Richard Branson Lassos the Moon
The first time I had ever heard of Richard Branson was in my college Business telecourse at North Lake College in 1996. He was highlighted, along with Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, and whoever the CEO of Patagonia was at that time (word up-I said it was a telecourse- I can't remember everything I learned from it! Plus, I made a B in the course...) as being the top entrepreneurs of the nation. They were pioneers of a particular leadership style where they were able to connect with their employees in a way that created company loyalty unlike any had seen before. Richard Branson was known to fly on his commercial flights, playing tricks on passengers, and throwing parties on the plane. Herb Kellerher, also was known to walk down the halls of the Southwest Airlines offices, greeting employees by name, and asking about specific family members, recalling them by name as well. Aaron, my hubs, worked at a company where the CEO introduced himself to Aaron more than 5 separate times. Not as connecting... I have always kept Richard Branson's leadership example in the back of my mind- I am reminded of it anytime I hear of a person breaking all of the traditional "rules" of business management, and succeeding at the diversion. Over the years, the stories of his, Herb's, and that other guy's abilities to achieve near-impossible goals have rested in my consciousness in that way that gives you the inspiration that makes you want to attempt the same... Richard said in his autobiography, “My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them.” I imagine the same interests rested in Herb, Howard Schultz, Mark Kay, my favorite, Dave Ramsey, and others who have challenged the way people do business, and have raised the bar for organizational and personal management... Last month, I heard about Richard Branson's personal tragedy at his Necker Island estate- you know- the ISLAND THAT HE OWNS?!?!? During the night, a thunderstorm washed through the Virgin Islands, taking with it Richard's family estate. A fire broke out, burning the estate to the ground, but the 20 guests who were asleep inside managed to escape without harm. And Richard's 90 year old mom was scooped up and rescued into the arms of KATE WINSLET (!!!!), who was there with her children as well. Richard blogged about it here. The home was built from the ground up by Richard and his wife, and some of the walls were constructed with stones given to him by NELSON MANDELA (!!!!!) The fire was clearly a personal set back for the Branson family, as Richard's daughter was set to marry there in December. But for a man who sets "apparently unachievable challenges and tries to rise above them", I would say that his goal of pressing on with the wedding in the original venue is highly attainable. In fact, here, just a month after the fire, Richard has announced that the reconstruction is well under way...They will rebound quite nicely, I suspect. And speaking of rebounds, just a few days ago, I read that Virgin is going galactic. Apparently, Richard Branson and the Virgin group are planning to send private, commercial spaceships into orbit. They are working on the aircrafts now, and plan to be ready to launch in a year. I guess that gives new emphasis on the expression, "reach for the stars"... The sort of entrepreneurial spirit that drives a high school drop-out to defy the laws of business management and pave his own pathway to success is the same sort of spirit that has driven our society to greatness; Those who dream big and then take action, with wisdom and faith as their guides always achieve the "unachievable", and inspire others in the process. What unachievable challenge are you going to conquer?