I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do after finishing year 12 and I didn’t feel I was smart enough to go to university with below average grades so I ended up joining the Royal Australian Air Force....
It’s kind of funny in hindsight because I’ve almost completed two masters degrees (MBA & Masters of Business) and I can definitely say that the Air Force is way harder (no offence to my fellow university students)!
So anyways, one day when I was sitting down doing my work an Air Force friend walked by and unexpectedly dropped a book on my desk. I was a bit surprised about the whole thing since I never asked for a book, but when I got home I started reading it… It was on entrepreneurship, which I never knew anything about - coming from a poor family and growing up in a rough environment, getting a job in the Air Force exceeded my expectations at the time and I never really knew about the many other opportunities available, besides having a job...
This book lit a burning desire within me to learn more so I begun reading more books and come across an entrepreneur called Richard Branson who seemed to be making a real difference in the world instead of just trying making a quick buck. The way he conducted himself in business resonated with me and he also had similar community-based values that I was taught growing up in the Aboriginal community in Gunnedah so I wanted to learn more about him…
And after reading six of his books (he’s never lost for words!) and following him online religiously for almost four years, here’s the three things I’ve learnt from Richard Branson:
1. Enjoy what you do
Richard is one of the most optimistic people I know, even though I haven’t actually met him yet! Every time I see or read about him, he’s always got a smile on his face and is positive about work and life.
“We spend most of or waking lives at work, so it’s important that we do what you love and love what we do.” - Richard Branson
Everyone makes mistakes, including Richard who lost £1.85 billion when he tried to launch Virgin Galactic and a new rail franchise at the same time and another £100 million for research and development of bed seats that was superseded by British Airways who come up with a better product.
However, Richard lives by his words and I think no one can doubt that he enjoys what he does... even George Clooney said that he would swap lives with Richard, anytime! It’s probably the biggest reason why he’s stayed in business for so long and built one of the most diverse and successful businesses in the world.
“Those people who spend their time working on things they love are usually the ones enjoying life the most.” - Richard Branson
Before my friend dropped that book on my desk, I wasn’t really enjoying what I was doing... Richard inspired me to leave my job and learn about entrepreneurship, which has not been easy or glamorous (disclaimer) but I’ve enjoyed the journey and the projects more than any job I’ve previously had.. so the first and probably the most important I learnt from Richard is to enjoy what you do!
2. Screw It, Let's Do It
Screw It, Let's Do It is from a title of one of his books, which was my favourite to read and by far the most appropriate title for this article, compared to “just do it” by Nike.
Despite all the haters and naysayers who were telling him that he was going to fail or it couldn’t be done, he just got on with the job and made it happen. I think in today’s world, it’s easier to be a pessimist or hater… from a young age we are told we can’t do this and shouldn’t do that. Destroying our creativity and dreams, we are forced to conform within the current limitations of society.
Richard, in my opinion, doesn’t conform to what other people think he should or shouldn’t do. He thinks outside of the box, and it's one of his biggest advantages in business and life.
Sometimes his ideas work, sometimes they don't... but I’ve personally taken on board his “Screw It, Let’s Do It” mentality and even though I’m just getting started in my business career, I’ve gone from a 'nobody' to winning national awards, working in a startup that recently raised $5 million and starting my own charity called Barayamal within a short period of time…. Despite the haters, in my mind it’s only a matter of time until I become successful in business.
“Small minds can’t comprehend big spirits. To be great, you have to be willing to be mocked, hated, and misunderstood. Stay strong.” - Unknown
3. Business is more than just making money
“If you aren’t making a positive difference to other people’s lives, then you shouldn’t be in business. Companies have a responsibility to make a difference in the world, for their staff, their customers - everyone.” - Richard Branson
As much as I wanted to put the above quote in my own words, Richard sums it up perfectly and like I said, he’s never lost for words!
Unfortunately, we still live in a world where a lot of business people still focus on making as much money as possible despite the social costs. From colonialism to recent Royal Commissions into the banks, greed and power has destroyed many lives and communities.
However, with entrepreneurs like Richard Branson leading the way, I think it gives humanity hope that things can be different instead of "business as usual", and provides the next generation of entrepreneurs coming up with something to aspire and look up to.
Despite never meeting Richard Branson in person, I feel very lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to learn invaluable lessons (there’s more than just three!) from one of the best entrepreneurs in my lifetime.