Last week I wrapped Richard Branson’s book The Virgin Way and I must say, I did not expect to enjoy the process of getting back into reading as much as I did. Branson uses some really stellar stories and examples to illustrate powerful concepts that seriously challenge the status quo (arguably Branson’s biggest MO). Here are three more lessons from the second half of The Virgin Way!
Train Them so Well They Can Leave, Treat Them so Well They Don’t Want To
On the subject of leadership in life and business, one of the threads that ties the entire book together is the concept of treating your people like family. Whether you run a business, a non-profit, or simply manage a group or people, Branson insists that treating your people right is the MOST important thing. Your people are a direct reflection of you and happy people tend to give unreal customer service, which in turn leads to happy customers which makes the staff that work with them even happier. It’s a cycle that, if started right, can yield fantastic results. Branson suggests that the best way to support your people is to empower them to solve problems themselves and ensure they have enough structure to know what they should be doing but enough freedom to go over and above.
90% of Life is Just Showing Up
Branson uses several examples of PR bumbles by CEO’s to illustrate that, whether you’re a C-level executive or a mid-level manager, being present when things are happening is half the battle of being a good leader. On one level, being around your people consistently gives you a really good idea of what’s important to them and what challenges they’re really facing (this sounds like common sense but think about how much time you really spend interacting with your boss or employees as a percentage of your day). On another level, being present when there’s a problem allows you to react much more quickly and effectively. Think about how bad it looks when there’s some sort of corporate disaster and the CEO isn’t at the initial press conference. Conversely, the leader who is on the scene immediately (even if they aren’t really doing or saying anything) tends to win the day.
Like Shouldn’t be About Making a Living, But Making Every Living Moment Count
Richard Branson is well known for his eccentric style and sometime death-defying escapades. Branson’s approach to life can be summed up in the tagline of the book: “If it’s not fun it’s not worth doing”. It’s an almost cliche idea at this point, but all throughout the book Branson hammers in the idea that every moment we have on this planet, whether through business or simply the way we conduct ourselves, should be spent embracing the things we love and making life better for other people. Time wasted can never be earned back, so putting in time to simply earn money without achieving these two ends is by all measures a complete waste.
Well there you go! I would highly recommend reading or listening to The Virgin Way (seriously, audio-books have become a game-changer for me).