Forbes Coaches Council Member

Up Close & Personal with Sir Richard Branson and Seattle CEOs

“Business is an Adventure” discussion Jonathan Sposato, angel investor and CEO at PicMonkey, Nadia Shouraboura, founder and CEO at Hointer and Richard Branson, CEO, Virgin Atlantic

I listened to a “How I Built This” podcast a few days ago, and Sir. Richard Branson was describing his audacity. He said “I didn’t know failure so the idea that someone would say no to me would have been something I couldn’t have understood.”

I loved that. And I got to hear a whole lot more of Sir Richard up close and personal at the “Business is an Adventure” tour he’s leading around the world. Nadia Shouraboura, founder and CEO at Hointer; Jonathan Sposato, angel investor and CEO at PicMonkey; and Chase Jarvis, founder and CEO at CreativeLive joined in for a panel discussion, and I got to be a fly on the wall.

Here’s what I heard:

·        With a name like Virgin, people will assume your airline won’t go all the way. Branson

·        Everyone has imposter syndrome. Sposato

·        Change the narrative – Seattle can take charge of the future. Jarvis

·        What keeps you going Sir Richard?  I love to learn. Life is one long university education.

·        I think about how I will remember this moment in five years, and that’s how I push through. Sposato

·        Being values driven in a real way, is a brand differentiator. Sposato

·        Biggest challenge is diversity. Sposato

·        Business is not about dollars and cents. It’s about creating something really special that is going to make a wonderful, positive difference to other people’s lives. Branson

·        Diversity, having a 50/50 split between men and women employees, is a brand differentiator for PicMonkey. Sposato

·        Men don’t have an incentive to change things, but the playing field needs to change. We need laws that put women in the C-suite and on boards if we’re ever going to have gender equality. Branson

·        Lavish people with praise – Branson

·        What keeps me going are the assholes. – Shouraboura

·        Use values as guideposts – a north star to make your decision. If you don’t you won’t survive. Jarvis

·        Create phenomenal experiences that make you feel something different – Shouraboura

·        Worry about the details. Get detailed feedback. Branson

·        Men must acknowledge the problems of diversity and commit to changing it. Sposato

·        Tell your story to get the narrative on the minds of others. Jarvis

·        Put yourself out of a job by finding the person who’s better than you are at running the company. That way you can focus on the bigger picture. Branson

·        Scratch your own itch meaning don’t chase random marketing opportunities. Because when shit gets hard, and it will, you won’t have the grit or resilience to stick with it. If you care deeply, you’ll have the grit to solve something meaningful. Jarvis

·        It’s absolutely okay not to know how to change the world. What’s meaningful to you will find you. Sposato

·        Solve the problem that drives you nuts. – Shouraboura

·        Listen, be transparent and vulnerable – those are key attributes that people appreciate. Sposato

Good questions raised.

·        How do you make people fall in love with you and your products? – Nishant Singh, CEO, Peach

·        How do you make it people friendly vs. profit friendly? – Nishant Singh, CEO, Peach

·        How can we make tech more inclusive? – Tammarrian Rogers, Advisory Board, Ada Developers Academy

Other observations.

·        Sir Richard has the straightest teeth ever.


To hear more from Jonthan Sposato, watch my latest CEO Forum coverage on What CEOs Need to Do About Diversity with advice from Orlando Ashford, President, Holland America, Diane Neal, CEO of Sur La Table.

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