Richard Branson (no introduction needed) shares a story from his early entrepreneur days in his book “Business Stripped Bare.”
As most of you know, Richard started his entrepreneurial journey by starting and running the “Student” magazine. One day, Patricia Lambert from the media giant IPC reached out and made an offer to buy the “Student” magazine for 80,000 Pounds PLUS Richard will get a job to continue as editor of the magazine. After thinking through this for a while, Richard decided to sell the company to IPC.
Soon, Richard was in front of the board of directors of IPC where he shares his vision for the company that included Student Holidays, Student Travel Agency, Student Record Shops, Student Health Clubs and even a student airline.
Next day, Richard got a call explaining that the board had changed their mind and the offer was off.
A few years later, Richard got a delightful letter from Patricia, telling how much they were kicking themselves over the years as Virgin conquered sector after sector and became a force to reckon with.
There are so many lessons to be learned here, right? Lesson #1 could include but not limited to:
- Opportunity knocks once – capitalize on it
- Time and tide wait for none
- Be able to spot an opportunity however weird it looks.
Obviously, there is no end to where we can take that argument. Before you get your own imagination run wild, this is what Richard shares in his book as the real lesson – Lesson #2
I suspect they were right in not dealing with me. IPC were and are in the publishing business. They are publishers. They know who they are, and they didn’t need some kid, however promising, telling them all the other things they could be. The last thing they wanted was a wasp in the room, batting itself again their windows and getting more and more frustrated, and that, surely, is what I would have become.
There is a tendency to go on a fantasy path in retrospect. If IPC had agreed and supported Richard’s vision on that day, there was no guarantee that IPC would have reached where Virgin has reached today. But one can always paint that picture and conclude something that can be called as Lesson #1. I call this the premature lesson. There are hundreds of such lessons shared on stage by motivational speakers. They serve the purpose but the real wisdom in many cases is in digging a bit deeper – in looking for lesson #2.
Note 1: Here are links to the other 200 articles in the series
Note 2: The first 25 entries in the series have been packaged in a ChangeThis manifesto that was published on September 07, 2005. You can download that manifesto here:
ChangeThis Manifesto: 25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself (PDF, Free)
Note 3: My latest manifesto on ChangeThis was published on August 6, 2008. This is a photographic manifesto featuring 15 of my mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). Here is the link:
ChangeThis Manifesto: Mini Sagas – Bite Sized Lessons for Life and Business (PDF, Free)