Richard BransonOn what gets Richard Branson up in the morning: “Four words. Enough of that, Richard.”

On his daily schedule: “80% of my time is on not-for-profit ventures.”

On his approach to hiring: “Often what you see in an interview is not what you see when that person gets into the job. What we look for are people who genuinely love people, people who praise people, people who’re willing to go get drunk with their colleagues on the weekend. People who’re willing to listen, be flexible, let their hair down. People who let [their reports] get a day off for their birthday or go home if unwell.”

On who’s on first: “Put the employee first, but also give them the tools to do a good job, so by default the customer ends up coming first.”

On family values: “My mum and my dad brought me up to want to stand on our own two feet. We weren’t allowed television. They made quite sure we were doing things, not just watching other people doing things. If we criticised someone we were sent to look at ourselves in the mirror, to reflect. We had lots of love and a very close family. Today, I have wonderful kids and a lovely lady I’ve been with for 35 years. We’re still very much in love. We’ve been lucky.”

On his best business deal: “Buying Necker [Island]. They wanted five million dollars for it. I scraped together $100,000. I got it for a very good price.”

On entrepreneurship: “I’ve been lucky as an entrepreneur. I started without mentors when I was 15 or 16. Entrepreneurs create the jobs of the future, and we need a lot more jobs.”

On risk-taking: “If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re trying to go places in business where people haven’t been; make a real difference. You’re trying to protect against the downside in case things come crashing down. As an adventurer, you’re trying to make achievements mankind hasn’t seen before, and you’re also trying to protect against the downside. I’ve been pulled out of the sea six times by helicopters.”

On Virgin Galactic: “It’s been a childhood dream of mine, ever since I saw the moon landing, to go to space. One day I just registered the name Virgin Galactic and jumped on a plane looking for engineers who might help me make it real. You embark on a journey like this and you realize that if you can send people to space you can send satellites to space. And why shouldn’t we be using this for point-to-point terrestrial travel?”

On how to convince a board of directors to do something risky, like for instance, starting a space travel company: “Own 50… um, point one percent.”

On the United States: “Well, the amount of time people have for holidays is incredibly short [audience applause]. Even if its unpaid holidays, we’re trying to do something to help.”

On corporate social responsibility: “If every single business in the world could use their entrepreneurial skills to adopt a problem –small businesses should adopt small problems, and big business big problems– I think we could really get on top of the world’s problems quite quickly.”

Thanks to the World Business Forum 2012 team which which kindly invited me to represent Allegravita and attend the conference as their guest.

Please consider all our blogged stories from the World Business Forum 2012:

Management guru Jim Collins, on “return on luck”
NYC property mogul Barbara Corcoran on her top-8 lessons learned from her career as an entrepreneur
MIT psychologist professor Sherry Turkle on the danger presented to society by being always-connected
Interbrand CEO Jez Frampton on what makes a great brand
Nissan SVP Andy Palmer on the importance of melding engineering with marketing and communications
Legendary GE CEO Jack Welch’s choicest quotes from the conference
Harvard Business School’s Prof. Michael Porter on ‘Shared Value’ for-profit CSR
Inspirational entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s choicest quotes from the conference


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