Episode 055: Willy Walker
PODCAST RECORDED ON March 3, 2020 Introduction: Willy Walker, an avid skier, cyclist, family man and Boston Marathon runner who once clocked in with an outstanding time of 2:36, is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Walker & Dunlop, one of the largest commercial real estate finance companies in the United States. I came away from my hour long chat with Willy recognizing that I was not only a bit smarter from it, given some of the pearls of wisdom he threw my way, but also cognizant of his passion to make a difference and his conscious and/or subconscious belief in two quotes and a song title that I believe play an integral part in one’s path to success ... namely that of “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard” (Kevin Durant), “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle” (Honest Abraham Lincoln), and “Can’t Knock the Hustle” (Jay-Z). Episode Notes: At 0:55, Willy Walker discusses planting seeds and his empowering chat with Jim Collins, author of the bestselling book Good to Great. At 2:52, Willy touches upon Walker & Dunlop acquiring and integrating companies and human capital being the real value in its business. At 4:34, Walker shares Colin Powell’s thoughts on decision making and taking calculated risks. At 5:46, he dives into taking Walker & Dunlop public in 2010. At 7:40, Willy speaks on change, opportunity and “countercyclical moves.” At 13:05, Walker addresses culture and scaling at Walker & Dunlop, and informs us of a past “cancer” within the organization. At 16:38, he chats about the recent acquisition of Aaron Appel’s AKS Capital Partners team. At 19:44, Willy provides some negotiation pointers and explains the importance of watching and listening. At 23:49, Walker dishes on adding value and his passion for the business. At 27:07, he talks about Walker & Dunlop’s range of clients, understanding the time value of money and taking care and upgrading assets. At 32:17, Willy voices his thoughts on diversity in the workplace and the pertitance of building a “bench” through recruitment and investment. At 36:14, Walker chats about networking and maintaining relationships. At 41:36, Walker dishes on his “no phone policy” during meetings, and discusses his retreat last year where he “learned to unplug.” At 46:42, Willy dives into Walker & Dunlop’s partnership with GeoPhy through artificial intelligence and machine learning. At 50:35, Walker believes that tough times increase collaboration, while allowing one to see what someone is actually made of. At 55:08, Willy Walker closes out the podcast sharing part of his recent conversation with Jim Collins, and discusses Walker & Dunlop making calculated bets.