Richard Branson and a Grand Prix Weekend

June 13, 2011 20 Comments TAGS: Career, Interviews

Richard Branson

When you hear the name Richard Branson, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Money? Power? Success? Philanthropy? Well, yes, all these may be true, but I had the great fortune of sitting down to chat with Sir Richard Branson this weekend, and getting to see a softer side. ¬†It was amazing to meet a great visionary who I actually wrote about in my book, 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Staring Their Own Business. In fact, I gave him a signed copy to take on the plane! ūüôā

Richard Branson started his entrepreneurial journey at the young age of 16. His magazine called Student eventually kicked off his next venture… a brand we all know well, the Virgin Empire. First came the chain of record stores, Virgin Records in 1972. Then Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1980, and then expanded into Virgin Records music label. In fact, the name “Virgin” was suggested by one of Branson’s early employees because they were all new at this business– virgins. I love it.

Richard Branson is the 5th richest person in the United Kingdom and 254th in the world according to¬†Forbes‘ 2011¬†list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of approximately ¬£2.58¬†billion (US$4.2¬†billion) (Wikipedia). But enough about that…

When I was invited as the Media, as well as the Spokesperson for National Entrepreneurship Day for the opening of Branson’s flagship store, the first Virgin Mobile store to open in Canada, I of course was thrilled. Me meeting Branson is much like a rookie chef meeting Emeril Lagasse, or an aspiring pop singer meeting Madonna. As a female entrepreneur, I am fascinated by his success story and the attributes that make him unique and never outdated.

Me and Richard Branson chatting quietly

Well, I got to ask him the first question when it went to media questions. My question: What motivates you today. Amidst your success, I imagine that what motivates you now is very different than what motivated you years ago.

“Great question,” I heard people uttering. ūüėČ

His answer was quite simple. “I have a very good life. I enjoy my life. My motivations are different today yes, and that is why seventy five percent of my time is spent trying to make a difference. I do this though charity. I try and give back wherever I can using my resources.”

For example, he presented a cheque for $100,000 to Dans La Rue, a grassroots organization in Montreal, that works with street kids and offers shelters and support to at-risk kids aged 12-25. Their goal is to educated and keep at-risk youth off the streets.

Of course everyone listened carefully when the next question was directed at Glee star, Cory¬†Monteith, Virgin Unite‘s ambassador, who himself, was a troubled and at-risk teen. And seeing that he’s from BC, reporters of course questioned him about the NHL playoffs and who would take the Stanley Cup… Check out this video I captured. How cute is this guy?

After chatting quietly with Branson (pic above), he gave me a kiss, took my signed book, and told me to keep inspiring women and to keep making a difference in the lives of women around the world. “Don’t stop. Keep going,” he said as he looked me straight in the eye.

You all know I love a good quote. I love a good glass of wine better, but there’s nothing like a good Monday morning quote to kick off the week, get you off the fence and set you in the right direction. ¬†So I’d like to finish today off with a few of my favorite Branson quotes. I think you’ll see why I have admired this man for years…

“My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them… from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full, I felt that I had to attempt it.” ~Richard Branson

I can relate to this. I have always had the “go hard or go home” attitude. If I get the pulsating urge to do something, I have to attempt it. Sometimes we fail, but we never know unless we take the leap. The great leap outside our comfort zone. After all, that is where all the good fruit is.

“For me business is not about wearing suits, or keeping stockholders pleased. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” ~Richard Branson

This reminds me of Ralph Lauren, another pioneer in his field. He was designing one way, when everyone else was designing another. I sometimes feel this way. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with ME, because I often feel like I am going the wrong way. But I see that it’s okay not to be a follower. We’re all unique. And that is a very good thing, and an asset to be worked to our benefit.

“I was dyslexic, I had no understanding of schoolwork whatsoever. I certainly would have failed IQ tests. And it was one of the reasons I left school when I was 15 years old. And if I – if I’m not interested in something, I don’t grasp it.” ~Richard Branson

How can I not love this one? I failed my GMATs and never even got into MBA school. The message is clear: failure is not the end, and can sometimes be just the beginning. And I too, if uninterested in something, will never be successful at it. I think this goes for anyone.

“My mother was determined to make us independent. When I was four years old, she stopped the car a few miles from our house and made me find my own way home across the fields. I got hopelessly lost.” ~Richard Branson

Don’t you love this one? It’s a little cukoo, but I get it. If you check out last week’s¬†camp letters, you’ll know I am from the school of thought that a little tough love, goes a long way. And to get hopelessly lost is a great gift. That’s when you begin to find your way.

Enjoy some highlights of this busy Grand Prix weekend in Montreal.

PS – The only picture I’m missing is of cutie Bradley Cooper who sat next to us at dinner Saturday night. Yowzer.

First Virgin Mobile Store in Canada

Media Room

Virgin Mobile

Branson entering the first-ever Virgin Mobile store in Canada for the first time

Branson talking shop

Cory Monteith of Glee and Richard Branson presenting cheque for $100k to Dans La Rue

Hanging with The Bachelor and ex NFL'er Jesse Palmer

Me and Cory Monteith - my teen cousins loved this one!

Grand Prix festivities on Crescent Street in Montreal

Reporting the Grand Prix action for CTV

Hanging with my radio buddies at CJAD

Best way to end the weekend-- Juvenile Diabetes Walk with my son

Happy Monday readers!

xoxEDxox

    20 Comments

    1. zara says:

      Best Flower Delivery in Dubai at most reasonable prices. Fresh and good Quality Flowers delivered right at home.

    2. […] Branson. If you read this blog, this won’t shock you. I wrote about him in my book, met and interviewed him, and love his balls. Oh, that DOES NOT sound good! I mean, I love his fearlessness, how he attacks […]

    3. […] you have it. What I have learned from interviewing entrepreneurs from around the globe, from Richard Branson to Liz Lange, is that creativity, and the ability to generate ideas, is in their blood. […]

    4. Movie news says:

      Movie news…

      […]Richard Branson and a Grand Prix Weekend | WomenOnTheFence.com[…]…

    5. Career Personality & Aptitude Test…

      […]Richard Branson and a Grand Prix Weekend | WomenOnTheFence.com[…]…

    6. Free and Accurate Online IQ Test…

      […]Richard Branson and a Grand Prix Weekend | WomenOnTheFence.com[…]…

    7. china latest news…

      […]Richard Branson and a Grand Prix Weekend | WomenOnTheFence.com[…]…

    8. australia florist…

      […]Richard Branson and a Grand Prix Weekend | WomenOnTheFence.com[…]…

    9. blinddate says:

      blinddate…

      […]Richard Branson and a Grand Prix Weekend | WomenOnTheFence.com[…]…

    10. fencing says:

      fencing…

      […]Richard Branson and a Grand Prix Weekend | WomenOnTheFence.com[…]…

    11. I absolutely loved reading this post Erica! Thank you for tweeting it out today!

    12. Kim Foster says:

      What an awesome weekend for you! Not sure which makes me more envious…meeting Sir Richard, or sitting next to Mr. Cooper. Nice work!!

    13. Erica Diamond says:

      Thanks guys! It was a super weekend. Learned a lot about living life on your own terms. And living fearlessly.

    14. John T says:

      Great article. Richard branson is a genius.

    15. Shayna says:

      Loved this post

    16. Felicia says:

      I can’t believe i missed all these celebs in Montreal!

    17. Chantal says:

      Don’t you just love Corey Monteith? I love him on Glee. It sounds like you had an amazing weekend. I also enjoyed those quotes at the end. Keep going like Sir Richard said!

    18. a says:

      Great post! Loved the connection you had with Branson!

    19. Jennifer Wright says:

      GREAT POST! So inspiring. I loved your quotes at the end. Just what I needed for this Monday morning. I read his book and he’s an incredible man.

    20. Donna says:

      Nice post. I loved the quotes also. Looks like a you had a great weekend Erica.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

PARTNERS