2 March 2010

I will always remember my first night on Necker Island home to Sir Richard Branson. We were just settling in and being made to feel very welcome. We have the entire island to the 4 of us and it is the most idyllic setting for a family holiday.

Stood in the Great House on the hill looking at a photo of Sam Branson and his friends, I turned around and Richard walked up to me arm outstretch and with a warm smile he bowed his head gently and welcomed me to his home. It is the greatest thing for me to meet such a distinguished businessman. I have many friends who have become incredibly successful. Most of them though are particularly hard with their staff and rule their businesses with an iron rod. Richard is someone who clearly breaks this mold and it is refreshing to see that he is a million miles away from the ludicrous business ethics they portray on The Apprentice.

It didn’t take him long to suss me out and pretty soon we were discussing sport. He is currently in training for the Virgin sponsored London Marathon. He had already heard I was a keen exerciser and immediately asked if I’d like to run with him. A couple of Richard’s guests arrived for drinks, they were staying on the nearby island. They owned and developed Vale and Beaver Creek in the US. (An amazing Ski Resort) During the conversation with Janet and Paul from Beaver Creek, one thing stuck out and it made an indelible mark in my brain that I think will be there forever.

Richard said, “well, if you say Yes! to everything, you are going to have a far more interesting life.”

In my 41 years on this planet nobody has ever give me such great advice or such a great directive. And it makes perfect sense. How many of us just potter through life and procrastinate. I have only been on the island less than a week, but I am 100% sure you will never see Sir Richard Branson procrastinating. He is a decisive character, who doesn’t stop for breath.

Before leaving for bed, I asked what time we should meet. He said “pop around to the house at 6.45am and just shout me if I am not up.”

I didn’t sleep a wink that night, excited at the prospect of continuing a great conversation with a fantastic philanthropist and entrepreneur.

We have since run for a number of hours together and I have had some solid business advice during my time following in his great footsteps. Advice that once you have heard it appears like complete common sense. However you could read a 100 books and find 50 different ways from a variety of experts which all contradict each other. So to hear it from someone you respect, immediately fills me with confidence. And actually now we have discussed it, I totally understand and I cannot wait to get back to UKFast and start implementing some of these great ideas.

Yesterday I ran with him a little later than before, and I reminded him of what he had said to me and what an impact it had.

I explained that you could have written an essay, yet in one short sentence he summed up just how simple you need to make it.

“If you say Yes! to everything, you are going to have a far more interesting life.”

What a great piece of advice and for anyone setting out as a young entrepreneur, in business, in school, wherever and whatever you are wanting to do, this is good advice. It is a simple strategy that I can promise you Branson lives by. He is a man with a large appetite for life and it grows bigger by the day, and I am sure his positive attitude towards just doing things straightaway, off the cuff without procrastinating has to have something to do with his enormous success.

I am very interested in how he portrays his feelings on this subject, as he decided to use the line as subject matter for a column he is doing for the New York Times. It is definately something to look out for.

Lawrence Jones UKFast

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