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.
We’ve 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.
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