Hands up if you have become best friends with Richard Branson on your vision board? I do. Picture this, you’re just walking down, the street taking in your surroundings, and suddenly you bump into one of your idols. He or she is just chilling out, having a delicious breakfast, and not only do they notice you there, but they say “got a question? I’ve got some time, let me help you…”
Sir Richard Branson did just that (figuratively speaking). There I was scrolling through Facebook, and a photo of Branson comes up on my newsfeed telling me he’s eating breakfast and he’s taking any questions while he noms on down. Whenever I notice live Facebook Q&A’s with celebrities I am usually hours late, and I wouldn’t actually know what to ask anyway.
Richard Branson was taking time out of his busy day to answer any questions the public had about doing business #TheVirginWay – an up close and personal marketing tactic to promote his new book The Virgin Way.
Turns out I was late for this one too, but instead of hours, by minutes. That didn’t matter to me, I read every answer he gave because I felt like his energy was still there, lingering like a cloud of very expensive stardust hovering over his every word. Like an obsessed teenager at a One Direction concert I was reluctant to let go of that moment of the concert that JUST HAPPENED because I knew they were only standing in the dark left of stage.
He gave 45 minutes of his time and answered some brilliant questions that are worth repeating, so because success is best shared, here is the spontaneous looking and unscripted Richard Branson interview that answers questions about virginity, age barriers, job satisfaction and following your passion.
Richard Branson – Hi Facebook! Got a question about doing business #TheVirginWay? I’m here right now answering your questions over breakfast. Who wants to go first? virg.in/TVWay
Bibi Beusen – Hi Richard, I’m an old ‘little fish’ 50 years old an independant graphic designer, struggling in a deeeeeeeep sea, with a lot of sharks, but it’s the only thing I know to do. Sometimes I think about a career switch due to my health, but [it’s] not easy at this age. Creativity is all I’ve got…
Richard Branson – You’re following your passion – that’s what everybody should be doing, whatever age they are. Don’t start thinking of yourself as 50 or 60 – just think of yourself as you. Otherwise you’ll become old before your time.
Andrew Barsa – What is your why? Behind what you do
Richard Branson – If you find yourself in a position to make a positive difference to people’s lives, your life will be the poorer for not trying to do so. Most of us are in that position in some way or another. What’s your why?
Wendy Perry – I’m involved in a new entrepreneurship program for 15-18 year olds in adelaide, Australia called @bosscamp. For young people that may want to start their own business, what is the number 1 thing they should focus on? Ps would you like to judge the winners on 9.10.14?
Richard Branson – Good luck with the program, sounds great. There’s no point in starting a business unless it’s going to make a positive difference – basically that’s what a business is. Once they’ve come up with that unique idea then they’ve got to find people who 100% believe in what they are doing and surround themselves with those people. Then ultimately, screw it, just get on and do it!
Gergana Vankova – Mr Branson, when you are not satisfied with your job/ salary but you have a little kid and a lot of bills to pay and when there is economic crisIs in your country…how to stay motivated in your job and in your life? Thank you in advance for your answer, you are a huge inspiration for me.
Richard Branson – First of all, what is a job? A job is basically a group of people working together, doesn’t matter whether it’s a bank, a record company, people are basically all the same. So, throw yourself into worrying about the other people around you, make a real effort to care about them, smile and be cheerful at all times, and you’ll be surprised how a ‘boring’ job suddenly becomes more magical.
Ben De Grouchy – Did you have a mentor when you started out?
Richard Branson – I was lucky enough to have a family friend who helped me with the accounts at weekends. Having failed my elementary maths and being dyslexic, I needed somebody to hold my hand. But I was also incredibly lucky to have tons of love and support from my family, who were supportive when I told them I wanted to leave school at 16, and encouraged me to be entrepreneurial.
Carly Ann Ledge – Hi Richard Branson. We would love to know what benefit do you get out of still appearing on the virgin media adverts when you no longer own it? Thanks
Richard Branson – Virgin Media still carries the Virgin name proudly and we are proud of that. When we took the company over many years ago the wonderful Virgin team turned it around. There are now many thousands more wonderful people at Virgin Media, who identify with our values. Plus, who would say no to making a fun advert or two with Usain Bolt?! We’ve spent some great times with him in Jamaica
Ketan V. Hirani – When is the right time to take on more staff. We are a company called PictureFrame.TV who have a small team, but as the owner, I find myself doing a lot of things that we would eventually need staff for. I often wonder whether I should employ someone so I can spend more time gaining more business.
Richard Branson – People enjoy their jobs more when they are doing 10 jobs rolled into one. Too many people in companies spend too much time killing time. If you are actually the leader of the company, or running a department, you’ve really got to learn the art of delegation and free yourself up to think about the bigger picture, and not get bogged down by too much detail.
Elliot Demarco – What was your first big opportunity?
Nik Lukic – What was the name of the first girl who’s VIRGINity you took
Richard Branson – I think it would be unfair to post it here! But interestingly, she got in touch with me last week after 50 years and said she had 60 love letters about our love affair and the start of Student Magazine. We’re going to meet up and give me the letters. Really looking forward to seeing her again.
** Hint: The answer to the first question by Elliot is in the answer to the second question by Nik.
Trisha Russell – Huge fan, I have my own small business, how do I get my name noticed?
Richard Branson – Get out there, use yourself to tell your story, if you are doing something you 100% believe in (there is no point doing it if you don’t) then you’ll have a great story to tell. Be willing to make a fool of yourself, have fun, come up with wonderful, weird, magical ideas to get the press interested in what you are doing – but make sure you make people smile!
Muhammad Ikram Khan – what is most important for customer satisfaction?
Anders Swartz – Reverse the question and start with yourself – what will make you satisfied? And that’s a good start.
Richard Branson – Great point Anders. Muhammad, as Anders says, get out and meet your staff, meet your customers, get feedback, make sure you write that feedback down and act on it. So many average companies (airlines!) have bosses who don’t think detail is important. It’s the little details that make someone’s experience either magical or average. If you are a vegetarian on a flight and you order a meal and there isn’t any, you’re going to be thoroughly pissed off with the airline. If there’s no wifi at your seat, you’re going to be annoyed. If you are a staff member and your red shoes are giving you blisters, management must jump on it and sort out your shoes (we’re onto it team, promise!)
Martin Leitgeb – How to kill laziness?
Richard Branson – Life’s just too short to be lazy. Time flies if you are lazy, and you suddenly realise you’ve wasted a day. If you haven’t got a job or you are at a bit of a loss, spend the time looking after yourself, getting really fit and healthy and you’ll soon find you can conquer the world again.
Isuru Suharshana – is it a good idea to go to investors at early stage of a business or should you try managing on your own?
Richard Branson – Obviously if you can get your business off the ground without investors, own 100% of the company, so much the better I managed that with Virgin by selling advertising in advance for our magazine, then used the money to pay for the printing of the mag. Then when I started selling records, handing out leaflets outside rock concerts, getting the money in advance for the records, then buying them and sending them out to people. But generally, it is not easy to self-finance in that way and sometimes for your first business you may have to compromise by bringing in outside partners – just make sure they are good ones!
Larraine K. Gayton – What inspires you daily?
Richard Branson – I’ve seen life as one long university education that I’ve never had. Every day i’m learning something new. Every day I’m loving meeting new people and working with old friends. I really believe that entrepreneurs worldwide can unite together in resolving most of the world’s problems, helping governments in the social sector. And there are so many problems, so life is fascinating when one embarks upon the path of working with others to resolve as many as possible.
Bec Smith – What’s for breakfast?
Richard Branson – This is certainly one of the more interesting questions I’ve ever been asked! Anyway, vegetable smoothie, a berry smoothie and I suspect I might ruin the healthy food with a fry up!
Hazel Loke – Sir, you are playing multiple roles and have so many ongoing projects. Please share how you organize your daily schedule?
Richard Branson – I keep my own diary, because I find I can organise my life much better that way. When I’m travelling, which is quite a lot of the year, life is manic. If you checked my blog out from yesterday, you’ll realise that’s a fairly typical day! When i’m on Necker Island I try to find time to get really fit, wake up in the morning and if the wind is up go kitesurfing or surfing, then play a game of tennis. As the day heats up I get my work done. We always have fascinating people on Necker, so I join them for lunch, maybe go sailing with them, then back to work, maybe a bit of tennis in the evening and then socialising with everybody later on. I’ve reached the age where keeping fit is critical – but that applies to all of us whatever age we are.
Sally Maree Smith – how do you explain to your bosses if they show respect they will get better results from their staff?? Without coming across as “trying to tell them how to do their jobs” haha xxx
Richard Branson – It’s a good question. If you send me their addresses I’ll be happy to drop them a line!! It’s so sad that leaders sometimes don’t realise that they would do so much better not to be perceived as bosses, but as friends. They should roll up their sleeves, mess in, and treat people well, take them for a drink in the evenings. One good way of telling if a boss has got it right is whether they let you call them their first name – personally if they don’t I don’t think they deserve to be a boss.
Mawanda Godfrey – How do u manage all that big number of employee
Richard Branson – I don’t! I have a wonderful team of people who I delegate to. Learnt the art of doing that from a very young age, so I can sit back and look at the bigger picture, dive in when firefighting is needed and spend time on my ventures, both business and not-for-profit
Leon Bubenicek – How do you deal with competitor smear campaigns? Ignore it or challenge it?
Richard Branson – We’ve had a number of major smear campaigns from bigger competitors – the most famous of which was the BA Dirty Tricks campaign, where they did everything they could to drive us out of business using very dirty tactics, the story of which I told in Losing My Virginity. We very much went out on the attack, we went to the press, we took them to court, we won the highest libel damages in history, which we redistributed to all our staff at Christmas – it became known as the BA Christmas bonus! If you’re suffering the same problem, I suggest you go out on the attack, but remember the press generally favour the bigger company because they know they will be around for years. So you need brave journalists to expose it. Ultimately, the way Virgin Atlantic survived was by having a much better product than BA – that’s something you also need to take into account.
Ngonie Simbas – How to l change my mindset to think and see things the way you see them.
Richard Branson – Be yourself. Look for the best attributes of yourself, and then follow those attributes and turn them into dreams. And good luck!
Richard Branson – Sadly the head of Virgin Galactic has just arrived for a meeting. I’ve really enjoyed this morning – must do this more often! I’ve just published a new book called The Virgin Way, which hopefully will answer some of the questions I haven’t been able to get around to. Look forward to bumping into you all one day. Best, Richard
You can buy Sir Richard Branson’s new book The Virgin Way, right here: virg.in/TVWay I already have my copy on pre order and cannot wait for it to be released. Eeeeek! Excited much?
I think if I had a chance to ask Richard Branson anything I could, it would be: “What do you do when a massive project you are in love with isn’t moving as fast as you would like it to?” With 3 small kids around me, patience is THE hardest lesson I’m learning.
Alright, it’s your turn. Your call to action. Tell me in the comments below:
1) what was your biggest a-ha or insight from Richard Branson’s Facebook Q&A?
2) and if you came across one of your business idols giving away free advice, who would it be and what question would you ask them?
Big love to you Warriors, stay awesome!