Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Soaring above the fray with Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson /
The Englishman fancies hot air balloons and space travel.

Sir Richard Branson is an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist whose heart and soul are in the right place. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which benefits more than 400 companies. He's dabbled in a variety of media, including print, film and television; opened a chain of record stores, and started an airline.

Branson, 66, who was knighted by the Queen in 2000 for "services to entrepreneurship," is a fancier of hot air balloons and space travel. He's an avid fan of Star Trek. There is a highly competitive nature to him, but he doesn't seem to be in-your-face about it. And, when the man with the brilliant mind speaks out, people listen to him.

"My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them ..." Branson wrote in his autobiography.

Sir Richard Branson / He founded the Virgin Group,
which benefits more than 400 companies. 
When Branson hasn't set his sights on breaking world records for travel, he's been focused on humanitarian activities. For instance, in the late 1990s, Branson and musician Peter Gabriel discussed with Nelson Mandela an idea for a small group of leaders working in unison to solve difficult global conflicts. In 2007, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Mandela announced the formation of a group called The Elders, which included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan and former director-general of the World Health Organization Gro Harlem Brundtland. The Elders, funded by a group of donors, including Branson and Gabriel, describe themselves as "independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights." With almost 1,000 years of collective experience between them in the group, The Elders have worked on solutions for seemingly insurmountable problems such as climate change, HIV/AIDS and poverty.

More recently, in 2014, Branson joined forces with African Wildlife Foundation and partner WildAid for the"Say No" Campaign, which was an initiative designed to bring public awareness to the issues of wildlife poaching and trafficking.

With just two weeks until Election Day in America, Branson has shared access with both major-party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. In a recent article for BusinessInsider.com, Branson expressed a lunch encounter he once shared in Trump's apartment as "bizarre" and revealed a "vindictive streak" he noticed in the Republican Party standard bearer, which he admitted "wouldn't bode well for a president who should be more concerned with global affairs than personal vendettas."

Sir Richard Branson and Donald Trump /
The two business titans fundamentally disagree on
what makes a great entrepreneur.
Branson and Trump, I learned, fundamentally disagree on what makes a great entrepreneur. Branson believes it involves being a good listener, putting others before oneself, being an effective delegator and striving to make a positive difference to the world. "Great entrepreneurs build businesses with purpose at their heart and always treat people with respect. These are not characteristics I see in Mr. Trump – neither in his previous dealings, nor in this campaign."

In a recent blog post, Branson wrote about his meeting with Trump: "I left the lunch feeling disturbed and saddened by what I'd heard. There are a lot of frightening things about this election, not least that policy has been pushed so far down the agenda. "

Branson called Mr. Trump's temperament "irrational, aggressive and he lacks informed ideas on how to grow jobs in America. An entrepreneur president would put that at the heart of his plans and yet his fear-based campaign blames immigrants and open borders."

By contrast, Branson also broke bread with Clinton in which the two discussed a variety of important issues such as women's rights and education reform. He noted that the Democratic Party nominee for president was both a "good listener" and "eloquent speaker."

Branson wrote of Clinton: "As she understands well, the president of the United States needs to understand and be engaged with wider world issues, rather than be consumed by petty personal quarrels."

Earlier this month, in a blog post on Virgin's website, Branson endorsed Clinton over Trump for president. "I would like to see an entrepreneur become president one day," Branson wrote. "I believe entrepreneurial thinking is incredibly valuable in leaders, and there are many entrepreneurs who I would be delighted to see in power – just not this one."

Sir Richard Branson weighs in on the U.S. Presidential race.
While Branson is not an American citizen, nonetheless, he has been a keen follower of the U.S. election because it 'will have major implications on the rest of the world."

Branson gets it.

Indeed, the whole world is watching.

"The U.S. is faced with a monumental decision: whether to vote for Hillary Clinton – a safe pair of hands and a leader of supreme experience and know how. Or to vote for Donald Trump," wrote Branson.

"America was built upon a collective embracing of diversity and openness – not division and close-mindedness. There are too many examples of Mr. Trump's lack of empathy and respect to name. I agree with many on both sides of America's political aisle that he is unfit for office."

Photos: Courtesy of Google Images.

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