Honour, courage, humility and humour with Ted Turner
- By Richard Branson -
- Jan 06, 2012
My son and I stayed with Ted Turner on his estate in Florida earlier this week. An Estate that took me back to the era of Gone with the Wind. Quite beautiful. With gorgeous Oak Tress covered with drooping moss. Riding on horseback we were speaking about the importance of reputation and honour and how certain business leaders had destroyed their reputations by being too greedy. Ted has one of the quickest minds of anyone I know.
He said one of the best lines on honour was written by Shakespeare in Richard II and went on to quote word for word: “Mine honour is my life; both grow in one: Take honour from me, and my life is done: Then, dear my liege, mine honour let me try; In that I live and for that will I die.”
I asked him for his best line on courage - Horatius at the Bridge. “To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late; And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods.”
And for good measure he also offered me his favourite quote on humility, again I believe from Richard II: “No matter where of comfort no man speak; Let’s choose executors and talk of wills; For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground; And tell sad stories of the death of kings; All murder'd: for within the hollow crown; Infusing him with self and vain conceit; Comes at the last, and with a little pin, bores through his castle wall, and - farewell king!”
Wonderful to see a man so well into his 70s so sharp (and witty) still. In the couple of days we stayed with him his conversation was focused on climate change, clean energy needs, global food needs, education, women’s rights and the need for peace and security. (Interestingly, Ted is putting a lot of money into saving the great apes. "Maybe if we can learn not to kill the great apes, we can learn not to kill humans," he said.)
But Ted being Ted there was plenty of time for humour and laughter too. "The first time I had sex it took me 20 years. The second time it took me 10 minutes!"
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group