Business Advice, Startup Advice

The value of punctuality: Why being late irritates Richard Branson

Matthew Elmas /

Here’s some advice: if you ever find yourself booking a meeting with Richard Branson, be on time.

If you’re tardy you may find yourself on the Virgin founder’s bad side.

A seasoned businessman and entrepreneur, Branson is known for his quirks, but when it comes to punctuality he doesn’t mess around.

“There’s very little that annoys me in life, but people turning up late really does irritate me,” Branson wrote in a recent blog post.

Agree or disagree, there can be no denying that Branson practices what he preaches, as he went on to explain.

The entrepreneur has been photographed on several occasions running through the streets of London or New York to make meetings on time. Last year, he ran 15 blocks through New York’s summer to meet someone for an interview on climate change.

“We made it a few minutes before our slot. I was sweaty — but I wasn’t late,” Branson said.

The penchant for being on time stems from a lesson Branson’s father taught him when he was a teenager.

He had kept his father and friends waiting, and was pulled aside after showing up late to have the importance of valuing the time of others imprinted on him.

Branson said he hasn’t been late since — at least not when it was something he could control (bad traffic counts).

His advice if you find yourself running behind due to factors outside of your control? Call ahead, apologise.

“It shows you are serious, and it shows you are organised. But, most importantly, it shows you are respectful of other people’s time and their value,” he said.

It’s a philosophy for business — and good airline management.

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany.

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