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Virgin truths: What I learned from An Evening with Sir Richard Branson

Posted on 04/04/2017 by

ITC Marketing Director Claire Huxley, and her husband Jon Huxley, recently attended An Evening With Sir Richard Branson at Vector Arena.

ITC Marketing Director Claire Huxley recently attended An Evening with Sir Richard Branson at Auckland’s Vector Arena. Here’s what she learned from the famous entrepreneur who continues to make waves in the global airline, travel and tourism industry.

On Sunday 26 March, I was in the same room as Sir Richard Branson. Wow! I never thought I’d write those words.

I joined 2,000 of New Zealand’s movers and shakers, business leaders, Virgin fans, journalists, and curious souls to listen to Sir Richard in conversation with the Right Honourable John Key.

We couldn’t take any pictures, but I did scribble down lots of notes. I believe we can all learn a lot from this innovative entrepreneur, especially how his bold ideas are transforming the travel industry. Here are a few of my favourite takeaways from the special evening.

The best way to learn is by doing

Sir Richard is a big believer in the power of action. He thinks the best way to learn a new skill is by giving it a try. One of his favourite sayings is “screw it, let’s do it!”

To our students, I reckon Sir Richard would say – put yourself out there and give it a go! Apply for that first job, sign up for work experience, just get started and learn through doing. You never know where you might end up.

Lots of little actions can make a big difference

You don’t have to be Sir Richard Branson to change the world. He believes that big changes are the result of lots of little actions.

“If you don’t have time for the small things, you won’t have time for the big things,” he once famously said.

Even if it feels like you’re only taking small steps, in the future all these steps will add up to something much bigger.

Failure is more than okay – it’s an opportunity to learn

Sir Richard is famous for his successful companies, but he openly admits that he had some setbacks along the way.

He said some of his biggest failures were Virgin Cola and Virgin Bride. Although these ideas ultimately flopped, they provided valuable lessons that Sir Richard applied to future businesses.

What I took from this story is that it’s okay to get it wrong sometimes, as long as you learn from the experience and aim to do better next time.

Put people first

Aside from owning a private island and running multiple successful companies, Sir Richard is also famous for putting his employees before his customers.

He believes that “clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients”.

I have to say, I agree! Whatever job you choose, try to treat your colleagues and – if management is in your future, your employees – with respect and care. Praise, don’t criticise, and look for ways to bring out the best in people.

Always be innovative

When talking about one of his failures, Virgin Cola, Sir Richard suggested it flopped because it didn’t bring anything different to the market. It simply wasn’t innovative enough.

Now, he always looks for ways to make Virgin companies stand out from the rest. He dares to be different – and in doing so, inspires us all to embrace what makes us unique.

A perfect example of this is Virgin Voyages, his new cruise line.

“We’re on a mission to build a bold new cruise line, just for you,” the website reads. Judging from Sir Richard’s history, I think this is going to be good! I can’t wait to see how Virgin makes waves in the cruising industry just like it did with the airline industry.

One thing is for sure: Sir Richard is a powerful force in the global airline, travel and tourism space. He’s a man to watch!

I’m grateful I had the chance to hear him speak in person and I hope you learned something from my experience, too.


Posted in News, Staff News, Study inspiration |

2 Responses to “Virgin truths: What I learned from An Evening with Sir Richard Branson”

  1. Dan Gard says:

    Hello There , any idea how to contact Richard ? I have a commercial property development here in NZ that i require his feedback on , Thanks

    • Jess O'Connor says:

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your comment! Unfortunately we don’t have any direct contact with Sir Richard. All the best with your project.

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