Fight Tooth and Nail to Solve Problems

Richard Branson

Lesson time 20:47 min

Between adventures, Richard has gotten himself in and out of a variety of predicaments. Here, he shares how he’s found his way through problems, from taking on governments to making big decisions in a hot-air balloon—in the eye of a storm.

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Topics include: Between his groundbreaking adventures and running dozens of companies, Richard has gotten himself out of a wide variety of jams. Richard shares several strategies for finding your way through and around problems, from taking on the British Government in court to making level-headed decisions in the eye of a storm in a hot air balloon.


[MUSIC PLAYING] RICHARD BRANSON: Being an entrepreneur or being an adventurer, I think there are a lot-- there are a lot of similarities. There's a very, very thin dividing line between success and failure when you're building a business from scratch. And in extreme adventures, there's a very thin dividing line between coming home and not coming home. And so when I was on my extreme adventures, I behave just like I would behave in business. I would fight tooth and nail to overcome the problem. Make sure I didn't go to sleep until I'd, you know, sorted the problem out or at least given it my best shot at sorting it out. [MUSIC PLAYING] I learned the art of negotiation through necessity because I didn't have any money. So I had right from-- you know, from the age of 15, I had to learn to negotiate. When we decided to open music stores on the High Street, we would find stores that nobody else really wanted. They would be above a shoe shop. And we would say to the shoe shop owner, look, if you give us your space above you for a rent-free period, you'll soon see all these people coming in and buying shoes from you because they'll have to go through your shop to get to our shop. You know, so we would try to use inventive ways like that to persuade them. We would throw a whole lot of pillows on the floor of the stores. We would just put a very basic wooden counter in the stores. We would stick album sleeves all over the stores. We would put some headphones by the pillows so that people could lounge on the pillows and listen to the music on their headphones. Then we would open up the store. And so it costs us nothing to open the store. And then the money that came in those three months or six months of rent-free period would enable us to pay the bills going forward. And again, sometimes you just have to be inventive in trying to do deals where you get the money up front, and then you pay later. [MUSIC PLAYING] With the airline, I persuaded Boeing to let us have one plane because there was no competitor to British Airways, which meant that British Airways had Boeing-- had Boeing by the whatever. I'm not quite sure what I'm allowed to say there. Anyway, we struck a deal whereby we got us our first 747. I managed to persuade them that if it didn't-- if my instinct was not right about the fact that if we created a much better airline than the other airlines that after the first 12 months, we could hand the plane back to them. So Boeing agreed. They could see the merits of giving us the plane for a year and seeing how it goes on the basis that, hopefully, we would build up a competitor to British Airways so that they would have some leverage over British Airways in future years. And it worked out. You know, at the end of the first year, we got two more 747s from Boeing. And then at the end of the third year, we got another two. And you know, soon, we had a fleet of 747s flying to most of the major c...

About the Instructor

Sometimes, making it big is all about following the fun. Ask Richard Branson. The founder of the Virgin Group built a business empire by solving the problems that fascinated him, disrupting every industry he touched, and pursuing dreams that seemed impossible. The adventure took him from humble beginnings to the stars. Learn how you, too, can find ideas so good they’re scary, lean into your fear, and achieve liftoff.

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Richard Branson

Entrepreneur Richard Branson teaches you how to turn your wildest dreams into successful businesses—and have fun doing it.

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