Deconstructing Barrack – in his own words

The founder of Colony Capital is a man who says what's on his mind. We discover his thoughts through his own writings - and what he has told other people.

His regular “Chairman’s Corner” postings on Colony Capital’s website are proof enough that Thomas J. Barrack is a man who loves a good parable; his stories filled with life lessons taken from polo, surfing, golf, yachting and even the tale of Davy Crockett.


He is also a man who says exactly what's on his mind. Here we present a few thoughts of the founder of Colony Capital from over the past decade:

“I feel totally safe playing polo on a field full of pros. But when amateurs are all over the field, someone can get killed. They have more guts than brains. They charge after every ball and don't know when to hold back. It's the same with the US real estate market right now. There's too much money chasing too few good deals, with too much debt and too few brains.” Fortune, October 2005.

“To me, life is like playing golf: to be on the best courses, you have to have the best golf clubs. Being a lawyer [at the start of my career] gave me many of the irons I carry in my bag. “ Capital Magazine, August 2007

“If I take off on a big wave I’m always anticipating that something is going to go wrong and I’m going to need to bailout. But I have a bail-out plan before I paddle into the wave. I know where my exit is. What happens between there and the exit is the adventure.” The American, September 2004

“Every woman longs for the anticipation, the romance, the journey, the taboo, the patience, and the attentiveness. Men, however, are all about the destination, the result, the speed and the outcome. The journey is merely penance to get to the destination.” After reading the vampire novel Twilight, Barrack wrote a memo to Colony staff earlier this month calling on them to start looking at the world from “foreign” points of views. The memo was posted to Chairman’s Corner, but later taken down.

“Real estate always needs to be worked and sometimes a perceived lack of stable income and some confusion is much better than fully priced stability. Whether private treaty, closed end fund, open end fund, public REIT, private debt or public debt the most important part of a real estate transaction is the “buy.” In our opinion the perfect wave is found at the secret spot with the fewest maps and the least traveled roads.” Chairman’s Corner, 18 April, 2010.

“Being in the right spot is more important than the size of the wave. The waves you let go are more important than the wave you catch. If you miss a wave be sure that another will come behind it … A successful outing is being able to surf another day.” Chairman’s Corner, January 2010.