Richard Branson: Life at 30,000 feet (TED talk)

Chris Anderson interviews Richard Branson. He starts by showing several slides with the names of companies Branson has created – a phenomenal amount!

If you can run one company, you can run any number of companies. Finding good people, and drawing out the best in those people. Branson is extremely curious, sees life as a constant learning process, and likes to turn the status quo upside down.

Total revenue of the Virgin group is about 25 billion USD. About 55,000 employees. This was in 2007.

Branson left school at 15 years old, he is dyslexic, couldn’t really make sense of the school work. He would have failed any IQ test he took. The issue for Branson was that if he wasn’t interested in the subject, he just wouldn’t grasp it.

He says that because he’s dyslexic, he doesn’t know the difference between net and gross. When he turned 50 somebody took him outside of a board meeting and tried to explain the difference by drawing a picture on some paper: net is like a fishing net with fish in it – this is what you have left, the remaining profit, everything outside of that is gross. He finally got it.

Despite struggling with school work, Branson was captain of the cricket team, and displayed leadership tendencies in sports.

Branson’s Mother was pretty tough on him – dropping him off alone when he was only four years old, and telling him to make his own way home, since he needed to learn to stand on his own two feet. He was never allowed to watch TV, and had instead to go on long bike rides.

Capitalist philanthropy. With capitalism a few people end up extremely wealthy, and they have a duty to use that wealth to help others – whether that’s creating new jobs, or putting money behind good causes around the world.

(Part of TED a day for June)


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