The Best Of Richard Branson Quotes
'If I was a businessman, or saw myself as a businessman, I would have never gone into the airline business.'
'My mother was determined to make us independent. When I was four years old, she stopped the car a few miles from our house and made me find my own way home across the fields. I got hopelessly lost.'
'I am prepared to try anything once.'
'The balloons only have one life and the only way of finding out whether they work is to attempt to fly around the world.'
"Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward with it."
On human interaction
"When I was young, every time I criticized someone, my mother would stand me in front of the mirror and say: 'The flaws you see in others are actually a reflection of yourself.' That taught me to pay close attention when I looked at others.
"[My parents] also taught me to listen and value other people's advice and opinions. So I have always applied this in business and tried to be a good leader and bring out the best in people by listening to them, trusting in them, believing in them, respecting them and letting them have a go!"
"A business is simply an idea to make other people's lives better."
On what work should be like
"I believe that drudgery and clock-watching are a terrible betrayal of that universal, inborn entrepreneurial spirit."
On where the Virgin name comes from
"One night, I was chatting with a group of 16-year-old girls over a few drinks about a name for the record store ... A bunch of ideas were bounced around, then, as we were all new to business, someone suggested Virgin. It smacked of new and fresh and at the time the word was still slightly risque, so, thinking it would be an attention-grabber, we went with it."
On getting permission
"At first I wasn't even allowed to register the business name because the word virgin was thought to be rude. I had to sit down and, in my best 15-year-old penmanship, write a letter to the registry office that began, 'Surely the word virgin is anything but rude; it's the opposite of rude.' They eventually relented."
On why he does it
"When I started Virgin from a basement in west London, there was no great plan or strategy. I didn't set out to build a business empire ... For me, building a business is all about doing something to be proud of, bringing talented people together and creating something that's going to make a real difference to other people's lives."
On keeping it real
"This may sound like a truism ... But it has to be said: It takes an engaged, motivated and committed workforce to deliver a first-class product or service and build a successful, sustainable enterprise."
On why you should actually talk to people
"The quality of business communications has become poorer in recent years as people avoid phone calls and face-to-face meetings, I can only assume, in some misguided quest for efficiency."
On being the boss
"Perhaps, therefore, it is odd that if there is any one phrase that is guaranteed to set me off it's when someone says to me, 'Okay, fine. You're the boss!' What irks me is that in 90% of such instances what that person is really saying is, 'Okay, then, I don't agree with you, but I'll roll over and do it because you're telling me to. But if it doesn't work out I'll be the first to remind everyone that it wasn't my idea.'"
"I can't speak for other people but dyslexia shaped my — and Virgin's — communication style. From the beginning, Virgin used clear, ordinary language. If I could quickly understand a campaign concept, it was good to go. If something can't be explained off the back of an envelope, it's rubbish."
On taking care of people
"If you look for the best in your employees, they'll flourish. If you criticize or look for the worst, they'll shrivel up. We all need lots of watering."
"Over the years, the parties have got bigger and bigger, but the theme is the same: glorious irresponsibility for the night."
On doing good
"We need a new way of doing business to get out of the present crisis ... Absolute greed has come close to bankrupting the world. Thanks to the crisis that certain businesses have dumped on everyone a lot of people are going to suffer on a global scale. All of us must learn. It is all the more important that those business leaders that are left standing try to be a force for good."
On a new mindset
"We need a new mindset to make capitalism an acceptable force in the world. If businesses are purely about profit and amassing bonuses, screwing people and the world in the process, then they will not be around for long, and don't deserve to be.
"But if they start to be a force for good, I genuinely think we could get on top of most of the problems of the world. And people will have a lot of fun. It is just such a satisfying way of doing things."
"I have always looked on my businesses not just as money-making machines, but as adventures that can, I hope, make people better off."
"It started with a phone call from Al Gore while I was in the bath. He wanted to show me 'An Inconvenient Truth,' and his poignant and elegant reduction of these issues really struck a chord with myself as an interested non-expert. Tim Flannery's book, 'The Weather Makers,' also had a pronounced effect on me.
"As a big buyer of fuel for our transport businesses, I am very aware of the damage that oil and its greenhouse gas emissions is doing to the environment and the climate system in particular. At Virgin we have been investing the profits from our transport businesses into the research and development of sustainable fuels and other sources of renewable energy."
"At Virgin we enjoy shaking up market sectors which, until Virgin comes along, are generally controlled by a few major corporations and it is always the consumer who loses out; we like to get in there and change that."
On finding game changers
"A game-changing idea is something that really stands out: It is not easy to start a company and to survive and thrive in the modern world ... If you create something that everybody who works for you is really proud of then you know you're on to a game changer."
"The Virgin brand is not a product like Coca-Cola or Famous Grouse whisky; it's an attitude and a way of life to many. That attitude is about giving customers a better time and better value in a fun way that embraces life and seeks to give the customers something new."
On the opportunity of outer space
"80% of people would go to space if they could afford it — the market for space tourism is massive."
"I'm inquisitive; I love learning about new things. So, you know, we have ended up with sort of 300 or 400 companies, but we've become a sort of way-of-life brand. ... People think of Virgin — if they hear that Virgin's going into a new area, they know that the quality will be good, that we'll do it in a fun way, that we'll give good value for money. And so it gives us a leg up when we go into a new venture. People already [trust] us, and they'll give us a try and, generally speaking, people seem to like what they find."
'A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.'
'I've had great fun turning quite a lot of different industries on their head and making sure those industries will never be the same again, because Virgin went in and took them on.'
'Although my spelling is still sometimes poor, I have managed to overcome the worst of my difficulties through training myself to concentrate.'
'We believe that within five years, 96 per cent of British consumers will have access to the internet, whether it be through a personal computer, a set-top box or a mobile phone.'
'You never know with these things when you're trying something new what can happen. This is all experimental.'
'Having a personality of caring about people is important. You cant be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.'
'We'd love to be involved with the creation of something very special, something quite large and something quite exciting.'
'Records are made to be broken. It is in man's nature to continue to strive to do just that.'
'Ridiculous yachts and private planes and big limousines wont make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa and its about getting a balance.'
'Above all, you want to create something you're proud of. This has always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off not doing it.'
'I don't think of work as work and play as play. It's all living.'
'As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation. I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back. The company must be set up so it can continue without me.'
'Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming.'
'I never get the accountants in before I start up a business. It's done on gut feeling, especially if I can see that they are taking the mickey out of the consumer.'
'My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them.'
'Right now I'm just delighted to be alive and to have had a nice long bath.'