A Better Way

Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to hear Sir Richard Branson speak at a Business Chicks event in Brisbane. Given the enormous amount of respect I have for Richard and his inspiring approach to leadership, I was very excited to say the least and wasn’t at all disappointed in the experience.

The event began on somewhat of an awkward note when our MC chose to ask Richard why women love him so much.  Like a goofy teenager Richard squirmed in his seat while his interviewer cited the overly enthusiastic behaviour of some women at previous events.  Clearly uncomfortable I was relieved for Richard when she let him out of that corner and moved on.

While his response, or rather inability to respond was endearing I found myself wishing I could telepathically send Richard the answer I thought he should give.  That is, that he is both courageous and kind – qualities I have no doubt many women find attractive in a man. Perhaps I shouldn’t speak on behalf of other women but I think it’s a reasonably safe assumption to make.

Richard’s courage was peppered throughout the stories he shared.  A prime example being the progress he and his team have made towards commercializing space travel. Richard’s imagination and courage to not only dream big but to act big are incredible and appear to be unlimited. It makes me giggle to contemplate the thoughts that must run through his mind.

The Elders

The Elders

In equal measure I was impressed by the extent of Richard’s kindness and commitment to making a positive difference in the world.  One thing Richard said struck me as being particularly important – business needs to play a bigger role in solving the world’s problems. He made the compelling point that the business community has wisdom, talent, experience, energy and resources that we should share and leverage.

Richard argued that small business should contribute to local community issues, bigger business to national issues and big business to global issues.  That certainly made sense to me.  There is no question that Richard is leading by example through not only the work of Virgin Unite but also The Elders – an independent group of global leaders currently chaired by Kofi Annan who work together for peace and human rights.

Brought together in 2007 by Nelson Mandela here is an excepts from The Elders website that explains the role Richard played in forming this group:

Peter Gabriel and RB

Sir Richard Branson & Peter Gabriel

“The concept originates from a conversation between the entrepreneur Richard Branson and the musician Peter Gabriel. The idea they discussed was simple: many communities look to their elders for guidance, or to help resolve disputes. In an increasingly interdependent world – a ‘global village’ – could a small, dedicated group of individuals use their collective experience and influence to help tackle some of the most pressing problems facing the world today?  Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel took their idea of a group of ‘global elders’ to Nelson Mandela, who agreed to support it. With the help of Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu, Mandela set about bringing the Elders together and formally launched the group in Johannesburg, July 2007.”

Leaving the event that day I felt energised and uplifted knowing that we have people like Sir Richard Branson fighting for us all.  Courageously forging a better way, challenging those of us in business to step up, contribute more and leave a more positive footprint on our planet.

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2 thoughts on “A Better Way

  1. I made this comment to a friend of mine in response to the insipid and insidiously uninspiring industry groups and union groups we have in this country. All trying to secure something for themselves usually via a dogmatic ideology that polarized opinion rather then to solve issues. In response to the debate over penalty rates I said “instead of throwing rocks instead of taking a stand on dogma why could not one of them just pick up the phone organize a meeting and sit down to honestly discuss the issue and work through a solution” why? Because we have a win at all cost culture which rewards aggression rather then conciliation and used division to get results. Its not just our politicians it everyone and it will be the ruin of our society if we are not careful. It is a culture where the sycophant thrives and we either get the status quo or go backwards. First we have to stop blaming our politicians and take some personal accountability, then we have to open our minds and deal with issued innovatively and then we need to act together to achieve the results that are win win not win lose. Our problem is we have become self interested to the point of obsession and it is destroying the meaningful discourse required to make meaningful change. We are cowards and lack the courage to say I wrong, I don’t know it all, I am willing to listen and act on the facts. In stead we retreat when its all too hard to catch phrases and comfort zones usually meaningless and unproductive. I hate unions they kill business, I hate bosses they kill workers. Great big new tax, illegal boats, racist intervention, wind farms cause illness. The list goes on and on and yet not one solution in sight! I am personally sick of it, if only we had a Branson in this country rather the a Rhineheart!

    • Thanks for your comments Don. In The Corporate Dojo I dedicate a section to ‘bubble people’ which is my way of describing the tendency some people have to be caught up in their own world with little awareness or regard for the world around them. It’s definitely time to burst the self-interest bubble that is creating so many problems.

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