As we have all adjusted to teleworking and social distancing in a COVID world, we have had to make a number of adjustments in both our professional and personal lives. One adjustment I suggest? LISTEN TO MORE PODCASTS! Puttering around the house, exercising, walking, fixing a meal, shopping, and driving all provide excellent opportunities to learn something new. Whatever your interests, there are podcasts addressing them: Business. Politics. News. Sports. Food. Pop culture. Travel. Money. Religion. True Crime. Comedy. There are countless terrific podcasts, and lessons can be drawn from all of them. My favorite podcasts and the life and career lessons they contain are the inspiration for this regular series I plan to post on LinkedIn.
I listen to so many podcasts I find it hard to keep up with all of them. But one podcast I never miss is “How I Built This,” an NPR podcast in which Guy Raz interviews innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists about the companies and movements they built. How good is this podcast? It is so good that even my teenage son enjoys listening to episodes with me as I chauffeur him from one athletic event to another.
The first HIBT episode I listened to several years ago was Raz’s interview of Richard Branson, the mega-successful serial entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin empire. This remains one of my favorite episodes. In a nutshell, Branson’s Virgin empire—consisting of an airline, a record label, a bank, space tourism and 200 other businesses—sprang out of his initial creation of a largely unsuccessful magazine followed by his opening of a record store. One day, Branson heard an unpublished recording of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, loved it, and wanted to sell it at his record store. He took it to seven different record labels, but no one was interested. So, Branson did the only logical thing: he started his own label to record and release the album. Tubular Bells went on to become the best-selling instrumental album of all time. And the rest, as they say, is history.
As he recounts in HIBT, Branson seized other opportunities along the way and created countless others for himself by keeping his finger on the pulse of the market. Sure, Branson experienced dozens of failures, but he continued to swing for the fences, seize the opportunities in front of him, and make the most of them to turn himself into one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history. Had Branson limited himself to that initial record store, where do you think he would have ended up? Certainly, nowhere near the level of success and satisfaction he achieved by seizing the opportunities in front of him.
What lessons can lawyers take from Branson’s story?
* Do not limit yourself to the comfortable world you know.
* Increase your geographic footprint and practice offerings.
* Swing for the fences and seize the opportunities in front of you.
* Pay attention to trends and don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.
* Don’t let your own natural risk-aversion stifle your willingness to consider opportunities for greater growth, success, and career satisfaction.