A former Virgin president reveals why Richard Branson would insist on everyone standing during big meetings

Huntley Ritter

  • Huntley Ritter, the CEO of interactive advertising firm
    USeek, used to work with Richard Branson at Virgin Group between
    2011 to 2016.
  • Speaking to Business Insider about his experiences with
    the British billionaire, Ritter explained why Branson never allowed
    sit-down group meetings.
  • Branson, who Ritter says was “very big on challenging
    the status quo,” would want people standing so they would cut to
    the chase.
  • He’s not the only billionaire to despise big meetings.
    Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos also have rules about large groups of
    colleagues congregating. 

  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

A former colleague of Richard Branson has revealed why the
Virgin Group founder insisted on everyone standing during large
meetings.

Huntley Ritter was president of branded entertainment at Virgin
Produced, Virgin Group’s TV and entertainment arm, between 2011 and
2016.

Speaking to Business Insider about his experience of Branson,
Ritter — a former Hollywood actor who is now CEO of interactive
advertising firm USeek — said he always focused on maximizing
efficiency. This included getting the most out of big meetings.

“He wasn’t a big fan of meetings,” Ritter said. “He did not like
meetings; he did not like conference rooms. His thing was that if
he was going to be stuck in a conference-type meeting, he wanted
everyone to stand.

“It’s genius. If you’re standing, you’re not going to chit-chat
for too long, and you’re not going to have long, drawn-out
conversations. He always just seemed to be more focused on, ‘What
are we trying to achieve? What’s the result?'”

Richard Branson

Branson is not the only billionaire to despise big meetings.

Elon Musk famously told Tesla staff
to get rid of meetings with
large groups of people and encouraged staff to walk out if they’re
not adding value.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a “two-pizza rule”
: Never have a
meeting where two pizzas couldn’t feed the entire group.

Ritter said: “What I noticed is that Branson’s very big on
challenging the status quo. The first time I met him, and through
all the first years I worked on campaigns… his whole mantra was
‘screw it – let’s do it.’

“What he means by that is: all the naysayers; all the people who
are telling you that you can’t do it; all the people that say this
won’t work; all the people who think is weird or whatever — he’s
just like ‘well, f–k it. Let’s just do it. If we fail, we fail,
and we try again.”

Branson influenced Ritter’s post-Virgin career as a tech
entrepreneur

As well as being USeek’s CEO, Ritter is also the company’s
founder, having set it up straight after leaving Virgin in 2016. It
produces technology for turning adverts into interactive, game-like
experiences. He boasts clients such as T-Mobile, GoPro, and
Universal Studios.

Read more:
A startlingly honest story about Richard Branson not knowing what
‘gross margin’ meant shows his qualities as a leader, says former
coworker

He says Branson has “absolutely” been an influence on his own
entrepreneurial style. “What Branson did remarkably well — which
probably influences every person that’s gone on from a Virgin
experience — is he set a cadence of culture and achievement and
the possibility of achievement with little nuggets,” Ritter
said.

“I catch myself, maybe not saying ‘screw it – let’s do it,’
but taking that approach. Living and being a part of that culture
is not being afraid to ask questions; not being afraid to say, ‘Hey
— I don’t know what you’re talking about. Can you please break
this down in common English for me? I don’t get what you’re
saying.’

Richard Branson

Ritter added that Branson was able to instil this ‘screw it —
let’s do it’ mantra throughout the numerous companies that comprise
Virgin Group.

“Branson set that pace and culture, and he did a really good job
to transfer that from a brand level down into all the different
companies,” he said.

“[What] I think about all the time as an entrepreneur is, ‘How
do you do that? How do you impose that into the culture of a brand
where people tell stories about it?’ That’s the difference between
entrepreneurs and legends.”

SEE ALSO: The
sudden demise of a lauded New York agency is a chilling reminder of
the ad industry’s massive ongoing challenges


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Source: FS – All Tech News
A former Virgin president reveals why Richard Branson would insist on everyone standing during big meetings