Stephen Dubner's conversation with the Virgin Group founder, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
If you'd like to listen to free economic radio without ads the place to do that is sticker premium five dollars a month and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium. Dot, com, promo code Freak thanks make this a Stephen Dunham you're about to hear a conversation with Richard Branson founder. Of the international conglomerate, the virgin group I spoke with Branson. in November for our special series, the secret life, a ceo. We we'll be releasing full interviews from that series as bonus episodes one week for the next six weeks, You'll hear my lightly edited conversations with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, Satin Adela of Microsoft and others. Hope you enjoy hello. This is Stephen donors that Richard Branson
I am at Amritsar Anthony and I need to talk to you to thank you so much for making the time house thing. Of everything is very good. Thank you. I'm sitting here with a cup of tea in my hand and under, which was we were talking in person, but anyway, my story, I write. So, let's begin, if you would just literally say your name and what you do get. My name is Richard. then what do I do I do everything version now, I'm sure Most of our listeners are quite familiar with you, but just pretend or someone out there who lives in a cave who's never heard of Richard Branson. How do you describe yourself to them at least your professional self well, I am an entrepreneur, I suppose, you'd also categorize me as an adventure and and hopefully a philanthropist. So
That is, the sort of the tribe, my three men, three main areas of occupation, these days a tangential and very small question, but one that I am curious to know. The virgin logo is one that must recognise all in the world? I would argue that most elegant is well. I've read a little bit about its history. I know came from Virgin records and Roger Dean was the region designer, and that it morphed over the years. But can you just talk for a moment about the logo itself? what it means to you. I guess Yes, I'm an. I was sixteen when I started off in business as I was that virgin business and and really gonna call the company slit disk records or virgin records, and unfortunately, we went virgin because cities guidelines would not been a great success. I think then
we saw, with a fairly set a hippie base King Logo by Roger Dean. And then, when we signed the sex vessels, we felt the logo was not gonna, be appropriate. so we got it. We got somebody in the office in and we talked a great length about what we wanted and I stood up the new and I walked past him any two scribbled on a napkin, The version no gas understand the seat assigned the word version, and I said you didn't have to do anything more, We have our logo, then it became a candy iconic, The last fifty years was in red, originally I think the original scribble, remember whether you scribbled it in with wrote with a red bar or black part of it, but anyway it it. It became read from day one and
and we will. We were fortunate to get to get that both bold, both color and then and the bold logo, just very simple emanistic can be used tiny. It can be used large. You know it is building Three enormous cruise ships about this. Seeing the logo on the side and in a word it works? It works ready whatever, whatever size you know. Obviously, it's not your lesson. it doesn't say Branson but Virgin. As to mean almost Branson, I'm just curious. What is it? What is it feel like for you to see that logo on all these different things weathers, small or you know cruise ships eyes. While I still myself I mean I, I still get enormous inspection. Somebody comes up to me and said it say that just flown
engine, Atlantic aversion, America Plain and had a wonderful experience or in a worked out and about active club will be another version trainer. take it on Virgin Galactic a minute and I must admit. I sometimes think I'm gonna wake up one day and Israel, I have just had the most incredible three, then I'll be in Europe, will hopefully back as a bag, is a poor student again one day and then started all over again but so I've been very fortunate, Heather extraordinary life display publishing. A second autobiography said that that's that's by says you don't, This has been pretty full then then there's been an credible ride, so an asset, I appreciate every minute of it now. Your title, your official title, as far as I can tell, is founder com, a virgin group.
Dish, and there are you, the ceo of anything I used to be, but I've gated pretty? Well, all the sea arose and an eye I actually believe that people should delegate early on in their businesses, so they can start thinking about the bigger picture. I you know, I never giving a talk to a group of young businesspeople, I will tell him: you have guns, go take a week out to find somebody as good or better yourself put yourself out of business and let them go run your business day to day, and then you can stop start dealing with the bigger issues and you can do.
tape, take the company forward into bigger areas, and you can maybe, if you, if you're an entrepreneur, you can start your second Vassili or that this is done- something too many young entrepreneurs is wont to cling onto everything and then that they're not they're, not good delegated. but it's true also at least I would argue, curious to hear your take that you know. There's some. I think in the in the in the public perception There is sometimes not that much difference between the entrepreneur and the ceo, but in fact the the energy the ideas and even the personality of the person who creates a firm is often very different from the the energy and so on of the person to be executing and running the firm daily. Do you see that's in that way, or do you think that's a little bit of a misperception? I think it's more often than not that you are correct
the exceptions to the rule lemon, for instance, when we had a record company in, Germany. Many years ago the person ass she ran. The record company was a true see yo. He was not an entrepreneur, he was some bright with people and he yet he didn't want to stray from his job of running the record company and he did a fine job, whereas in France we had a guy called Patrick soundly who was a ceo, but he was also an entrepreneur and he took the record company two budget mega stores in two: and all sorts of different businesses a bit like myself and, and I and II pulled it off, but once he once had become a true entrepreneur, to have sat down. He then disband other people too.
The ceos who are perhaps less entrepreneurial. Who would say stick to my onions and do the day they run it be. Well then is it. Is it? Is it's difficult to to concentrate on looking after your people and also be it be in it being an entrepreneur? I know that once when you are asked how involved you are in the mechanics of your businesses, you said I dont understand these things completely, and you said I never been able to know the difference between net and gross I'm guessing you're, exaggerating It's a little better, no well I'm I'm, badly dyslexic. Dan and and really bizarrely, and it was on my fiftieth birthday ten, I was having a meeting with a group of executives and
and I asked the question: is that Good news and bad news when listen figures were given to me the exact it took me out, side the room and the indeed already prepared himself of a theatre. A sudden colouring cut. Coloring pencils and they had a blank sheet of paper, the coloured in this piece of paper, blue and then he put a net fishing in the end they amongst the monks Eddie but little fish in the fishing that and then he said Richard them. They. I dont think How did it phronsie nothing grows and let me simplify it for you, the fish, the fish in the net on your profit, and they all official. not in the net, now, your grace turnover- Damn? Hey presto, I got it on them. Ever since then, I ve been slow. Swine policing met, profit and gross turnover, and as it is,
If nobody else knew that new it before. But on that, but for the day resolving is the term we by then we had the biggest group of private companies in Europe and at an and I'd managed to although these companies, without knowing it and and that should be reassuring for all those kids failing there met them, exams at at at at at at she doesnt matter a damn. What matters is, if you create dear you, have you created the best company? you're, the best airline or the best Rico company and and and and then the best trained company and if you have created the best, your figures will add at the end of the year, have more money coming and then going out and then and you can, you can have it. You can employ some accountants to work out the difference generating growth now may
He had some, maybe you're a fluke or maybe it's a bit of a generational thing may be. The world is just changed a lot, but INA management is obviously become very, very professionalized. In the last twenty or thirty years- and you know MBA programmes are just exploding everywhere this so and so now to be the the ceo of even a very small company, one is expected to be extremely well drilled and all the things that it sounds like you, ve really never had to had to be very good at I think that that Professional Association of leadership is in some ways a mistake that someone like you had a lot of instinct in energy and true appreciation for what you're trying to do with the company and that some of that gets killed off by this professional education of the leadership class I think it can be. I think if you feel that
if you feel a little bit lost in a company because of that that yet that's that stay on just to get ass run your own company. I mean I've never had to report anybody, since I was, but since I left school of fifteen and and and that's the luxury- and you know I can do foolish things like that, spaceship Company, which United, if I was working for a public company Europe or or I a noble, a normal company. I would never never have got it through and then, so it s a great thing about being an entrepreneur.
nothing on entrepreneurs class unto themselves. They do not need that professionalism. They date they neither a passion and absolute passion for what they're doing many of them actually believe in what they are doing. They need to be wonderful motivators of people in inspirational leaders and that that Those are the key things that they need. Can you talk a little bit more about being a wonderful motivator of people by all reports? Everything I've read about you. It sounds as a most of the people who work with you in for you really like you and that you are known about, go out of your way to treat your coworkers well but you have a lot of policies that are very employee, friendly and so on.
think a lot of people out there bosses when their seat user down they like to be like that and they like to motivate people. But it's hard, do you have any secret advice? Well, I mean, I think you know what I find it I find that some american companies are anything but good at motivating people. and I find that hard hard to understand, because if you, if you gotta happy, motivated group of people. You're working with you can achieve anything
and you know you can write, you can write the good times together. You can write the bad times together. If you treat your people badly. They're, not gonna, they're, not gonna, go the extra mile when things when things get a tough and and and on the other, the so I'd. I just think you you, you should treat your people in the same way that you treat your family. I mean, if you you know, if you'd. If, however, you would treat your Europe brothers and sisters are your children. The same should apply exactly to the people. You work with an and it said it so much more pleasant them in a lot about time. We spend at work and work should be found, it should be enjoyable and then- and you should then you shouldn't have policies, but that follow through with that, so many people,
want to work from home. Let them where, from? How do people want to have on Fridays, Monday's let them work from home Fridays Monday's. If people want to take month often go around the world. Let them take a month, often go around the world people will give everything back if you give them the flexibility and treat them like adults. I hear you and I so want to believe that that's the way to be, but the sceptical me just things well If every company, let everybody work from home Fridays and Mondays, and let him take a week often go take balloon trip, Sir Climate Mountain, that we know pro, activity would plumber and the economy would fall apart. Why do people not explain that at your firm at least because they feel trusted Also look: let's just look at this distance: the forcing people to come to an office festival you ve got. Maybe
or an hour and a half of travel time in the morning and other on half a travel time leaving. You know what you're at the office, is Poland, that son you say hello to everybody and and and and and and you and your friendly with everybody say you use up another hour or two years slicing with people because you're, not at home, you need to communicate with you. You use your your your family so you spend another better time community. your family, and so so that it carries on anymore, you might get a couple of hours worked up, if you're at home, you can you can wait up, you can you can you can spend of at a time your families and and and be a proper father was his wont, meant what perhaps the most important or mother motion things things that we can do in our life. But you I also find the time to
whatever your job, is done, You ve got another four or five hours. free to do it and then We ve never been let down by people in other. Given that trust, too, I think in giving giving people increasing people's attitudes, giving people trust is, is so important. Just give you one other examples of good scientists are different, but we have a policy of giving experts a second chance in taking on as many people who have been imprisoned as possible in tat person, companies because we give them that trust. One of them had ever re offended and and and talking here, like a virgin trains, I think we have a thirty five people, whether put the person whose head of our security,
virgin trains, she come that a prison on a Monday morning works until Friday. Night goes back to prison for the weekend comes out. You'd, I bet She is perhaps a brilliant job, an income and somebody who will do everything they can to the company because the company is given given than that, given them that term second chance you have started and sold and shut down and grown many many many companies. Can you talk just for a moment about your overall win loss record? I am curious to know if you actually have ever tallied up the same The verses failures I haven't.
We ve never had a company go bankrupt because our reputation is everything and and and weep. If we believe that, if you can afford to, if a company is not working out, you ve Matthew must settle all your debts. and- and so we could, we say that we never had a bankruptcy and an amassing fifty s proud. Of that an that's. I think that's really helped keep keep the reputation, aversion, but obviously over fifty is things changed, so you don't we gonna. Give you give you a very good example. We started off with with record shops and then we built, maybe three hundred rapport shops Well, that's a mega stores, and then Itunes came along and and
night came along and then people sadly didn't see the need to go into rapid shops anymore, and so we we read that we, the soldier, or closed down most those three hundred shops are still a few left in the Middle EAST for that's about it and then but you have done sport is onto moving to mobile phones and two into need new technology. That was, having said Rob, mobile phones was gonna. Put it out business and and and and games you people are a lot. Any more time on games and the music, then you know we would. It was up to Stu embraces a win win bright. We embrace thats instead and- and I think in it were. Fortunately we
ahead of the game of over the last fifty years. So so fine, fine We ve had in many more successful than we had things which we have had to say say goodbye to now, a lot of the the businesses you ve been in including some of the ones you just mentioned. There are not businesses that you build from scratch, or even really necessarily run from the ground up at their more partnerships and and The way you do business in the virgin group is all but different than the many other firms you call it branded. Venture capital talked to me just about how that looks and whether it was a happy accident or is that something that you decided strategically to pursue a long time ago. Well, I think, I think, is the best the more active we generally speaking started.
We started by owning people every company, so we start, we stop around two percent ownership in the companies and and then over over the years we in, Sudan invest in new new entrepreneur they'll benches that I may have come up with we'll sell share we'll sell, says and the companies that we started? Sometimes we sometimes we sell two hundred percent, but but we keep a brand role tee in in everything, we keep in touch with the virgin brand. We monitor. in Britain we have a team people are monitored and made to make absolutely certain that Anybody who is running about in company respects the fact that our reputation for all of us is all we ve got. Generally speaking, we will start with a hundred percent ownership and then maybe
maybe over the S will sell down animal put that money to new ventures. Thank you for that clarification. It it was that the case, virgin Mobile was that a little bit different or no. virgin mobile. We own fifty percent of The companies are we so virgin mobile with weight, with weed we didn't have the resources to build out a network, and we get a media was so didn't think that that would be our strength. What what our strength was was was marketing to the public and and the brand and and a brandy, the whole proposition. So we did a deal with the company can t mobile and they they they took fifty percent of a company. They gave their that infrastructure that that the mosques and then
and then we run is on a day to day basis. We put the two men and yet we built her. We built a pretty familiar police, successful company and then what merle state where the biggest cable company in the UK and done virgin media done and yet said. So. That's how that works. And I ve, actually money book and finding my region is here. I tell the story of our partners and that one actually We are, in our opinion, naughty boys and then try to try this. a company from a spit anyway. We fortunately one one of the big, ok son, coming up after the break. What does it mean to be a public facing senior? Perhaps the most public facing see you at least,
a certain pencilling avenue resident. I would do anything I could to em I get virgin on the map and even if it meant jumping in so balloons also how to go up against a much bigger competitor. Do you got it You can't go before you got a business laughter. Let's get back to our lightly edited full conversation with Richard Branson, founder of the virgin group. talk about your strategy for choosing the rate ceo for a virgin, firm, o Heller, criminal activity, the signs are that we would never have been precisely what isn t sorry to say that I get your time ba I'd like to
Oh you're strategy for choosing the ceo of a virgin firm. What are you What do you look for? How do you? I was the process, work and so on? Well, we First of all, ideally we'd like to promote from within, so because I think, there's nothing more discouraging. say a thousand people work and accompany two to four as that this so called experts be brought in from outside and and generally, if you can't find a good seo within you know, with a thousand people in a company is something wrong wrong. In the first place you should, you should have a you, should have them deputies, who quite stepping into the ceos position it. I look
the people who are fantastic, motivated people, people who praise people, we genuinely careful about people, people who and not have to criticise people and oversee, they got to be good at what they do them and then are we we let them get on with it and which are not to second guess them, and we accept, something's they'll do differently than us, something so do better than us, but by finding somebody, that's freeze me up to Have a life and move on to move onto other on other benches or other other entrepreneurial things and then so and something we do not think we will manage to get. It gets a great
do you know the other abounded promoting from within? Is you You know what you're getting you you, don't you quite often people bringing outside ceos into a company in a candle? joy, the whole atmosphere of a company in and then the damage can be enormous. the other thing. Is we try to look? We try to promote our sea owes me we like. If I give you two examples. There was a, recording studio division we we had, and then there was an excellent lady there clean the flaws. Anyway. She ended up gurgle, Barbara Jeffreys running the whole recording studio division. Canada, we had an excellent receptionists too,
ended up being Seo foundation in Canada, and you know something again. You got to you, mustn't always put people in boxes based on their job. You gotta think think that people capable of far more than than meets the eye, and if he promote people above what they expect, they will give everything back. You ve been quite out looking about supporting women in business leadership by a lot of virgin companies have or have had female ceos or managing directors. I'm sure you know well, overall, especially in the states, is relatively very few female ceos, especially of big companies. What do because the issue there. Obviously it's it's, not an easy problem to address. But what do you think is the issue, and what do you think are some smart steps to arm to begin to address it?
yeah. I mean, I think that way. When you have a company Don by men here that they they apt that they're up to him. Think of that year, their fellow men as well as the next. Potential ceo, rather than a woman, a minute and never mind. My own instinct is the only way of solving this in its in in a relatively short term, is too force things upon. Companies in Scandinavia, they insisted that the government has said that companies have to have forty percent forty to fifty percent female females as board directors of companies and and initially that was difficult because
this went enough obvious candidates to fill the places. An and a lot of women had a lot of different roles and a lot of different companies. The same woman but. but in time people have realised how much that's it. Those companies are run women, let's say supermarket trained chain. Women have an awful lot to more knowledge, men on supermarket chains and and then maybe they shouldn't, but they do and then and answer and Simon what you know about women. Women earn a breath of fresh air, she wouldn't and most most areas so and so- and yes, I think I mean, I think I think I think it needs to be a laughing. We need a kick to kick started. before some companies are not show that a lot of women agree with me on that I've. I've asked women
they say that we gotta fight our own corner that in the past, They are not sure they write something. I think this danger that turn that the member continue to appoint men a virgin in our bank in Britain is one by run by wonderful woman Jane. I gotta who, whose actually taken on it, taken a big so campaigning stands for women in Britain. The chairman of the bank is also woman and you don't we better and better and few people we ve got thus for the job and not their just because they are women there there there, because they re very good at what they do, and but there are many Others have Mary Wittenberg Lively, Sir Thomas Sir, there are many others and I'm curious you, you kind of Verona, if not unique usual position too, to oversee a fur. With a lot of female leadership and therefore you can kind of compare female leadership to.
EL leadership, I'm curious, it's always hard to generalise, but do you see significant differences in female verses, male leadership. At your firms, at least I would it I wouldn't say, say significant. I would say that you know good good female leaders is just good as a good male leader and vat, and vice versa, then I am a member, you. You know you get the occasional when women trade, arguably slightly more emotional, maybe in the same way that hang on a maiden I'm getting on dangerous ground effort,
but I think you know, but I think I'm seeing it saying it is a positive thing. You are they the eggs, ass themselves in it in a female way sometimes, and that can sometimes rub Men are the wrong way and then it is in my opinion, is a positive thing. It's great great people see see people express themselves fully, so we ve been speaking with them. Quite if you see goes lately for our show from companies like Pepsico ingenuity and Microsoft, such Adela and Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and quite a few others, and obviously every person is unique. in how they, you know, think about their job, how they spend their time, but it strikes me that even the most public face, of those Theo's is much less. Facing than you. In other words, in many ways, virgin brand is really Richard Branson. That at least is my assessment. I'd love to hear
or assessment, and how you see yourself as a representative of your firm. Well, I think if I get you go back to when I was fifteen. Sixteen I didn't have any money and I was starting a company without financial resources and therefore, if you and take on British Airways. So you gonna take on the big record companies. had to use myself to promote what I believed in and and I was creating artists, Sars, creating an airline that I believed in. I didn't have the money to market it. So in assent order to get on the front pages, Robin the bat pages of newspapers and get the brand out there. I would I would do anything I could to get virgin on the map and even if it
in a jumpy and boat, so balloons and and trying to break break him while records etc. They I think that work and now I think the virgin brand dance on its own two feet and and I'm not did in the way that I was gonna be, can also afforded take advertising and things and then and and but I can still may be, put a little bit, I think, the cake an initiative. If we build a spaceship, not letting the german British Airways jumping on the first flight and unarmed jumping in myself, and then so? as I still the two maybe intertwined, but I think can. The belgian brands is here to stay
and then an end and hopefully will out me an amendment that was the original plan. You know that. That's what I want to ask you next, I'm I'm glad you brought it up I didn't want it to in here to be a morbid were overly probing question, but what would virgin look like beyond Richard Branson and I'm curious? If you think about succession, well I'll, be irresponsible not to end, and I am fortunate ever festival. we're all accompanies a run by great wonderful people, we have a chance chief executive. You run run the group on a date, they basis, and I two wonderful children, he said you do there. the thing, but eight they died in an out and out and and am very proud of them and proud, proud of the help that they give me
and the contributions they Macon and you know they love people like that. daughter runs a foundation and dust of every good job. My son makes documentary films on subjects, all of which, actually we see eye to eye on so it had drugs. Drug reforming the death penalty. America GUM, gun, reform and other other. Other things like that and then, and they really good Good films suggested a film about my ballooning, exploits with Shun Netflix, it just picked up codes, Look down and then said I could bear both very capable, and I thank you and I think it helps a company like virgin tat to have a face, and I think they can be yeah yeah the younger faces again going forward, but the bluff
but I'm not I'm still enjoying myself so for the next ten or twenty I'm still going to be very much in the hope that hope I know You're not much of a fan of Donald Trump there's a bit of history there, but of all the ceos we have spoken with It strikes me. You have more in common with him as a business man than any one else in that you ve built a brand his name alone is so recognisable that its valuable and that the name can get attached to a multitude of businesses. Do you dislike? parallel as much as I suspect you do, or maybe you don't even see it as the parallel I suggested, is they are the other. Obviously, yeah he's use his own name as his brand and with an end of Assyria used virgin is our brand day in bed.
Yeah, but this this leaves the Seti some truth in what you SAM him. In a way we I mean before he became president there was a certain kind of building that wanted the Trump that the Trump name on it and he did very did well out of that in the end and then. I'm, not sure how successfully wasn't stretching the brand, but You look as an odyssey went into the head on business and that failed. A number of the Cacena Business Ethics was great and so on. So golf courses to be doing. That seems to be an except yes for dissolve courses right, yeah, the Gulf, the goal for me, the luxury side did well Burton anyway I mean I could do tat the comparison yuppie, president of the United States, but Burton
there there are aspects about the way that was what he has to say about about people in particular that I'd better. I find I find him. And then I would term love him if he could in a change. Changes approach should embrace people back more than than he has done in the past and is doing again. I know it's obvious that you see. Health is a very different kind of human, then him and also as a different kind of em, communicator and leader, and so on. Again I don't mean to harp on the the parallel, but, One thing I will say is true: if I look at the two of you as business people use certain, the stray a lot from the beaten path, you kind of both in different ways, the very opposite of the modern corporate life.
You're. So I guess what I'm asking you both in very, very successful. What I'm asking is. Does that success indicate perhaps- that too many modern corporate leaders are too timid or risk averse. Is neither of you are that I've just literally five minutes ago, saw Michael Bloomberg, not now he's somebody that in an hour enormous respect for in his he's in as a businessman he's crazy, it hasn't, it hasn't been bankrupt. Three or four times is he he's built is built in extraordinary businesses and I M an uneasy and he's done it is it's not your normal cool, protect the businessmen and, I think, you'd. I think there's a lot lots and lots of
extremely good business people in American around the well the fit that fit into that category. I would have enormous respect for and most businesspeople there's something I have enormous respect for us. I think entrepreneurs and other people who employ employed people and create most the new jobs. Hoo hoo make the world a better place. He shaped chaise shake up the bigger moron complacent in a fat, belet, companies and then to innovate and then nothing with with with without without term, only always want
the full young and old, elder short, trusting entrepreneurs yet of the world would not move forward and then and so that there is a big difference I think to not pronounced, and then they desert rather stay big business leaders of big companies who often or anything but on no, but fortunately there at the untrussing entrepreneurs that are taking, abandon and then come in coming up with new innovations and and and and and these big companies are having to having to it I define, manages her side, the world's venereal, I'm curious, so you're Career. As I understand it obviously begin you were very young and you created your own path and just kept going and kept having ideas kept. Trying failed didn't let it bother you and so on, but from the original
the magazine student magazine, which has a culture magazine to record stores, record label, airlines, trains, mobile phone company, etc. etc? It's it's not a model. I don't know who you might have looked to as a model for that, because I can't think of people who had done what you had done. I'm just curious what kind either mentorship did You have along the way- or maybe it wasn't actually mentorship. Just someone that you saw whose idea as end and vigour. You admired and and pattern yourself after bit, or was it really Richard Branson, just kind of figuring out Richard Branson along the way it was more. The latter, I think I festival I never thought of myself ass, a business person or or not. I just initially distorted myself as an editor. I wanted to
The magazine, the campaign against the vietnamese war and and boss? I am in order for the magazine to survive ahead, to worry about printing and paper manufacturing. distribution and so on, and I sort of became an entrepreneur invest in order that I could Oh my dream of being an editor of a magazine, and, and You might education was being in the real world in learning the outer survival in away from school away from learning and just yeah just being thrown in the deepened and then and TAT s exactly the same way I learnt to swim, was being going into into a fast flowing river end and then having to having to having not having to learn not to drag on
raising you're still alive. I have to say about its remarkable I've been I'm I'm I'm very very. very, very lucky man. I'd I'd tell tell us seventy I've stories of near death spend the money for a bit anyway. Have you must be part cat, then Burton There was one man's Mercosur pretty like her, who ran ay, ay and use of soap an air discount airlines ready and he can my houseboat one day in the end? and he got even when he had gone bankrupt, he'd been pushed out of business by British Airways. Then, and he guessed gave me The best advice he said, then the three words
not remember sue the bastards again, who said that it represents their ways, will do everything they can to put out of business. You gotta taken to court before you got a business rather than afterwards and and I took his advice, we took precious airways to court for a desert, chicks camp, and they waged against us. We won the largest level damages in history and redistributed. It's Christmas time, distributed Tula staff and they became known as the British Airways Christmas bonus, though we were very popular and finally, you can't repeat that every year can you but tat? Well, maybe I could well if they want it will be up to them. I guess you, let me us. Let me ask you this. You have admitted the virgin. Galactic may not be the best bang for the buck when it comes to maximizing profits. You also admit that the Virgin Board has not been thrilled with,
Never, why is this so important to you? Yoni live once and others, there is no space line it on earth. There are millions of people who had left, become astronauts, who'd love to go to space may include it and then, and I wanted to fill fulfil the dream for myself for those millions of people of my children and Anne and build up a I've seen galactic space line that is safe and in time, affordable and then, It's taken twelve years to get to get this far, and I think we are three months or so away from our dream. But space there were rocket. Science is tough and
spaces tough and we ve had tears along the way we ve had many high moments along the way Burton. I think I think we're we're we're almost there and it's not just putting people into space. It's putting a moonlight. There's four billion people are not connected in the world. in orbit with another converging company will be putting small satellites into space and creating big arrays satellites round there. There's then, this, then you at this point to point air travel which we, which will get involved in a tremendous speeds, yeah. I guess Australia lot. I'd love to build together in three or four us rather than an eighteen us. Undone, anyway, I loved challenge. I can't resist a challenge whether it Son Weather is,
I believe that another exciting thing we're just got involved in or whether its space a law or whatever it is. We left we love love to get in then. Let learn about let learn and and and and hopefully experience once again, you're a typical for the kind of people we ve been speaking with for this lately you're, not the ceo the firm with it a big structure, reporting up to you you're the first Therefore you Rome, across projects, and so on. That said, I am curious to ask you something. I've asked some of these other folks, which is, I hear often that being at the top, the firm, especially if you descended from internally, it's very lonely that you get there and all of a sudden, you dont, have any peers you're alone at the top. I'm curious, whether for you that's the case, whether you get lonely at the top
now don't get lonely. I think I'm in love people I think, if you, if you really love people and and you see the people who you work with his brothers and sisters or child depending on their age and and good listener of people and enjoy the company a people is anything but lonely, and and so you're, so maybe I'm lucky- I don't know, but I am- and I suspect is similar occasions because I'm a recognisable face around the world that maybe get, a little bit too many selfies and a day that why you wanna go to space. To avoid what? Maybe
that's why I live on an island. I love a loving people with some too. Sometimes it's good to see retreat. Occasionally, then nothing. I think I think The voting companies is an unusual company. It's true where, whereas way where life company, which had anything, really exists in the world and so a wee we wee we and you know we look after you when you're young, we look after you to get into your twenties and animal light with health clubs and music music companies and and and games companies. Here then we in a week we may move into trains and planes in, spaceship companies an increase of communism in your way. So we we await with me, banking insurance, as they will look up, most it most of your needs,
and we have stretched the brand into lots of different areas and most companies, think this year, like you, you mention people like Facebook or others, Are they they'll specialised in one area and I'll? Do job and most likely they weapon overlap, Moors company some virgin, but all I can say we ve got a lot more fun. I suspect that we, like we ve, learned, learnt a lot and an end. The jolly reminisce about thanks so much for the time today seek within our banks. Luck by next week special episode, my interview with Carlyle Group, founder David Rubinstein money. Doesn't this? If I make you happy some of those satis people now where the wealthiest people I know and some of the poorest people from the happiest people. I know you know tat, Jefferson said, life is about the pursuit of happiness, but he didn't tell us how to actually get happiness
and it's the most elusive thing in life is personal happiness, but you know I think I was happy for I was wealthy, so I don't know that the wealth is maybe happy coming up on the next regular for economic theory, you have so what happens when a bunch of economists set up an experimental preschool to help underperforming, kids. Okay, so now is where the real problem starts. It was one of the most difficult things I think we could and why preschool may already be too late to attack the education gap at the age of three children born in
poverty will have heard thirty million fewer words than their morsel appears its next time on for economics, radio Economics radio is produced by W and my c studios and governor productions. Our staff includes Alison Hockenberry, Gregg resolve Ski Stephanie, Tam MAX Miller, Merit Jacob Bureau, Carruthers, Harry Huggins and Brandy cheers is it you hear throughout our episodes was composed by Luis Gara. You can subscribe different animals, radio and apple podcast or any number of pod cast portals. You should also check out our archive at freak anomalies, dot com, can stream or download every episode with ever may, and you can also be the transcripts find links the underlying research we can be
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Transcript generated on 2021-01-21.