Virgin Group boss Richard Branson managed a tentative link to the IT industry at the Veritas Vision conference in Las Vegas when detailing his early customer feedback methods for his airline.
Branson gave the opening keynote speech at the conference on Wednesday morning and found a way of playing to the IT-focused crowd as he detailed building Virgin Atlantic.
"Nobody ever learned anything by hearing themselves speak. So wherever I go, I try to spend as much time as possible listening to the people I meet," said Branson.
"The picture I try to paint for you today as an entrepreneur of many years is one that has replied on information. The concept of information means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
"It can mean a deeper understanding of your customers and their needs, or greater knowledge of the people you work with, or your impact on the environment."
Branson said that just after he launched Virgin Atlantic in the mid-1980s, which he did by leasing a single plane, he would regularly fly and gather information directly.
"We were good at learning on the go. Whenever I was on a plane, I would have a notebook in my pocket. I would talk to all the passengers and the staff, and I would take notes.
"Their thoughts and experiences were invaluable and helped us make air travel fun, friendly and entertaining, rather than boring and painful. Today, you might call that human intelligence gathering, but as I was in the air at the time, I suppose you could call me a pioneer of cloud storage," he joked.
Branson also used his keynote to stress the importance of getting the best staff and handing responsibility to them.
"Nobody ever built a business alone, so I surround myself with people better than myself and then I listen to them and I give them the freedom to try things themselves and enable them to make mistakes. Managers should never hold on to anything for too long," he added.
CRN's Nima Green caught up with Chris Labrey for a quick Q&A at CRN's recent European Channel Leadership Forum
We caught up with the Atea chief exec at CRN's European Channel Leadership Forum in London
Andy Gillett has been appointed GM for the UK and Ireland
UK is one of two countries to see rollout of vendor's newest subscription service