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課程來源:TED
     

 

Richard Branson談高空三萬呎的生活 Life at 30,000 feet

 

Photo of 

three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Richard Branson

20073月演講,200710月在TED上線

 

翻譯:陳盈

編輯:馬景文、洪曉慧

簡繁轉換:劉契良

後制:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講

Richard BransonTED主持人Chris Anderson暢談事業起落,從數億家財到多次遇劫的經歷,也披露他(令人拍案叫絕)的一些動力。

 

關於Richard Branson

Branson白手起家,從唱片公司老闆到維珍王國的領導者。現在,他投入無窮精力要挽救我們的環境。

 

為什麼要聽他演講?

他乘坐氣球橫渡大西洋,和性手槍樂團從泰晤士河順流而下,被英女王冊封為爵士。「維珍」是他的超級品牌,旗下擁有超過二百五十間公司:從健身房、賭場、婚禮精品店到整隊飛機、火車和豪華房車。這位男士甚至還是位是島主。

Branson現在步步高升,進入太空(旅遊):由Philippe Starck設計,Burt Rutan監造的「維珍銀河」太空船預定在2009年把遊客送上熱大氣層,每位收費二十萬美元。

Branson一向熱衷於慈善事業,他承諾把旗下運輸王國未來十年的利潤,估計多達三十億美元,投入發展取代碳燃料的可再生能源。「維珍地球挑戰」提供二千五百萬美元獎金,頒給以經濟上可行辦法解決溫室氣體問題的第一人。

「若要說世上有幸運兒,那必定就是Richard Branson。」

《紐約客》,2007514

 

Richard Branson的英語網上資料

網站:維珍集團Virgin Group

網站:Richard Branson在維珍 Richard Branson at Virgin

網站:維珍地球獎Virgin Earth Prize

維基百科:Richard Branson

 

[TED科技娛樂設計]
已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

Richard Branson談高空三萬呎的生活

 

Chris Anderson(CA):歡迎來到TED。

 

Richard Branson(RB): 謝謝。第一次來TED的感覺很棒。

 

CA: 你見到有趣的人了嗎?

 

RB: TED棒的地方就是每個人都有趣。很高興能見到歌蒂韓,因為我要向她道歉。我兩年前約她吃飯,她戴來的大婚戒,給我試戴後就取不下來。那晚我回到家,太太很奇怪為什麼我戴著另一名女人的巨型婚戒。第二天我們不得不到珠寶店把戒指鋸開拿下來。所以(笑聲)……所以我要向歌蒂道歉。

 

CA: 那很好啊!我們要來看一些你所開設的公司。當初你是先創辦一兩間,像是維珍航空、維珍唱片,我猜是從一本名為《學生》的雜誌開始,然後再有了其他這些公司。你是如何做到的?

 

RB:我讀了所有這些TED指南,上面說不能談自己的事業。而現在你問我,所以你可不能把我攆下臺,因為是你提的問題。(笑聲)

 

CA: 那就要看你如何回答。

 

RB:我很早就知道,如果你能經營一家公司,你就能經營其他任何公司。經營公司之道就是找到合適的人,激發他們最優秀的一面。我喜歡學習也十分好問,我喜歡挑戰現狀,顛覆傳統。我覺得生命是終生學習的過程。如果我搭乘其他航空公司,感覺很差勁,21年前他們的確做的不夠好。或許我可以自己成立一家我喜歡乘坐的航空公司。所以我向波音公司購得一架二手747,就這樣開始幹了起來。

 

CA: 很另類的做法。你這樣做的時候,很多人都說你瘋了,這一度幾乎拖垮了你的王國。我和一位投資銀行家聊過,就在你出售維珍唱片公司,並大力投資維珍航空的時候。他認為,你賣掉世界上第四大唱片公司,來救世界第二十五大的航空公司,你肯定是瘋了。為什麼要那樣做?

 

RB:我覺得成敗只是一線之差。我覺得如果在創業時沒有財力後盾,你就在失敗的一邊。英國航空那時正攻擊我們,要擊垮我們的航空公司。他們搞惡性競爭,那時我意識到整個王國就要垮了,除非我力挽狂瀾。為了保障航空公司員工和唱片公司員工的飯碗,我必需賣掉集團的金雞母來挽救航空公司。

 

CA: 在後Napster時代中(Napster:免費線上音樂服務),你真算是位天才啊。

 

RB:嗯,事實證明那是一著好棋。那時挺慘的,但我們還是繼續前進。

 

CA: 現在你經常使用維珍這個品牌,看來你是把幾樣東西的優勢聯合起來。你覺得這品牌意味著什麼?

 

RB:我覺得它意味著品質。如果人們見到維珍公司,他們……

 

CA: 就會想到品質,Richard,少來,人們所說的品質,是代表精神嗎?

 

RB: 不,但我一直朝這目標前進。這讓我們很開心。我想員工們也樂在其中。我們的努力讓其他業界吃驚。因為我們的做法不同,我認為業界已不同以往,因為有了維珍挑戰市場。

 

CA: 你還涉足了其他行業,這品牌在某些領域可能營運不佳,例如「維珍婚禮」。那是怎麼一回事?(笑聲)

 

RB: 我們找不到客戶(笑聲)(掌聲)

 

CA: 我還很好奇,為何你的保險套生意錯失良機。你給它起的名字是「伴侶」,你不能也在這上面使用維珍品牌嗎?例如:「不再是維珍」(雙關:不再是處女)。

 

RB: 這依然是沒有客戶的問題。成立公司後,常會接到客戶投訴。你有自信可以處理好這些投訴。保險套公司成立三個月之後,我收到一封投訴信。我坐下來回了一封長信,鄭重地向那位女士道歉,但顯然我不能做些什麼。這件事發生後六個月還是九個月之後,我收到了一封令人愉悅的信,並附有一張嬰兒照,問我能不能當孩子的乾爹,我答應了,這成了一樁好事。

 

CA: 真的嗎?你應該把照片帶來,太棒了。

 

RB: 我是該帶來。

 

CA: 我們來談談數字吧!關於公司的一些數字。維珍集團有多大?總收入是多少?

 

RB: 目前大約是250億美元。

 

CA: 有多少員工?

 

RB: 55,000名左右。

 

CA: 你在不同時間以不同方式拍照,從不擔心有失尊嚴嗎?那是什麼?是真的嗎?

 

RB:嗯。那應該是我們在洛杉磯創立一家旗艦店。嗯,我覺得…

 

CA: 那是你的頭髮?

 

RB: 不。

 

CA: 那是什麼?

 

RB: 溜下來喝茶(雙關:路過進來串門子)。

 

CA: 好吧。(笑聲)

 

RB: 這個太好玩了,那是一艘很棒的車船。

 

CA:噢,那車應該是一次TED人的活動。這張可以暫停一下嗎?(笑聲)

 

RB:那不容易,不是嗎?

 

CA:是不容易。(笑聲)

CA: 我第一次來美國時,也和員工一起嘗試過這個。他們有不同的規則,很奇怪。

 

RB:我知道,我的律師說:你不能那樣做,但是……

 

CA: 談到這個,那就多聊些吧。

 

RB:我們開始開發Pammy這個產品時,誤認為我們能挑戰可口可樂。於是我們開始做一種叫Pammy的可樂瓶,形狀有點像性感尤物Pamela Anderson,但它的問題是放不穩,但…(笑聲)

 

CA: 是Philippe Starck設計的吧?

 

RB: 當然。

 

CA: 我們再來多放些圖片。「維珍婚禮」,很棒啊。好,在那停一下。你得了一些獎吧。

 

RB: 是的,25年前,我們推出了性手槍樂團的歌曲「天佑女皇」。沒想到25年後,女王真的給我封爵。不過,我想她肯定很健忘。

 

CA: 好吧,上帝保佑她,而你得到了合宜的回報。你喜歡被稱為Richard爵士嗎?或是其他的頭銜?

 

RB:沒有人叫過我Richard爵士。有時候在美國,我聽到人們說Richard爵士,會以為那裡在演莎士比亞戲劇,其他場合不會有人這樣叫的。

 

CA: 那麼你可以利用你的爵士身份來幹點什麼嗎?或者它只是…

 

RB:不,我想在你遇到問題時,例如要訂餐廳的位時,可能就用得著。

 

CA:這不是Richard Branson,是Richard Branson爵士。

 

RB: 我會讓秘書這樣試試看。

 

CA:好,我們來看看關於太空的東西,我們有一段影片,可以看到你打算做什麼。維珍銀河太空船在空中的景像。這是Bert Rutan設計的太空船嗎?

 

RB:是的,12個月後會完成,之後我們會做12個月的大量測試。所以再過24個月的時間,人們就可以享受一趟太空旅程。

 

CA:內部是Philippe Starck設計的嗎?

 

RB: Philippe做了很多,他做了商標,他正在新墨西哥建太空站,基本上,他設計成一隻眼睛,太空站將像是一隻巨眼,當你人在太空時,可以看到這隻巨眼在看你。當你著陸時,你就回到這巨眼裡,在設計方面他的確是天才。

 

CA: 但你沒有讓他來設計引擎?

 

RB: Philippe是個很隨興的人,所以我覺得他不是設計引擎的最佳人選,他不是。

 

CA:兩天前他在這裡發表了精彩的演講。

 

RB:是嗎?不,他是一個…

 

CA:一些人覺得他講得很不錯,一些人就覺得十分怪異,但我個人覺得很精彩。

 

RB: 他很熱衷於理想,這是我喜歡他的原因。但…

 

CA:所以你對探險一直念念不忘,你後悔過嗎?

 

RB: 經常。在我們過去的氣球和航海探險中,我有六次在海上被直升機救上來,每次我都沒有想過可以活著回來。在那些時候,肯定會疑惑自己在幹什麼…

 

CA: 哪一次你是最接近死亡的經驗。

 

RB:我想是每一次氣球歷險,的確是每一次,我想我們很接近死亡。我是說,首先是…之前沒有人乘熱氣球橫渡過大西洋,所以我們要做一個能夠在高速氣流中飛行的熱氣球。我們那時並不確定,當氣球進入高速氣流,它是否能承受每小時200、220哩的風速。首次飛行是從Sugarloaf出發,橫渡大西洋。在進入高速氣流時,這個大氣球的頂部速度達每小時幾百哩。而我們身處的底部艙室,時速可能只有每小時2哩,我們就這樣起飛了,就像要拉住一千匹馬。我們那時只能雙手合十,祈求氣球夠結實,幸好它撐住了。所有這些氣球之旅,每次都多少會有一些問題,而在這樣的緊急時刻,同行經驗豐富的氣球飛行家跳下去了,剩我在上面命繫一線。(笑聲)

 

CA:他有叫你跳下去嗎?還是說「我要閃了」!

 

RB:不,他叫我跳,但少了他的重量,氣球馬上衝到12,000呎的高空,而我…

 

CA: 我想Ian McEwan的小說就是以此為靈感吧。

 

RB:嗯。我戴著氧氣面罩站在氣球頂上,背著降落傘,望著下方旋繞的雲朵。試圖鼓起勇氣跳進北海,有幾秒的時間真實感受到極度孤獨,但最後我們還是成功渡過難關。

 

CA:你跳下去了,還是氣球降落了?

 

RB:那時我知道,還剩半小時的燃料。也知道如果跳下去,我只能再活幾分鐘,所以我爬回艙室,只希望我的決定是正確的。我寫了東西給家人,然後再次爬上氣球頂。再看看下面的雲,然後又爬進艙室。最後我想到個好方法,大氣球在我上面,就是最大的降落傘,為什麼不加以利用呢?於是我試著乘氣球降下雲層,到離海面50呎的時候,自己跳了出來。氣球撞到海面。少了我的重量,它又升回到一萬呎的高空,但那時在水裡的感覺真好…

 

CA: 你給家人寫了什麼?

 

RB: 就是在那個情況下你會寫的那些,就是「我非常愛你們」。我在出發之前就給他們寫了信,以防不測。幸好,他們不用讀到那封信。

 

CA: 你的公司因這些壯舉得到非常高的公關價值。這些年,直到我不再看投票的結果,你在英國和其他地方都被看作是大英雄。愛嘲諷者會說:「這只是一個聰明的生意人,進行他個人獨特的行銷。」其中的公關價值有多少?

 

RB:當然,公共關係的專家會說,作為一家航空公司的老闆,最不應該做的就是去乘船或氣球,然後跌進海裡。(笑聲)

 

CA: Richard,他們說得有道理。

 

RB:事實上,我們航空公司那時做了一整頁廣告:「嘿,Richard,有更好的方法橫渡大西洋。」(笑聲)

 

CA: 要做到這些,你必須從一開始就是個天才,對嗎?

 

RB: 嘻,我不會反駁這種說法。(笑聲)

 

CA: 嗯,這不是很難。

 

CA: 你書讀的不是很好?

 

RB:我有誦讀困難,從來都不懂書本上的東西,測智商的話我肯定不及格。這是我輟學的原因之一,那時我15歲。對不感興趣的東西,我不會抓著不放。身為有誦讀困難的人,你會有一些挺奇怪的經歷。例如,我要…我經營歐洲最大的私營企業集團,但我分不清淨利和毛利,所以董事會上總是很精彩。(笑聲)這是好事還是壞事?一般人們會說是壞事。

 

CA:但我要弄清一點,250億是毛利,是嗎?(笑聲)

 

RB: 我希望是淨利。(笑聲)我搞懂了。

 

CA:不,相信我,是毛利。(笑聲)

 

RB:當我50歲時,有人把我叫到會議室外說:「Richard,你看,我用畫的好了。這網在海裡,網剛把魚撈上來,這是你留在這小網上的利潤,其他的都被吃掉了。」這樣我才明白過來。(笑聲)(掌聲)

 

CA: 但在學校,學習狀況的確十分糟糕。卻還是板球和足球隊長,你是個天生的領導者。你是叛逆的嗎?你是怎樣…

 

RB: 是的,我想我有點特立獨行,幸好我的體育不錯。至少我在學校的時候,在某些方面是不錯的。

 

CA: 在你幼年的時候發生過一些奇怪的事,有些關於你母親的故事。她好像曾把四歲的你扔在田野並說:「自己走回家吧!」。

這是真的嗎?

 

RB: 是的。她覺得我們從小要自力更生,所以她做了一些事,如果在現時是犯法的。例如把我們趕出車,叫我們自己找路去外婆家,我們離那兒還有5哩遠。她讓我們做很棒的長程自行車之旅,還從來不讓我們看電視之類的東西。

 

CA:那種做法冒險嗎?台下很多人都很有錢,他們也有孩子。我們的問題是如何養育孩子。你看這一代的孩子,認為他們都被慣壞了、不知足。我們將養育出幸運的一代…

 

RB:我想如果你養孩子,你只想用愛、讚揚和熱情來環抱他們。我覺得你不會過於溺愛孩子。

 

CA:我必須要說,你並沒有變的太糟。你的校長這樣對你說,他發現你在學校是一朵奇葩。他說:「你若不是成為百萬富翁,就是去蹲苦窯。但我不確定你會是哪個。」是哪一個先發生?(笑聲)

 

RB:兩個都發生了。我想我先進了監獄。我因為英國兩個頗古老的法案而被起訴。我因為1889年的性病法案,和1916年的猥褻廣告法案而被告。第一次是因為公開提到性病這個字眼。我們設立了一個中心,幫助有困難的年輕人。他們遇到的問題之一就是性病。有個老法案規定,你不能在公共場合提到或印發「性病」二字。所以員警來敲門說要逮捕我們,如果我們繼續提到「性病」的話。於是我們把這改稱「社會疾病」,之後就只有長粉刺和暗瘡的人來求助,患有性病的人都不來了。於是我們又改回「性病」,然後馬上被抓了。另一次就是「別管睪丸,性手槍樂團來了」。員警認為「Bollocks」(俚語:睪丸)是個下流的字彙,所以把我們抓去了,原因是性手槍樂團的唱片裡有「bollocks」一字。劇作家John Mortimer為我們辯護,他問我是否能找到一個語言學專家來提出「bollocks」的另一個定義。於是我打電話去諾丁漢大學找語言學教授。他說:「這和『balls(睾丸)』沒有一點關係,而是18世紀『神父』的一個別稱。」 (笑聲)他接著說:「我自己就是一位神父。」我說:「你介意出庭嗎?」他說榮幸之至。還說:「我可以戴神父領圈來嗎?」我說:「那真是太…拜託了…」(笑聲)

 

CA: 很棒啊。

 

RB:所以我們的關鍵證人提出,這句話事實上是「別管神父,性手槍樂團來了」。(笑聲)法官很不情願地,宣判我們無罪。(笑聲)

 

CA: 那太棒了(掌聲)。認真來說,有不好的一面嗎?很多人會說,要聯合經營這樣龐大的生意版圖,肯定會用手段在人後捅上幾刀,做一些見不得人的事。人家說你冷酷無情,有人寫了詆毀你的傳記,其中有任何一部份是真的嗎?有真實的成分嗎?

 

 

RB: 我不認為刻板印象中,商人不擇手段,踏著別人往上爬的做法行得通。我想如果你對人好,人家才會一再回籠、想進一步體驗。聲譽是你生命的全部,世界很小,要成為一位成功商界領袖的最好方法,就是對人好而且要公平。我想我們就是這樣經營維珍的。

 

CA:那些愛你的人,目睹你花那麼多…你總是忙於新計畫,似乎你很沉迷創辦新事物,你會因為一個想法而興奮的哇哇叫。你有沒有想過平衡生活?你的家人是怎麼想的?當你每次要做新的大計畫時。

 

RB:我也認為父親是非常重要的角色。從孩子很小開始,我就和他們一起度假。我們一起度過了很棒的三個月,我會和他們保持聯繫。我們有幸能在加勒比海有個小島,我帶他們和朋友去那裡,我們一起玩。但我還是能和外界保持聯繫。

 

CA: 近年你開始提到「資本慈善家」一詞,那是什麼?

 

RB: 資本主義已證明是一個可行的體系,共產主義則否。但資本主義的問題是,少數人擁有絕大部分的財富,所以我覺得富人有極大責任。我認為獲得財富的人,不要只是為了擁有更大的船和車而競爭。這很重要,而是用金錢來創造就業機會,或者解決世界面臨的議題

 

CA:你最擔心和關心的是什麼議題?你要把資源用在哪個面向?

 

RB: 議題很多,全球暖化對人類肯定是一大威脅。我們花了很多時間和精力來尋找可替代的燃料,這是其一。其二,我們設立了這個獎項。萬一我們找不到替代燃料,萬一我們不能迅速減少碳排放,萬一我們超出了臨界點,我們就要鼓勵人們找出將碳從大氣層中抽離的方法,我們只是……之前沒有人認真去做,所以我們希望人們去嘗試。世界上最有智慧的人都開始去思考,也嘗試從地球大氣層抽離甲烷。事實上已經有15,000人填表,宣稱願意嘗試。但我們只需要一個人,所以是萬中選一。

 

CA:你現在還在非洲做一些計畫?

 

RB:是的,我們建立「戰情室」。可能不應該這樣命名,這名稱可能會改。戰情室是要協調所有非洲現在發生的襲擊,協調那裡各種社會問題,找出最好的做法。例如,非洲有一名醫生發現,如果你讓準媽媽在懷孕24週時服用抗逆轉錄病毒藥物,孩子出生的時候就不會感染HIV病毒。重要的是把這一資訊傳播到非洲其他地方。

 

CA: 「戰情室」,聽起來很有力量且引人注目。但是否會有風險,即西方的商業英雄對此十分興奮。他們經常有這樣一種想法,就是要把事情完成,並完全相信他們有能力改變世界。是否會有這樣的風險?如果我們去非洲這些地方說,我們要解決問題,我們有能力,我有數億資金等等言語,提出了偉大的想法。但實際上卻把形勢弄得更加複雜,最後變得一團糟。你擔心嗎?

 

RB:首先,在這個特殊的情況下,我們和政府合作。Thabo Mbeki(前南非總統)不接受HIV病毒和愛滋病是有關聯的這個觀念。但我要他來處理問題,而不是讓世人批評他。這是和他以及他的政府合作的方式。如果人們真的要去非洲幫忙,重要的是他們不是只去那裡待幾年,這需要持續進行。我認為商業領袖能提供他們的創業知識,幫助政府以稍為不同的方式來解決問題。例如我們在非洲建診所,在那裡我們將提供免費的抗逆轉錄病毒藥物和肺結核治療,免費的瘧疾治療。但我們也試著讓診所自負盈虧,所以人們會為其他服務付費。

 

CA: 很多愛嘲諷者會說,那些像你自己或像比爾‧蓋茲的人,你們做這些只不過是受某種慾望驅使,想獲得正面形象,避免罪惡感,並不是真正的慈善本性。你對有這樣想法的人想說些什麼?

 

RB: 我覺得每個人做事都出於不同的原因,當我生命到了盡頭的時候,我希望自己感到已經改變了其他人的生活。這想法可能有點自私,但這是我成長的方式。我想如果我可以從根本上造成改變,使其他人活得更好,我就應該這樣做。

 

CA:今年貴庚了?

 

RB: 五十六。

 

CA: 據我這個外行人瞭解,心理學家Erik Erikson說,三、四十歲的人受成長的慾望所驅使,並藉此得到滿足。到了五、六十歲,行動模式較趨向探索智慧和千古留名。你似乎還有點停留在成長的階段,你還在做這些令人難以置信的新計畫。你對千古留名這點想了多少?你希望留下怎樣的名聲?

 

RB: 對於留下什麼名聲我沒有多想。我祖母活到101歲。但願我還能再活三、四十年。我只想活出每一刻。如果我能改變一些什麼,我希望我可以改變一些東西。現在我想到一個很正面的例子,你知道Google的創辦人Sergey和Larry,他們是好朋友。感謝上帝,世上有兩個真誠關心世界,並有財力的人。如果他們有錢但不關心世界,那就很讓人擔憂,他們對世界有極大影響力。我想重要的是,這些有權勢的人都能做出一些改變。

 

CA: Richard,當開始做生意時,我一無所知。我以為商人都應冷酷無情,這是有機會成功的唯一方式。你的確啟發了我,我看著你,我想,他確實做到了,可能是以不同的方式做到。感謝你給我這麼多啟發。也感謝今天來到TED,十分感謝。

(掌聲)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this talk

Richard Branson talks to TED's Chris Anderson about the ups and the downs of his career, from his multibillionaire success to his multiple near-death experiences -- and reveals some of his (very surprising) motivations.

About Richard Branson

Richard Branson bootstrapped his way from record-shop owner to head of the Virgin empire. Now he's focusing his boundless energy on saving our environment. Full bio and more links

Transcript

Chris Anderson: Welcome to TED.

Richard Branson: Thank you very much. The first TED has been great.

CA: Have you met anyone interesting?

RB: Well, the nice thing about TED is everybody's interesting. I was very glad to see Goldie Hawn, because I had an apology to make to her. I'd had dinner with her about two years ago and I'd -- she had this big wedding ring and I put it on my finger and I couldn't get it it off. And I went home to my wife that night and she wanted to know why I had another woman's big -- massive, big wedding ring on my finger. And, anyway, the next morning we had to go along to the jeweler and get it cut off. So, (Laughter) so apologies to Goldie.

CA: That's pretty good. So we're going to put up some slides of one of your -- some of your companies here. You've started one or two in your time. So, you know, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Records -- I guess it all started with a magazine called Student. And then, yes, all these other ones as well. I mean, how do you do this?

RB: I read all these sort of TED instructions -- you must not talk about your own business, and this, and now you ask me. So I suppose you're not going to be able to kick me off the stage since you asked the question. (Laughter)

CA: It depends what the answer is though.

RB: No, I mean, I think I learned early on that if you can run one company, you can really run any companies. I mean, companies are all about finding the right people, inspiring those people, you know, drawing out the best in people and I just love learning and I'm incredibly inquisitive and I love taking on, you know, the status quo and trying to turn it upside down. So I've seen life as one long learning process. And if I see -- you know, if I fly on somebody else's airline and find the experience is not a pleasant one, which it wasn't in -- 21 years ago, then I'd think, well, you know, maybe I can create the kind of airline that I'd like to fly on. And so, you know, so got one secondhand 747 from Boeing and gave it a go.

CA: Well that was a bizarre thing, because you made this move that a lot of people advised you was crazy. And in fact, in a way, it almost took down your empire at one point. I had a conversation with one of the investment bankers who, at the time when you basically sold Virgin Records and invested heavily in Virgin Atlantic, and his view was that you were trading, you know, the world's fourth biggest record company for the 25th biggest airline and that you were out of your mind. Why did you do that?

RB: Well, I think that there's a very thin dividing line between success and failure. And I think if you start a business without financial backing, you're likely to go the wrong side of that dividing line. We had -- we were being attacked by British Airways; they were trying to put our airline out of business, and they launched what's become known as the dirty tricks campaign. And I realized that the whole empire was likely to come crashing down unless I chipped in a chip. And in order to protect the jobs of the people who worked for the airline, and protect the jobs of the people who worked for the record company, I had to sell the family jewelry to protect the airline.

CA: Post-Napster, you're looking like a bit of a genius actually, for that, as well.

RB: Yeah, as it turned out it proved to be the right move. But, yeah, it was sad at the time, but we moved on.

CA: Now, you use the Virgin brand a lot and it seems like you're getting synergy from one thing to the other. What does the brand stand for in your head?

RB: Well, I like to think it stands for quality, that you know, if somebody comes across a Virgin company they --

CA: They are quality, Richard, come on now, everyone says quality -- spirit?

RB: No, but I was going to move on this. We have a lot of fun and I think the people who work for it enjoy it. We, we -- as I say, we go in and shake up other industries and I think, you know, we do it differently and I think that industries are not quite the same as a result of Virgin attacking the market.

CA: I mean, there are a few launches you've done that -- where the brand maybe hasn't worked quite as well. I mean, Virgin Brides -- what happened there? (Laughter)

RB: We couldn't find any customers. (Laughter) (Applause)

CA: I was actually also curious why -- I think you missed an opportunity with your condoms launch -- you called it Mates. I mean, couldn't you have used the Virgin brand for that as well? Ain't virgin no longer, or something.

RB: Again, we may have had problems finding customers. I mean, we had -- often when you launch a company and you get customer complaints, you know, you can deal with them. But about three months after the launch of the condom company I had a letter, a complaint, and I sat down and wrote a long letter back to this lady apologizing profusely. But obviously there wasn't a lot I could do about it. And then six months later, or nine months after the problem had taken, I got this delightful letter with a picture of the baby asking if I'd be godfather, which I became. So it all worked out well.

CA: Really? You should have brought a picture. That's wonderful.

RB: I should have.

CA: So just help us with some of the numbers. I mean, what are the numbers on this? I mean, how big is the group overall? How much -- what's the total revenue?

RB: It's about 25 billion dollars now in total.

CA: And how many employees?

RB: About 55,000.

CA: So you've been photographed in various ways at various times and never worrying about putting your dignity on the line or anything like that. What was that? Was that real?

RB: Yeah. We were launching a megastore in Los Angeles, I think. No, I mean, I think -- CA: But is that your hair? RB: No. CA: What was that one?

RB: Dropping in for tea.

CA: OK. (Laughter)

CA: Ah, that was quite fun. That was a wonderful car boat in which --

RB: Oh, that car that we -- actually we, we -- it was a TEDster event that I think. Is that -- could you still pause on that one for a minute? (Laughter)

RB: It's a tough job, isn't it?

CA: I mean -- it is a tough job. (Laughter) When I first came to America I used to try this with employees as well and they kind of -- they have these different rules over here, it's very strange.

RB: I know, I have the lawyers say you mustn't do things like that, but --

CA: I mean, speaking of which, tell us about --

RB: Pammy we launched, you know, mistakenly thought we could take on Coca-Cola, and we launched a cola bottle called "The Pammy" and it was shaped a bit like Pamela Anderson. But the trouble is it kept on tipping over, but -- (Laughter)

CA: Designed by Philippe Starck perhaps?

RB: Of course.

CA: So we'll just run a couple more pictures here. Virgin Brides. Very nice. And, OK, stop there. This was -- you had some award I think?

RB: Yeah, well, 25 years earlier we'd launched the Sex Pistols' "God Save The Queen," and I'd certainly never expected that 25 years later that she'd actually knight us. But somehow she must have had a forgetful memory, I think.

CA: Well, God saved her and you got your just reward. Do you like to be called Sir Richard, or how?

RB: Nobody's ever called me Sir Richard. Occasionally in America, I hear people saying Sir Richard and think there's some Shakespearean play taking place. But nowhere else anyway.

CA: OK. So can you use your knighthood for anything or is it just ...

RB: No. I suppose if you're having problems getting a booking in a restaurant or something, that might be worth using it.

CA: You know, it's not Richard Branson, it's Sir Richard Branson.

RB: I'll go get the secretary to use it.

CA: OK. So let's look at the space thing. I think, with us, we've got a video that shows what you're up to and Virgin Galactic up in the air. So that's the Bert Rutan designed spaceship?

RB: Yeah, it'll be ready in -- well, ready in 12 months and then we do 12 months extensive testing and then 24 months from now people will be able to take a ride into space.

CA: So this interior is Philippe Starcke designed?

RB: Philippe has done the -- yeah, quite a bit of it -- the logos and he's building the space station in New Mexico, and basically he's just taken an eye and the space station will be one giant eye, so when you're in space you ought to be able to see this massive eye looking up at you. And when you land, you'll be able to go back into this giant eye. But he's absolutely genius when it comes to design.

CA: But you didn't have him design the engine?

RB: Philippe is quite erratic, so I think that he wouldn't be the best person to design the engine, no.

CA: He gave a wonderful talk here two days ago.

RB: Yeah? No, he is a --

CA: Well, some people found it wonderful, some people found it completely bizarre. But, I personally found it wonderful.

RB: He's a wonderful enthusiast which is why I love him. But --

CA: So, now you've always had this exploration bug in you. Have you ever regretted that?

RB: Many times. I mean, I think with the ballooning and boating expeditions we've done in the past -- well, I got pulled out of the sea I think six times by helicopters, so -- and each time I didn't expect to come home to tell the tale. So in those moments you certainly wonder what you're doing up there or ...

CA: What was the closest you got to -- when did you think this is it, I might be on my way out?

RB: Well, I think the balloon adventures were -- each one was -- each one, actually, I think we came close. And, I mean, first of all we -- nobody had actually crossed the Atlantic in a hot air balloon before, so we had to build a hot air balloon that was capable of flying in the jet stream, and we weren't quite sure when a balloon actually got into the jet stream, whether it would actually survive the 200, 220 miles an hour winds that you can find up there. And so just the initial lift off from Sugarloaf to cross the Atlantic, as were pushing into the jet stream, this enormous balloon -- the top of the balloon ended up going at a couple of hundred miles an hour, the capsule that we were in at the bottom was going at maybe two miles an hour, and it just took off. And it was like holding onto a thousand horses. And we were just crossing every finger, praying that the balloon would hold together, which, fortunately, it did. But the ends of all those balloon trips were, you know -- something seemed to go wrong every time, and on that particular occasion the more experienced balloonist who was with me, jumped and left me holding on for dear life. (Laughter)

CA: Did he tell you to jump, or he just said, "I'm out of here!" and ...

RB: No, he told me jump, but once his weight had gone, the balloon just shot up to 12,000 feet and I ...

CA: And you inspired an Ian McEwan novel I think with that.

RB: Yeah. No, I put on my oxygen mask and stood on top of the balloon, with my parachute, looking at the swirling clouds below, trying to pluck up my courage to jump into the North Sea, which -- and it was a very, very, very lonely few moments. But, anyway, we managed to survive it.

CA: Did you jump or -- it came down in the end?

RB: Well, I knew I had about half an hour's fuel left, and I also knew that the chances were that if I jumped I would only have a couple of minutes of life left. So I climbed back into the capsule and just desperately tried to make sure that I was making the right decision. And wrote some notes to my family. And then climbed back up again, looked down at those clouds again, climbed back into the capsule again. And then finally just thought, there's a better way. I've got, you know, this enormous balloon above me, it's the biggest parachute ever, why not use it? And so I managed to fly the balloon down through the clouds and about 50 feet, before I hit the sea, threw myself over. And the balloon hit the sea and went shooting back up 10,000 feet without me. But it was a wonderful feeling being in that water and --

CA: What did you write to your family?

RB: Just what you would do in a situation like that, just I love you very much and -- I'd already written them a letter before going on this trip, which -- just in case anything had happened. But fortunately they never had to use it.

CA: Your companies have had incredible PR value out of these heroics. The years -- and until I stopped looking at the polls, you were sort of regarded as this great hero in the U.K. and elsewhere. And cynics might say, you know, this is just a smart business guy doing what it takes to execute his particular style of marketing. How much was the PR value part of this? RB: Well, of course, the PR experts said that as an airline owner, the last thing you should be doing is heading off in balloons and boats, and crashing into the seas. (Laughter)

CA: They had a point, Richard.

RB: In fact, I think our airline took a full page ad at the time saying, you know, come on Richard, there are better ways of crossing the Atlantic. (Laughter)

CA: To do all this, you must have been a genius from the get go, right?

RB: Well, I won't contradict that. (Laughter)

CA: OK, this isn't exactly Hardball, OK.

CA: Didn't -- weren't you just terrible at school?

RB: I was dyslexic, I had no understanding of schoolwork whatsoever. I certainly would have failed IQ tests. And it was one of the reasons I left school when I was 15 years old. And if I -- if I'm not interested in something, I don't grasp it. As somebody who's dyslexic, you also have some quite bizarre situations. I mean, for instance, I've had to -- you know, I've been running the largest group of private companies in Europe, but haven't been able to know the difference between net and gross. And so the board meetings have been fascinating. (Laughter) And so it's like, good news or bad news? And generally the people would say, oh, well that's bad news.

CA: But just to clarify, the 25 billion is gross, right, that's gross? (Laughter)

RB: Well, I hope it's net actually, having -- (Laughter) I've got it right.

CA: No, trust me, it's gross. (Laughter)

RB: So when I turned 50 somebody took me outside the boardroom and said, "Look Richard, here's a -- let me draw on a diagram -- here's a net in the sea, and the fish have been pulled from the sea into this net. And that's the profits you've got left over in this little net, everything else is eaten." And I finally worked it all out. (Laughter) (Applause)

CA: But, I mean, at school -- so as well as being -- you know, doing pretty miserably academically, but you were also like the captain of the cricket and football teams, so you were kind of a -- you were a natural leader, but just a bit of a -- were you a rebel then, or how would you ...

RB: Yeah, I think I was a bit of a maverick and -- but I -- and I was, yeah, I was fortunately good at sport and so at least I had something to excel at, at school.

CA: And some bizarre things happened just earlier in your life. I mean, there's the story about your mother allegedly dumping you in a field, aged four, and saying "OK, walk home." Did this really happen?

RB: She was, you know, she felt that we needed to stand on our own two feet from an early age. So she did things to us, which now she'd be arrested for, such as pushing us out of the car, and telling us to find our own way to Granny's, about five miles before we actually got there. And making us go on wonderful long bike rides. And we were never allowed to watch television and the like.

CA: But is there a risk here? I mean, there's a lot of people in the room who are wealthy, and they've got kids, and we've got this dilemma about how you bring them up. Do you look at the current generation of kids coming up and think they're too coddled, they don't know what they've got, we're going to raise a generation of privileged ...

RB: No, I think if you're bringing up kids, you just want to smother them with love and praise and enthusiasm. So I don't think you can mollycoddle your kids too much really.

CA: You didn't turn out too bad, I have to say, I'm -- Your headmaster said to you -- I mean he found you kind of an enigma at your school -- he said, you're either going to be a millionaire or go to prison, and I'm not sure which. Which of those happened first? (Laughter)

RB: Well, I've done both. I think I went to prison first. I was actually prosecuted under two quite ancient acts in the UK. I was prosecuted under the 1889 Venereal Diseases Act and the 1916 Indecent Advertisements Act. On the first occasion for mentioning the word venereal disease in public, which -- we had a center where we would help young people who had problems. And one of the problems young people have is venereal disease. And there's an ancient law that says you can't actually mention the word venereal disease or print it in public. So the police knocked on the door, and told us they were going to arrest us if we carried on mentioning the word venereal disease. We changed it to social diseases and people came along with acne and spots, but nobody came with VD any more. So we put it back to VD and promptly got arrested. And then subsequently, "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols," the word bollocks, the police decided was a rude word and so we were arrested for using the word bollocks on the Sex Pistols' album. And John Mortimer, the playwright, defended us. And he asked if I could find a linguistics expert to come up with a different definition of the word bollocks. And so I rang up Nottingham University, and I asked to talk to the professor of linguistics. And he said "Look, bollocks is not a -- has nothing to do with balls whatsoever. It's actually a nickname given to priests in the 18th century." (Laughter) And he went, "Furthermore I'm a priest myself." And so I said, "Would you mind coming to the court?" And he said he'd be delighted. And I said -- and he said, "Would you like me to wear my dog collar?" And I said, "Yes, that would be -- please ... " (Laughter)

CA: That's great.

RB: So our key witness was -- argued that it was actually "Never Mind the Priest, Here's the Sex Pistols" (Laughter) And the judge found us -- reluctantly found us not guilty, so -- (Laughter)

CA: That is outrageous. (Applause) So seriously, is there a dark side? A lot of people would say there's no way that someone could put together this incredible collection of businesses without knifing a few people in the back, you know, doing some ugly things. You've been accused of being ruthless. There was a nasty biography written about you by someone. Is any of it true? Is there an element of truth in it?

RB: I don't actually think that the stereotype of a business person treading all over people to get to the top, generally speaking, works. I think if you treat people well, people will come back and come back for more. And I think all you have in life is your reputation and it's a very small world. And I actually think that the best way of becoming a successful business leader is dealing with people fairly and well, and I like to think that's how we run Virgin.

CA: And what about the people who love you and who see you spending -- you keep getting caught up in these new projects, but it almost feels like you're addicted to launching new stuff. You get excited by an idea and, kapow! I mean, do you think about life balance? How do your family feel about each time you step into something big and new?

RB: I also believe that being a father's incredibly important, so from the time the kids were very young, you know, when they go on holiday I go on holiday with them. And so we spend a very good sort of three months away together. Yes, I'll, you know, be in touch. We're very lucky, we have this tiny little island in the Caribbean and we can -- so I can take them there and we can bring friends, and we can play together, but I can also keep in touch with what's going on.

CA: You started talking in recent years about this term capitalist philanthropy. What is that?

RB: Capitalism has been proven to be a system that works. You know, the alternative, communism, has not worked. But the problem with capitalism is extreme wealth ends up in the hands of a few people, and therefore extreme responsibility, I think, goes with that wealth. And I think it's important that the individuals, who are in that fortunate position, do not end up competing for bigger and bigger boats and bigger and bigger cars, but, you know, use that money to either create new jobs or to tackle issues around the world.

CA: And what are the issues that you worry about most, care most about, want to turn your resources toward?

RB: Well, there's -- I mean there's a lot of issues. I mean global warming certainly is a massive threat to mankind and we are putting a lot of time and energy into A, trying to come up with alternative fuels and, B, you know, we just launched this prize, which is really a prize in case we don't get an answer on alternative fuels, in case we don't actually manage to get the carbon emissions cut down quickly and in case we go through the tipping point, we need to try to encourage people to come up with a way of extracting carbon out of the earth's atmosphere. And we just -- you know, there weren't really people working on that before, so we wanted people to try to -- all the best brains in the world to start thinking about that, and also to try to extract the methane out of the earth's atmosphere as well. And actually we've had about 15,000 people fill in the forms saying they want to give it a go. And so we only need one, so we're hopeful.

CA: And you're also working in Africa on a couple of projects?

RB: Yes, I mean, we've got -- we're setting up something called the war room, which is maybe the wrong word -- we're trying to -- maybe we'll change it -- but anyway, it's a war room to try to coordinate all the attack that's going on in Africa, all the different social problems in Africa and try to look at best practices. So, for instance, there's a doctor in Africa that's found that if you give a mother antiretroviral drugs at 24 weeks when she's pregnant, that the baby will not have HIV when it's born. And so disseminating that information to -- around the rest of Africa is important.

CA: The war room sounds, it sounds powerful and dramatic. And is there a risk that the kind of the business heroes of the West get so excited about -- I mean, they're used to having an idea, getting stuff done, and they believe profoundly in their ability to make a difference in the world. Is there a risk that we go to places like Africa and say, we've got to fix this problem and we can do it, I've got all these billions of dollars, you know, da, da, da -- here's the big idea. And kind of take a much more complex situation and actually end up making a mess of it. Do you worry about that?

RB: Well, first of all on this particular situation, we're actually -- we're working with the government on it. I mean, Thabo Mbeki's had his problems with accepting HIV and AIDS are related, but this is a way, I think, of him tackling this problem and instead of the world criticizing him, it's a way of working with him, with his government. It's important that if people do go to Africa and do try to help, they don't just go in there and then leave after a few years. It's got to be consistent. But I think business leaders can bring their entrepreneurial know-how and help governments approach things slightly differently. For instance, we're setting up clinics in Africa where we're going to be giving free antiretroviral drugs, free TB treatment and free malaria treatment. But we're also trying to make them self-sustaining clinics so that people pay for some other aspects.

CA: I mean a lot of cynics say about someone like yourself or Bill Gates or whatever, that this is really being -- it's almost driven by some sort of desire again, you know, for the right image, for guilt avoidance and not like a real philanthropic instinct. What would you say to them?

RB: Well, I think that everybody -- people do things for a whole variety of different reasons and I think that, you know, when I'm on me deathbed I will want to feel that I've made a difference to other people's lives. And that may be a selfish thing to think, but it's the way I've been brought up. I think if I'm in a position to radically change other people's lives for the better, I should do so.

CA: How old are you?

RB: I'm 56.

CA: I mean the psychologist Erik Erikson says that, as I understand him and I'm a total amateur, but that during 30s, 40s people are driven by this desire to grow and that's where they get their fulfillment, 50s, 60s, the mode of operation shifts more to the quest for wisdom and a search for legacy. I mean, it seems like you're still a little bit in the growth phases, you're still doing these incredible new plans. How much do you think about legacy, and what would you like your legacy to be?

RB: I don't think I think too much about legacy. I mean, I like to -- you know, my grandmother lived to 101, so hopefully I've got another 30 or 40 years to go. No, I just want to live life to its full. You know, if I can make a difference, I hope to be able to make a difference. And I think one of the positive things at the moment is you've got Sergey and Larry from Google, for instance, who are good friends. And, thank God, you've got two people who genuinely care about the world and with that kind of wealth. If they had that kind of wealth and they didn't care about the world, it would be very worrying. And you know they're going to make a hell of a difference to the world. And I think it's important that people in that kind of position do make a difference.

CA: Well, Richard, when I was starting off in business I knew nothing about it and I also was sort of -- I thought that business people were supposed to just be ruthless and that that was the only way you could have a chance of succeeding. And you actually did inspire me. I looked at you, I thought, well, he's made it, maybe there is a different way. So I would like to thank you for that inspiration and for coming to TED today. Thank you. Thank you so much. (Applause)


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連結已update,現在是正確的啦!

illusion.hung, 2009-11-22 11:03:25
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連結錯了, 麻煩 update
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