Get On Board: A Conversation With Richard Branson was a luncheon held on May 25 at the Vancouver Board of Trade. I, Monika Kelly, was there! Yes, I’m still reeling from the experience, over two months later!
There was nervous excitement all around me as I entered the Vancouver Convention Centre among hundreds of other attendees, and I felt that I was most excited of them all. I knew that it was going to be a most inspirational event, and if you know me, you know that I gravitate to everything inspirational. My BNI colleagues and I had booked a table for us to see the charismatic speaker and businessman give us his view of life and business, and he did.
He inspired us from the get-go! Here are a few quotes that really resonated with me, and I agree with wholeheartedly—it truly describes my point of view on my business, Facets Business Solutions:
When Carole Taylor, our Simon Fraser University’s chancellor asked, “does the brand have to be true to work?” Branson replied, “yes, it has to be 100 per cent true to work. Your reputation, your brand, and your name, is all you have in life, and therefore you have to run your companies ethically; you have to run them so you can sleep well at nights. A business is simply, you coming up with an idea to make a difference to other people’s lives.” He continued with, “You have to protect, treasure, and nurture your companies as if they’re human.”
When he was asked to tell us how he would describe his brand, which is one of the world’s best known and most respected, Branson explained that they shake things up and bring in innovation and better products. He also put emphasis on having fun and not taking themselves too seriously, since 80 per cent of your life is work, and if you can have fun your customers will have fun, and that’s a key to being successful.
A story that demonstrated his passion for having fun and creating a business that makes a difference is when he described the initial reason for now having Virgin Airways. You won’t believe it, but he was on his way to see a beautiful woman in the British Virgin Islands, and to his frustrations his flight was canceled because lack of enough passengers to fly; so, he chartered a plane, wrote $35 per one-way ticket on a chalkboard, filled this plane up and got to where he needed to go. Now that’s smart thinking – give people a reason to want your business, in this case a very inexpensive one-way ticket to the British Virgin Islands.
A few other things I lerned from Sir Richard Branson:
- Give good value for money
- Create the best product in the world
- Do things that others aren’t doing
- Beat people’s expectations
- Be inquisitive and learn about new things