On the Road to Becoming an Independent Landman

It’s not all Shiner Bocks and rosé all day

Being an independent landman is a lot of hard work. Not only are you trying to focus on projects for the clients you have at the moment, but you are also trying to continue developing new clients to keep that work steady. Balancing between the two is a constant process, because if you neglect one in favor of the other for too long…you’ll end up losing clients and out of work. Time management is crucial, and the ability to prioritize your 80/20 ratio (the Pareto Principal) is something that few people can actually master.

Almost half of my landman career I spent in a pseudo independent landman role. Since I was working for a broker I won’t contradict my post from the other day (The Challenges of Becoming an Independent Landman) and use the often touted “I’m an independent petroleum landman” line, because technically, I wasn’t. My cart was hitched to the broker’s company. One of the huge benefits (and also a huge potential risk) was that this broker kept his shop intentionally small. When things crashed in 2008/2009, he had to lay off over 20 guys in one day. Unlike a lot of brokers, this guy actually cared about the people who worked for him. He would go to their weddings, their kids t-ball games, and remember birthdays, big moments like graduations, etc. That day in 2009 wrecked him. He said he was never going to let his company get that big again.

Learning to Work on Your Own

The solution to the problem was simple. He would only assign one landman per prospect, no matter how much work it entailed. It could potentially take longer than throwing 5-10 guys at a problem, but you ended up with a de facto project manager that knew EVERYTHING about the prospect. This broker’s mentality was always “hey, I know you’ve never done this before, but it’s an important skill for you to learn. Spend 2 weeks working on it write down questions or dead ends as you go. Try to answer your questions or solve those problems on your own. After 2 weeks, we’ll all get together and go over your questions. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll figure it out together. That’s the only way we all keep getting better as landmen.” He gave us the opportunity to be ALMOST independent landmen.

I saw a lot of guys come and go over the years. The lack of training wheels wasn’t something they were ready or willing to handle…but to me, it was a dream come true. I learned more about land work, and ultimately about myself, in those years than in the rest of my career preceding or following. Starting a prospect from an initial lease check, moving to the lease purchasing, runsheets, surface land management (planning pads, roads, easements), DOTO curative, and then moving to the next well was an amazing process to learn. Honestly, I don’t know any other landmen my age that have been able to do all of that. Not because they lack the skills or knowledge, but the opportunity for something like that is a unicorn…it almost doesn’t exist. But I know it does, I have seen it, I have experienced it.

Putting That Experience to Work

We’re using a lot of those ideas and experience with our own brokerage now. Building up the skillsets of our landmen while keeping things lean and mean, are the main principals at MYR Land Services. Working with people that are eager to learn new things is becoming a rare situation these days. If you need any help with land work, feel free to give us a shout.

This is part of the independent Landman Handbook

Make sure to check out the other posts in this series

Finding the Words

We’re (almost) a week into August, and I’ve posted something every day this month. This…

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