Richard Branson is one of my business idols.
I’ve always been a fan of the Virgin brand, and after a group of friends and I did a presentation in business school on Virgin and Richard Branson, he became my biggest inspiration.
This past week I got to meet him, shake his hand, and ask him a question.
How It Happened…
Three months ago my friend encouraged me to invest in a course about selling your products on Amazon called The Amazing Selling Machine – that is responsible for over $142 million in sales on Amazon. Having been successfully selling my baby & toddler play mats on amazon for over a year now, I wasn’t sure it was worth the thousands of dollars I’d need to invest. Besides, with my inventory almost sold out, and my manufacturer tied up with other orders, I just didn’t know if it was the right time.
But, there were promotional videos for the course, so I figured the least I could do was watch those. The content was definitely interesting and informative. Nothing earth-shattering until…
The course includes a live event?
It sounded, for a second, like you said Richard Branson will be there.
Just like that my hesitation evaporated. How can I pass up this opportunity? Sure, there will be thousands of people there… but who cares? Just listening to Sir Richard Branson live seemed like a dream.
Of course the event was still a few months away.
As I started the course, I quickly realized that I was going to get A LOT more for my investment than an opportunity to listen to Sir Richard Branson. The training was pure gold. I’ve since come out with two more products – an organic play mat and car seat back protectors – and I’ve changed my business model to focusing entirely on selling direct to the customer, as opposed to chasing Brick and Mortar stores.
The Event Day Arrives
With a couple of friends, I boarded my Virgin America flight (how could I not!) with eager anticipation.
The entire event was amazing.
I met with several other women entrepreneurs (we called ourselves “women who kick a$$ on amazon”), a great group of people from my home country of Israel, and so many more successful business people. The speakers and the content were amazing too. The two guys who started this Amazon selling course were so much more amazing in person.
The last day arrived, and Sir Richard Branson was the second person on the schedule. The first speaker was terrific too, but I won’t lie, my focus was not entirely there. I was too excited to see Richard Branson come to the stage.
Then, it was time! Even the founders of the training program were nervous (how could you not be right?)
Everyone was so excited, honored and inspired. The stories we heard from Branson were all amazing, but what inspired me the most was his efforts to fight the world’s drug problems. He encourages world leaders to view drugs as a health problem, not a legal problem, and he spends much of his time proving the effectiveness of this approach.
Nice to Meet You Sir Branson
The interview appeared to be coming to an end when the interviewer announced “we are going to allow two questions.”
Fortunately, I was sitting in an aisle seat not too far from the stage.
Without even thinking, I jumped out of it.
I heard a friend behind me shout, “Go for it Liat!” and immediately hurried toward the stage and the microphone that was dedicated for questions for the event. I saw a gentleman coming from the other side of the stage as well.
As I stood by the microphone in awe of the situation I was in, Sir Richard Branson himself walked toward me.
OMG, he was looking right at me.
OMG, he was telling me to go on to the stage!!
Most of what followed was a blur of nerves and excitement. I know I bubbled something about flying Virgin America and telling him that he’s been an inspiration to me for years. I also knew I wanted to ask him about my dual role as an entrepreneur and a mom. So I asked him, “What recommendations do you have for entrepreneurs, who want to raise their children to be hard-working and without a sense of entitlement from their parents success?”
Okay maybe I had some trouble coming up with those exact words (English is my second language, and, um… RICHARD BRANSON!), and my voice was probably shaky… but I held it together… and miraculously DIDN’T FAINT!
When he started speaking, he began saying that companies have to do a better job of enabling parents to be more flexible, to work from home more often, and to trust them to do that. I really appreciated that he said that, especially since I’ve recently started hiring stay-at-home moms to help me with my company. I do believe our country needs to find a better life/work balance – especially for parents who are raising children.
By the time he made that point he kind of forgot what I’d asked him, but frankly it didn’t matter. He was next to me, he was smiling, and it was literally a dream coming true. He did add that he and his wife Joan just gave their children a lot of love.
Love is the secret sauce, isn’t it?
Love your children. Love what you do. Love and appreciate what you have, and know there is always more to look forward to.
To the Amazing Selling Machine team – thank you. You’ve changed my life twice. First, by helping me take my business success to a whole new level, and second, by helping me meet my long time business idol.
To Sir Richard Branson, thank you. It was an honor to meet you and to stand on the same stage as you.
Thank you, I will forever be grateful!