Richard Branson Speaks in Copenhagen at the Awaken Business Summit
Our co-creative partner; the Awaken Business Summit, has invited Sir Richard Branson to speak in Copenhagen in the autumn of 2019. Therefore, we’ve decided to take a closer look at this interesting businessman and his life journey.
Branson is an icon of entrepreneurship and most of us view him as authentic, kind, and a good businessman. Why do we like this man so much?
“Respect is how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress”
Branson’s Life and Balloon Rides with a Touch of Craziness
There is an aura of craziness in combination with a sense of a sincerity surrounding Sir Richard Branson.
Many of us admire him for mixing his adventurous nature with his brilliant marketing shows – getting millions of dollars worth of PR and media attention for ‘next to nothing’.
Well, not entirely for nothing. He gets it for daring and having the courage to dress up in women’s clothing with blue eye shadow and red lipstick, acting like a clown (literally), fly hot air balloons across the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, kite surf across the English Channel or performing the fastest Atlantic Ocean boat crossing ever. Just to name a few.
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over”
When a woman tweets to Branson: I’d love to spend a day in your shoes; he gets up at his residence at Necker Island to pack-up his shoes to immediately send them off to the lady tweeter. And boom; a new media adventure is created where the woman wears his shoes an entire day (otherwise he wants them back) – a day, of course, with full media coverage.
Who is Sir Richard Branson and what is Branson’s Story of Success?
Prior Virgin Records owner, Sir Richard Branson has taken his business to the next level again and again. Today he is on the top 10 list of richest billionaires in the UK.
Branson is married to Joan Templeman and together they have two children; Holly and Sam. They have a residence at Necker Island as part of the British Virgin Islands.
Best known as a rock-star entrepreneur and business magnate, it might be less known that Richard Branson has conquered childhood struggles with stuttering and dyslexia.
He has been an entrepreneur since he was fifteen years old and in an interview with Jeff Halden, Branson gives credit to his dyslexia for helping him to avoid being too cocky and to point out that he doesn’t know everything and it, therefore, forces him to think hard.
“Whatever your goal is you will never succeed unless you let go of your fears and fly” – Branson
Branson is a Londoner – born in 1950.
While his first business is a magazine named Student, founded with best friend Nik Powell, Branson tells in his book Losing My Virginity that he and Nik back in the school days tried to make for a Christmas tree business adventure. However, having planted 400 trees, they come back in the summertime to inspect a field with only a few tiny sprigs here and there…scraps left by the rabbits.
It is the mail order records company Virgin that sets him and Nik off on a remarkable path of success.
Within the first few years with Virgin, Branson is ready to build a recording studio. Now Virgin Records is born.
Virgin Records is perhaps best recognized for signing bands such as Mike Oldfield, Sex Pistols, Genesis and the Rolling Stones. Safe to say, Virgin Records is a huge success. Again and again, Richard Branson tells us that selling and parting with Virgin Records – his business baby, is one of the hardest things he has ever done.
“Hard-won things are more valuable than those that come too easily”
While selling Virgin Records is a tough one, the wealth from this sell makes possible new businesses such as Virgin Airlines, Virgin Express, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Money, Virgin Hotels, Virgin Fuel, Virgin Cruises, Virgin Galactic to name a few. Today, Virgin Group controls more than 400 companies. Moreover, during the years, it also pays for business adventures and failures such as Virgin Brides and Virgin cola, which Branson always is refreshingly willing to talk about in view of how these failures, in his eyes, paves the way for successes.
“Don’t be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again”
The Visions of Branson for a Better Future
Increasing his wealth and net worth to a level where money is considered no concern, yet a huge tool of opportunity, Branson continuously tells us in interviews that today, he finds his greatest satisfaction in facilitating non-profit organizations such as for example Virgin Unite and the creation of the ‘Elders’.
The Elders is a group of influential elders, which Branson initiated in 2007 with musician Peter Gabriel and Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela. The Elders, counting also Kofi Annan until his death and Desmond Tutu, are devoted to discussing pressing issues of world peace and alleviating inequality and suffering among poor people.
“Capitalism – which in its purest form is entrepreneurism even among the poorest of the poor – does work; but those who make money from it should put it back into society, not just sit on it as if they are hatching eggs”
Branson works for and supports an abundance of good causes from African Wildlife, the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in South Africa, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, The Carbon War Room Initiative and many more. Through Virgin Unite he and his family are engaged in ocean protection, clean energy, climate change, empowering entrepreneurs, sustainable and affordable food, drug reform, rethinking education – and much more.
He is moreover a signatory of Global Zero, an initiative to eliminate nuclear weapons globally. Global Zero counts more than 300 leaders – including heads of state and military personnel etc. and thereto more than 400.000 citizens across the globe.
Space Tourism with Virgin Galactic
In recent years, Branson has focussed on space tourism with the launch of Virgin Galactic spaceship. Hundreds of people have already reserved tickets to ride on a Virgin Galactic spaceship.
In December 2018, Branson’s Virgin Galactic organization successfully took a rocket plane into space for the first time.
Reaching an altitude of 82,682 meters and a top speed of 2,9 the speed of sound – Branson and his team was celebrating Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, VVS Unity’s safe return. Branson said:
“Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached space. Today we completed our first revenue-generating flight and our pilots earned their Commercial Astronaut Wings. Today, we have shown that Virgin Galactic really can open space to change the world for good” (VirginGalactic).
Richard Branson and Leadership Style
Entering a summit about leadership and empowering leaders – what do we actually know about Richard Branson’s own leadership style?
One thing Branson is well known for is his belief in treating his staff well and how this will pass on to create a great customer experience and therefore benefit stakeholders in the end. With an employee-first mindset, employees are more loyal, work better, and give customers a nice experience that matches their own experience.
According to the Branson employee-first belief system, looking after employees and treating them with respect models both values and communication for employees and they learn by doing.
“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised”
What is Leadership to Richard Branson?
Branson is largely known for his rule-breaking leadership, which he over the years has given us some insight into through his books. He believes it to be a crucial role to actively select the right people and when you have them you encourage every single employee to live out their best and most creative potential. He prefers to make promotions from within the company, because, as he says, it sends a great signal.
’Leadership is making a positive difference and inspiring a team, getting them to believe in what you’re asking them to do. There’s no point in being a leader unless you create something worth leading […] (Branson in Bjtonline)
“To be successful you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running”
Branson moreover emphasizes:
“Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people on the front line. That’s a very Virgin trait. Listening enables us to learn from each other, from the marketplace, and from the mistake that must be made in order to get anywhere that is original and disruptive”.
Throughout his books, we hear many of the same important points repeated: a leader should pay attention to detail, be passionate about the job and have fun doing it, engage with team and employees to be part of the culture, give credit and praise to those deserving it, listen and learn, move on from mistakes, delegate the workload and trust in people as this is of great importance in relation to creating a positive company culture.
Richard Branson books
If fascinated by Richard Branson and his life and business adventures, you can choose from several books on the Branson bookshelf. Besides the ones mentioned below, you will find a vast number of books written about Richard Branson by other authors.
Finding My Virginity – 2017
The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead – 2014
Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School – 2013
Screw Business As Usual – 2011
Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen and Blasting Into Space – 2010
Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur – 2008
Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life – 2006
Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way – 1998
INTERESTED IN HEARING RICHARD BRANSON LIVE IN COPENHAGEN AT THE AWAKEN BUSINESS SUMMIT?
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We’ll leave you with a few famous Richard Branson quotes
Richard Branson Quotes
“From my very first day as an entrepreneur, I’ve felt the only mission worth pursuing in business is to make people’s lives better”
“All you have in business is your reputation – so it’s very important that you keep your word”
“Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people who are on the front line”
“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming”
“If you want to become a Millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline”
“Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with. In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are”