups and downs in life is a hard lesson but everyone goes through that. “Boom and Bust” happens at a more rapid pace, but JESUS FUCKING CHRIST is it exciting?! Almost addictive when you’re fucking killing it! People discover the oil industry like it’s a drug, and they get used to just getting their normal “fix.” When things turn south…withdrawal is normal. That’s something we have all experienced to some extent.
So for anyone who’s “hating” this industry, my advice is…we have all been through that, but if the feeling doesn’t fade, then take whatever exit you have available. Probably want to avoid other cyclical industries though. Which…yeah, pretty much everything has cycles. You can either roll with the punches and learn more about yourself/life/your career, or you can say fuck it all and keep burning pastures in hope of some greener grass. I’m going to stick with what I know and love, and I might not always be going 110mph but I’m always going to be on the road trip to nowhere in some sense.
If this resonates with you, get in touch with me. Check out the new EnergyFinTech server on Mastodon here.