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Richard Branson on ethics and sustainability

Microsoft have just posted a transcript of an interview with Sir Richard Branson on their website. Here’s a link.

Sixteen years ago I knew someone who worked closely with him for a several years. She said he was the real deal. I got the feeling the staff slightly hero-worshipped him.

That didn’t work out so well for the bankers who blew up the economy from London and Wall Street.

But Branson has genuine principles, and probably more importantly, real connections with customers, staff and the important issues as they arise.

Here’s a few quotes from his interview yesterday:

“I’m a great believer that small is beautiful. So, when we have 100 people running in a company, I will move into the company and say, I want to see the deputy managing director, the deputy sales manager, the marketing manager of that company, and I will then say, all right, you’re now the managing director, the marketing manager, the sales manager of a new company, and we’ll split the company in two.”

“…should somebody wants to go on unpaid leave for a while, welcome it, don’t sort of frown on it. If somebody wants to work from home on Fridays or Mondays, let them work from home Fridays and Mondays.”

“..if you fall out with somebody it will come back and bite you if you don’t try to make up and befriend your enemies.”

“…We’ve also are going to have to watch for very high energy prices over the next decade, and I think the more people who can get involved in trying to develop clean energy, it’s incredibly important for the world, because otherwise we could see $200 a barrel. Obviously global warming is a major concern, as well. So, more investment into clean energy for many reasons is going to be very important.”

“…in the past people left it up to politicians, and social workers to sort out the problems of the world, and businesses just created jobs and the wealth. I think now, what a lot of good business leaders have realized is that all businesses must become a force for good. And small businesses can be a force for good in their local area, bigger businesses nationally, and even bigger businesses internationally, because enormous wealth can come with being a successful business leader. And, therefore, enormous responsibility goes with that wealth.”

“…reputation is all you have in life. So, your personal reputation, and the reputation of your brand. And, you know, if you do anything, anything that damages that reputation, you can destroy your company”

“News International are on their knees, and you could argue they should have been on their knees years ago, because they’ve lived, quite, the way they run some of their newspapers and so on has been quite questionable for a long time. But, they are certainly getting their comeuppance now, and it’s going to be very difficult for that brand to ever recover. And the knock-on effects on their other even their other unbranded product, like Sky, or some of their other interests around the world will be considerable. So, the important thing is, make sure you wake up every morning knowing that you’ve behaved in an ethical manner, and that whatever story you read in the newspaper the next day, you’re never going to feel uncomfortable about it.”

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