"In the early days of virgin music, I talked to some Japanese businessmen. They were very polite to a young man in a sweater and jeans who had no money. They taught me how important it was to always keep eyes and ears open and to be polite....
Respect is about how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress.
The Japanese can wait 200 years for a long-term goal for their company. They don't look for the quick buck. They want slow, solid growth. One time I was looking for a partner to take a stake in Virgin music. We talked to many Americans. They wanted to invest but they also wanted to be hands-on, which means closely involved, in the running of the company. We had our own way of working, so we wanted a silent partner. We knew a partner that was too hands-on could cause conflict. I remembered the businessmen from Japan who had treated me so kindly a few years before, so we turned to the East. I asked the Japanese businessman who came to see me how he saw us working together.
'Mr Branson,' he asked gently, 'would you prefer an American wife or a Japanese wife?' American wives are very difficult - lots of divorce and alimony. Japanese wives are very good and quiet.'
Good and quiet didn't mean weak. It sounded perfect - and we went with his company."