It was about 10am on a Tuesday morning and I was checking my email after booting up my computer. It was mostly usual emails (newsletters and such) but a subject line caught my eye from my mobile carrier (Virgin Mobile). It read: Members get to meet Richard Branson.
My heart skipped a little. I clicked on the email and it said that Richard Branson was going to be in Vancouver on Thursday morning. He was promoting his new book by doing a book signing. He was also in town for some business so I think the book signing was much more of a bonus thing. Nonetheless I started to get excited. I’ve only recently become a fan (in the last year or so) as I learned more about his work but there is no doubt that Richard Branson is one of my heroes, both on a personal level and a business level. I never thought I would have to the chance to meet him (mainly because he doesn’t do much business in Vancouver). I had recently finished his autobiography and was reading one of his other books now. I don’t really get excited for meeting celebrities but I was very excited to meet him.
Fast forward 2 days.
I woke up nice and early to get downtown by 9am (the book signing was 9:30am). I brought all my books for him to sign (though if I had to choose one, it made sense for him to sign the autobiography). There was about 40 people in line when I got there. One of them was actually my highschool friend and I was surprised she would come to see him. She said her friend was a fan and she was just tagging along. Fair enough.
As I stood in line, I checked out some books in the business section and made small talk with the people in front of me. It was a mother and a high school kid which I thought was interesting. He wasn’t a big fan but it was enough for him to skip school for a chance to meet him. Time well spent in my opinion.
When Sir Richard Branson finally showed up, they did a quick press conference on a new initiative they were starting with Virgin Mobile. This is one of the things I admire most about him. Both him and Virgin are always coming up with ways to reach out to the community and create lasting impact. He always tries to look at ideas and change in a holistic way. He’s smart, yet simple. He truly understands the vision of his companies.
When it came time to meet him, I had 2 books for him to sign: his new book and his autobiography (we were limited to two). I was so nervous when I was the next one up that I didn’t know what to say. If I had a few minutes I could actually ask him a thoughtful question. Nonetheless I told him I was a big fan and I had just finished his autobiography. I’m sure he hears that a lot but the process happened quickly and I only had a few seconds to say something. I honestly felt like a flustered fan-boy. He shook my hand twice (once on approach and once before I left).
The whole experience lasted maybe 15 seconds but I will say that it was one of the best 15 seconds of my life.