If you’re a fan of football (or soccer), you’ll know who Cristiano Ronaldo is. If you’re not, you’ll probably still know who he is. In one of Real Madrid’s games last night, Cristiano kicks a practicing shot that hits a young fan, but watch (in the video below) what he does afterwards. He’s just pure class!
There’s a reason he has the most fans on Facebook, rounding out at 102,464,333; a number mostly to change by the time you get there. It’s a fantastic lesson in personal branding, but more importantly it’s a stellar lesson and reminder in just being nice.
It takes a lot more effort to be nice on a daily basis than it does to be mean. Finally, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s the smallest gesture makes the biggest difference. Some of you will get this reference and others will have need to click on the words — “Stay classy my friends!”
As some of you who follow my blog and social media accounts (via Facebook and Twitter) would realise, I am a big admirer of Sir Richard Branson. I’ve been a loyal reader of his blogs on the Virgin.com website, tweets, YouTube videos, and magazine contributions through Entrepreneur Magazine. I have learned, like many others in the world, a great deal of valuable business lessons that have helped me to grow my own start-up, Phresh Ideas and Designs established in October 2010.
I have never been so big on receiving gifts as much as giving them, however, this year I was willing to be the receiver after catching sight of what was to come my way. This was the first time that I had read one of his books and my wife was gracious enough to get it for me as a Christmas gift. Add ‘Losing My Virginity’ (The Autobiography) by Richard Branson on your list of books to read. It’s an incredible combination of life and business lessons. Having spent the past three days leafing through 573 pages of text and private collection of photographs and a few cartoons, I completed the book. I can happily say without reservation that it was time well invested. There’s nothing quite like acquiring knowledge from those more experienced in a specific industry or space than you are.
“What goes up must come down” was said by Isaac Newton and has since become easily one of the most popular quotes to date. This quote can be applied to everything that happened to Richard Branson through the highs and lows of his entrepreneurial career. From the day he started his first magazine, Student as a teenager in 1968 to creating a very “hip” (cool) record label, Virgin Records in his twenties was all very impressive. Consider too how he started Virgin Atlantic by leasing a single Boeing 747-200 for a year within two decades became one of the world’s favourite airlines. Virgin even successfully challenged “monopolies” like British Airways (10 years their senior) while they were at it.
It seems following your instincts has tremendous value and being extremely decisive on what looks like a worthwhile project or business opportunity is the characteristic for success or failure.
These days he spends his time exploring the limits or lack thereof in the future of space travel and space through his company Virgin Galactic. While pursuing “the final frontier”, Branson manages to focus on global warming and climate change issues exploring new sustainable fuels for aviation and cleaner energy through Virgin Green Fund. Through his interest in using his influence to solve social, economic and political challenges on a global scale, he was able to gather some of the world’s most influential leaders, The Elders. Former South African President Nelson Mandela was an original supporter in this initiative up until the time of his death.
To most, the model of the Virgin Group almost seems to be as unorthodox as any Fortune 500 company that has ever existed. It’s an ecosystem of companies in there hundreds as opposed to one gigantic entity. In hindsight, a combination of destiny and design makes Branson’s empire perhaps one of the best approaches to growing a start-up.
I sometimes look at my own life and wonder if I will ever learn to take more risks and go against the status quo, all while following my interests. So far I have accomplished a great deal as an entrepreneur through freelancing as a graphic designer. I can see where maybe I should pivot from being primarily a service-oriented business to one that is largely product-oriented. That way I can pull off earning more revenue even when I am asleep.
Sir Branson started off the first Virgin business in 1970 (Virgin Mail Order) selling discounted vinyl records with a small team of two and grew his business pursuits into a team of 50,000 people strong in just 40 years. Here are 12 lessons I learned from Richard’s autobiography:
Lead by example in everything you do.
Learn to negotiate good deals.
Welcome competition, but never let them walk all over you.
Follow your interests and make them a reality.
If there is a market with two dominant players, it can use a third “to stir up the pot”.
Understand the value of your influence as a person and use it for good causes.
Some of the best business deals are done outside of the business environment, like over lunch.
Keep reinventing yourself.
Trust your instincts; that gut feeling you get will steer you in the right direction.
Life is better with family and great friends.
You must take a lot of risks to get to where you want to be.
Always keep a notebook and pen handy to take notes;
Bonus lesson – always protect the downside (risks) of a startup venture.
We should all make a go at growing our businesses. We have nothing to lose, but opportunities. The Christmas holiday was here and then it disappeared without a trace. Here’s to hoping you all enjoyed yourself with family and friends and got the gifts you wanted. The New Year is just a few days away, so here’s to wishing you the very best for 2015.
If ever there was a time when I truly believed in ‘personal branding’ it would be now after my own firsthand look.
Just this month I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the winery and vineyard of Norman Hardie (owner and brand) in picturesque Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. I know what you’re probably thinking, “the name doesn’t ring a bell” and to you I would say I didn’t anticipate it would. However, one of the important take-aways from my meeting with “Norm” is that his entire brand is a reflection of his personality and that is the secret to creating authenticity.
From the simple yet classy and memorable logo design, to the wine glasses etched with his logo to the packaging and decor. Attention to detail is not spared. Mr. Hardie also explained that selling wines is more than just that, it is about making an experience for its visitors and this they’ve done perfectly by adding a selection of delicious pizzas. People love to create memories.
How does anyone build their names into a brand and make it a success? Well, I think the answer lies in first creating a logo that captures who you are now and who you aspire to be in the future and your business ethos is a reflection of that.
I plan on doing two things going forward, applying as much as I learned from Norman Hardie and finally revisiting this lovely winery and vineyard for the wines and pizzas.
Fun fact: I’m really a beer drinker.
To find out more about Norman Hardie, visit the website: http://www.normanhardie.com/