Sir Richard Branson is nobody’s idea of a traditional CEO. (For one, he’s a knight.) He started as a kid in the music business, parlaying a leadership role in a music magazine into his own record label – eventually called Virgin Atlantic – which signed the Sex Pistols when nobody else would. Now, as CEO of the Virgin Group, he’s the kind of guy who attempted to fly a hot air balloon around the world before he revolutionized commercial air travel and planned your next trip into space.
Like us here at Far West Capital, Branson believes banking should be a force for good.
Like us, he believes that if your only goal is to make money, you’re doing it wrong.
Like us, he believes strongly in setting aside time for personal growth.
As CEO, he instituted:
- unlimited vacation policies
- a mindfulness training program, and
- publicly set an example for prioritizing family, turning on his out-of-office message when on vacation.
He communicates his goals & dreams often to his staff. In a blog last year, he summarized his philosophy for avoiding burnout:
“The trick to not burning out is to dictate the way that technology complements your business and your working style, rather than allowing your devices and software to call the shots.”
Branson lives and breathes and creates with INTENTION.
One of Branson’s most personal projects was the airline Virgin America. Launched as a response to the increasingly unpleasant flying experience, Branson never lost sight of “making flying fun again.” Early innovations like inflight wifi, in-seat plugs, in-seat ordering, and the old standby — great customer service — kept his little airline at the top of travel industry awards and customer reviews.
Recently, it was purchased by Alaska Airlines for a whopping $2.6 billion after a long bidding war. As a citizen of the United Kingdom, Branson could legally control no more than 25% of the US-based company and was unable to prevent the sale. In his emotional farewell, he said goodbye to the baby he raised – and reiterated his purpose and mindset that got them there in the first place:
“The brand’s mission attracted truly exceptional people who refused to create a boring airline… I have learned about brilliant customer service through their training program, made surprise visits to their headquarters, asked Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport to let our teammates play music again in our check-in area, and have participated in nearly every single route launch.
I have jumped off a Vegas hotel on a very windy afternoon, lassoed Texas Longhorn cattle on a tarmac to launch Dallas flights, walked barefoot with a surfboard through SFO’s Terminal 2 to celebrate service to Hawaii, and talked with countless fans and media through live interviews powered by their reliable onboard WiFi – all because of my belief that the Virgin brand can make flying fun again and my belief in the vision and strong values of the airline and its team.”
Do you have this kind of purpose?
Are you communicating your ultimate goals to your team?
Do you know what truly matters?
“As an entrepreneur, I’ve had the privilege of being among brilliant people who as a team create something extraordinary and purposeful,” Branson reveals. “And it is truly a privilege to find yourself in the right place and time with the kind of team that can make a lasting contribution. So I am incredibly proud of Virgin America’s 3,000 teammates and what they have accomplished: a strong alternative choice for flyers who rightly expect a better experience. Without the radical belief that they could create an airline people actually love, the US airline industry might not be where it is today.
Are YOU committed to your purpose?
Are you starting from your customer’s needs, and not your own?
If your business was sold tomorrow, what would your lasting contribution be?
What would you write, if you were in Richard Branson’s shoes?
If you can’t answer these questions, consider creating space in your day to get clear, focused, and visionary.
And don’t hold those answers inside: tell your team. Tell the world. Tweet about it. Share it. Pin it. Email it.
When you focus on what truly matters, when you feel gratitude for all the serendipity and hard work that’s brought you to this moment, you can inspire your team and your partners to the kind of creativity that formulates Sir Richard Branson-level success.