It’s not hard to feel a little weak in the knees when mega-brand mogul Richard Branson takes the stage. It’s not the fact that he’s a billionaire, or flies around in hot-air balloons, or that he was named among the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time Magazine. It’s not that he owns airlines or knows all there is to know about music. It’s not even his accent (ok, that’s half true). So what had me hanging onto every one of Branson’s words at C2-MTL?
1. He Can Fly You to the Moon
Virgin Galactic is Branson’s vision to take us regular non-astronaut folk into space. Branson speaks about space travel as though it’s a cruise to the Caribbean. Perhaps this is what makes it possible for Branson to transform crazy-sounding ideas into reality; he doesn’t think they’re crazy. According to Branson, you will able to board one of his miraculous shuttles in about five years. While the flight currently holds a $200,000 price tag (yes, there have already been quite a few takers), Branson’s goal is to eventually make it affordable for everyone.
2. He’s All About Vacations
The secret to business success? Happy employees, according to Branson. The man who has overseen the triumph of dozens of companies explains that it’s all about adjusting with the times. More specifically, Branson suggests giving your employees what they want, whether it’s flextime, working remotely, or three months unpaid leave. “A good CEO can make a company. A bad CEO can break a company,” he insists. Employees spend the better part of their lives at work. A good CEO understands that if you make them happy, they will make you happy.
3. He Likes a Little Healthy Competition
Virgin Galactic is not the only company working to innovate space travel, but that’s not keeping Branson up at night. In fact, he quite likes it. “Competition is good in any industry,” explains Branson. Competition forces you to work harder, to be better, and to provide the best service possible. Virgin Galactic isn’t feeling the pressure yet, but Branson knows he won’t stay at the head of the pack if he doesn’t keep his legs moving.
4. He Wants You to be the Best
Branson’s advice to young entrepreneurs can be boiled down to one very simple point: be the best. It may sound unsophisticated, perhaps even naïve, but it’s also quite genius. How can you ensure success? Whatever you do, whether you’re crafting a new technology for clean energy or designing teacups, if you do it better than anyone else, you’re golden.
5. His motto is YOLO
He’s a billionaire, an athlete, a costume-lover, a globe-trotter, a risk-taker, and the man about to save the world. “You only live once,” says Branson. This doesn’t mean spend your days getting massages and sipping scotch (although I’m sure he finds time for both). What does YOLO mean for Branson? Every action you perform should be for the betterment of the world. Branson wants to change the face of the CEO and make business more than just making money. “Business means making a positive difference in other people’s lives,” explains Branson. “It needs to become a force for good.”