In college, Brian Watson knew Shakespeare had a way of speaking to all of us through the years. Many of Brian’s elective classes were about Shakespeare, and his favorite quote from "Measure for Measure" is: “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” In a way this could surmise who he is and what he has boldly done with his 37 year young life. No stranger to digging into a project and working tirelessly with others, Watson has the business acumen of a veteran; and there’s still much more he will attempt to do.
Mr. Watson founded the successful Northstar Commercial Partners in 2000 – a company that acquires commercial real estate properties throughout the United States. Mr. Watson invests money personally alongside his capital partners. The company is also committed to serving the community in any way it can as an ethical corporate citizen. Mr. Watson also acquires operating companies and is the co-founder of GlobalBroker.com – an online marketplace which connects commercial real estate owners, buyers, tenants, managers, brokers, lenders and insurance providers worldwide.
Brian’s early life didn’t come with financial riches. With grandparents who came to this country looking for opportunity and to create something for their family, he grew up working hard, taking on leadership roles early in life. As a young person, Brian knew how much he wanted to succeed – and serve. There is something about Watson that tells you he has always been self-motivated and pushed himself to be the best he could be.
Brian seems to have a deep understanding of the issues our country is facing; and he recently contemplated a run for Governor of Colorado in the next election but decided not to pursue it at this time. He is a formidable candidate for Governor in the future. He’s focused and has a clear vision of how to get the job done.
The dynamic Brian Watson is a stand up guy who seems to be ready to lead and serve the people of Colorado. Brian cares about all citizens and respects the different points of view out there. Brian is a true patriot and says: “Being proud of your country is a good thing… Yes, we have our issues, but we are something special. If you took out all the things this country has contributed to the world in the terms of democracy inventions – if you take all of that away, the world wouldn’t look as good as it looks today.”
With Mr. Watson’s optimistic outlook and a genuine desire to accept responsibility and the challenges of tomorrow, he has all the qualities you look for in a leader. Remember the name of R. Brian Watson because you will more than likely be hearing it in the future.
You are active with several charities both locally and worldwide - How did you get involved – and what organizations have you or are you involved with? I have always had a heart for service. When I was young I was involved in many different leadership capacities. It’s a gift and an enjoyment I have in life. Whatever they may look like – serving on a local level with the charities I’m involved with and raising money through organizations like Brokers Benefiting Kids, Save Our Youth (an inter-city mentoring program where I mentored for a long time), Charity Board for a number of years here, and then on a national scale – I do believe regardless of where someone comes from, they are deserving of support and are part of the human community. I’m involved with Opportunity International – which is a worldwide micro-finance and insurance company so people can build their business throughout the world. And also Mercy Ships – which are hospital ships mainly providing medical services to countries in Africa right now. I really enjoy doing this and see it as part of my calling in life.
What do you think is the greatest problem this country is facing today? The entitlement syndrome. People feel they are entitled to X or Y because they are an American. I believe you are entitled to have an opportunity to create something for yourself. It doesn’t mean it should be given to you; you have just been given a framework to go out and make it happen.
What is the best book you have ever read – that you might want to recommend to others? “Mystery of Capital” by Hernando de Soto. He asks the question, "why are some countries are inherently wealthier and better off than others?" He talks abut the idea of having a legal structure people can depend on specifically as it relates to property rights. If you’ve looked at countries in Africa and South America - America is a very unique and a special enterprise. We could do so much more for other countries by teaching them a better way to structure their own systems as opposed to just giving them money. Having property rights in other countries is not a given and there are trillions of dollars locked up in these countries in debt capital that could be released, if, in fact, the governments would do it. There are more opportunities now than previous generations have ever had to structure better systems.
In addition to your favorite Shakespearean quote, do you have some other words of wisdom that ring true? I also should note the great quote written by Theodore Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
What do you love most about living in Colorado? What I love about Colorado is the mindset. I travel a lot throughout the country and the world, and there is no place where, I believe, people are as kind-hearted and generous and also have such a positive outlook about the future, as the people in Colorado. It is a mixture of the Western ideal, and how far we have come as a state. From my perspective, no matter who you are, I believe you have an opportunity in Colorado.
What will we find you doing on weekends? First and foremost, spending time with my wife and three children. We ride our horses, go fishing, camping and skiing – all the special things one can do in Colorado. Just like I did when I was a kid, my kids shovel the horse stalls. I also love gardening especially working with western-type flowers and xeriscaping.
How did your interest in politics come about? I didn’t come from a political family, I came from a family that would sit around the dinner table discussing current events, and that early on became really important to me. Especially figuring out how I, and everyone else, can have an impact on this world.
I believe apathy is a very bad thing for democracy, and no matter what side of the aisle you stand on – get involved, be involved – it’s one of the greatest privileges we have in America. It’s absolutely crucial now more than ever. Whether I see a sign on the street or somebody picketing or even raising their voice at an event, it’s better to be passionate than lukewarm.
What made you start thinking about running for Governor of Colorado? I believe I’ve been blessed with certain gifts and talents – and one of those is leadership. My leadership style is one of empowerment. I love to come alongside and provide opportunity for people and let them blossom. Whether it be my employees or the individuals I work with or the people I am involved with through the different non-profits, I love to cast a vision and get people excited about it. I felt led to run for Governor in the next race, but I have decided not to at this time. Mainly because I employ about 235 people in the state, and right now with this economy, I need to focus on making sure my people and my family are protected in these very challenging times. It would be hard to run the company and still devote the time needed to work on a successful campaign. If there is another opportunity in the future for me to run for office and to add value and to serve this state, I’d love to do so.
What laws or programs in our country do you think need changing? I do believe America is very special. We should be the best educated country in the world and a country that takes care of our citizens fairly and creates opportunity for them. A lot of it comes down to not necessarily changing laws, but maybe removing some of the laws that are over legalistic and are too binding. I think our tax system is oppressive and regressive. We need a fair tax that could remove most of the stress and angst we deal with and is more simplistic. I believe people are happy to pay taxes as long as they are fair and reasonable.
As an active member of the Republican Party, are you seeing some positive things happening these days? It must be a time for regrouping and rebuilding? I am now serving as the Financial Chairman of the Republican Party, and we are hoping to cast a vision of what the party stands for. In some people’s minds we were known more for what we are against than what we are for, and I think we should be the pro-active party based on the ideals of the founding fathers. I really believe we are at a point in American history where the very ideals of America as we know it are at stake. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian – or unaffiliated, the freedoms of the individual are what concerns me. The Republican Party needs to be the party that helps to recant that vision to be the party about opportunity for all and the values we hold true. I want to help focus on this and help the Republican Party earn back the support and confidence of the electorate. We can’t take our responsibilities lightly, we need to listen to the people and follow through on what we say we will do.
What concerns you about education in our country? Our stats could look better. It doesn’t matter whether a kid learns more in a traditional classroom or online, faith-based or home schooling – it’s important wherever they can individually learn the most that is the best fit for each child. We should empower parents to be able to make those decisions and to have a choice. I believe in our public school system – I’m a product of that system - but I am believer that with some competition, everyone will try to go out and create good options. Some of the stats for minorities concern me. We need to help change that. Education for all is absolutely the key in our competitive global environment.
Also, teachers are some of our greatest resources, and those who are impacting our students in a positive way should be rewarded and be able to rise to the top.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite trips taken abroad? I love travel in general, but in terms of an impact a country has made for me, it would be India. The population and the cast system are unique and like no country in the world. It’s a reminder of how difficult life is for so many people who live in the world today. My family and I have been very supportive of the needs of India, and we have underwritten different facilities there to try and help.
What do you consider your proudest achievement today? Hands down, I’d have to say my family. I just don’t say that to be cliché. It is such a true blessing to be married to my wife – she truly is my best friend. Along with our three kids, it’s having an impact as a parent; and there is nothing greater than being part of a family unit.
Mr. Watson, you had many leadership qualities that were obvious early in your life – especially as a teen. What was your proudest achievement during those years? I was the President of the Honor Society, the President of the Future Farmers of America and Head Boy of my high school. My proudest achievement then would have to be when I helped to create a mentoring and counseling program for young adults. We had some suicides in our community, and when you grow up in a small town, it reverberates throughout the entire town, so we went out and created this program. Whether we directly saved someone or not, I don’t know, but we didn’t have another suicide there.
How do you measure success? You don’t know if you’ve had an impact on someone’s life, but doing what you can is how I measure success. Whether it is with “Save our Youth” or another charitable organization, it’s about having another individual investing in your life that can create success. As we do at our company, I encourage other businesses to take a service day to give their employees the opportunity to do something for someone in the community so they can feel that sense of success that comes from helping others.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now? I hope to still be working in a serving capacity. I know I will be in Colorado. I have no desire to live anywhere else. I’ve traveled to many places, and this is the best place in the world. As today, I will still be doing what I can to create opportunity for people and also be supportive of the non-profit world. For me, it’s about creating impact whether now it’s for an employee who gets to buy a house, or send their kids to college - or whatever their goals are. I hope to continue creating financial returns for our investors and encouraging others to get involved with charitable organizations.
How would you like to be remembered? As a good leader, as someone who had a heart, and tried to make a positive impact - and truly made a difference regardless of the odds.
(Mr. Watson currently serves on the Board of Governors and President’s Council for Opportunity International, serves on the International Board of Directors for Mercy Ships, Member of the Metro Denver Executive Club, member of the Legacy Political organization, and has been a past Board Member and President of Brokers Benefiting Kids, a past member of the Citywide Banks Advisory Board, Member of the Republican Business Advisory Council, past-Chairman of the Advisory Board for The Alliance for Choice in Education, past-Chairman of The Board of Directors for Save Our Youth, a Denver based youth mentoring program, and Member and President of the Downtowner’s Toastmasters Club.)