Laird Hamilton, Tom Barrack share strategies for taking risks

first_imgOn Wednesday night in Bovard Auditorium, the USC Marshall School of Business and the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies hosted Tom Barrack, founder of Colony Capital, and Laird Hamilton, big-wave surfer and innovator.  During the session, Barrack and Hamilton shared their views on risk taking and overcoming individual fears in order to live a more exciting and fulfilling life.Barrack is a USC alumnus and trustee of USC. As chairman of Colony Capital, Barrack has invested approximately $60 billion in assets around the globe, and was named the world’s greatest real estate investor by Fortune magazine.Hamilton is an American surfer who has conquered some of the most dangerous waves around the world. He has also popularized stand-up paddleboarding and invented several products and surfing techniques.The event was moderated by David Belasco, the co-director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and part of his class, BAEP 470: “Taking the Leap: The Entrepreneurial Mindset,” which is offered every spring.The event started with the speakers sharing what they each have in common. Barrack, a businessman, and Hamilton, a top athlete, said that they have a similar mindset because every day they encounter risk-filled events.“I have more in common with Tom than I do with 90 percent of the people I surf with, and that has to do a lot with how our minds work,” Hamilton said.Hamilton grew up in Hawaii, but because he was born in California and did not look like his classmates, he had a difficult time fitting in as a child. He explained how surfing served as his emotional outlet.“The ocean was the only place where I could find equality,” Hamilton said,Barrack grew up with an inner struggle that urged him to become something more than ordinary.“You always have two options in life: if you like opera, you can either listen to the opera or you can play in the opera,” he said.Barrack said that he felt ordinary as a kid, because he did not have any exceptional talents.“I never had any of the tools [to amplify his talents], so I had to find other tools as I was moving along, and one of the tools I found was preparation and perseverance, and quite honestly, absorbing more pain than anyone else,” he said.Belasco asked the speakers how they looked at risk and what mental and physical preparations went along with risk.   “Risk is a moment,” Barrack said. “Fear is in every corner, and uncertainty is what governs every aspect of your breath, and risk is about taking that uncertainty and saying ‘That’s my advantage.’”Hamilton said that he has a similar approach to risk.  “Fear of what could happen stops people from doing almost anything … but the willingness to risk and put yourself on the line and be present — that is the key.”The speakers also talked about how taking advantage of the fears and embarrassments of daily life have made them more successful.“The most important thing with fear is its usefulness, what you do with it and how you use it,” Hamilton said.Daniel Park, a senior majoring in business administration, asked the speakers how they saw the light during their darkest times.“You don’t see the light in the darkness,” Barrack said. “You see the light whenever it comes.  You need to keep taking risks and defying resistance.”Eduardo Dillon, a junior majoring in industrial and systems engineering explained that this event encouraged him to learn to take risks.“The biggest takeaway I got from this event was that you need to take risks, and it goes along with a quote that I always go by which says, ‘Living a life without risks is living the safest and slowest suicide,’” Dillon said.last_img

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