Monday, November 7, 2011

From Selling Christmas Trees to Hot Air Ballooning: 4 Lessons We Learned from Richard Branson

STOP 1 of the bizperc walking tour: Richard Branson Autograph 

When you walk out of the elevator and onto the 4th floor of bizperc for the first time, you may notice the breath-taking view of downtown Kansas City.  You may notice the lime green stools that stand out behind the coffee bar.  You may even notice The Pursuit of Happyness or The Social Network playing on the big screen TV.  Or perhaps you’ll notice Richard Branson’s autograph, which is mounted prominently on the bizperc wall—right when you walk in.

Why is this autograph the first thing that we want entrepreneurs in our coworking space to see first?  There are many reasons.  But we’ll narrow down the top 4 for you.

Richard Branson defines the Think Big message.  He takes advantage of every opportunity thrown at him, he goes with his gut, he has fun and he thinks big, fast and young.  These four characteristics are the four that we try to implement in our bizperc coworking space, in our Think Big Partners mission and vision and within the entrepreneurs that we work with every day.

We display Richard Branson’s book cover, autograph and list of quotes because he upholds four characteristics that we cannot help but agree with.

Take advantage of every opportunity

From when he was 9 years old and started selling Christmas trees to his launch of Virgin Airlines and other Virgin companies throughout the world, Richard Branson has been seizing opportunities his entire life.  Mr. Branson himself may have said it best in his book Screw It, Let’s Do It, “If you recognize something is a good idea, or if there’s something in your personal life that you want to do but aren’t immediately sure how to achieve your goal, I don’t believe that the little word ‘can’t’ should stop you."

Go with your gut

In 1973, Richard Branson heard the music of Tubular Bells for the first time.  But nobody else seemed to like the music as much as he did.  Time after time, record companies turned Tubular Bells down.  But Branson had a good feeling about the band, so he decided to go with his gut.  He asked John Peel, host of a popular radio show to play the entire Tubular Bells album on the show.  After it aired, sales took off.  Tubular Bells became the soundtrack for The Exorcist.  But most importantly, Tubular Bells put Virgin Music on the map overnight.  Branson went with his gut, and when he did, magic seemed to happen.

Have fun

“I have no secret,” says Branson. “There are no rules to follow in business.  I just work hard, and as I always have done, believe that I can do it.  Most of all though, I try to have fun.”  Branson sincerely believes that work should be tempered by fun.  He thinks that fun refreshes people—it’s stimulating and vital on both physical and spiritual levels.  “Knowing how to laugh and love and appreciate each other is what life is all about,” he says.  Branson has been having fun his entire life.  From hot air ballooning across the globe to spending time with the family he loves, Branson’s life may be full of business, but most importantly, it’s full of enjoyment.  “Fun is at the core of the way I do business,” he says.  “It has been the key to everything from the start and I see no reason to change it."

Think fast, think young, think big

Much like us, Richard Branson thinks big.  But he also thinks fast and he thinks young.  These three ways of thinking are exactly what Think Big’s and bizperc’s core strategies are all about

Think fast: Richard Branson knows how to operate in a fast-moving world.  As he states in his book, Screw It, Let’s Do It: “Efficiency is fine, but things move so fast in the modern world that it’s better to be innovative, fresh, and original than lose the spark over routine or nitpicking ways.  The world is changing.  Ideas and opportunities are expanding fast.  Sometimes, your ideas don’t take off.  Even after careful research, not all ideas are good; sometimes your competitors have better ideas or they’re faster than you.  The modern entrepreneur takes failure in his or her stride and moves on."

Think young: Branson believes that no matter how old you are, you still have the ability to think young.  He believes that a fresh and youthful approach in everything, from business to lifestyle, will renew and re-energize.  In order to foster this “think young” mentality, Branson established the Branson School of Entrepreneurship at CIDA (Africa’s first free university).  All tuition is directed toward enabling young people to launch their own business.  Current stats?  In 2008, the program had 300 students incubating over 30 businesses. 

Think big: What may be our biggest reason that we love Richard Branson is that he thinks big.  With as much success as this man has, he cannot help but continue to be a big thinker throughout the rest of his life.  “Everyone needs to keep learning,” he says. “Everyone needs goals.  Whatever we want to be, whatever we want to do, we can do it.  Go ahead, take that first step—just do it.”

Follow me! @AllisonThinkBig

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