Richard Branson is no stranger to the spotlight. He has built an enormous conglomerate by keeping himself and his brand — Virgin — front and center.
Virgin is airlines, music, space travel and 300 or more other companies. Branson has put down his thoughts on how to run such an enterprise in a new book called “The Virgin Way.”
Three snippets of information we learned about Branson from our interview:
1. He doesn’t sit on boards of any of the companies within the Virgin Group.
“I’ve never thought of myself as a businessman,” Branson said. “From a very young age, I decided I did not want to be a director of any of the Virgin companies. I wanted other people to do the business aspect so I could be freed up to be more of a creator.”
2. Branson seems fond of SpaceX’s Elon Musk.
They’re both high-profile entrepreneurs in the private space flight industry, but Branson is friends with the competitor to his Virgin Galactic tourism enterprise.
“In fact, we’re about to share a home next to each other on an island in the Virgin Islands. So, we’re close friends,” Branson said. “It’s been tough for both of us. If it was easy, there’d be lots of private spaceship companies. I think we’re both going to pull it off.”
3. He sees a future for Virgin without him, and has a succession plan in place.
“I’ve spent a lifetime building the Virgin brand, and it can live on after me,” Branson said. “I’m fortunate, I have two great kids, Holly and Sam, so there is a family succession plan in place… They can continue to be the face of Virgin once I’ve stepped down.”
And, he notes, his delegation of the business over the years has made the brand stronger on its own: “Virgin runs really well.”
You can listen to Kai Ryssdal’s full conversation with Richard Branson in the audio player above.