“We’re really not interested in a new thing unless it can become global.”
“Lavish praise on people and people will flourish; criticize people and they’ll shrivel.”
“Give people a second chance if they screw up. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t been given second chances.”
“It’s important, for the company’s sake, that the chairman not get bored.”
“If the chairman’s having fun, it’s easier for everyone else.”
“My general philosophy…is you never really go wrong saying yes.”
— Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, in an interview with Inc. magazine in 2005.
Though the Virgin Group now calls itself an “international investment group” and has some 50,000 employees, many of its companies are midsize or smaller (a passenger bike service in London, a vodka, a hot-air balloon operation).
How did all the growth businesses in Virgin’s portfolio come to be? “It wasn’t us setting out to become a way-of-life brand,” Branson says. “It was me continually being interested in learning new things.”That would be the don’t-bore-the-chairman part.
Branson is a talker — and an author — so it’s easy to hear a lot more from him. He has a small shelf of books to his name, and in June a new one appeared: Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School. One chapter lists Branson’s “five secrets to starting a business and making it work.” Number one: “If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.”