After setting up the first Virgin record shop in London, we scraped together some money and bought a rundown country house and converted the squash court into a recording studio called the Manor.
One day, an engineer from the Manor rang me and said he’d heard this incredible instrumental demo tape by a teenager called Mike Oldfield. He played every instrument himself. His expression came out in the music. He was an absolute genius.
I took the tape to record companies: Mercury said they’d release it if Mike added vocals, which he didn’t want at all.
Eventually, we decided to set up our own record company. We sent Mike to live at the Manor for a week to record it properly — and Tubular Bells became the first release on Virgin.
Virgin Records became the biggest independent record company in the world, signing acts like Janet Jackson, Genesis and Peter Gabriel.
What stuck with me from this moment was how incredible it was helping someone unknown to become the best in their field. You’ve got take risks if you are going to succeed. It kickstarted our ethos of supporting entrepreneurs.
For 20 years, Angie’s List has connected consumers to local service companies, many of whom say they must work harder than ever to find good employees.
It seems fewer young people want to pursue a career in the skilled trades.
With this in mind, I was inspired last month at the local public school where many employees volunteer. It was almost time for students to complete a career exploration assignment, and I learned that few kids had real-life role models for careers beyond teacher and doctor.
That’s when I realized how Angie’s List could make a difference.
My team and I organized a career fair at the school. Service providers spent a few hours showing — and telling — fifth and sixth graders about being a remodeler, electrician, landscaper, HVAC technician, plumber, painter, auto mechanic and dog groomer.
We’re expanding the concept to other schools and cities, combining it with a job fair for adults interested in similar openings.
I’m excited about the possibilities. After all, Angie’s List is uniquely suited to spotlight the value of the skilled trades and home services, and to make a difference for service companies and their communities.
I have always been fascinated by transportation, particularly how we improve it.
Perhaps this was a byproduct of growing up in Los Angeles where the coastal highways were less like a commercial for a new convertible and more like a parking lot.
In 2005, I visited Zimbabwe. I expected to be inspired by the people and the culture, but I didn’t expect to be so inspired by the way they got around. It was a simple approach. By sharing the ride, charting the routes and setting the prices, people were able to get around efficiently even without the physical infrastructure we have in the United States.
I knew a similar approach could work at home. And it could fundamentally change the way we think about getting where we’re going.
Today, we are building Lyft to be a transportation network that is affordable, reliable and fast. A system that will work so well that people will see car ownership as optional because not owning a car will be the easiest way to get around — just like in Zimbabwe.
I have studied yoga for many years because I know that every creative thing happens in the moment.
Yoga teaches you to be in the moment, when the mind is still.
I do yoga for an hour and 15 minutes every day, and every “aha” moment I have comes from this place.
I am more calm and creative now. I have lots of film and TV projects and I’m building more companies than before.
When I arrived in New York City from Eastern Turkey, I didn’t have plans to start a business. I came here to study.
I’m from a Kurdish dairy-farming family and when my father visited, he pushed me to import good feta cheese. It sounded crazy, but I took his advice and people loved it. So I focused on making cheese in Upstate New York, realizing that there weren’t many delicious, affordable options for people.
One day, going through junk mail in my office, I saw an ad for a yogurt factory in the upstate village of New Berlin. I threw it out, but a few minutes later I was standing over the trashcan, digging for it. That was my “aha” moment.
I wanted to make the kind of yogurt my mother made for me growing up in Anatolia: yogurt with only natural ingredients that was delicious, nutritious, natural and affordable — our “DNNA.”
Our mission would be to make better food for more people. We would give 10% of profits to charity, give back to the community and stand for strong values. Chobani would be a different kind of food company.
My “aha” moment happened in an unusual place.
It was 1988 and I was playing blackjack at the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. At the time we were only selling our AmberVision sunglasses direct to consumer via print and TV ads. I was chatting with the dealer and he asked what I did for a living. When I told him, he said, “AmberVision sunglasses. That’s very impressive, everyone knows them.”
It was at that moment that I realized I wasn’t just selling an item but creating a brand.
This moment changed the course of my professional career. I changed the name of my company to TeleBrands and continued to use DRTV [Direct Response Television] to create brands and sell our products to retailers.
Fast-forward almost 30 years and TeleBrands’ products are sold at over 100,000 retail stores, which accounts for 90% of our business.
Lauren Bush Lauren
My “aha” moment was born out of a time of uncertainty about my future.
While in college, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with the UN World Food Programme as a student spokesperson. It ignited my passion for working toward eradicating world hunger. But I had also spent years cultivating a skillset in design and felt confident I could build a successful career in fashion.
This left me struggling to choose between two very different life paths.
I actually remember the precise stretch [on a] sidewalk in North Bondi, Australia, when I realized I did not have to choose — I could merge my skillset and my passion.
The first FEED bag was born out of this realization.
Today, ten years since my initial “aha” moment, FEED has given over 87 million meals though the sale of a robust line of bags and accessories.
And while I had never heard the term “conscious consumerism” or “social business” when I created that first FEED bag, the fact that using business as a mechanism to do good is the new normal shows I wasn’t the only one with that revelation.
I’m honored to be a part of this movement of entrepreneurs who have figured out how to merge their skillsets with their causes to change the world.
Kimora Lee Simmons
I became a successful entrepreneur when I was young and built Baby Phat from zero to a billion-dollar brand. However, even at that time, combining my business success with my family was a priority.
The most important “aha” moment — the moment that grounds me and gives me perspective again and again — is when we sit as a family around our kitchen table for our family dinner.
It is most important to me that I combine my growing family with my business endeavors. I want to empower other women in business to do the same.
In that respect, my newborn Wolfe Lee and my latest investment, Celsius energy drink, are the newest additions to my family.
Credit: CNN Money