I have always admired Sir Richard Branson’s approach of doing things differently, as well as his sense of social responsibility in business.
So when I got the heads up that Richard was going to be on Australian shores for a charity flight dressed as a stewardess I decided a day of inspiration was worth the cost of the ticket. Ideally I wanted to get a chance to tell him about my travel product Flightamins.
I spent the 10 days leading up to the flight working closely with my marketing team to prepare a little pack to give him, with a letter I wrote about the Flightamins journey so far. I like to have fun so I thought given Richard was dressing as a woman I should dress like a man. Initially I planned to dress as Richard. But I thought that might steal the limelight away from his publicity stunt ;) So I opted for a moustache. Every step from arrival at the airport to boarding the plane was exciting and as we took off I stuck on the moustache!
It was inspirational to see how one person can be so popular for all the right reasons.
Shortly after take off Sir Richard came through the cabin for a meet and greet with the travellers, wearing his stewardess outfit, complete with… fake eyelashes. I thought this could be my only chance, so I moved across into the centre of the plane and said, “Excuse me, Sir Richard”. I was wide- eyed but knew I had to seize the opportunity. He acknowledged me and I said, “I have come from Melbourne today to see you and tell you about my creation called Flightamins. If you get a chance, have a read and get back to me.” And I handed him the leaflet and letter.
He said thanks and then discovered he had no pockets to put the papers into, so he decided to pull up his skirt and tuck the document into his stockings!
I was thrilled that I had taken the chance to talk to him and that he took my papers. About two hours passed when suddenly there was an announcement over the loud speaker asking for me to go to the front of the plane! It felt totally surreal almost like my head was detached from my body. Surprisingly I didn’t feel nervous at this moment, I was in shock.
As I got through the curtain to the front, I took a deep breath and remembered what I wanted to communicate. I had spent an hour the previous night learning what an elevator pitch was and preparing something. Now I would pitch for the first time to Richard Branson- no pressure!
As I returned back to where he was sitting his assistant asked me, “Are you ready to pitch to Richard?” I said, “Okay,” then sat beside him in a big red chair. He said that everyone had been looking at my leaflet and he wanted to find out more. “So tell me about it,’ he said. So I began my pitch. I told him… why I was passionate about preventative health, about my university studies and travels. Then about the main features of my product and how it relates to travellers specifically. He asked some questions and then gave me some feedback. Richard liked Flightamins and suggested we stay in touch.
What better encouragement could a new business receive?
*Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies around the world, including the airlines Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America, as well as the wireless company Virgin Mobile and the international health club chain Virgin Active.