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Richard Branson - Chairman of the Virgin Group

Richard Branson - Chairman of the Virgin Group: Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group, shares his story as a successful entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio.

There was the Vietnamese war, was waging

         and I was against the Vietnamese war,

         I was 15 years old.

         I decided to start the magazine to campaign against it,

         it was called "Student" and it became this sort of

         national magazine for young people.

         The magazine didn't make much money, but got a big circulation

         about 100.000 young people bought the magazine

         and one day I took an advert in the magazine,

         Virgin Records 10 to 60 percent off any album or any label

         and listed the kinds of records we liked.

         Things like Frank Zappa rather than Andy Williams

         and so it became very much the rock and roll mail order company

         and then we started signing our own bands.

         Bands that we couldn't get other record companies

         to release, we released ourselves.

         There are bands everywhere that want to be found,

         it's finding the right ones and I had a 15 year old boy

         called Mike Oldfield come to me with a tape called Tubular Bells

         which he had recorded all the tracks himself.

         I literally went to another record company,

         borrowed an artist called Sandy Denny's contract

         and we typed out the contract, you know we managed to get "The Exorcist"

         to take the music and that took it number one in America

         It became a phenomenal success.

         Moved on and signed bands like the Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones

         and a lot of other iconic, great bands.

         In those days there was quite a lot of money

         to go around in the record business.

         A big hit album could sell 10 to 15 million albums.

         We went into the airline business because I had record companies

         all over the world and I was traveling a lot on other people's airlines

         and there was one time I took a flight from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands

         and I got bumped by American Airlines and chartered a plane

         and I came out with a blackboard and for fun I wrote

         "Virgin Airlines 29 dollars" to the Virgin Islands,

         walked around all the people who had been bumped and I filled up my plane.

         And then as I was landing somebody said to me, "sharpen up the service a bit

         and you could go into the airline business."

         And I've started three or four airlines,

         so Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Australia

         and they've all gone really well and the reason they've gone well

         is because they're the best airlines in their field

         and if you're the best hotel or the best shop or the best club

         or the best airline you survive.

         It's people who try to be second best who normally stumble.

         The key to our success is to offer people much more than they'd expect.

         So we offer a much better than first class product

         for our upper class passengers but we charge a business class fare.

         We offer a class above what people would expect.

         We do lots of nice little things which surprise people.

         You know, just little things like

         we give people an ice cream when they're watching a movie or popcorn

         or we have a limousine to and from the plane

         for our business class passengers.

         We put seat back videos in our planes six years before anybody else did.

         We're smaller, we're more nimble.

         We're from the entertainment business

         so we know that people like to be entertained.

         Virgin is always evolving.

         I start businesses not because I think I'm going to make money

         at a business, I'm not particularly interested in that.

         I start businesses because I think I can make a real difference.

         The main thing to remember though is if you do go out to start a business

         most people fail but most people also pick themselves up

         and try again and again until they finally succeed.

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