Following his career at Morgan Stanley, among other business ventures, Mr. Richardson founded B.E. Richardson Investments, a private investment company that invests primarily in public and private equity markets. With a combination of wisdom, work ethic, and solid resources, Mr. Richardson can put “wheels in motion.” You might call Blair Richardson a low-key powerhouse.
Blair is also quite the Historian. His office is a showplace of historical pieces and rare art and memorabilia. For someone who is so gracious and kind, he’s also driven, focused, smart, and - an analytical thinker.
Blair and his wife Kristin are very giving people and have opened up their home for many of the causes they are involved in. After talking with some of the people who work for Mr. Richardson, one of his employees admirably commented: “Blair is the kindest person in the world with a great heart, and he does many anonymous good deeds to help people in need.”
Blair Richardson is a multi-talented, multi-layered man who has the ability to make a measurable impact on all of his ventures - which includes giving back to the community.
It looks like you love to travel and have traveled extensively, what is your favorite vacation spot in the world? Bali in Indonesia and Argentina. They are completely different from each other; one is the most beautiful island in the world, and the other is one of the most interesting countries in the world. We have an oil drilling business in Argentina, and we have looked at buying a ranch there several times. We love Buenos Aries, and we have a lot of friends down there.
You have spent a lot of time in Asia, what is your favorite part of Asia? I was the President of Morgan Stanley Japan, and then I became the Vice-Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia located in Hong Kong. I traveled to 15 different Asian cities, and my favorite city is definitely Hong Kong. It reminds me of New York. My favorite country is Vietnam. Most interesting in the region is India.
Do you consider India part of Asia? Most people do consider India a separate market of its own. We had a chance to live in London, but my wife said we could go to Europe at any point in time, let’s stay in Japan and get to know the Japanese people better. Most wives wouldn’t do that. It was a great experience; we were over there for five years. We lived in Tokyo first, and then in Hong Kong.
What can you tell us about the Asian people? There are regions that are different. The Japanese and Korean cultures are very similar and have a very disciplined work ethic and decision-making process. The rest of Asia is very entrepreneurial, unstructured, and just a difference of a mature society and a newer society. Things that are happening in China are the most exciting things in the world today and are going to be for the next 100 years. The Chinese have a very different culture; they are long-term thinkers and think in terms of decades and centuries.
How do most Asians feel about Americans? They are very receptive right now. There are backlashes towards the American culture in Europe, but one of the amazing things is how accepting Vietnam is of America. I traveled there extensively and never felt any level of resentment towards Americans. It’s a better feel than in Europe right now. I believe it starts from the strong level of respect that Japan has for America. Anything we did in Asia in the past was because we tried to change things for better.
You were born in Canada; how often do you go back, and what is your favorite part of Canada? I go back very frequently. My parents still reside in Canada, and I have a large investment in a development outside of Banff National Gates. It’s about two-thirds the size of the Vail Valley, 11 kilometers long. When it’s complete, it will have four hotels, two golf courses, and about 4,500 homes. We are building a home up there, and it should be completed this summer. It is clearly my favorite part of Canada.
As one of our closest neighbors, what do you think about all of the changes in the Canadian government these days? Canada has an interesting parliamentary system, and they have a minority government that can be easily overturned, as it recently was. I am disappointed in Canada’s lack of support of the Iraqi war, and I’m disappointed that Canada did not help us by sending troops. The Canadians are moving more towards a European relationship, and I’m hoping that will change, and bring things back to a more active relationship with the United States and Mexico and hope that they recognize the potential in this hemisphere.
What charitable causes are near and dear to your heart? Kristin and I are believers of giving back to the community and great supporters of education. In 2002, we set up the “Kristin and Blair Richardson Foundation” which provides cash donations to various charities with a specific focus on education. Kristin is on the Denver Public Schools Foundation Board, and I am on the ACE Scholarship Board, which is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding educational choices to children in Colorado by promoting greater accessibility to private schools through scholarships for low-income families.
We give out $3.4 million of scholarships allowing these under-privileged kids to go to any of the private schools that they want. I am on the Advisory Board of Colorado Uplift which helps at-risk students lead successful lives through long-term relationships, programs and mentoring that emphasizes character, education and attitude. Kristin is also on the Board of the Denver Academy, the school for children with special learning problems. We support the St. Anne’s Scholarship programs, and although we lean more towards education, we gave The Children’s Hospital a million dollars.
Is there a charitable event you look forward to attending each year? The Colorado Uplift Ladies Guild outing in May. This year it is at Elitch’s, and Brenda Crane is the chairperson of it.
Is Colorado going to be your forever home, or is there somewhere else you would like to live – maybe someday? My wife’s from the Midwest - Wisconsin, and I’m from the Midwest of Canada, and we really like Denver. It is our forever home.
What do you like most about Colorado? It’s very laid back; it doesn’t have all of the social issues that New York has - which we lived in for 12 years - where you wait for 30 years to join some organizations, or get your kids into a certain school. People are very open and honest here.
What do you consider your proudest achievement? My four kids.
If you were to write your auto-biography, what would the title be? “The Cross-Border Man.”
You are involved in a lot of real estate development projects, which one of your ventures is the most exciting and challenging for you? Particularly the “Three Sisters Development” outside of Banff, Canada. It is a 20-25 year project, and it will have long-term impact on the community, and it will eventually have around 15,000 people living there, and it will be very environmentally sensitive. I want to make sure that it is done right. Out of all of my real estate projects, this one is the most significant. I want it to have sustainability and add long-term value to the community.
What is the one thing in this world you can’t live without? Time with my family.
Blair, you seem to be a man who has it all; you’ve been so successful in life, what do you still hope to accomplish? I’d love for my children to get comfortable in careers and family relationships. Seeing that would make me very happy.
In other words, what’s in the future for Blair Richardson? Business as usual; no change in the model. I plan to be working at this desk for quite a while, and I love to give things back to the community.
What do you attribute your success to? A strong work ethic, and I’m able to surround myself with good people.
Is there something you still would like to learn how to do - or do more of? I would like to spend more time hunting and fishing; I like the outdoors a lot.
What’s the best advice someone ever gave you? Don’t lead your life looking in the rear view mirror; take the moral high ground. The CEO of Morgan Stanley gave me that advice.
What is the best book you have ever read? Good to Great, a business book written by Jim Collins.
What magazine can’t you live without? The Economist.
What is the best restaurant you have ever dined in? The River Café in Brooklyn, NY.
How do you want to be remembered by future generations? As a family person and someone who was honest and fair.
Are there any other questions you were hoping I would ask? Yes. I would like to mention something about my wife, Kristin, because she is a very accomplished person, they call her the rock. She’s very grounded, very unpretentious, and she’s a great mother. She’s a huge part of my success; and someone asked me the other day why our marriage is so successful, and I said it’s because I have such respect for my wife.