How Richard Branson Touched My Life.

Yesterday I managed to get myself into the du CEO forum to hear Richard Branson speak! I’m pretty sure people were looking at me funny, wondering what on earth I was doing there because I was obviously NOT a CEO… they probably thought I was a “social media winner” or was on the hunt for a rich CEO husband or something but no – I actually used wasta* for the first time to get in there (wasta meaning begging my friend who was organizing the event).

I have a confession – I have not read any of Sir Richard’s books…but after last night, I definitely want to read them and even make notes about some of the truly inspiring things he has to say. He not only has a great business mind, but from a few comments here and there, I realized that he could also be a great source for life lessons and providing ways to be a better human being.

One of the things I loved most about hearing him speak yesterday was seeing that he’s taken the successful business model that has served him so well in each of his ventures and has been applying the skills and resources from them towards making the world a better place.

If you ever get the chance to hear him speak live, I highly recommended it, but until then, here are some key points that stuck with me after yesterday’s experience:

– Creating a great business is about finding something you LIKE and turning it into capital.
– A company is nothing without the PEOPLE behind it – motivate them and encourage innovation by being a ‘YES’ type of boss, giving people room to make mistakes without reprimanding them and using positive reinforcement. “People do not flourish if they’re not praised.”
– There’s no point starting a business unless you can do what you do BETTER than the others in your sector.
– The secret to success is not to look for the ‘cheapest way’ to do something, but the ‘most AMAZING’ way to do it.

And finally, the point that struck a chord with me and made me look at Sir Richard Branson as not just a great man, but a beautiful soul: his emphasis on the importance of forgiveness. He pushed the idea of forgiving, letting go of conflict and ensuring that you have no bad blood with anyone in your life – whether it be an ex-spouse, business contact, friend, child, parent – whatever – forgive and clear your heart. That advice was not only inspiring, but enlightening.

People like this are the people who inspire change in this world. That’s how we will save it.

richard branson ceo

*for a general idea of what “wasta” is, find it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasta

#AUSGotTalent

I had the privilege of being a judge for this years #AUSGotTalent show at the American University of Sharjah this week and oh what a night!

Not only was I blown away by the many talented students at AUS (singers, breakdancers, musicians and even magicians!) but there were a few events that made it an evening I will never forget.

Firstly, I met a girl (who has asked to remain nameless) who DOESN’T OWN A MOBILE PHONE AND DOESN’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA! She lost her phone about a year ago and just realized the freedom she felt by not being ‘connected’ and ‘reachable’ all the time, and now she’s lived a wonderful happy and liberated life for a year! I was so inspired by her because I really feel like we have become so enslaved by our phones, chats, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – whatever it is – that we often miss out on the ‘here and now’. I have noticed that I sleep much later than I plan to simply because I get into bed and get on my phone. I think I will try and take at least a weekend of being ‘phone-free’ and see how that goes.

Speaking of that new Social Media Culture, the second thing I noticed last night was the change in the way we capture the moment. Last year I was also a judge at AUS Got Talent and after the event, several of the students came up to take photos. You know that feeling of asking someone to take a photo for you and worrying that they won’t have the proper photography skills and not get your good angle? Well there seems to be no need to worry about that anymore because last night, no one asked me to take a photo with them. Instead, they came up to me and said “Sheena!!! Selfieeee!!!” and would throw one arm around me and stick the other arm out with their smartphone at the end of it and *click* – moment captured and ready to be shared and tagged on the world wide web! After experiencing this I just had that dreadful “#Selfie” song playing over and over and over in my head… if you haven’t heard it, here you go:  (listen at your own risk :P).

And finally, the moment that will forever make me crack up whenever I think of 50 Cent!

My friend was walking next to me and she could feel this guy staring at her. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye and said to me: “I think that guy is checking me out! Or maybe I know him…” She then turned to get a better look at the perpetrator and burst out laughing. I looked over to see why she was laughing at the guy and realized that it was because it wasn’t a guy at all – it was a CARDBOARD CUT OUT of 50 Cent! Maybe you just had to be there, but I thought it was hilarious! My abs still hurt from laughing about it and I giggle every time I look at the picture of Hemani with Fiddy:

aka the weirdo who was checking her out...

Hemani and Fiddy…aka the weirdo who was checking her out…

Overall, a great event and I can’t wait to be a part of it again next year! Well done, AUS! You really do “got talent”! 🙂