What is a Landman? Let's dig into that...
Most of the readers have encountered this question, whether directly or indirectly. “What is a landman?” Well, there are a lot of answers to that question. Some landmen do title work, others do leasing, a few do curative, others do surface work, some of them are in house and the rest are in the field, and then there is the extremely rare “truly” (independent landman). I say that because let’s be real, most of us work for a broker or some other intermediary.
My career as a landman has taken me all over the country and through a lot of quaint little towns I never care to visit again. I have run title, leased prospects, cured title, drafted more affidavits than I could ever count, sent THOUSANDS of pieces of mail (a lot that got returned), made tens of thousands of phonecalls (a lot to the wrong people), and managed surface on leases that are actively being developed. I’ve had a bit of downtime over those years, but I’ve never sat around doing nothing.
A lot of my experience is the result of “good fortune,” being in the right place at the right time. Most of it is grinding the fuck out of my work while also making sure to build my network. If I appreciate your work, whether you like me personally or not, I’m going to stay in touch with you. Maybe I’ll hear about an opening for a job that sounds perfect for your skillset, and I’m not going to ask for anything in return when I recommend you. That’s part of doing business, and being damn good at it.
A Landman is a Combination of Things
Landmen are responsible for controlling the one variable that no amount of science can predict or explain…human nature. We deal with people directly, having to navigate their distinct personalities, intricacies, insanities, etc., but we also deal with the record that those quirks leave behind. Trying to figure out the “intent” of a deed might help you understand WHY someone fucked things up so bad, but at the end of the day…the record is going to have a single outcome. Which may or may not be agreeable to the other party.
Now back to the question…”What is a landman?” Well, I can only TRULY answer that from my own experience, but I think there’s a little bit of the LandmanLife in every landman, so your personal ratios might differ from mine:
- I’m 49% attorney. WHEREAS I did not waste 3 years of my life in law school, THENCE I am not actually an attorney. But I can give you a lot of the same advice for a fraction of the price. (Offer is only valid in Texas and other states that won’t prosecute a landman for practicing law without a license, obviously).
- There’s 3/16 of 30% of an engineer in me, which isn’t enough to make me a total dickhead but enough that I can hold my own without being completely lost in the conversation. When I speak to the dirt/construction guys, the engineer in me really shines. Everything looks better with a couple more PIs to spice things up, right?
- At least 60% of me is a straight up deal maker. I represent both sides and just need to get to a compromise, while being paid directly by one side and attempting to keep everyone happy. When you get pissed by my initial offer, and counter with something you think is going to piss me off, well congratulations, you just found my price because let’s be real…that first offer was just to get you talking.
- Sometimes, I’ve got to be 1/6 construction foreman. Going out onto the job site in a cowboy hat ensures the grunts building my trenches understand I’m an officer, not a common soldier. When I yell at someone for fucking up, my authority comes from the landowner AND the client paying your check, so listen the fuck up or get the fuck out. It’s not often that I have to resort to the dick line, “You can listen to what I’m saying and fix this now, or I can start making phonecalls and you can wait for your boss to call saying you need to get this shit fixed. Your choice.” But it works.
- Fuck, during this phase of bourbon infused introspection I just realized there’s some tendencies towards masochism in me…because I continue to be a landman when everyone else has moved on to greener, hopefully steadier, pastures. God, I hope that my client gets a lease so I can fuck up some of those pastures at some point. I know, that’s really fucked up. But…is it?
Adapting to the Situation
- I’m going to be the smartest or dumbest guy in the room, depending on what’s needed for the situation at hand. Sometimes I’m a MAGA FUCK YEAH MURICA Team Trump Card Carrying, gun toting conservative…and other times I’m a really skeptical middle of the road independent. No, I don’t go Democrat, no matter how liberal the mood is. To quote Tropic Thunder, “You never go full retard.” If you’re THAT libtarded, I’ve got a solution to get around your logical inadequacies…it’s called money. Some people might say this is the disingenuous nature of landmen, to which I’ll quote TitleNazi by saying “blow it out your ass.” Anybody involved in business, no matter what industry, is going to have to play a part to get a deal done at some point. The front that is put on should only serve to get the conversation moving, it’s not something that I adopt long term like Robert Downey Jr in, yeah you guessed it, Tropic Thunder.
- You can find me feeling right at home in a landowners mobile home, at their country club, or just out in the middle of one of their cow pastures. I do my best to have attire fitting for any occasion, but God damn sometimes I’ve got to blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots…and yeah, I’ve got plenty of friends in low places. Bartenders are people too, and when you just need a beer but there are 100 people crowded around trying to get their fancy mixed drinks, being friends with the bartender pays off.
- I’m your guy when you need something done quickly and quietly. A lot of landwork happens in the “gray area” between [might be] immoral/unethical and straight up criminal. You think I’m a bad guy? Seriously, go take a look at how those fucking mineral and royalty buying operations find and target their mailing lists. I might fudge the numbers a bit to get the deal done, but trust me, I’m not doing that for my own benefit. Also, I’m not one of those boys from Oklahoma City…because those guys are actually criminals.
- Sometimes I’m going to look like a fucking methhead because I’ve been up for 48 hours, alternating between phonecalls/emails/spreadsheets, just trying to keep your operation going without delay. That’s how I make up for the days that I get my shit done and relax from like 10am on. I might spend a couple hours on Twitter, or shit, with this #stayhome situation I might just start drinking. When you need something done after hours…well shit, I’ll be your huckleberry.
At the end of the day, month, year, decade, lifetime…I’m a lot of different things, but I’m always 150% LandmanLife.