Sir Richard Branson has long been a hero of mine and so it was a great pleasure to see him live in Melbourne at the 21st Century Financial Education Summit last night. What a lovely man and how humble and approachable. He spoke about many facets of his life and business career and always with an undertone of hope and expectation that every small business owner can achieve the great things he has. With a little luck, a lot of determination and the vision to see their dreams unfold. Here are some key themes that resonated with me from his 60 minutes on stage:
- Lead with your heart. Do what exites you and what you feel passionate about.
- Get out and give it a try. Take on a challenge and give it your best shot.
- A business is really just a group of people. A great leader will motivate people to achieve great things. Motivate people, praise people, inspire people… don’t criticise people. Treat everyone well, from the switchboard operator (he hastened to add that such roles don’t exist anymore but we get his point) to the senior executives.
- Small is beautiful. Keep your business structured in a way that allows for smaller teams as it grows, so that people don’t lose themselves.
- Learn to delegate, hire people better than yourself. And once delegated, don’t second guess them. Give them freedom, don’t expect them to do things the way you would.
- Put your people first, your customers second and your shareholders third. If your people are happy and proud, your business will thrive and the rest will follow. People leave companies out of frustration not for money.
- Business should be a force for good. My favourite of Sir Peter’s messages. As entrepreneurs we know how to solve problems and as such are in a better position right now that politicians to make the changes that need to be made. If businesses focus on making a difference we have all the resources we need to solve the world’s problem.
Check out www.virginunite.com to see the good Sir Richard is making in the world.
Richard Branson truly is a man of vision and boldness. His Virgin Galactic Airlines project to see everyday folk (well those with $200,000 to spend on a ticket anyway!) experience space travel is testimony to his attitude to life.
As he himself summed up, “in life it is more fun to say yes than to say no!”
Thank you Sir Richard for a truly inspirational appearance at the Melbourne event, for vision, your passion and your contribution to our world. And also for wearing an All Blacks shirt to a conference audience of 2,000 Australians! A man of courage and humour indeed.