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Since Branson founded Virgin in 1970, the company has grown from a small record store to a global powerhouse. Can the brand continue its success without him?
Question: What is your advice for entrepreneurs? Richard Branson: I think the most important thing about running a company is remembering what a company is all the time. A company is simply a group of people. And as a leader of the people, you have to be a great listener and you must be a great motivator. You have to be very good at praising and looking for the best in people. People are not different from flowers. If you water the flowers they bloom, if you praise people, they bloom. And that is a critical attribute of a leader. Question: What has been the hardest part of running with Virgin? Richard Branson: There is a very thin line between success and failure. Most people who start businesses without financial backing fail at some point in their lives. I just stayed on the right side of that dividing line. For example, right after … You know we had a record company. I was sick of flying on other people's airlines. I felt that the experience of flying on other people's airlines was unpleasant and I decided to establish an airline. Well, our bank suffered a complete panic attack and, when I returned from making the inaugural flight of the first Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York, I returned to find the bank manager sitting at my door and informing me that they were closing Virgin. Monday and this was Friday and I had two days to actually pay them the money they had given us and I remember expelling the bank manager from my house, telling him that he was not welcome, which is dangerous for his bank manager and then passing the weekend going around the world to all the distributors of our music asking us if they could grant us a temporary loan to take us until the following week. good enough to do it and at the end of the week we had changed banks and, in fact, we were able to find a bank that was willing to lend us 30 times the overdraft facility that our bank had lent us and we were able to survive. And I think the moral of that story is, in reality, do not think of your bank as someone to whom you are obligated. I mean no … you know that people just do not move from one bank to another. Sometimes you need to be willing to step up and move your banks in the same way that you should increase and move your doctor at times and, anyway, I learned from that lesson. Question: Can Virgin continue to succeed without you? Richard Branson: Virgin works very well without me. I want to say that I use to build the brand, to build the type of three hundred or four hundred companies around the world, but I also learned the art of delegation. I have a fantastic team of people running the Virgin companies, I give them a lot of freedom to run the companies as if they were their own companies. I give them the freedom to make mistakes and the Virgin brand is perhaps one of the 20 best brands in the world, very respected. And when my balloon explodes, the Virgin will continue to flourish. And maybe sometimes I added the icing on the cake, maybe they have to spend a little more money on marketing, but fortunately, Virgin is in a state where she can live healthily without me. Recorded on September 22, 2010, interviewed by Victoria Brown.
Video credits to Big Think YouTube channel