Thursday, 4 December 2014

Sir Richard Branson

There is a cool guy I admire a lot, Sir Richard Branson. The other day I was fortunate enough to be in the audience when he made a rare appearance in Stockholm to talk to Swedish business leaders about entrepreneurship, management and his passions. Of course he was brilliant. I also had the pleasure to shake his hand in a (very quick) meet and great session. 

He has the aura of an aging popstar and is 100% driven by lust and quriosity. He is a strong defender of human rights and gay rights. In Stockholm he stated that when something is so fundamentally wrong in a country, like Uganda or Russia, cooperations should make a statement and not do business with these kind of countries, where gay rights are not at all acknowledged. Cred to him.

"Party on and have fun. Let your hair down. Get drunk. Be human."
- Richard Branson, Dec 3 in Stockholm

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English businessman and investor. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies. At the age of sixteen his first business venture was a magazine called Student. In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores. Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic and expanded the Virgin Records music label. According to the Forbes 2014 list of billionaires, Branson is the seventh richest citizen of the United Kingdom, with an estimated net worth of US$4.9 billion.

 Sir Richard Branson, a truly cool guy

He likes adventures...
Over the years Sir Richard Branson has had his fair share of world record attempts, from his balloon adventures with Steve Fossett to kitesurfing across the channel with his son Sam there is rarely a dull moment.
"Screw it, Just do it"
- R Branson

Of course there is a Marrakech twist to this blog post as well. When waiting for his hot air balloon to take of from Morocco (for your everyday balloon flight to Europe, as you do....) back in 1998 Richard and his sister Vanessa fell in love with Marrakech. Vanessa settled down in the medina and later opened up a chic Riad-hotel, El Fenn. Richard also got a place, beautiful Kasbah Tamadot. Both absolutely amazing spots.

 Kasbah Tamadot

Sir Richard also likes practical jokes. One April 1st he dressed up an airplane as a space ship and flew slowly over London creating chaos. Finally landing in a meadow he slowly opened the door to "the space ship" and sent out a robot dressed up as ET, backed up by a smoke machine. How is that for a joke?!

The Future of Imagination

And he likes space ships...
Virgin Galactic  is the worlds first commercial space airline that is scheduled to take off with passengers Q1 2015. The project suffered some problems earlier this fall when astronauts were killed in a fatal accident with one of the space ships but still celebrities and millionaires around the globe que to sign up for the pricy tickets.

So you can see why I love this guy and was happy to meet him earlier this week in Stockholm.

Richard being interviewd by Jenny Strömstedt in Stockholm, December 3rd 2014 
 Elvis is leaving the building

He is full of wisdom and leadership skills as well. Richard Branson has always had the reputation for doing things differently, which has reflected in Virgin companies the world over. He has also sprinkled his views on business and life into decades of interviews, books and launches. 
While most people are familiar with his rallying cry of "screw it, let's do it", there are plenty more helpful hints from the smiley man with the beard. Below are some of my favorites.

 'A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.'

'I am prepared to try anything once.'

'Having a personality of caring about people is important. You cant be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.'

'I don't think of work as work and play as play. It's all living.'

'Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming.'

'I never get the accountants in before I start up a business. It's done on gut feeling, especially if I can see that they are taking the mickey out of the consumer.'

'My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them.'

'Right now I'm just delighted to be alive and to have had a nice long bath.'

What is your favourite quote from Sir Richard?

He is also very involved in different charity and human rights project. Check out Virgin Unite for more information.

This is Vanessa Bransons place, located just a few steps from our Riad in the Marrakech medina.
It is divine.
 Vanessa Branson, more or less our neighbour

Vanessa Branson is a Marrakech-lover, hotelier and art philanthropist. She hosts tha Art Biennale in Mararkech as well as several TED talks. Listen to her TED talk from Casablanca about Morocoo and her love for the country. She is a very talented and committed woman.

Dinner at Vanessas

Want to learn more about Richard Bransons philosophy? Pick up his latest book, The Virgin Way !

Do you know why his company is called Virgin? When in his late 20s and on his way to get laid, the flight to the Virgin Islands was cancelled, where his girlfriend at that time was waiting. Richard chartered a plane and sold tickets to other passengers from the cancelled flight. He called the plane "Virgin" since it was heading for the Virgin Islands. One passenger pointed out that "if you shape up the service you could be in the airline business". Virgin was born. Did I mention he bought one of the Virgin Islands, Necker Island, that today is one of his homes?

Like a virgin,

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