Real life learning is the only way forward

Clearly as someone who earns his living encouraging Managing Directors to engage with and learn from their fellow business leaders though MD2MD you’d expect me to be a champion of real world learning; of learning from the experience – the successes as well as the mistakes of others – through joining a peer groups such as MD2MD.

But actually this quote isn’t mine. It’s from some obscure business leader called Richard Branson! Who says here that in his view “Our greatest lessons come from the University of Life – getting our hands dirty, interacting with people in real situations, travelling, and learning on the spot.”

And whilst sharing leadership sights from Branson, I thought I’d also share the following video of Sir Richard being interviewed by MD2MD speaker Jeff Grout.

Through the interview he shares numerous insights of which I particularly like the following:

Business is about finding ways to make people’s lives better. I think this is really important. Business is often lambasted as driven by greed and selfishness, and whilst such behaviours exist everywhere I find them less common amongst the real genuine SME business leaders I meet than I do in my dealings in other worlds. And Branson concludes the interview with a discussion around that we can all make a difference in the world and how that is what matters.

All you have is your brand and your reputation. Again I think critical. Having been around for a few years I now find I am regularly reaping the harvest of being helpful for no immediate benefit years ago. People help me now because they see me as helpful as helpful in the past. People ask my advice because they know I can be trusted to give my best honest answer. In summary your behaviour now creates your reputation and your reputation drives people’s responses in the future.

It’s tough to get your first business started. We all read so much about the entrepreneurial success stories that we think it’s simple. But it’s not – usually. Yes there might be the occasionally lucky or even inspired immediate success. But they are extremely rare – much rarer than the stories we hear make us believe. And there’s two reasons why it’s that way. Firstly, for obvious reasons, we tend to hear more about the success stories. We don’t hear about all the other market traders that started out like Alan Sugar and never made it. Or the record producers who lost all their money on flops while Branson used his success with Tubular Bells to build Virgin. And secondly, when we hear about their success they’re successful. By the time they are famous they are not living on the breadline under great stress and working 24 x 7 x 365. As many ‘entrepreneurs’ do have to behave when they’re getting started. In my experience business success is less about having a genius idea and making money overnight and more about a bright (not necessarily educated) person with a good idea that they back with lots of guts, determination and hard work.

Anyway here’s the video:

Written by Bob Bradley, founder of MD2MD

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