8 Things Sir Richard Branson Reconfirmed for Me

By John Peterson

Untitled design (24)Growing up I always looked up to my version of highly successful people and, whenever I sensed an opportunity to listen and learn, I would take that chance. For example, at 22 years of age, I arrived fashionably late to a company dinner and the only seat remaining was on the executive table. Rather than panic, I marched right in, cracked a joke on something about “it must have been fate” and was then embraced by some wonderful people that I very much looked up to. My peers had not considered this opportunity and were herded together on “peer to peer tables.” That night my own expectations were altered forever, because I was welcomed with open arms at the head table of the top execs in Australia’s then most valuable and powerful advertising giant (Yellow Pages >$1B AUD in 1989).

So last weekend I again found myself in the company of one of the most special innovators of our entire world, Sir Richard Branson. Many years later and not much has changed. Still enjoying the sensation of feeling elevated through the greatness of others and recognising every special opportunity to learn from every word spoken.

1) When Sitting in Judgement Only Ever Look at Yourself

Sir Richard spoke about how, as a child, his parents would always send him to the mirror to stare at himself for five whole minutes if ever he spoke a bad word about another person. A great motto for us all to consider. We don’t have to fuss over people who give us a destructive experience in return. However, we certain can refrain from speaking badly about anyone and, instead, focus on what we can do differently that will make a positive impact on the issue which may be causing the judgement in the first place.

2) The Critical Role We Must Play as Parents

I have found the most difficult role in which to remain “emotionally intelligent” is my role as a parent. My adorable children certainly bring out the best in me but sadly, also at times, the worst in me. Here’s a guy who is a Billionaire still reciting to global audiences the important role his parents played in shaping his lifelong philosophy. “My house was filled with a huge amount of love when I was growing up.” This isn’t easy if your marriage is on the rocks or some bad habits between two parents have become the norm, whereby fighting, boozing, swearing, watching junk TV and trash talking other people in your social circles, etc. are all paradigms that create lifelong philosophical blueprints deep into the psyche or belief system of our children. Yikes! We must all remember this and take ourselves much more seriously as parents for our children will shape tomorrow’s world.

3) Entrepreneurs Are Unstoppable

Genuine entrepreneurs never, ever quit. Sir Richard had a nasty cough and head cold and was visibly under the weather (that’s why his normally extremely warm engaging smile is absent from our picture – true, I promise I had not just farted!). Yet, despite his state of health, he was powering on, as best he could, to share his philosophies and beliefs with 2,000+ Melbournians before racing off to watch an AFL game live nearby that evening. Entrepreneurs never ever quit and rarely go to bed to recover from illness unless it’s absolutely necessary.

This also carries over into the entire outlook of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs don’t waste time worrying about their failures. They lick their wounds, pick themselves up off the pavement, and start working on what they have learned and can do differently next time to get a better result towards achieving their vision.

4) Entrepreneurs Always Find the Next Mentor

Sir Richard spoke very fondly of some of his own mentors. For example, “The Elders” is a group of world leaders (not necessarily in the political sense) like Nelson Mandela who Mr. B helped fund to start this global initiative to bring peace and collaboration to less privileged countries around the world, as well as work together on some of the most significant issues facing humanity such as: global warming, health and food and water shortages around the globe. I was most fond of Sir Richard’s recollection of Mandela’s power of forgiveness after 28 years in jail and how Mandela was able to reconcile a divided nation over a few short years through his own philosophy and wisdom imparted onto others.

5) Money Really Does Matter

When you have absolutely achieved beyond a shadow of a doubt all the money (and more) that you could possibly need in a lifetime, that’s the point where you really can start to live the life you always wanted. By this I am not just talking about the house, car, lifestyle of your dreams, etc. Much more importantly is that once your financial outlook is ridiculously secure, you stop worrying about yourself and start worrying about everyone else. When responding to a compliment regarding his donations, charities, foundations, and other philanthropic work, Sir Richard replied with a calm, yet level of steely determination in his voice “we still have so much more to do.”

There are so many wonderful examples of highly successful entrepreneurs who donate enormous amounts of money and time to good causes once they can afford to do so. This really inspired and reminded me of the amazing opportunity we all have to see the power of money and time put to its highest purpose of good.

6) Fun Is Essential Like Food and Water

The larrikin himself is still ever present. Sir Richard had some wonderfully cheeky stories and photos to share which included one of himself water-skiing with one incredibly hot (and 100% starkers) babe wrapped around him in some strange sort of water ski piggy back ride, a photo all entrepreneurs deserve to achieve in their lifetimes, I reckon!

Fun is so important because, firstly, life is too short. As an entrepreneur, you have to be successful enough that you have some great work-life balance so that fun becomes a part of your day-to-day. You must love what you do that you do it so well that people insist on paying you to do it.

The other reason fun is so important is because your talented and extremely loyal people must also enjoy what they do on your behalf because if they don’t, then they’ll one day leave you, rather than staying the course. And every entrepreneur needs quality people who are willing to help you take your business where you want it to go.

7) Time Is More Important Than Everything

Sir Richard was incredibly generous of his time. After all, this photo of him and I wasn’t the only one taken on this day. However, as soon as this was done, he was off to his next event, his time never wasted because he, like all of us, in fact, is running out of time! We must take this so seriously and take ourselves just as seriously that we make huge lists of all the things we need to achieve during our “time” – yes that’s right, “the bucket list.”

There are many great mentors I credit with teaching me the power of effective goal setting. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, for example, insist you should have 101 goals because when you write down 101 goals you totally transform the charter of your subconscious mind and, in doing so, set about re-patterning your entire belief system to one of a go getter.

8) Never Stop Learning

Finally my favourite insight from my time with Sir Richard was that his tenacity of learning is still there. An example for many successful entrepreneurs, is to choose to learn how to solve problems on a global scale or provide solutions to third world atrocities. These are great ways to keep learning, once you have progressed past the stage of mastering a business.

So come on, what are you waiting for? Who knows who will be the next Sir Richard? We’re all flesh and blood. We’re all blessed with the same opportunity because we’re all human and our human condition empowers us to be 100% responsible for who we aspire to become, what we should add to our bucket list, and how much of a difference we can make to others. So go forth, solve problems, prosper, and do some good!

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