"Screw It, Let's Do It" is one of Richard's favourite sayings. In the book of the same name he reveals the lessons that have helped him through his business and personal life, like believing it can be done and that if others disagree with you, try and try again until you achieve your goal; or that you must love what you do. These and other lessons, with examples of how he learned them and how he's used them, are included in this stirring and candid look at his lessons from an exceptional life, which will inspire you to make a difference in your everyday life.
Read an excerpt from the book
When I first discovered that my nickname among some members of staff at Virgin was 'Dr Yes', I was amused. Obviously, it had come about because my automatic response to a question, a request, or a problem is more likely to be positive than negative. I have always tried to find reasons to do something if it seems like a good idea, than not to do it.
My motto really is: 'Screw it - just do it!' I know many people say 'no', or 'let me think about it', as an almost Pavlovian response when asked a question, whether it's about something small and insignificant or big and revolutionary. Perhaps they are over-cautious, or suspicious of new ideas, or simply need time to think. But that's not my way of going about things. If something is a good idea, my way is to say 'Yes, I'll consider it' - and then to work out how to make it happen. Of course, I don't say yes to everything. But what is worse: making the occasional mistake or having a closed mind and missing opportunities?
I believe in using and harnessing other people's knowledge and experience, which is why I like to work holistically, within a team. Harnessing energy is like harnessing brainpower. What's the point of selecting someone for a particular task if you ignore his or her experience and ability? It's like consulting experts and not even considering their advice.
I also trust my own instinct and ability to do almost anything I set my mind to. If an idea or project is good and worthwhile, if it's humanly possible I'll always consider it seriously, even if I have never done it, or thought about it, before. I will never say, 'I can't do this because I don't know how to.' I'll ask people, look into it, find a way. Looking, listening, learning - these are things we should do all our lives, not just at school. Then there are those silly little rules that someone has invented for baffling reasons. I always think that if you set up quangos or committees, they will find something useless to do. The world is full of red tape, created by committees with too much time and an overbearing desire for control. Most red tape is a tangled mess of utterly useless, nonsensical jargon. If I want to do something worthwhile - or even just for fun - I won't let silly rules stop me. I will find a legal way around rules and give it a go. I tell my staff, 'If you want to do it, just do it.' That way, we all benefit. The staff's work and ideas are valued, they feel good about themselves and Virgin gains from their input and drive. People generally don't leave their jobs through lack of pay - they leave because they aren't valued.Many companies put their people in boxes - if you are a switchboard operator, you are always a switchboard operator. But we value our people and encourage them to be adaptable and innovative.
If you recognise something is a good idea, or if there's something in your personal life that you want to do, but aren't immediately sure how to achieve your goal, I don't believe that that little word 'can't' should stop you. If you don't have the right experience to reach your goal, go in another direction, look for a different way in. There's always a solution to the most complex problem. If you want to fly, get down to the airfield at the age of sixteen and make the tea. Keep your eyes open. Look and learn. You don't have to go to art school to be a fashion designer. Join a fashion company and push a broom. Work your way up.
- Screw It, Let's Do It