If you follow me on Twitter (@AndiMann), you will already know how excited I am that Sir Richard Branson is our keynote speaker at CA World 2013.
To start with, Branson is a fantastic communicator with whom I share deep interests in innovation, transformation, information, and technology. He is a captivating and lighthearted speaker with a wealth of experience and insight, both interested and interesting. His passion is as infectious as his full-faced grin. If you haven’t seen him speak, check out his YouTube channel immediately. It is definitely worth it.
He was just 20 years old when he founded Virgin Records – initially mail order, then stores, later studios and a label — starting a lifelong pursuit of disruption. Virgin not only transformed the established music business, it unleashed a ‘new wave’ of musical innovation from artists including Mike Oldfield, The Sex Pistols, Culture Club, XTC, Human League, Simple Minds, XTC, and OMD. As an aspiring DJ throughout its heyday, Virgin Records accounts for a sizeable portion of my (vinyl) record collection – much of it bought at Virgin Megastores!
Branson has brought innovation to many industries since, including music, retail, travel, telecommunications, aerospace, motor sport, television, energy, healthcare, and more. Moreover, he has consistently avoided the innovator’s dilemma, never letting his ventures grow stale, always keeping his ideas and passion fresh.
He also embodies the quest for adventure that a great innovator needs. He has crossed oceans by boat, circled the globe in a balloon, traversed the English Channel on a kite surfer, set world records, and now is sizing up new conquests in space! Undaunted by incumbents or authority, he has fought and won against competitors, detractors, and even governments, all around the world. Such a determined and voracious appetite for lofty goals, against bad odds, even at considerable risk, is a hallmark of many great innovators.
Of course, Branson has not only ever known success. He failed in several world record attempts, sometimes spectacularly. His ‘Apprentice’-styled TV reality show, ‘The Rebel Billionaire’, lasted just one season. His Formula 1 team, Virgin Racing, finished both its two Grand Prix seasons in last place, with no competition points, and a highest-placed race finish of 14th (out of 24).
However, in these infrequent misses, he demonstrates that great innovators are not only unafraid of failure; they even seek out such high-risk opportunities. In his own words:
My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them.
This active desire to seek out enormous opportunities, not just despite the risk of failure, but even because of it, further illustrates his innovative spirit.
Yet with a string of successful ventures, more than 400 branded companies in 30 countries, global branded revenues of $21B, an estimated personal net worth of US$4.2 billion, a knighthood, a private island, and much more, his success has far outweighed his failures.
Closer to home, Branson is also a technologist who believes in the power of information and who is incredibly enthusiastic about his interests. In interviews he regularly “geeks out” on rocket science, climate change, future tech, digital development, or – one of CA Technologies deep interests – STEM education. He is also a huge Star Trek fan, naming his Virgin Galactic rocket the ‘VSS Enterprise’. As an Übergeek, I recognize one on our own in Sir Richard Branson! J
So when you come to CA World (you are coming, right!?), I hope you will share my excitement to hear Sir Richard Branson’s insight and passion to change the world. Remember, it could be your world that he changes next … or mine!
But the keynote is only half of why I am excited. Following the live keynote at CA World, we will record a second Q&A with Sir Richard – where we ask him your questions! Let us know on Facebook what one question you want to #AskBranson. We will select the best of your questions to #AskBranson, and show his answers to the world over at our Innovation Luminaries page.
So whether you are coming to CA World or not, please share with us and the world – what would you like to #AskBranson?