Check out this article which Richard Branson just published on LinkedIn. Looks like a well known accessory – the smart, young and pretty woman – can beat modern gadgets any day! What do you reckon?
Things I Carry: Smart Phone? I Prefer a Brilliant Assistant
I couldn’t get through the workday without my assistant, Helen. While gadgets like smartphones and tablets certainly do have a huge positive impact upon my working life, it is the people around me who really make the difference.
Helen is my memory. She travels the world with me, is delightful to have around, and is extremely adaptable and sociable wherever we find ourselves. With so much going on with my mind, having an extra memory is important. Before I ask her to do something, she can read my mind and know what it is I am thinking before I ask.
There are some people who seem to be able to do everything themselves. I am a great believer in the art of delegation and in sharing the load to make everyone more productive. Having an assistant who is completely in the loop with our activities means we can keep up with everything. People often ask how I am able to keep on top of businesses in dozens of different countries and industries. Well, having an assistant who is on the ball 24/7 is one of the main ways it is possible.
We are a moving office. I don’t believe in sitting in an office all day, so there is no reason for one’s assistant to have to sit in an office either. This makes Helen’s job a lot more fun too. I find dictating emails is an excellent time-saving method, and by dictating she also knows what is going on and can be 100% in touch. We do an awful lot of traveling and my assistant can smooth the journeys through, helping with the nitty-gritty details and logistics that would otherwise be a distraction. This frees up time for me to think about the bigger picture.
Many people are using technology to make assistants a thing of the past. However, for those businesspersons in a position to do so, they may be missing a lot by going it alone. Assistants are a great sounding board for new thoughts and spark lots of fresh ideas. Plus, business travel can be pretty mundane sometimes and having company is very good for people.
Before Helen I was lucky enough to have Nicki Elliott, a wonderful assistant who has stayed in the Virgin family, where she does sterling work for our foundation Virgin Unite. Back in the beginning I had Penni Pike, a remarkable lady who travelled with me for 28 years.
I have also been fortunate to have brilliant assistants including Sue Hale and Saskia Dornan who have worked in Virgin for many years as invaluable parts of the Group. Sam Cox and Alexia Hargrave, having seen an entrepreneur close at hand have gone on to become entrepreneurs themselves, with Sam looking after celebrities on trips to Australia and Alexia organising wonderful events (including Sam and Holly’s weddings and our Virgin Trains celebrations). Sarah Ireland went on to work at Virgin Atlantic, while Louella Faria joined our spaceship company Virgin Galactic and Emma Dona moved to work in the US. One of my very first assistants was the delightful Caroline Gold, who left to have beautiful triplets.
Sometimes I feel that assistants work harder than the people they are working for and show unbelievable diligence – all of my assistants over the years certainly have.
They really do become part of the family, and I count my assistants among my greatest friends too.
(Photo: Enigma Magazine)