Richard Branson's Most Important Life Lesson

richard-bransonLast month, some of the Directions team were lucky enough to attend the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, a highlight of which was the brilliant guest keynote speaker Sir Richard Branson.

He shared some of his successes and wisdom with the audience including his approach to life and business – “Screw it, let’s do it”. He explained that this philosophy means taking risks, both calculated and controlled but taking decisive action. Far too often we sit back thinking about ideas rather than getting after it and making things happen. He was an inspiring speaker and if you get the opportunity to hear him speak, we’d highly recommend it. Here’s a few of the key messages from the interview at Microsoft WPC:

  • Approach to life - "Screw it, let's do it." But you also have to be quite strict about cutting your losses and saving your money for the next venture.
  • Most Important life lesson - "Forgive your enemies, the world is too small." After beating British Air in a nasty court case, he invited the head of British Air out to lunch and made him a friend.
  • Taking risks in business - "Never bet the farm; always protect your downside." When he launched Virgin Airlines, Boeing agreed to take back the airplane he purchased after one year if the business didn't work. This limited his liability to half of Virgin Records' profits, making the risk something he could live with. Very clever!
  • Small is beautiful - "When we have 100 people in the company...we'll split the company into two. When we had our record company division, we actually had 20 separate record companies in 20 separate buildings with 20 separate brands...then those people could feel their success directly."
  • Make a difference -- "Africa is a huge opportunity." He was heading back down there right after his keynote. He talked about his work with environmental and sustainable ventures and charities.
  • Partnering is more difficult than marriage – Both parties need to bring all to the party. With wry Brit humour, Branson related some of his experiences with business partners and shared his philosophy on having clear communication and expectations to ensure success.
  • Mission to space – Branson spoke excitedly about his latest venture, Virgin Galactic which will offer the first commercial flights to space to the paying public. He predicted that the company will in the future offer transpacific flights with flight times of around 3 hours and that in the coming years the cost for flight to space drop in price to become affordable to anyone determined to go. You can watch the video presentation on Virgin Galactic here.

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