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Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead: Lessons From Richard Branson’s “The Virgin Way”

By January 17, 2016 No Comments
Leadership Lessons

In his book, The Virgin Way, Richard Branson shares a few key pieces of wisdom that have helped him to achieve the success he enjoys today. Here are some lessons that entrepreneurs can take from The Virgin Way, one of the most engaging books on leadership.

1. Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal

Richard Branson recommends living in the present and grasping every opportunity. While this is good advice for any aspect of life, it is particularly important when starting a business. The Virgin Way teaches entrepreneurs to take a proactive approach to their business ventures, including taking a strong approach to branding and visual storytelling. The best leaders take every opportunity and inspire their followers to do the same.

2. Listening is the Most Important Skill

Subtitled “How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead,” The Virgin Way explains that the best leaders are great listeners. It’s important to listen carefully to everyone involved in a business venture, from the web design professional who designs the site to the investor who allows the whole project to get off the ground. Listening allows entrepreneurs to make the most of the skills of those around them. It also encourages good relationships and helps everyone to take a joined-up approach to brand development. “Most people make the mistake of listening too little and talking too much,” says Branson, who adds that a better approach is “Say less, contribute more.”

lessons from Richard Branson

3. Always Take Notes

People who take notes while listening are able to gather their thoughts and ask insightful questions when the speaker has finished. This is much more polite than interrupting someone who is speaking, and avoids disrupting the flow of their thought process. Branson advises carrying a notebook or tablet so that it is always possible to take notes when listening.

4. Be Passionate and Have Fun

With so many challenges facing B2B brands, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lose motivation. Although entrepreneurs need to take many serious decisions when building their B2B brands, it’s important to keep a sense of fun about the whole process. An entrepreneur’s passion should come across in the visual branding for the business. If the brand’s current visual storytelling doesn’t communicate the passion that lies behind the business, it may be time for a brand refresh.

lessons from Richard Branson

5. Take Calculated Risks

“Fortune favours the bold,” says Branson in The Virgin Way. He advocates pushing the envelope – “zagging when everyone else is zigging.” This is a great approach to take when building a business, particularly when working on graphic design. By daring to be different, businesses can leverage design as competitive advantage to set themselves apart from other brands within the same industry.

6. Put People First

According to Richard Branson, good leaders work to create a workplace culture that always puts people first. Flexibility is a key part of a people-first culture. One size rarely fits all, so it’s important to listen to the needs of each individual and find solutions that allow everyone to work at their best.

lessons from Richard Branson

7. Hire Your Weaknesses

Rather than being held back by their weaknesses, smart leaders hire people who have complementary skill sets. According to Branson, one of the best pieces of advice he has received is “hire your weaknesses.” By following this advice, Branson was able to build a team with the right distribution of skills to allow Virgin to thrive.

Conclusion

From entrepreneurs dreaming of starting their first business venture to established companies in search of a corporate rebrand, everyone can learn valuable lessons from Richard Branson’s book, The Virgin Way. Within these pages, Branson lays out a few key leadership tips to help businesspeople take a fun, fresh and highly effective approach to leadership.

This piece was originally featured on Startup Grind, the global entrepreneurship community.

Author Sana Tayeb

As the Co-founder and Creative Director of Novation, Sana Tayeb helps organizations emerge to dominate their industries through digital marketing and fully integrated branding campaigns. Her core strategy for small business marketing is to blend creative problem solving with an analytic approach. The result is a brand strategy that spurs growth.

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