The following is an excerpt from Richard Branson’s “Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons In Life”.
As soon as something stops being fun, I think it is time to move on. Life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live. I found this out years ago in my working relationship with my oldest friend, Nik Powel.
Nik was with me from the very start of Virgin. I was the ideas person and Nik kept the books in order and handled the money. His main job was to run the Virgin record stores. They did very well. When we started the airline, we wanted it to be the best. We sank millions of pounds into it. Our main rivals, British Airways, tried to stop us. As the war between us heated up, we needed more and more money. It seemed an endless pit. Virgin Music was wealthy but the airline was eating up the cash. Nik didn’t enjoy taking such huge risks. That was when we both knew it was time for him to move on. I bought his shares in Virgin from him.
Nik’s first love had always been films. He used his profit from Virgin to start Palace Pictures. He made great films, like The Company of Wolves, Mona Lisa and The Crying Game, which won an Oscar. He is still in the film business, still having fun and we are still friends. After a struggle, the airline finnally went into profit. If Nik had stayed with Virgin he might have made more money, but he would not have been happy. If we had gone on working together even after the fun had gone, we might have stayed friends. He made the right choice. This is the why I say, never just try to make money. Long-term success will never come if profit is the only aim.
I have been meaning for a long time to say along those lines. Richard Branson, however, has aptly put it into perspective. On an altogether different note, this book is an inspiring read.