Very refreshing to hear the honest answer of Richard Branson. When asked about the foundation of Virgin’s famous corporate culture, it turns out that it was not “planned from the start” but rather incididentally developed based on his personal core values, e.g. treating customers very good.

Q: How can a small-business owner go about laying the foundation for a corporate culture like Virgin’s?

When my friends and I started the first Virgin business 40 years ago, we had no master plan – especially not one for a group of companies that by 2011 would number more than 400 businesses around the world and employ 50,000 people. Had we tried to plan for such a future, we would certainly have messed it up.
If I think back to what we did right, it was in our planning process, when we made sure we were having fun working together and that everyone who had a good idea was included in our decision-making process.
We had accidentally stumbled on the core elements of a culture dedicated to delivering great customer service! It turned out that people who work in a friendly environment that is tolerant of mistakes, and who are empowered to make decisions about how they do their jobs, arrive at the best possible solutions for serving customers.

The full interview is available at