leadership lessons from Virgin Group's Sir Richard
- 8th September 2015
Group founder and chairman Richard Branson visited
Sydney on Tuesday, where Virgin Australia consulting
chef Luke Mangan taught him how to plate a business
day I learn something new," Sir Richard said
of the experience. "I never went to university.
I always say life is one long university course that
I've never had."
Richard then took questions from apprentice chefs,
who were keen for advice from the legendary entrepreneur.
Here are some of the business lessons he shared:
Surround yourself with good people and delegate well
Richard says it is important to know your strengths
and your limits and not try to do too much yourself.
Instead, you need to get the best people with great
ideas to join your team and then avoid second-guessing
them all the time.
they will fall flat on their face," he says.
"Sometimes they will do incredible things. Obviously
I have been at it for a long time. Based on experience,
sometimes I can say whether I like something or not
based on many years of doing things. But surround
yourself with great people.
delegate. I think too many people are building companies,
they are not delegating. The absolute key is early
on as you are building companies, try to put yourself
out of business. Find one or two people [who] are
better than you to do everything."
It's OK to fall flat on your face, as long as you
get back up again
Richard views failure as a learning experience. He
points to the Virgin Cola product, launched in 1994,
as an example. The product did well in Britain for
about 18 months, but that attracted the attention
of Coca-Cola, which had deep pockets with which to
fight back. Suddenly, Virgin Cola disappeared from
the shelves of big retailers like Tesco.
lot of people fall flat on their face," he says.
"The key in life is to learn from that experience
and pick yourself up and keep reinventing yourself
until you succeed. Most successful people have. It
is learning from that and not giving up when it happens.
Hopefully ultimately you come out on top."
Make sure you have a better product than the incumbent
Richard says the key lesson from the Virgin Cola debacle
was to always ensure you have a product that is "much,
much better" than your competitor.
with a soft drink, there is not much you can do to
differentiate it," he says. "When British
Airways tried to do the same thing to Virgin Atlantic
because the quality of our product was better, they
couldn't do it. Or when Qantas tried to do it to Virgin
Australia, they inflicted so much damage on themselves
that they finally backed off. They even had to go
begging to their government, having lost hundreds
of millions of dollars trying to drive us out of business.
The main thing was to make sure we kept the quality
Do anything you can to promote your business for free
Richard says Sir Freddie Laker, who had gone bankrupt
fighting British Airways, had an important bit of
advice for the launch of Virgin Atlantic and its fight
against a deeper-pocketed rival.
said you have got to use yourself to let people know
about your business," Sir Richard says. "And
don't spend tons of money on advertising but go out,
make a fool of yourself, do whatever it takes to get
your message out there. So I think for anyone who
is starting out in business, if you have got the best
product, you have got to let people know about your
product and get out there and market it cleverly."
Sydney Morning Herald)