Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 2013

One on One With Sir Richard Branson

By Susan Sarfati, CAE

you to be open to new ideas and people; we hope to create that kind of environment at our new Virgin Hotels, but it can also be achieved in large conference events with the help of warm and friendly facilitators who make sure that everyone is relaxed and having a good time.

It is encouraging that there are so many brilliant conferences to choose from.

Are you available (based on your schedule, of course) to speak at conferences; and, if yes, what are your fees and requirements?

Virgin Unite is our charity group, [founded] to incubate new, independent approaches to leadership, including the Elders, the Carbon War Room, Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, and The B Team.

I accept a handful of speaking engagements a year to raise funds to operate Virgin Unite — so the donations we receive go to the front line - and to try to impart a few words of what I’ve learned over the last 40 years or so. One-hundred percent of the funds go to charity; conferences are a great way to help raise the funds and also meet some wonderful people.

You are known as a person willing to try anything. What would you not try?

Smoking cigarettes!

What are your plans for affordable space travel?

Those plans are happening now: We are building the world’s first spaceline, and as commercial operations start, prices will decrease, making it affordable for many more people to experience space and see our beautiful planet from the blackness of space.

Virgin Galactic has signed up more future astronauts to travel to space than the number of people who have already gone to space. While they wait for flights to start, our future astronauts have started a STEM education scholarship fund - we are already making a difference.

It is a very exciting time for us all, and I couldn’t be more proud of the brilliant men and women who are dedicating their lives to help make space travel possible for us all.

Susan Sarfati, CAE, is CEO of High Performance Strategies LLC, which focuses on organizational assessments, innovative thinking in organizational strategy, leadership and management, moving from ideas to execution, and building a human-focused learning culture. She served as CEO of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives and executive vice president of ASAE. She can be reached at susan@ssarfati.com.

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