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Tete-a-tete with curious people

Tete-a-tete with curious people
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First Published: Mon, Sep 20 2010. 10 38 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Sep 20 2010. 10 38 PM IST
Entrepreneurs are innately curious people, which must be why I receive mail from readers around the world asking all manner of questions about my career and my personal life, and not just looking for advice on starting up new businesses and managing mature ones.
With my focus on fun at work, the boundary between work and life does tend to blur a little!
So just recently, an interviewer asked me a great many short questions about both; many of our most interesting exchanges follow.
What do you have for breakfast?
I have a fruit salad and muesli. When I spoil myself I have kippers.
Which single word gets you out of bed in the morning?
“No”, in my wife’s Glaswegian accent.
Favourite television programme?
I love anything to do with nature, things like “Planet Earth”.
Which is your favourite band?
It has to be the Sex Pistols. They made a big difference for Virgin.
Any place left that you’d like to visit?
South America. Brazil and Argentina sound wonderful.
Three most adventurous things you have done so far?
Boating, ballooning and kite surfing. Space adventures to come!
If you could meet a legend dead or alive, who would it be?
Sir Francis Drake. I’d love to have been an explorer of that calibre.
Who is your mentor?
My parents. They’ve been a tremendously positive influence.
What is the greatest piece of wisdom you’ve ever heard?
To look for the best in people.
What have you studied?
Most of my learning has been since I left school. It’s been an education of life. I love to read a lot. I’ve been involved in many different things, so have learnt a lot that way.
If you were given $60 to start a business, how would you do it?
If I was still well known, I’d sign the dollars and sell each of them for $20. I would then sign the $20 and sell them for $40, etc.
Is there anything you’d like to change about yourself?
It’d have to be my age. To go backwards instead of forwards.
What do you love and hate?
I love the closeness of our family. And I hate not being able to spend every day with them.
What makes you cry?
I cry at happy and sad things. My children always bring a box of Kleenex to the cinema!
The key to success in three words please?
People. People. People.
What motivates you to carry on?
I love learning. I love people. I love making a difference. I don’t think I’ll stop until I drop.
What drives you crazy?
Negativity. People who look for the worst in people. People always gossiping about other people.
Are you stressed?
No. I try hard to overcome challenges and if I fail, I pick myself up quickly.
Why are you always smiling?
I have got a lot to smile about!
What brings you happiness?
Achieving things that one can be proud of. And good feedback from people as a result.
Has there been an event that changed your life?
Meeting Nelson Mandela, just an incredible individual. I’m very privileged to know him well now.
What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?
Ruby Wax and I were in Mallorca and a couple asked to take a photo. Ruby and I put our arms round each other, smiled, and the couple said, “No, we want you to take a picture of us.”
What’s your most prized personal, material possession?
Necker Island. I managed to find it when I was 26.
If you could be a super hero, who would it be?
Bond…James Bond.
Who would play you in a movie of your life?
Robert Pattinson from Twilight. He’s English…and he’s young!
Ever thought about running for political office?
I don’t think you can mix business and politics so I’d have to give up Virgin and I enjoy it too much.
I can campaign a lot of political issues without actually becoming a politician.
Anything left for you to achieve?
One of the most exciting things we’re involved in is the Elders.
Trying to ensure that conflicts are a thing of the past. It’d be wonderful if the Elders could do some fantastic things.
Is there anything you’d have done differently?
No. I’ve had an absolute blast.
BY NYT SYNDICATE
©2010/RICHARD BRANSON
Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active. He maintains a blog at www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/richardbranson
Your comments and queries om this column, which runs every week, are welcome at, feedback@livemint.com
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First Published: Mon, Sep 20 2010. 10 38 PM IST