th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

Richard Branson: ’Screw it just do it’

The maverick entrepreneur, innovator, and founder of Virgin Group shares this nugget of wisdom and more at the 1st ANC Asian Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum.
By Lynda C. Corpuz |


Richard Branson 1
MAVERICK. English business magnate Sir Richard Branson answers a gamut of querstions at the 1st ANC Asian Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum. Photo from ABS-CBN Corporate Communications


Only in the country for the second time and on a 15-hour layover, English Sir Richard Branson wowed an audience of nearly 800, mostly well-known business personalities, at the ABS-CBN News Channel’s (ANC) first “Asian Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum” held Wednesday, May 25.


The flamboyant Branson, who started as an entrepreneur when he was 16 launching a magazine called Student, said to the young thinking to get into entrepreneurship, “If you have a good idea, screw it just do it.”



Entrepreneurship, education

Sixty-five-year-old Branson, whose Virgin Group is composed of around 400 companies with core businesses that include travel, entertainment, and lifestyle, along with financial services, transport, healthcare, food and drink, media and telecommunications, further said that if you are 16 and you have a business idea, make that your education, “get on with it, give it a try.”


But if you are 16 and do not have an idea yet, then get yourself schooled, he added. If your business idea failed, “education is a good fall back,” Branson said.


He also added that families should encourage their children to try entrepreneurship as it is a force for good.


Related: 'Parents, let your kids be entrepreneurs'


Branson, who now has three grandchildren (including twins from daughter Holly) said like a baby, entrepreneurs must learn to walk. If they fall, they should learn to stand up and try to walk again, “until you learn how to do it.”



Chasing your dream, working hard, caring for people

Branson, who dreamt about traveling to space since the moon landing, is focus now on making commercial space travel affordable to all (which he admitted it is currently priced steeply at $250,000 or P11.67 million), said “we’re very close to realizing that dream” despite a setback about 18 months ago.


He was referring to the VSS Enterprise, a Virgin Galactic Scaled Composites Model 339 SpaceShipTwo, which suffered an in-flight breakup and crashed in the Mojave Desert, California, US while performing a test flight on October 31, 2014. The co-pilot, Michael Alsbury, was killed and the pilot, Peter Siebold, was seriously injured.


“But (after that accident) people don’t want us to give up I think. If we can assure space travel is safe and affordable, [there’s a lot of potential there],” he said.


But that crisis proved the best companies should be run by those who genuinely care about their people. “We go out of our way to make sure our people like to work with us,” adding that his companies are able to provide their employees the tools to do their job properly, “making our customers smile.”



And while Branson works hard, he said he plays hard too. By playing hard, it includes a couple of adventures, among them, like flying from Canada to Japan. He laughed, “everything that could go wrong (on that trip) went wrong,” to the audience’s laugher as well.



Anti-corruption, anti-protectionism

Richard Branson 2
SENSITIVE ISSUES. Sir Richard Branson also did not shy away from sensitive topics about the country, like corruption, foreign ownership, and death penalty. Photo from ABS-CBN Corporate Communications


Branson responded to a gamut of questions, providing background as to how he grew his brand, in unconventional ways at that (he and co-founder Nik Powell named their first venture, a record shop, Virgin, because they were “virgins” in the business).



He quipped, “with a name like that, you’d go a long way.”


Branson (who arrived in Manila around 4:30 am, headlined the forum at 2 pm, then flew to Australia by 7:30 pm) is tireless, and said that on his first visit to the Philippines, he was “hanging out with friends.”


“A lot has changed since [I’ve been] here,” he said.


Branson said "thousands and thousands" of entrepreneurs are needed as well to continue the Philippines's fast growth story.


Related: PH exceeds expectations, posts 6.9% GDP growth in Q1


But Branson said for the Philippines to truly shine, the rule of law must be observed and that local companies need to be open to more competition.


Relaxing foreign ownership rules of businesses in the country is something that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said his administration would prioritize. Currently, The Constitution limits foreign ownership to 40% in industries and sectors such as telecommunications, transport and electricity public utilities; agriculture, fisheries and forestry; construction; advertising; private radio networks; and real estate.


Related: Duterte's 8-point economic plan revealed


“The country (Philippines) is dominated by 20 very big companies. It’s difficult for foreign companies to invest in many sectors here and I’m not necessarily sure if that’s in the interest of the corporations here,” Branson pointed out.


He added that too much protection would not get enough competition and consumers do not benefit at all. “A little bit more competition from overseas will be good. Let’s see if we can bring the ‘Virgin’ magic here.”


Branson added that in his 50 years as a businessman, he learned to never cross the line. "Businesses are in a position of putting it right. This is one area where businesses need to stand out," he stressed.



He added that they are trying to get business leaders worldwide to never ever be tempted to bribe public officials. “I think if every business leader does that, then public official will not ask for bribes,” Branson said.



Death penalty

Branson also touched on the issue of death penalty, which was raised when the topic on the fight against illegal drug use was cited, him calling it a “complete failure.”


He said death penalty is not a deterrent to solve crimes anyway. “In countries where you can’t 100% trust the courts, the last thing you should have is the death penalty,” Branson said.


He added that society should not risk executing innocent people and “I hope this new government will think twice about that,” referring to Duterte’s pronouncements of restoring death penalty for heinous crimes.


Instead of executing those convicted of grave crimes, Branson said they should instead be locked up with no chance of bail or parole.


Branson’s Virgin Group strongly oppose death penalty, even condemning the execution of eight individuals last year in Indonesia over drug-related crimes, on which, Filipino Mary Jane Veloso was reprieved at the last minute.



Lessons learned


Richard Branson 3
FOR A CAUSE. All ticket sales from the forum headlined by Sir Richard Branson will go to Virgin Unite, his conglomerate's CSR group. Photo from ABS-CBN Corporate Communications



Members of the audience were inspired anew after Branson’s appearance (which forum lasted for an hour). Among them, dentist to celebrities Dr. Steve Mark Gan, who swears that he read all of Branson’s books. He also made copious notes from Branson’s shared nuggets of wisdom during the forum.


Gan said that the globally renowned entrepreneur’s (who ranks no. 286 on Forbes list of the world’s richest), overall message is to “follow your heart. And it’s never too late to go back to school. If you don’t succeed now, you can succeed later. I wish we could just have more time. It could have been more informative,” he told on the sidelines of the forum.


The Philippine Star columnist and entrepreneur Wilson Lee Flores said Branson’s gutsiness is the most inspiring trait of him. “He still has this pioneering spirit. We should get more of his guts to be able to start anything. Even if not all his businesses succeeded (Virgin Cola and Virgin Brides, the latter promoted while Branson dressed in a wedding gown), he kept on going,” he said.



He added that Branson saying that three to four months of running a business would give you three to four years in school is also gutsy, not to mention that he is a marketing genius.


Miss Universe 1999 1st runner-up and entrepreneur Miriam Quiambao said she likes what Branson said about “making sure to genuinely care for every person who works for you and with you. And that’s true because we all want to work in a harmonious environment.” She also liked Branson’s tips about being generous in praising your employees and listening to them as well.


Before concluding the forum and wearing the ANC jacket presented to him by ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak and the network’s head for news and current affairs division Ging Reyes, Branson announced that all ticket sales from the forum would go to Virgin Unite, his conglomerate’s corporate social responsibility arm.


Silver tickets were sold at P25,000 ($534.96);  gold for P30,000 ($641.95); and platinum for P35,000 ($748.94).




Lynda is the editor in chief of Follow her on Twitter, @lyndaccorpuz and LinkedIn,

Latest Articles

Productivity Hack: Free Up Space on Your Mobile with Files Go

An app that frees up space, finds files faster, and easily shares them

byNicai de Guzman | December 14, 2017 10:00:00

Which PH Cities and Towns Have the Most and Least Bank Deposits?

If you have Php10 million in the bank, you have more deposits than at least 10 entire towns

byPauline Macaraeg | December 14, 2017 09:00:00

The Holy Trinity of Business Growth: People, Process and Metrics

How do you keep your company profitable as it scales above 50 employees?

byDoug and Polly White | December 14, 2017 08:00:00

3 Relationships That Will Build the Tribe Every Entrepreneur Deserves

Life is a team sport, and we cannot succeed alone

byKim Perell | December 14, 2017 06:00:00

Science Says You Can Do This Simple Action to Boost Your Memory

You have to listen to your own voice

byNina Zipkin | December 14, 2017 02:00:00

This 6-Year-Old Kid Reportedly Earned US$11 Million on YouTube

His most popular videos are the ones with an "egg surprise." Watch them here!

byKitty Elicay for | December 14, 2017 00:00:00

Users of Online Marketplace Carousell Earn Php20K a Month Selling Mostly Secondhand Stuff

Launched in the Philippines in October 2016, the SG startup has helped sell over one million items

byElyssa Christine Lopez | December 13, 2017 12:00:00

Meet the Fruitcake Queen Who Has Been Making The Christmas Staple for Over 40 Years

Despite rising demand, Ju.D Lao refuses to open a shop and just wants to keep it a home-based...

byPaul John Caña | December 13, 2017 09:00:00

Hard Work? It's Not All It's Cracked up to Be. It May Even Be Irrelevant. Here's Why

Netflix let go of many of its hardest-working employees in favor of those who most greatly impacted...

byJayson Demers | December 13, 2017 08:00:00

Here's Why Introverted Employees Are More Likely to Leave Companies

A Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test could determine the mix of introverts and extroverts at your...

byHeather R. Huhman | December 13, 2017 06:00:00

Steve Jobs Shares the Secrets to Successful Team Leadership in This Throwback Video

The Apple co-founder reveals what he really thinks about professional managers

byNina Zipkin | December 13, 2017 02:00:00

This Tiny Detail Might Just Double The Value Of Your Home

Properties within a block or two of this famous cafe is shaking up the real estate game

byReal Living Team for | December 13, 2017 00:00:00