27 Jun Joe Player Meets Richard Branson on Necker Island – Follow-Up Interview
After a whirlwind trip to stay on Richard Branson’s Necker Island to meet the main man himself along with other lucky entrepreneurs, Joe Player is back to share his amazing story (If you missed our first interview together, just make sure to check it out first).
Simon: Just getting to Necker Island must have been an adventure in itself, please tell us the story.
Joe: Yeah it was a pretty long trip, after 3 flights and a 25 minute boat ride I finally made it to Necker Island after approx. 12-15 hours of travelling. In Miami I had to leave the airport in between flights to go pick up my Groovy Lights I had shipped to a nearby office. I have a video online that shows some of the days travel.
Simon: Since in your last interview found out how you were invited to meet Richard Branson, can you share the stories of how any other entrepreneurs joined you on Necker Island?
Joe: Well, Joe Polish and Yanik Silver were the hosts of the event. Other well-known guest included actress Patricia Arquette, celebrity entrepreneur Kevin Harrington (former Shark Tank investor), Virgin Unite CEO Jean Oelwang and community director Matthias Stausberg, Also the man himself Richard Branson. I got to connect with all these wonderful people and about a dozen more. Two of guest had actually won their tickets and got to choose between a SUV or two admissions to Necker! They Chose the Necker trip and I would have done the same.
Simon: As you weren’t exactly there on a luxury vacation, what itinerary did Richard Branson have for you and the other entrepreneur guests?
Joe: Well we were on the island for a full week, half day business sessions on 6 of the 7 days. Daily subjects varied from personal introductions on the first day to, how to grow your business, how to keep your staff motivated to a Virgin Unite brainstorming session where I got the chance to show my balls to Branson and explain my Light For Cause project. Other activities included Kite boarding lessons, wakeboarding, a tour of Virgin’s newest island acquisition “Mosquito Island” (neighboring Necker Island) and local sightseeing around the British Virgin Islands.
Simon: Any stories about any parties or events you’d like to share?
Joe: Each evening had a magical theme such as, tribal dinner, Sunset cocktail on the Necker belle (Virgin’s Catamaran) followed by dinner on the beach, one evening we all went out to a nearby bar on a different island; we had a Greek dinner, Beach Olympics, Super Hero beach party where I got the staff to display my Groovy Lights, stuff like that. All of which was very fun. Oh yeah and on the last night we had all white dinner where everyone dressed in white. The reason why Richard and I are both dressed in all white on the picture.
Simon: Did you get to play with any of Branson’s toys, like his catamaran or submarine?
Joe: Well I was lucky enough to be staying on Virgin’s catamaran called the Necker Belle. Since lightning struck the main house in August of 2011, Branson has been anchoring his catamaran next to the island to use as extra guest rooms while the main house is being finished. As for the submarine called the Necker Nymph, there were plans to go ride it but unfortunately we ran out of time. This probably the only disappointing part of the entire trip as I was really looking forward to riding the small submarine. (For some great photos of the Necker Belle and Nymph, click here)
Simon: What was meeting, talking and touching the hand of Branson as amazing as we all imagine?
Joe: Of course, I have to say that the guy you see on TV and YouTube is the exact same person I got to spend time and conversations with. What you see is what you get, a genuinely nice caring person. He doesn’t take himself too seriously; you can tell he likes having fun, pulling pranks and throwing out jokes every now and then. Kind of like me!
Simon: What did you talk about with The Man himself? Such as your Light for Cause campaign.
Joe: Well I had a good conversation with him during one of the lunches, where we spoke mostly about nuclear energy, the ozone layer and carbon being released in the earth’s atmosphere. We also spoke how he’s currently looking to implement wind and solar power for the entire island. On another occasion I asked him if he had a hard time finding the first passenger that would be willing go up in the new Virgin Galactic spaceship, his reply to that one was “Not really, as I will be the first passenger”. Finally I think Richard was impressed about my Light For Cause initiative and how I actually was able to raise money to make to the island. After my project presentation he asked the group to give me a second round of applause.
Simon: How did the week conclude? And what were your takeaways from the whole experience?
Joe: The week concluded perfectly with Branson calling me over during the last supper, pulling out a chair for me, telling me how much he liked my Groovy balls and how he wanted to endorse, support and promote my Light For Cause project. Obviously my biggest takeaway from the trip was getting endorsement from both Richard and Virgin Unite for my Light For Cause initiative. There’s some other interesting business stuff simmering from the island trip, but unfortunately I can’t disclose that information just yet. I’ll keep that for the next interview.
Simon: Now where do you go from Necker Island? Are you continuing with Groovy Lights or do you have any new projects in the works?
Joe: I’m certainly going forward with Groovy Lights in fact just a few days after my return, my Indiegogo campaign ended successfully with a completed goal of $40,145 and since then I’ve recently launched the LightForCause.com website, where $5 of every light sold through the website will be donated to the Virgin Unite foundation. Since my return, I’ve been in direct communication with Richard. My goal is to raise 3 million dollars over the next 3 year for Virgin Unite. We are trying to figure out how we can pull together and make it happen.
Joe: Hey no problem Simon, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for the interview!