I figured ‘Inspiration’ was a good one for Wednesday when midweek doldrums could set in. My week is usually such a roller coaster that I often don’t even know what day it is (this theme format could help with that), but I hear midweek is a good time for a healthy dose of inspiration. On that note…
In an hour I’m heading to the airport for Virgin America and Victoria’s Secret Supermodel PJ Party – literally a party on a plane complete with an in-flight lingerie fashion show as we fly from NYC to LA! Prior to take-off there’s going to be cocktails, makeovers and meet-and-greets with the VS models including Miranda Kerr – who last I heard is dating Orlando Bloom!
The whole thing is pretty amazing as far as putting a new twist on the throwing a party or event. I’ve been to several parties/events, obviously, but the only ones I’ve been to at 10,000 feet have been hosted by Sir Richard Branson.
I hear that he won’t be able to make this trip (for some reason like he started another company or two this week so is regretfully detained), but on the last Virgin America party on a plane I attended that went from San Francisco to Las Vegas – in between performing the wedding for his Director of Marketing in the aisle (yes, Branson really got officially ordained) and mingling with guests (including Carmen Electra), I had the privilege of sitting down with Sir Richard (literally at his feet in first class) and hearing words of wisdom straight from the man I hold in the highest esteem (so you’ll probably see him become a Wednesday: Inspiration regular). Here’s just some of what he had to say…
Does this man sleep?
I’m somebody who likes a good night’s sleep but I’m traveling non-stop. In the last 14 days I’ve traveled I’ve been to 14 different cities including Darfur and Africa, Amsterdam, London, Hamberg, British Virgin Islands, San Francisco, Las Vegas and I’m back to New York tonight. I sleep on planes. That’s one of the reasons I hope to make planes comfortable so I can get a decent sleep.
Describes himself in three words?
Like a Virgin.
The route of Sir Branson’s adventurous spirit…
As a child my family would try to make us stand on our own two feet from a young age, so age six I was going to my grandmother’s house and five miles before we got there my mother would push me out of the car and tell me I had to find my own way there. I got horribly lost, and today she would have got arrested, but it was that sort of approach to brining up her children. She hated us watching other people doing things, we always had to do things ourselves. From that I found that saying yes was more fun than saying no.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Someone said to me, ‘I’m building a boat that I think will allow passage across the Atlantic and you to bring the blue ribbon to back to Britain from America. I said yes and found myself three months later having sunken in the Atlantic and in a life raft but the following year we picked ourselves up and broke the world record.
A couple of years later, I’d never flown in a hot air balloon before but somebody said they think they can build a balloon that could cross the Atlantic. It had never been done before so I asked the man if he had any children, he said he did so I thought, ok, if he’s going to put his own life at risk as a father, let’s go for it. Three months later I found myself in the water in the Atlantic again. But, we picked ourselves up and the next year we succeeded in being the first people to cross the Atlantic in a balloon. I’ve had some fantastic adventures. I’ve now been pulled out of the sea seven times by a helicopter but lived to tell the tale.
What he considers his biggest strength?
I think my greatest strength is being able to treat people well and see the best in people. I love people so I’m very fortunate because I think as a leader of several companies it’s important.
I think my greatest weakness is in my own dictionary I don’t know the word no and sometimes I suspect I should actually say no more often, I can’t resist a challenge. By saying yes I’ve had a great life but very often nearly ended it very young so I must learn to say no.