How do you broker billions of dollars' worth of renewable energy deals — and do it again and again?

It takes grit, sure. But it also requires empathy. And that, says Conor McKenna, is the real art of the deal.

McKenna is a senior managing director at CohnReznick Capital Markets. He’s helped close 8 gigawatts' worth of wind, solar and biomass projects over his career.

We all know The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump’s 1987 book that offers hard-nosed business advice. The book includes lessons like fight back, play the game hard, and deliver the goods. 

This advice has shaped our perception of real estate and Wall Street culture. But McKenna says one important lesson is missing: how to form good relationships so that everyone benefits from a deal.

“Every time we’ve seen someone focus on getting that last dollar out of an individual transaction, we’ve found that they’ve had a much harder time in repeating business and growing and scaling at the same rate as this industry.”

This isn’t a soft tactic. When you’re trying to pull together hundreds or thousands of megawatts' worth of projects — and repeat the process over many times — you have to actually care about the people on the other side of the table.

“Those that have left money on the table and and allowed for their partners to feel successful as well, have had a lot more repeat business.”

In this episode, produced in partnership with CohnReznick Capital, we look at how empathy can translate into billions of dollars in cash and push renewables further into the mainstream.