Richard Branson gives some valuable advice on making the impossible, possible, with a given emphasis on moving forward:
Q: What daily activities do you find inspiring and motivating? – Linda, Malmo, Sweden. On Monday (May 6), I went out to the Mojave Desert to watch Virgin Galactic, our space tourism company, complete its first rocket-powered flight — it was a truly awesome sight. I treasure such moments, when my team and I find ways to make the impossible possible, inspiring ourselves and others to attempt even greater feats. I don’t seek out motivation and inspiration, yet these qualities are essential to my work. I tend to have a lot of energy, so I often find it hard to stop myself from thinking about and talking about all the possibilities facing our businesses. When I was writing my autobiography, Losing My Virginity (Virgin Hardbacks, 1998), I thought about calling it “Talking Ahead of Myself,” because whenever I come up with an exciting new idea or hear about a thrilling new proposal, I want to tell the world right away. That’s partly because I find telling others about our ideas to be motivating: Even if some people think we’re being unrealistic, the first step in making an idea a reality is often just sharing it. My talking publicly about our plans has sometimes sparked interest from potential investors and, in the case of international expansion, local partners, which gives our talented teams at Virgin extra incentive to forge ahead. A lot of our best ideas for making the impossible possible and the impetus to pursue them have come from an unlikely source: our April Fools’ Day jokes. Long ago, we embraced the annual tradition of playing elaborate pranks on our competitors, the media and the public. In the past we announced that we bought Pluto; we said that we were launching a company called Virgin Volcanic to explore the world’s most active volcanoes; and in 1989 we even flew a UFO over London (it was actually a hot-air balloon built to look like a saucer).
More importantly, successful entrepreneurs have built one of the most valuable possessions. Their brand:
How I can win the trust of investors, future partners and suppliers? – Catalina Ly
This is part of a larger question: What’s your most valuable possession? When people ask me that, they often expect me to name some expensive artifact. However, my most valuable possession is also my most valued possession. It costs nothing, and everyone has one: my reputation. “I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation!” Joan Jett sang in her classic hit single. It’s a great song, but I disagree. For entrepreneurs, a bad personal reputation will extend to your brand’s reputation as well. If you do anything to damage either your own reputation or your company’s, you could destroy your business. When you make a promise to your customers, you need to walk the walk. While a good reputation precedes you, a bad reputation will follow you for a long time — it takes years to build a strong rapport with people and just seconds to lose it. Those in your industry, from potential investors to suppliers to prospective employees, will take note. When we started our brand, the Virgin name was perceived as so risque that we weren’t allowed to register it with the British Patent Office for three years, because the officials there thought it was rude. My personal reputation for standing out from the crowd of ordinary, stuffy businessman helped too. As a young, long-haired entrepreneur in the 1970s, I got some funny looks when I went into the bank barefoot the first few times. But after a few years, if I suddenly turned up at the bank wearing a suit and tie, they knew something was up! Soon, our move from punk rock to aviation — Virgin Music to Virgin Atlantic — enhanced our reputation as risk-takers and innovators, giving us a competitive advantage over other companies. This came in handy: Virgin became known as the brand that could go into sectors with troublesome reputations and shake them up by applying our values.
It is also useful to brainstorm and take advantage of your staff’s collective knowledge:
Q: Are there any techniques that could help me brainstorm? – Kai Prout
A: When I took part in attempts to set speed records for hot air ballooning across the oceans in the ’80s and ’90s, we got into some sticky situations. For me, the term “brainstorm” always brings back memories of flying a hot air balloon 30,000 feet above the earth into the eye of a very different kind of storm. In those terrifying, exhilarating moments, our team desperately racked our brains, trying to work out how to survive. Luckily, we were always able to come up with ideas and made it through. While not every brainstorming session involves making life-and-death choices, the principle is the same. When you face a problem and are groping for answers, brainstorming is a great way to harness your staff’s collective knowledge and come up with solutions. Here are eight tips on how to get the most from your brainstorming sessions.
1. To think outside the box, avoid getting into one.
2. Choose a creative environment.
3. Define the Problem, not the Solution.
4. Keep the ideas fresh.
5. Make sure everyone is heard.
6. Write it all down.
7. Make the best ideas a reality.
8. Listen and follow through– then lead.