It’s been a whirlwind trip around the US celebrating the launch of Finding My Virginity, and to say it’s been action-packed would be an understatement. Going through my notes and photos, I wanted to share a quick run-down of some of the highlights. Hope they make you smile.
1. Becoming the interviewer
When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, and interviewed everyone from James Baldwin to Mick Jagger. Onstage in San Francisco with TaskRabbit’s brilliant CEO Brown Philpot, I decided to give it another go. She was meant to be interviewing me, but I grilled her on how she feels about IKEA acquiring her company. She dealt with it very well and I enjoyed my role-reversal.
2. Recreating Rocky
When in Philadelphia… in town for a talk with Adam Grant at Wharton Business School, I couldn’t resist stopping off at the famous Rocky Steps to recreate Sylvester Stallone’s inspiring run. Ricky Balboa, anyone?
3. Cutting Adam Grant and David Bradley’s ties off
The audience in Philadelphia enjoyed me cutting off Adam’s tie live onstage, and he took it well too. I was more surprised when The Atlantic’s David Bradley let me cut off his skull and crossbones tie at a delightful dinner in New York – I’ve never seen him anything less than suited and booted. It was wonderful to see my friend loosening up – and he looked great with an open collar too.
4. Sending a baby to sleep
Keith Pizer from our friends at One Trick Pony brought his baby along while we were in Philadelphia. They were very sleepy, so I offered to read a bedtime story – it worked pretty much instantly! Hopefully they will enjoy Finding My Virginity more when they get a little older…
5. Comparing beards
I was appearing on The Today Show when I met the delightful ‘Fixer Upper’ Chip Gaines. He told me he was a fan of my adventures; I told him I was a fan of his beard! Which do you prefer?
6. Drinking “American tea”
When I agreed to meet Comedy Central’s Jordan Klepper to film The Opposition, I didn’t picture myself drinking an “American tea” (otherwise known as a can of Budweiser) in a parking lot at 9am. But that’s what happened. Thanks Jordan.
7. Honoured with Entrepreneurship Scholarship
While speaking to students across the country from the National Society of Leadership & Success at John Jay College, I was surprised with a special honour. The organisation named an entrepreneurship scholarship after yours truly; I look forward to seeing what great things the recipients of the Sir Richard Branson Entrepreneurship Award go onto achieve. Earlier that day, I had lunch with the entrepreneurial heads of our NYC based tech investments Blockchain, Codecademy, Sportsrocket and Capsule. We shared start-up stories and leadership advice. I had to dash to my next meeting so they kept talking and enjoyed my dessert.
8. Taking Virgin Hyperloop One to Times Square
Everyone is really excited about our new Virgin Hyperloop One venture – understandably. We shared more about the revolutionary business at NASDAQ, and they kindly beamed the news to the world above Times Square. It reminded me of when our Virgin Megastore helped transform the area into the hotspot it is today.
9. Getting Jason Bellini off jury duty
While doing interviews, I learned that the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Bellini was missing jury duty to be there. Of course I was happy to record this video assuring the courts he had a good excuse.
11. Friends revisited with a wheelbarrow
I am still recognised for a fun cameo I filmed on iconic sitcom Friends, selling my wares to Joey and Chandler. While in New York I decided at the last minute to recreate it: I grabbed a wheelbarrow, put on a green bomber jacket and a blue apron, and sold copies of Finding My Virginity (along with freshly cut flowers) out of the wheelbarrow. “Free books half price! Roll up, roll up!” The police, Harper’s Bazaar editor and a cute puppy were among those who went away with signed copies.
12. The sexiest voice in America
I was talking with Andrew Ross Sorkin at a New York Times event when an audience member asked me a question. Before we knew it, he had proclaimed himself “the sexiest voice in America” – I agreed and urged him to make a career out of his gift. There was still time for me to head to a Virgin Atlantic party to celebrate the wonderful years of service of the team here in New York – many thanks to you all.