Six takeaways from Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group

Final week, I had the extraordinary pleasure of sitting down with Sir Richard Branson, founding father of The Virgin Group, to speak about entrepreneurship, angle, optimism, innovation and house journey.

Sir Richard is among the world’s most prolific serial entrepreneurs, having many titles together with: Guinness World File Holder, Adventurer, Environmentalist, Writer, Astronaut, Accomplice, Father, Grandfather, and most significantly, to his grandchildren.pirate”.

In our unorthodox chat, we talk about his life and profession and examine notes on management. Sir Richard additionally shared why, on the age of 72 and within the enterprise for over half a century, he’s not but able to retire. Quite the opposite, he stays as energetic, enthusiastic and in love with life as ever.

Listed here are my high six takeaways from our time collectively.


This yr at RESHAPE, we acknowledged the necessity for manufacturers to embrace A brand new manner™ within the creation of buyer experiences. Our mission? Encourage corporations to embrace the individuality of their shoppers and turn into a purposeful accomplice in facilitating their life-style, routines and values, or to place it extra clearly: serving to shoppers dwell higher lives. It’s a philosophy that Sir Richard shares;

Since my first day as an entrepreneur, I’ve felt that the one mission value pursuing in enterprise is to enhance individuals’s lives.”.

Throughout our interview, Sir Richard mentioned: “each firm that exists has a optimistic objective as a result of it could not exist except it made a distinction in individuals’s lives”. Manufacturers exist to learn their prospects. Moreover, it has been confirmed time and time once more that established industries and market leaders will be toppled when rising manufacturers enter the market with a deeper or newer understanding of what can enhance prospects’ lives. Virgin is an organization that has achieved this repeatedly. Sir Richard as soon as mentioned;

I had numerous enjoyable turning numerous totally different industries the other way up and ensuring these industries are by no means the identical once more as a result of Virgin got here in and took them over.

For any chief, one of many hardest issues to do properly is realizing what to deal with to get forward. A bit of recommendation from Sir Richard is to by no means cease concentrating on the small particulars; “An distinctive firm is the one which will get all of the little issues proper… improves all these little issues”. By doing so, a median firm will be remodeled into an distinctive firm. For me, this was music to my ears: having buyer obsession articulated so clearly and why even founders and CEOs ought to be continuously on the lookout for friction.


It might come as no shock that the person nicknamed “dr sure” in his personal firm, he believes within the energy of angle and the administration of 1’s personal psychology. In our interview, Sir Richard referred to himself as a “everlasting optimist” and spoke concerning the current coronavirus pandemic and the toll this has taken on his workforce and enterprise. Having guided Virgin by way of a number of recessions and the bursting of the dotcom bubble within the Nineties, Sir Richard’s unwavering perception within the energy of individuals and what they’ll obtain was evident:

Persons are splendidly imaginative in coping with actually tough conditions and making an attempt to consider optimistic methods out of them.

Whereas angle is vital, Sir Richard based mostly his enthusiasm on a nod to his personal expertise, and that he has developed a intestine feeling.”instinct that comes from expertise”.

This angle is completely encapsulated within the title of his 2006 autobiography, “fuck it let’s do it”. Whilst you might be forgiven for considering that point might have tarnished this view, that is not true. In our interview, Sir Richard revealed that he’s within the technique of writing one other ebook and after I requested him what the title may be, he advised me that he’s contemplating: “Say sure. Now what was the query?“So it looks like in any case this time, angle remains to be every little thing.


In preparation for our interview, I used to be struck by a specific account from Sir Richard’s childhood, which he shared in one other interview:

“My mother gave me some actually good recommendation… if I ever mentioned a barely unfavourable phrase about somebody, which I did not do fairly often, she would ship me to the mirror, make me stand there for ten minutes and say, displays so badly on I do not need you to talk sick of anybody ever once more.” I feel that is superb recommendation, particularly as a frontrunner, it is best to at all times search for the very best in individuals. If you happen to search for the very best, you get the very best.”

After I requested him if this assembly was what helped Sir Richard take care of disappointment, that is what he needed to say;

“I actually suppose that [my mother’s] The recommendation was the correct recommendation… particularly should you’re a frontrunner. Most individuals do not allow you to down and most of the people actually need to carry out properly. It’s possible you’ll discover that you just put one or two individuals within the incorrect positions and subsequently do not ship as a lot as you want to them to. However, should you search for the very best in individuals, should you reward individuals, you’re going to get the very best again.”

Talking particularly about Virgin, Sir Richard shares that in his expertise, when individuals really feel valued, beloved, praised and a part of one thing larger than themselves, it turns into palpable even to prospects, permeates the shopper expertise itself and might turn into a market. differentiator;

“I wish to suppose that…with each virgin firm, individuals really feel beloved, they really feel needed, they really feel appreciated, they really feel heard. And I feel that listening to individuals is important…write down what they must say and transfer on.”


The starvation to innovate and never settle for arbitrary guidelines is a high quality that’s deeply ingrained in lots of entrepreneurs and alter brokers; it is usually one thing I acknowledge in my very own psychology. When the Virgin model was born within the 70s, it specialised in promoting data. Within the 52 years for the reason that Virgin model has infiltrated quite a few industries, in Sir Richard’s personal phrases;

“I suppose Virgin is an uncommon model… I think we’re the one ‘life-style’ model on this planet. We’re maybe one of many 30 best-known manufacturers on this planet, however should you have a look at the opposite 29, all of them specialise in one space.”

One of many qualities that I like in Sir Richard is his capability to see enchancment in nearly all areas of his life. If he sees an trade or experiences one thing that he thinks he can do higher, he’ll do it. It was the rationale he based Virgin Atlantic, as a result of he, in his personal phrases, he felt they may do higher than British Airways. Virgin’s newest foray into the cruise trade was additionally a product of this creativeness and willingness to innovate;

“The cruise enterprise was very, very critical and fairly boring. Our workforce has created an thrilling and enjoyable cruise firm, and it is only for adults. And, , individuals like it, they exit, they ebook once more… so I feel [it’s about] have a look at industries which might be a bit outdated after which get in there!”

After I requested Sir Richard how he determined which areas of the shopper expertise to deal with when getting into an trade, his recommendation for the RESHAPE neighborhood was surprisingly simple:

“Make a listing of all of the stuff you hate a few explicit trade, then make a listing of all of the stuff you suppose you may enhance on. After which get the very best individuals to do it. And with luck, hey, presto, he comes out triumphant.


Sir Richard attributes a lot of his success to studying to delegate from an early age. When a gaggle of enterprise leaders just lately got here to his house, Necker Island, for a management workshop, his key recommendation was;

“When you’ve got a enterprise, get out of enterprise.”

What he meant by that was to not be afraid to search out another person to maintain the day-to-day, so you may deal with the massive image. For Sir Richard, there are not often issues in life that can not be delegated, with an ideal workforce in place. In actual fact, in his personal phrases, the one points of life that can not be delegated are your well being and well-being and spending time with family members.

“Lots of people are afraid to delegate and once they do, they usually query individuals and say, ‘Oh, I might do it in another way’… clearly you are not going to have somebody do every little thing precisely the identical. So delegate, be sure to do not second-guess the particular person on a regular basis, and let go…have a look at the massive image. It has labored for me since I used to be very younger. And for different individuals who have adopted that recommendation, it has labored for them too.”


Throughout our interview, I used to be notably to listen to Sir Richard’s standpoint on what makes a partnership profitable, each personally and professionally. That is what he needed to say;

“I feel in relation to relationships, there is a component of luck. I used to be fortunate sufficient to fall head over heels in love with this glorious lady after I was 27 and he or she was 33. She was right down to earth and have become a beautiful mom and grandmother. And anyway, we have been fortunate. It really works properly.”

I have to say that I don’t imagine that anybody is born “fortunate” or has an innate capability to reach life effortlessly. I, nevertheless, imagine in luck. I additionally imagine that luck will be manipulated or manufactured, that it favors the daring, and thus luck will be created. Due to this, I’m very happy that Sir Richard was fortunate sufficient to search out his accomplice, in addition to discovering success. Luck apart, Sir Richard additionally had this to share;

“You do not attempt to get the very best deal out of your companions, you attempt to be honest. You hearken to the opposite aspect and typically you compromise, possibly in opposition to what you need. [There are times] When will they be sleek once more? You simply make it work… When you’ve robust partnerships, they’re unbreakable.”

And so, in the long run, magical alliances come right down to a compromise (within the phrases of Sir Richard “extra give than take”), a shared perception in doing what’s proper for the opposite particular person, not simply what’s best for you…and, in fact, a little bit of luck too, however that is maybe a dialog for an additional day.

If you happen to’re nonetheless studying at this level, properly achieved for getting this far. This was an unusually lengthy article for me, however I needed to ensure I used to be in a position to cross on the data and knowledge of my dialog with Sir Richard, with the eye and element it deserves.
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