A status report on Miles Nadal, formerly of MDC Partners and Peerage Capital
I wanted to write about Miles Nadal because I believe he is becoming more public these days. As if he were delivering a speech at Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s SALT conference earlier this month. I assumed I’d need his assistance to write something worthwhile. Miles, however, refused to work with us.
That was most likely a stroke of luck, as it gives me a “freer hand to write,” if you catch my drift. Despite not having access to Miles Nadal, I believe I have written the most comprehensive psychographic profile of him ever written. Or, for that matter, any businessman. It was also quite simple. Here are his advantages and disadvantages:
Number one strength: he is a calculated communicator.
Many self-made people carefully conceal their humble beginnings. This type of narrative arc is popular in the media. But no one has ever told the story with as much specificity or practise as Miles Nadal. It is critical that you understand that he grew up in a 900-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. His parents earned a total of $10,000.
He received financial assistance to attend summer camp at the Jewish Community Center (now, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Center). Rather than taking a break from his parents, he employed them in what he refers to as a “reverse family enterprise.” I, like everyone else, enjoy such stories, but alternative narratives would be equally valid. You could have wealthy but oblivious parents.
Alternatively, your parents’ wealth could negate any natural incentive you might have. Anyway, Miles clarifies that his family’s residence in wealthy Forest Hill is deceptive because “they did not have the same financial security as their neighbours, and his parents had to work hard to give their sons opportunities.”
You might be wondering if Miles lived in that 900 square foot flat from the time he was 18 years old. Was the $10,000 his parents’ average or peak earnings? You enquire far too frequently. Without a doubt, the flat was a rental. In the end, if “Started from the Bottom” rapper Drake, who was raised in a Forest Hill rental, wasn’t Jewish, Miles Nadal would be the Jewish Drake.
Number two strength: he is adaptable.
Miles is completely on board. He has 10,000 Twitter followers. He’s clearly a lifelong learner with his finger on the pulse. He has worked in a variety of business fields (cheque printing, marketing, money management, real estate, etc.). Miles was able to grow MDC Partners, a photography business he started in high school, into a globally relevant advertising holding company.
The ROI for shareholders was highly dependent on when you invested and whether or not you were the CEO. His big bet right now is Peerage Realty, an acquisitive luxury real estate brokerage platform. Peerage Realty made some of its most aggressive moves in the past few years, becoming a top 10 player in North America, so let’s see how it fares in the downturn.
Just one example of how Miles stays current: in 2019, he began collecting trainers. His first big purchase, a shoe collection, was covered by 300 media outlets around the world. It is considered insane behaviour when Imelda Marcos loots her people and buys thousands of shoes. But if a man spends seven figures on sneakers, he’s pioneering a new asset class. That’s plain old sexism!
He’s a shameless copycat, which is his third strength.
Miles Nadal has admitted to being a professional plagiarist. Being a copycat is a plus in my book. I wrote a lengthy essay called The Second Mouse Plan about why it’s better to be a follower than a pioneer. (Because the first worm is eaten, while the second mouse gets the cheese.) Miles frequently credits someone else as the inspiration for something he does.
After meeting Jay Leno, he decided to start amassing a serious car collection. Martin Sorrell’s acquisition of WPP, which eventually became the world’s largest advertising agency, inspired MDC’s reverse takeover. Miles’ career has been focused on acquisitions rather than starting from scratch, which is also very second mouse. He adores Warren Buffett, the ultimate second mouse.
If I have one piece of information, it’s that I believe Miles Nadal is semi-retired (just like Buffett says he is). Consider the governance of his largest holding, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. Don Kottick is the CEO of that business.
Sotheby’s is part of Peerage Realty, which has its own CEO, Gavin Swartzman. Peerage Realty is a subsidiary of Peerage Capital, which has its own CEO, Trevor Maunder. So there are three layers of CEOs before you get to Miles Nadal, the Executive Chairman of Peerage Capital. Miles Nadal has stated that he now primarily controls the chequebook, i.e. capital allocation.
Acquisitions are good as long as you get something of lasting value. MDC acquired a large number of “hot” advertising agencies. When I look back at that history, I notice that their acquisitions were often as hot as popular nightclubs. Miles is now involved in much better-paying ventures.
Buffett favours real estate brokerage. Miles’ Peerage Realty is modelled after Berkshire’s HomeServices division. Closer to home, Jay Hennick made a lot of money by consolidating various Colliers regional brokerages around the world. Miles, for example, is now a serial acquirer of Sotheby’s real estate franchises.
Miles, by the way, is a partner in Trolleybus Development with Jay Hennick and real estate investor Peter Cohen. Miles is also a partner in Vaultra Self-Storage. What could be more down-to-earth than land and storage space? Miles also claims that his famous appetite for leverage has subsided.
He is attempting to be even more humble than he is already.
There’s no need to go over Nadal’s business ups and downs again; they’ve been well documented. The New Yorker felt compelled to mention Miles’ SEC ban on serving as an officer or director of a public company for 5 years in a 2019 article about his growing shoe collection. That ban, which was matched by our own extremely vigilant OSC, expired in May of this year.
Despite the fact that the New Yorker chose to bring up the fact that Miles Nadal failed to disclose some perks he had as CEO, “including cosmetic surgery, jewellery, pet care, and yacht-related expenses totaling more than eleven million dollars,” he collaborated with them.
As a serious but easily manipulated journalist, I would never have dug up those old details. His departure from the company he founded and led for 35 years was abrupt. Similar to the fall of the Marcos regime. Miles stated in this episode, “I learned that you can never be too humble.” Wow! It’s humbling to think that the Michael Jordan of humility still sees room for improvement.
Let’s take a break and play a game: Who said the following, Miles S. Nadal or Donald J. Trump:
“I’m highly numerate, I understand deal making, I understand the capital markets very well, and I know how to create a sense of urgency to capitalise on opportunity in a controlled way to get things done that most people are not possibly as effective as I am at.”
Miles Nadal, like Trump, has many things named after him, but his proudest achievement is his two daughters, The Miles Nadal Daughter No. 1 and The Miles Nadal Daughter No. 2. To be fair, the majority of the naming was due to Miles Nadal’s philanthropic activities. He claims to have given away $60 million over the years and hopes to give away another $120 million in his lifetime.
He’s a master networker, which is his fifth strength.
If you’ve never received an invitation to connect on LinkedIn from Miles Nadal, you’ve achieved true anonymity on Bay Street. He has LinkedIn connections at every level of Bay Street, from entry-level analysts to CEOs. Few Canadian business people were as influential on the Manhattan scene as Miles Nadal at the height of his advertising career.
Miles Nadal has been photographed with everyone from Bill Gates to Ivanka Trump to Roger Federer to Bill Clinton to Puff Daddy. Michael Milken, the finance god, visited Miles’ car museum last month. But forget about these attention-seeking celebrities; Miles Nadal managed to get a photo with the notoriously reclusive founder of OPM Wire, NoBull Klev!
It happened at a book launch he hosted for Andrew Ross Sorkin. I can assure you that I was not the one who requested a photo, because I consider it an imposition, and you know how I dislike bothering people. This demonstrates Miles Nadal’s genuine interest in connecting with people on all levels. I hope this is a pathology he can overcome one day.
Miles Nadal appears to be more than just a transactional networker. He appears to have had long-term relationships with team members, including his first assistant. Trevor Maunder and Stephen Pustil are two other long-standing associates with executive positions.
MDC Partners acquired a stake in Crispin Porter + Bogusky about 20 years ago. This is the transaction that put MDC on the map. Crispin is now a shadow of its former self. Crispin co-founder Chuck Porter, on the other hand, was recently at a Peerage Realty ad shoot. To be honest, my psychographic model would not have predicted such devotion! That’s because my psychographic model predicts Miles will become bored with anything.
Of course, strengths can also be weaknesses.
Number one weakness: he desires to be loved.
Why do some people prefer to be hermits while others crave social interaction? Miles Nadal wants to be loved. He wishes to be validated. He deserves to be admired. Many of his social media posts are representative of the dominant current of that art form, “conspicuous living”. In other words, a lot of posts that are variations on “look at my fabulous life” (look at my expensive trip, look at this important person I know, look at my perfect family, look at my cottage life, etc.).
Why? Of course, everyone wants to be loved and admired. It is a matter of degree. A more sophisticated diagnosis would be that Miles has an extremely high need for stimulation and that people are his preferred stimulant. But he also binges on deals, material possessions, and so on. He has multiple residences, allowing him to frequently change his environment.
I could go on, but I don’t want to get too personal because I fully expect Miles and I to be friends. That’s because I’m not completely reverent, so he’ll be desperate to win me over. I’m willing to meet him halfway by pretending to be interested in automobiles.
Weakness number two: none
Miles Nadal has no other flaws. You might be thinking: what about the SEC? Isn’t that an example of short-sighted greed? That is not a separate weakness; everything can be traced back to a desire to be loved and admired. People wonder what a middle-aged man is compensating for when he buys a sports car.
Miles keeps at least 130 cars and 700 pairs of shoes in his Dare to Dream garage/museum in Toronto. I don’t want to be too critical, but come on, what’s going on, you know what I mean? My best guess is that it’s the peer group effect: people aren’t envious of King Charles, despite the fact that he’s wealthier in absolute terms. People are envious of their neighbour who has a slightly better car.
He is a centimillionaire who hangs out with billionaires. This is similar to when he was the relatively poor kid in wealthy Forest Hill. This explains everything. Disclaimer: I am not licenced to practise psychoanalysis.
What does all of this activity, socialising, and dealmaking add up to? Is Miles Nadal’s net worth $200 million? $300m? Not $500m? It’s a crucial question I was going to ask him, but given Miles’ newfound aversion to publicity, we’ll never know.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you still have any reservations about the Forest Hill situation, keep in mind that his mother worked for the rental company, so the rent was lower than it would have been otherwise. Drake’s mother, on the other hand, went into debt to afford a Forest Hill rental. That is why Miles Nadal will never be a truly great rapper.