The headline on this post is the title of Richard Branson‘s business memoir. The full title: Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life and Business. The link will take you to the book on Amazon, so you can just do it and buy the book.

I had the opportunity to literally see Branson in action on Friday, 9/9/11 at Richmond Unite’s #DSRPT11 conference right here in River City (Richmond VA), which also featured some other visionary thinkers who exhorted the crowd in attendance to get out of their business comfort zones and create some disruption.

Richard Branson has disrupted many industries: music, aviation, travel, mobile, broadband, just to name a few. He talked about his failures (Anybody here remember Virgin Cola? Yeah, me neither.), and was anxious to convey the message that his “screw it, let’s do it” rallying cry became even more important to him because of those failures. There is only do, or not do. There is no try. Thanks, Yoda.

The other big thinkers on the stage all shared the same ethos – look beyond what you perceive as your borders, whether those borders are physical, mental, geographical, or just imaginary. If you have an idea, chase it down and make it real. If you fail, get up and chase the next idea. Immobility is your only enemy.

One of the speakers, Harry Singer, said two things during his presentation that really stuck with me, and with other folks I talked to at #DSRPT11:

  • Don’t ask why, figure out how 
  • Don’t tell them what it is, tell them what it does

The first is something we should teach children from birth, and keep on teaching them and each other throughout our lives. The second is a titanium nugget if you’re in sales or marketing: what your product or service does for your customers is much more important than what it is. Communicate the doing rather than the being.

Kelly O’Keefe, a branding guru who’s also on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter – which is one of the top design schools in the world – spoke about the opportunities present in our current economic downturn to focus on social entrepreneurship. He talked a lot about Detroit – his home town – and the true crisis that city has been in since the Japanese started eating the lunch of Detroit’s Big 3 car makers. That crisis has deepened into a catastrophe as the global economy has imploded. Kelly said it was the outliers – the nerds, the artists, the revolutionaries – who were making a true difference in Detroit, and helping that city rise from its own ashes.

I too had the opportunity to take the stage.  I was to have eight minutes, and was invited to create a slide deck for it, which I did. My slice-o-time was to be during lunch. As will happen, the morning speakers ran long, and since Richard Branson was to take the stage at about 3:30pm, the time was to be made up during lunch come hell or high dudgeon. Each of us would have only TWO minutes, no slides. Two of the eight presenters dropped out because their presentations were so visual. The remaining four that weren’t me did what they did, some ran over.

I was always slated to be the last speaker. My topic was that patients need to seize control of healthcare, which is the only sane path to real and meaningful healthcare reform, no matter what your politics are. I knew I had to do two things: Keep it tight – I took the stage at 1:26pm, the afternoon session was starting ON TIME at 1:30pm – and, since there was a post-lunch food nap induction driven further snooze-ward by the fact that the attendees had been in their seats since 9:00am, WAKE ‘EM UP.

My attitude? Screw it, let’s do it.

Here’s the clip of my 1:48 on the platform, right at the end of the lunch break.Let me know what you think – I really DO want to know.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it …

“Screw it, let’s do it.”
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