158 – Don’t argue, influence

Posted by  Anecdote International —August 23, 2022
Filed in Anecdotes, Podcast

You can be efficient with things, not people. Listen to hear how Richard Branson led Mike Oldfield to a career-defining moment.

Concert crowd

Shawn’s been reading about Richard Branson, so this week, he shares an anecdote from the beginning of Virgin Records. Thanks for tuning in! 

The anecdote depicts Branson’s leadership style through his interactions with Mike Oldfield, the composer and musician behind Tubular Bells. He doesn’t argue with the people around him but influences them. 

For your story bank

Tags: arguments, influence, leadership, people skills

This story starts at 01:05

When Virgin Records started, the label’s only major star was Mike Oldfield. He was to headline their first big concert, and Richard Branson was relying on its success and the success of Oldfield’s album, Tubular Bells.

But he was young and introverted. On the day of the concert, Oldfield called Branson.

“Hey, I can’t do it,” he told him. He had anxiety about performing in front of so many people.

Branson knew arguing wouldn’t get him anywhere with Oldfield. He’d dig in his heels.

So instead, he asked if he could come over and take him for a drive in his Bentley. Oldfield had always loved Branson’s Bentley.

They drove around, and Branson made sure he passed the concert venue. He pointed out to Oldfield that people were already lining up to see him.

He pulled the car over and said, “Mike, if you do the concert tonight, you can have this Bentley. In fact, I will get out right now, and you can slide over and drive away.”

Oldfield didn’t hesitate. Branson got out, and he jumped over to the driver’s seat. He rolled down his window and yelled, “See you at the concert!” while driving away.

So they did the concert. Oldfield wasn’t happy about how it went, but the audience loved it.

It was another step towards the long-term success of Tubular Bells.

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.

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