Lessons from Sir Richard Branson
By studying the lives of exceptional people,
we gain insights that may in turn help us to become exceptional.
Here are some of the highlights from my recent readings on Richard
Founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Music,
and more than 170 other companies Richard Branson epitomizes innovation
and out-of-the-box thinking. The following excerpts from his autobiography
Losing My Virginity illustrate several of the qualities which
have helped formulate his success.
1. Motivated by something beyond money.
"Above all, you want to create something you are proud of....
That has always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly
say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money.
If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off
doing nothing." -- p. 43
2. The importance of a good name.
"All you have in life is your reputation: you may be very
rich, but if you lose your good name, then you'll never be happy.
The thought will always lurk at the back of your mind that people
don't trust you. I had never really focused on what a good name
meant before, but that night in prison made me understand."
3. Big picture thinking & creative problem solving
In his book, Branson tells the story of a Mike Oldfield concert
that was to take place at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Oldfield, the
featured artist, had decided he did not want to do it. This was
a major promotional event, designed to bring visibility to Virgin
Records' inaugural shining star. Tickets had been sold, the concert
all set to go and Oldfield, that morning, had determined not to
Branson's creative problem solving saved the day. The two went
for a drive together in Branson's Bentley. After the drive, Branson
asked if Mike would like the car, as a present. Mike said sure.
Branson said, "I'll get out here and walk home. You just
keep on driving and the car is yours."
"Come off it! It was your wedding present."
"No, all you have to do is drive it around to Queen Elizabeth
Hall and go up onstage tonight. It's yours."
Mike agreed. Tubular Bells eventually sold over thirteen million
copies and became one of the best selling albums ever released
4. Dreaming impossible dreams.
Writes Branson, "My interest in life comes from setting myself
huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above
them." Hence, in addition to successes in business, Branson
became first to cross the Atlantic in a hot air balloon, the first
across the Pacific, and the fastest to cross the Atlantic by boat.
His life exhibits a "no limits" attitude that ever seeks
to stretch the boundaries of what is achievable.
5. Success is not a formula, but it doesn't 'just happen.'
"To be successful, you have to be out there, you have to
hit the ground running, and if you have a good team around you
and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen.
But you certainly can't guarantee it just by following someone
else's formula." A swashbuckling entrepeneur who lives life
to the full, Branson has seized life by the throat and given it
all he's got. And from here? To think he's only half begun!
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