Yesterday, I went to see Sir Richard Branson at Dreamforce. What a neat and inspiring person. Considering the success he has, and the responsibilities and fortune that go along with it, he is real. I mean real!
As an entrepreneur, it’s great to hear successful entrepreneurs speak because it reminds me that anything is possible. They, too, had to start somewhere. They, too, did not become successful overnight.
One thing Sir Richard said during his fireside chat with Marc Benioff was, “I couldn’t achieve something unless I started it.”
He alluded that most entrepreneurs don’t start their business with a vision that includes making lots of money, but instead that most businesses start with a realization that there is a service or product that doesn’t yet exist in the marketplace. He shared his story that sparked his airline company: he got bumped from a flight on a major carrier, decided to charter a plane and offered $29 seats on the chartered plane to the other bumped passengers. Soon afterwards, he purchased his first 747 and his airline was born!
Once you decide you’re going to start something you have to act. And how you lead and delegate is crucial to your growth. Sir Richard talked about hiring the right people. Making sure they are qualified to do the job. He also talked about how you have to let go of the ones who are not performing. He admitted that he probably keeps people around longer than they should be; that it’s hard to let go of people, because they are human too. (Oh good, so it’s not just me!)
He views his companies as family. There is a lot of giving when you’re an entrepreneur. You are responsible not only for yourself and your employees, but also for their families. You are responsible for your product or service and how it impacts your customers or clients. These are things that you may not think of when you start your business, but now that you are in business, they are things you have to think about.
Last thing (and the first thing I mentioned) is that he is REAL. Maybe I’m not speaking for everyone, but seriously, who wouldn’t want to be in Sir Richard Branson’s inner circle? He’s a nice guy. Adventurous. Smart. Innovative. INSPIRING. We could all use some of that and isn’t it great to see it in action? He was very clear about how he doesn’t speak negatively about things and by removing that, people could be so much happier (or something like that… you get the idea). The point is, who wants to do business with a schmuck, no matter how great the service or product? We all need to treat each other with kindness and respect; it just has to start from the top. What are you doing to better the space around you?
If you have an hour to spare, click here to see the fireside chat and hear it for yourself.
Who has inspired you lately? How so? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!