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Entertaining Richard Branson: Day #3 – Harry Houdini’s Trick

Mission: I would like to partner with Richard Branson to create a wonderful new store I am calling Virgin Social.

Houdini in handcuffs, 1918.

This most unique social-media  center would be set in the hearts of 50 cities worldwide by 2016. This will be a for-profit store with the social impact that for every person who buys a learning session, each center’s staff will provide a free session for disadvantaged youth. The store would offer connection — collaborations on cool projects, ideas and ventures — as well as direction (perpetual social media training by experts addressing the current social-illiteracy pandemic).

My Ongoing Open Letter to Richard Branson

Dear Mr. Branson,

Remember I said I would share the Harry Houdini magic trick that will persuade you to partner with me and my team? I’m going to go with one of Houdini’s famous handcuff tricks. Why? Houdini, at the beginning of his fame, was known as the “Handcuff King.” His photographic memory housed all sorts of lock images. He even claimed he could remember how each one worked. He also knew simple locks could be undone with a shoe string.

In one of your recent columns, Mr. Branson, you mention that you did a bit of “slight of hand” in the early days of Virgin Atlantic, when you needed the execs at Airbus to lower the price of the plane you wanted to purchase. You were able to pull off a “magic trick” with the CEO’s wristwatch and, as a result, achieved your goal of reducing the purchase price by $2 million.

Let’s channel Houdini’s spirit, ask him to pull off a most unique magic trick: unlocking the handcuffs imprisoning my conceptualized idea and release it into the community, where many can prosper. Virgin Social can most benefit the following people — and why:

  1. Start-up and existing entrepreneurs. Let’s face it. Not everyone who starts a business will take advantage of the free and cost-effective resources from the government. Why? Many times they’re unaware of said resources e.g. as a judge, for the last 4-5 years, I have been involved with the City of Chicago’s Business Plan Contest and Conference.  What I  often hear from the Treasurers Office is only half of the privy are in the know about this great, free event. We need to return Avenue business to Main Street. 
  2. The Over-40 Crowd. I started my career as a technical writer more than 20 years ago. I taught my skill, rewrote computer-user manuals for at least three companies and found, even back then, there are people who just don’t get tech. We need to educate these people on contemporary connection. The learning needs to land right onto main strip of every town — now. I also travel a lot, but I simply don’t see these places. I see lots of nail and/or hair salons as well as many clothing stores. What about social media learning centers?
  3. Other Professionals. Have a great idea and want to find collaborators for a project, product or service? The center concierge can help find you those partners who already frequent the store and are looking for their match! If both parties agree, they might be a good match after being contacted individually through Virgin Social’s provided software matching tool(s) — they can meet and collaborate!
  4. Moms, Dads and Kids . . . Oh My! Imagine going into one of the Virgin Social stores, meeting up with a presenter — somewhat like Disney World, but instead of a ride, you get a tour guide. The guide showcases videos of the many Chicago-based innovations and the introduction of ongoing contests for up-and-coming [cool] product as a result of a visit to Virgin Social.
  5. Students. Each time I speak, such as my contribution to The MIT Forum in Chicago, I find students lining up, showing support and interest in volunteering at the center. With 50 centers around the world, students can work at their local Virgin Social store, get apprenticed through all the various positions, acquire academic credit and, upon graduation, those who have done well can either work full time at their local center or be transferred to another exciting location.

A Snapshot of a [Possible] Future Social Networking Event at Virgin Social

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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