Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Ain’t Too Proud To Pitch, an event hosted by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, featuring Virgin Group founder and billionaire Sir Richard Branson. Now, as an entrepreneur just starting out, this was huge for me. To physically be in the presence of someone who has successfully built multiple businesses from the ground up is inspiring. To date, there are 100 active businesses under the Virgin brand.
The fact that I was even there was a miracle (Thanks God). When I found out about the event and went on the site to rsvp, the tickets were gone in like half an hour. I e-mailed the event coordinator at Virgin to inquire whether or not more tickets would be added and thankfully she just added me to the list. Lesson learned: If it’s something you really want, don’t take no for an answer. Fight for it.
Everyone there was in for a treat – in addition to Sir Richard Branson, there was a panel discussion, which also included businessman Dan Gilbert (Sidenote: Two billionaires in one room! Day made!), Shinola Creative Marketing Officer Bridget Russo and Music and Production Director Adriel Thornton.
All the panelists shared great advice. Below are some of my favorites from the event:
Sir Richard Branson:
“There’s a very thin dividing line between success and failure. I just managed to stay on the right side of that success line.”
“Survival is all that matters, initially. When I got started, three years ahead wasn’t…I didn’t see it. I was just fighting to make it.”
“Delegation, early on in business, is important. You can get a lot more things done.”
“Failure is part of the process of building a business.”
“No great things have come out of risk-less ventures.”
“People want to know that there’s a positive story behind the products that they buy. Your products still have to be good, but people want a story.”
What inspired me the most was Sir Richard Branson’s humor and generosity. There were four companies that pitched that day, as just an opportunity to get their businesses out there. However, none of the businesses went away empty handed; Sir Richard Branson gave every company something, from round trip airfare from Detroit to London, to providing other valuable business resources. Lesson learned: Giving is the key to being successful in business.
That afternoon, I left feeling inspired. As a start-up business owner, you’re faced with so many highs and lows. That afternoon was definitely a high; There’s nothing better than hearing the stories and advice of those who have succeeded in their entrepreneurial journey.
Image via Virgin.com