Last year, I had the privileged opportunity of stepping into a stunning piece of Caribbean paradise and hanging out with our host, the inspirational Sir Richard Branson.

Sir Richard has long been someone I have been in awe of. There aren’t many business owners who can lay claim to accolades of record-breaking hot air balloon rides, owning space ships and submarines, initiating a world famous and incredibly successful human rights group and perhaps some of his career highlights, appearing on episodes of Friends and Baywatch.

When attending an island retreat with a legend, I felt it was pertinent to do some preparation. After an hour of googling, which I wish I hadn’t. In wanting to establish a little connection with him, in case I had that slither of a chance to say hello, I was hoping to find a small nugget that we had in common which I could raise to start a beautiful engaging conversation.

Google said, we didn’t have anything in common…  For starters, he has a lot of facial hair and unless the sun shines in the wrong direction, I don’t. He has over 400 companies, I have at least 396 less. He likes heights, my stomach does a somersault on the 3rd floor of an elevator and he’s appeared in my favourite TV shows…. I haven’t.

No, Google made it clear that was I to meet him and engage in a little banter, I would have to rely on my pure British wit to charm him. I was doomed from the outset.

However, on meeting the legend, perhaps Google didn’t know it all. Perhaps we did have a few things in common.

It turns out that we both grew up in the same town in Surrey, England. We’re both perceived as extroverts but have a shy side. We both like the ladies and have found ourselves absolute keepers. We can both hit a tennis ball, Richard can hit one leagues better than me, although I did get a high five from him for a shot or two, and we’ve both had our palms read by an incredible lady called Masami Sato. Mum’s the word on what she said.

Those weren’t the only things I learnt about Richard from spending 5 days with him. From Hobie cat’s to deep dinner chats, chess game patience to tennis match prowess, business tips to life changing trips. This is a man of extremely high Calibre. His position and place places him in some of the highest-pressure situations and he comes out performing well and looking like he’s just popped out to play.

In life threatening situations, he’s kept his head cooler than an Eskimo facing a polar bear on a melting ice cap. In politically charged spaces he’s applied his calm to cool heated discussions and he does all that because he appears to be fiercely aligned with his purpose and generates a mind-blowing amount of good through Virgin Unite and the Elders.

It struck me that if I was going to reach my goal of owning successful multi-million dollar businesses, I needed to work out how to achieve the same Calibre as Richard.

In 5 days, my take on his 5 ingredients for good Calibre are:

  1. Be purposeful – I recounted a story of a project for good I worked on as he turned to me and said ‘we need more people like you in the world Kristy’. Wow. I was humbled and inspired in one and the pressure I feel to make similar projects decreases significantly when they are packed with purpose.
  2. Be prepared – Preparation is key in everything you do. Richard was in training on the tennis court twice a day and boy did it show in his scores
  3. Performance – His top tip for me, if I wanted to perform like him in business, was to find brilliant people to run those businesses.
  4. Paradise – There’s no doubt that surrounding yourself in blue skies, warm breeze and crystal-clear water environment helps you create and innovate.
  5. Play – Memories are made when doing the fun stuff. Richard has a razor-sharp memory used to turn information into fun banter and he’s captivating because of it. (cue my parents professions into a fun joke at the dinner table and allowing me to turn him into a 20 meter hologram for dinner one night).

Millions of dollars are spent on the psychology of winning in sport but not in business, yet we face business pressures every day and the price of success is getting higher and higher. So, I’ve taken Richard’s advice, found some brilliant people who know all about mental preparation, performance and purpose and we’re coming together to train business professionals how not to crack under pressure in paradise. Come play with us there at www.calibre.network