It’s been a serious whirlwind for the last few weeks. Following our Maverick Haiti IMPACT trip, I went to New York and Dallas, speaking to the CEO Clubs there, and then to Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson…and immediately on the heels of that trip – Underground 7 here in D.C.
Phew! So let’s catch up a little bit here…
We talked about Haiti in the last issue, and about a 180-degree turn from there is Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson. This was a sold-out experience for Maverick members, jointly put on by my buddy Joe Polish and his Genius Network members. Each year it gets better and better; and I think this was the best one yet. Each time Richard has gotten more and more comfortable with the group, and he spent even more time with us this year, from the business sessions to the meals—even taking us on a private yacht trip aboard his “Necker Belle.” This time Missy and the kids came and got into the fun.
Now instead of telling you all about how great the experience was (Missy said she cannot imagine a “regular” beach vacation again) I thought I’d share some of my private notes from one of the Q&A sessions we held with Richard with all of you.
I’ve always been keen on how Richard manages to run 300+ different Virgin companies, and when we asked him, he said he’s always looked to hire people better than him at running them. It takes time to find the right people, and is even worth taking a knock on your profits to reward that individual. He also added not to second guess that person. You need to keep getting yourself out of the business to open up room for thinking.
Another thing I found illuminating was the fact that Richard mentioned he’s never had an office. He’s done everything from working in his living room to a houseboat, and even on Necker. His family has grown up around him because of it. Certainly his private island, Necker, is a bit extreme – but he suggested creating a space for your children to bring their friends to, so you are all together.
And my favorite quote from Richard that night: “Partying is part of being the boss.” He said employees always look to the boss to see how they should behave—and if he’s having a good time and letting his hair down, they will too. And that creates part of the unique culture Virgin has built. I think I have this part down. Here’s a photo of me “opening” a 3L bottle of champagne that was given to Joe and I by Logan Kugler, a pretty remarkable and ambitious 20-year old on the island.
We had two 3L bottles, and we ended up drinking the first one at dinner. Then I just couldn’t help myself—it was too good of an opportunity to pass on not spraying this bottle. I guess technically it was Joe’s bottle, but I was doing him a favor. I mean, how could he pack this bad boy in his luggage?
Each year it seems I get into a few shenanigans on the island, but this time with Missy and the kids there, I thought I might be slightly better “behaved.” I guess not. One of my favorite stories started one night when there was some impromptu karaoke going on, and Millionaire Mastermind member Bernadette Doyle was up there singing. I thought it would be fun to move the gong the staff uses to signal “It’s time for dinner and lunch!” over to where I could “gong” Bernadette. The funny thing is, she didn’t realize the gong meant she’d been banished from the stage. She just kept on singing—and even fist-pumping—along with the gong. I guess there was no Gong Show in Ireland or the UK when she grew up.
But now that I knew the gong could travel, we hatched up an evil scheme: we decided to take the gong on the road. About seven of us loaded the gong onto an electric golf cart and proceeded on our secret mission to Tellman Knudson’s room. (Tellman was already asleep, so he’d become our next victim.) Lugging the gong up the steps to Tellman’s villa with me was my partner in crime, Ben Richter, M1000 Member #117.
After opening his sliding door, we proceeded to GONG Tellman out of his slumber, and then sing him Happy Birthday. And damn it all! I wanted an awesome reaction out of Tellman, but all I got was a calm, “What the hell are you guys doing here?” Oh well.
The next morning, I was talking to Richard’s PA and she asked who’s birthday it was on the island. I was unsure of what she meant—and then I remembered we had sang after the “gong-ing.” That’s when she told me that the staff village is backed up to the Bali House where Tellman was staying…and she swears she heard a gong “go off,” but couldn’t believe it. (Yikes!)
One of the things I always love about Necker is how the people there allow you to have fun and step out of your element. One of the best ways is with their themed nights. We had a “Tribal Night” and a “Black & White Disco” night—and some members REALLY got into the theme. (YES! I’m talking about you guys, Maverick1000 Members #90 Abby Moneyhun, #177 Ben Richter, and #177 Dan Fitzpatrick. Honorable mention definitely also goes to Marty Miller and Gary Fitzpatrick, Dan’s bro.)
Even Dan Sullivan and Babs Smith, co-founders of Strategic Coach, played along for Tribal Night…
I love it! People really get into themes and enjoy it. Personally, the best party I’ve had thrown for me was an 80’s themed 35th birthday party. The pictures were just ridiculous and my friends still talk about this party. For Missy’s upcoming 40th we’re throwing a “Back in the Day” party. She won’t let me go all the way with the theme like I’m prone to do, but we did pick up some sweet Ferris Bueller and Journey posters for the house. Themes have been one of the things I’ve attempted to include in many business promotions and events we do. Remember Maverick Rule #31: Make your business and doing business with you FUN!
Consider our long-standing Underground® Online seminar, which about 60+ Mavericks attended this year. The theme is around the “spy” aspect of bringing in real-world Internet business owners who are quietly making millions online, and having them teach. We just had our 7th sold-out event this year (obviously called Underground 007), which was a Bond themed event. Attendees still love it. We do big and little things to go along with the theme—everything from a spy-inspired opening production to the black-tie “Casino Royale” casino night. All of this adds to an event that already has great content by making it fun, inspiring attendees to return over and over again.
[Side note: The day before Underground officially started, we hosted a special day with Dan Sullivan, one of my mentors and founder of the Strategic Coach organization. He’s somebody I’ve learned a lot from—and this was the exact same sentiment I heard from Maverick members over and over during and after his workshop. It was a great presentation, with some really big thinking on how to grow your business 10 times. In case you missed it or want to hear more from Dan, I’ll be interviewing him on April 14, 2011. Look out for that invitation.]
Maverick members may not have known this, but my 80’s themed birthday party is what triggered the idea to combine an 80’s theme with our Video Scavenger-Hunt Road Rally up the coast from LA to San Francisco a couple years back. It was so funny to see the Mavericks in mullet wigs, jean jackets and parachute pants driving exotic super cars with Pac Man and Rubik’s Cube stickers on them.
The most recent M1000 theme we’re trying out is a new “Dangerous Dinner Series.” The idea is to have entrepreneurs show up for a meal of dangerous foods (live octopus, blowfish, tarantulas, etc.). Dangerous guests having dangerous discussions. We just held the first trial run in Vancouver BC this week, when I was meeting up with Derek Gehl. It was a last-minute event we threw together, with all proceeds going to the Japan relief funds, and the best we could get for dangerous foods were python and alligator. But these were still cool, with M1000 Members #104 Shelby Larson, #128 Ben Roy and #113 Randy Charach heeding the call. In fact, the members all agreed the python and alligator were pretty darn tasty!
So look out for more Dangerous Dinners coming soon—especially since I’m now obsessed with live octopus and fugu. This is a new way to connect with fellow Mavericks in your region…and you’ll hear more about it shortly.