Sunday, April 4, 2010

Key lessons from the life and times of Richard Branson

When i wrote this article on managing multiple passions, i had not really read through about the Life of Richard Branson . His life definitely adds a great dimension to article. To me, he is one the rare people who not only managed unrelated interests with great zest for life but also got a considerable success and fulfillment in doing so.
For starters, Richard Branson is the owner of Virgin brand which started modestly as a record shop company but the brand is humongous now with more than 400 companies around the world. Apart from managing such a huge business conglomerate, Richard has a certain flair for Adventure. He has made several world record breaking attempts like fastest to be Atlantic ocean crossing to travelling around the world in Hot air balloons.He do plans to take his Airlines- Virgin Atlantic to space. Apart from this, he is very much involved in social work covering diverse areas.
I got to know him better through one the book- Screw it, Let's Do it: Lessons in Life written by Richard Branson himself. The book presents a lot of learnings from his life capturing the key events and i have tried to capture the snippets in his own words) in this post. As usual, i have captured important learnings right from this book. Read on and Enjoy!
The personal pronoun "I" in the upcoming text represents the words said by Richard Branson himself.

Have goals but be practical about them:
I believe in goals. Its never a bad thing to have a dream, but I'm practical about it. I don't sit day dreaming about things that are impossible. I set goals and then work on how to achieve them. Anything i want to do in life, I want to do well and not half- heartedly.

Just do it:
The best lesson i learned was to Just do it. It doesn't matter what it is, or how hard it might seem, as the ancient Greek, Plato said- "The beginning is most important part of any work." A journey of a thousand miles start with that first step. If you look ahead to the end, and all the weary miles between, with all the dangers you might face, you might never take that first step. So, take that first step. There will be many challenges. You might get knocked back- but in the end you will make it.

Getting things done:
The staff at Virgin have a name for me. It is "Dr yes". They call me this because i wont say no. I will find more reasons to do things that not to do. My motto really is: "Screw it- let's do it!". I will never say, "I can;t do this because i don't know how to." I wont let silly rules stop me.

Never say "Can't":
I don't believe in that that little word "can't" should stop you. If you don't have the right experience to reach your goal, look for another way i. If you want to fly, get down the airfield at the age of sixteen and make the tea. Keep your eyes open. Look and learn. You don't have to go to art school to be a fashion designer. Join a fashion company and push the broom. Work your way up.

Brilliant ideas come when you least expect them:
Here's an anecdote from the book which proves the heading-
Our plan was to travel on to Puerto Rico- but when we got to Airport, the flight was cancelled. People were roaming about, looking lost. No one was doing anything. So I did- someone had to. I chartered a plane for $2,000. I divided that by number of people. It came to $39 per head. I borrowed a blackboard and wrote on it: VIRGIN AIRWAYS. $39 SINGLE FLIGHT TO PUERTO RICO. The idea of Virgin Airways was born, right in the middle of a holiday.

Don't moan a bad boss but Love your work instead:
If you do still have to work for a boss at a job you don't like as almost everyone does at some point, don't moan about it. Have a positive outlook on life and just get on with it. Work hard and earn your pay. Enjoy the people you come into contact with through your job. And if you are still unhappy, make it instead your goal to divide your private life from your work life. Have fun in your own time, you will feel happier and you'll enjoy your life and your job more.

Have dreams and never give up on them:
It's easy to give up when things are hard but i believe we have to keep chasing our dreams and our goals. And once we decide to do something, we should never look back, never regret it.

Keeping your words:
One thing i always try to do is to keep my word. I set my goals and stick to them. Success is more than luck. You have to believe in yourself and make it happen. That way others also believe in you.

Embrace challenges:
As the writer and mountain climber James Ullman once said- Challenge is the core and mainspring of all human action. If there's an ocean, we cross it. If there's a disease, we cure it. If there's wrong, we right it. If there's a record, we break it. And if theres a mountain, we climb it.

Self belief:
I believe in myself. I believe in the hands that work, in the brains that think, and in the hearts that love.

Have no regrets:
I believe the one thing that helps you capture the moment is to have no regrets. Regrets weigh you down. They hold you back in the past when you should move on.

Live in the moment:
Always living in the future can slow us down as much as always looking behind. Many people are always looking ahead and they never seem content. They look for quick fixes like winning a lottery. I know that goals are important. Money is important. But the bottom line is that money is just a means to an end, not an end in itself. And what is going on now is just as important as what you're planning for the future. So, even though my diary is full for months ahead, I have learned to live for the moment.

Compartmentalize life:
The man who started IKEA divides his day into ten minute sections. He says, "Ten minutes, once gone, are gone for good. Divide your life into ten-minute units, don't waste even a minute.

My final thoughts:
I think this blog has gotten far longer than i had thought but i really couldn't help it. I still ended up omitting a lot of what i thought i would put across after i read the book but the above represents the best of my learnings from the life of Richard Branson. Going by the precept- "Best is yet to come", i am sharing one more key learning as below-

One of the great things that i found impressive in Richard Brason's life is ability to overcome odds. In his school days, the teachers not realizing he has dyslexic tendencies considered him quite slow in reading and writing. To overcome this, he taught himself to memorize things and became good at his perceived weakness and went on to even win a School level Essay contest, which is indeed an achievement for a guy written off almost at the early age. Certainly, he showed flashes of greatness even at a early age!


Vittal said...

Hi Anuj,

Wonderful article. Thanks for sharing.

I liked the part "Don't moan a bad boss but Love your work instead".

If i may dare to suggest, here is a book you might be interested in "Mr. Feynman" and a book written about him "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!". I guess it falls on the same line.

I had another request. I Would look forward to article from you on "How to manage creative team". Looking forward to listening to your views on this one.


Anuj Magazine said...

Thanks for your comments, Vittal.

Would certainly read "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" in the time to come. Saw Amazon comments regarding this, and certainly sounds a different book.

"How to manage a creative team" is again an interesting topic, would certainly get back on this as well.