Partnering: The power of partnership

Richard Branson reading Jean Oelwang's book - Partnering
Virgin
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 8 March 2022

Great partnerships are what drive real change. So it’s wonderful that Partnering – Jean Oelwang’s brilliant new book on the power of partnership – has arrived.

Jean is the founding CEO and President of Virgin Unite, our not-for-profit foundation, which works to unite people and entrepreneurial ideas to create opportunities for a better world. I’ve spent 18 years in awe of Jean – watching her take on some of the world’s biggest problems with Virgin Unite and bringing together all the right people in the room to try and solve them. I remember our first conversation about Virgin Unite (Jean was working for Virgin Mobile Australia at the time) and how excited we both were by our shared vision to create a foundation that would bring an entrepreneurial approach to the charity sector.

Jean is so passionate about the power of partnerships that she has now started Plus Wonder, an independent not-for-profit initiative to inspire people to forge partnerships in service of a greater purpose (and all the proceeds from this book will be donated to Plus Wonder).

So many things I’m proud of have come about because of the brilliant partnerships we have forged together. We’ve worked with wonderful partners to incubate new leadership initiatives such as The Elders (advocating for peace and human rights), The Carbon War Room (now merged with RMI to combat the climate crisis), The B Team (which advocates for business practices that are more focused on humanity and the climate), Ocean Unite (now merged with the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance to advocate for ocean protection) and Unite BVI (supporting communities in the BVI).

As you can see, strong partnerships are at our core. These partnerships are often built on friendships and shared visions. It’s amazing what you can get done when you share your dreams. This new book captures the magic of our partnerships, and sixty other extraordinary partnerships that have had a meaningful impact. 

Plus Wonder_Partnering
Plus Wonder

Jean dove deep with some incredible people, including Archbishop Desmond and Leah Tutu, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Ben and Jerry to unearth how building strong relationships can help to create great leaders. I was honoured to be interviewed for the book myself, alongside my dear friend Peter Gabriel. We shared lessons we learned from the creation of The Elders, and from a lifetime of friendship.

Through looking at these examples, Jean has identified the six principles behind what makes powerful partnerships. The book also includes daily rituals for staying connected, practical tools for disagreeing respectfully, virtues that deepen your relationship, and a blueprint for expanding small partnerships into large-scale collaborations. Jean and Simon Sinek explain how it all happens really well, below.

Jean Oelwang interview with Simon Sinek

It is a refreshing antidote to a disconnected and divided world. It is the answer to how we can increase depth and meaning in all of our most important relationships. It is also the answer to how we can use those relationships to build collaborative efforts to respond to humanity’s most pressing issues.

Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel kneel next to Nelson Mandela - surrounded by The Elders
Image by Jeff Moore

These are all things we need to succeed – and it’s always worth remembering…

One plus one = more done and more fun.