Ex-Virgin Exec Shares What He Learned Working For Richard Branson

From Business Insider:

When Alexis Dormandy was hired by Virgin Group at age 24, he got to work directly with Sir Richard Branson himself.

By age 26, he was running Virgin Mobile, and all of Virgin’s new businesses at 28.

We asked Dormandy what it was like to work for Branson, and he shared with us the best lessons he learned.

Set ridiculously high expectations.

Dormandy says Branson’s expectations for himself, his company, and his employees were very high, and that this is the way to go.
“You’ve got to set them ridiculously high,” he says, “Especially when it comes to deadlines. If you aim for 12 weeks you might pull off 20; if you aim for 30 weeks it might take you a year. It makes people think very rationally about how long it’ll take to complete a big project, and plan for it.”

Those expectations remain true for the kinds of projects you tackle. Dormandy says Branson loved being told a project he was planning was impossible.

“There’s nothing more likely to get him interested in doing something than to be told it couldn’t be done. If you were to meet with someone who said, ‘Oh, that can’t be done,’ you’d probably say, ‘Okay, I won’t do it then,’” says Dormandy. “Richard would say that you wouldn’t succeed in business then. If your nature is such that if somebody says it can’t be done, and you say, ‘Excellent. If I can find a way of doing that, then we’ll make lots of money,’ then you will succeed in an entrepreneurial environment.”

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