Richard Branson's TV show was on last night.

I met him a few times while I worked at Virgin Interactive.

The time that most sticks in my mind is when David Bishop, who was head of game design at Virgin Interactive, and I were talking with him in a hotel lobby in England, or Chicago, or somewhere.

At the time, Virgin Atlantic flight attendents or pilots or somebody was on strike. David, without missing a beat, said to Richard, "So how much money are you losing each day?"

I about died inside. In America, at least, you're not supposed to talk about money too much. For instance, my sister-in-law has a cattle ranch, and the first question city folk want to ask, is, "Really? How many cattle do you have?", which, in cattle ranching country, is the same as asking how much money you have. As a result things get awkward quickly in the conversation.

But Richard didn't blink. He kind of thought for a moment, and then said, "Not too much. It costs a lot of money to fly the plane and if it is just sitting there it isn't too bad, since no one is getting paid."


I remember another conversation about airplanes with Branson's brother-in-law, Robert Devereax. Robert wanted us to turn the computers off at night to save electricity costs. I said, "No, that's not a good idea - it's much healthier for the computers to leave them on, but we can turn the monitors off, since they consume a lot of power and make a lot of heat."

Robert said, "Sounds like a 747. You don't want to turn it on and off too much - not more than once a day."

Now, I have to admit, I had never thought of a 747 as something that would have an on/off switch, so this was quite a revelation.

Anyway, I like the show - his crazy-ass personality shows through. As I mentioned elsewhere, as well, he can add and subtract and actually says "no" to bad business plans all the time, so it's interesting to see him "fire" or basically say "no more for you" to the contestants. He takes his time and has some heart about it, which is obviously a big difference from Trump.

© 2004 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.