5 key lessons from Richard Branson’s book, The Virgin Way.
1. If it does not excite you, don’t do it.
This is a message repeated by a lot of billionaires. If it does not excite you, don’t do it. Branson’s two main reasons is that: First, if you do not get excited by what you are doing, you can’t get really good at it and therefore you won’t be successful. The second reason is that our time is limited and we should spend our time wisely. It makes a lot of sense. The thought of spending a lot of your life, working solely to make a living should be terrifying to you. Branson is not separating work and play in his mind. He simply describes it all as “living”.
2. Listening is one of the most important skills.
In the movie “Big Jake”, John Wayne says: “You’re short on ears and long on mouth”. Richard Branson tells us to be just the opposite. Being long on ears, allows us to observe and learn instead of coming from the mindset of “I know”. Branson states that the smartest person in the room, is often the one listening and taking notes. Listen, it makes you sound smarter. If you’re not busy pushing your opinion, your mind is free and open to learn.
Listening is a powerful and simple tool, yet counter intuitive to many who want progress and success. Keeping quiet and listening works well in many situations. It makes you smarter both professionally and in personal matters. Additionally people just likes when you listen without judgement at all.
Keep it simple stupid. Say what you mean and mean what you say. The point of KISS is to sum up your message in as few words as possible, be it in speech or in writing.
4. Learn to see yourself and your company as your employees and customers do.
This is sort of a spinoff from the listening skill. Listen to your customers and the people around you. Let them give you feedback on what you are doing. Branson gives the example of his family saving him from launching the product “Virgin Condoms”. He was lost in a fun idea and creative process, until he got shaken and woken up. The idea is fun, but the name would probably cause more damage to the Virgin brand than good. Listen! Check yourself out from an objective point of view.
It is hugely important, to keep your customers or recipients view in focus through the development of any product or service. It is easy to get lost in a seemingly good idea, only to find out that the customer do not want it. Don’t assume and don’t think you know the answer in advance.
5. Take smart risks when starting businesses.
You might think that starting Virgin Atlantic was incredible expensive. Well it was not. Richard were able to rent an airplane from Boeing, selling the tickets through his Virgin Record stores. He were able to avoid the huge costs and risk of buying an airplane and thereby starting a company, where if things failed, he could just give Boeing their plane back. This story illustrates the absolute key to Richard Branson’s investing and business philosophy. Finding opportunities with limited risk and costs, but huge upside potential.
Photo Credit. First picture: Original: “5.3.10RichardBransonByDavidShankbone” by David Shankbone – Modified.