Richard Branson loves a good challenge.
That is why in celebration of his 65th birthday in 2015, the Virgin founder and visionary entrepreneur announced that he’d complete 65 problems – as part of the #ChallengeRichard campaign – during the coming year.
Four of the 65 troubles involved Branson writing a notice to the 10, 25, 50 and 65-year-old variants of himself.
This was the result.
Richard Branson’s Notice To His 10-Year-Old Self
In My Notice To 10 Year-Old Me personally, Branson motivated young Ricky to adopt the heart of adventure and never stop dreaming.
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He told his younger home that he’ll face obstacles – everyone will – and not let that block the way of attaining his dreams.
Here is a few of his best advice:
1. “The soul of adventure could keep you curious; open your brain to great opportunities; and steer you over a lifelong pursuit to show that impossible is merely a phrase.”
2. “Never stop dreaming and creating.”
3. “Don’t ever let anyone prevent you from seeking your dreams.”
4. “You can expect to face many difficulties, and often feel like you don’t fit in and that you can’t continue to keep up. Don’t let this carry you again. Use your creativity to find inventive ways around it.”
5. “You will make a whole lot of mistakes and are unsuccessful time and time again. But don’t let this discourage you. Inability teaches us life’s best lessons, and often shows us an improved way of doing things.”
6. “Most importantly, remember to have a great time.”
7. “When you get older you will realise precisely how important it is to do what you like and love what you do. Don’t waste materials your time doing things that don’t excite you.”
Richard Branson’s Letter To His 25-Year-Old Self
In My Letter To 25 Year-Old Me, Branson motivated his younger personal to stick with his new company, Virgin. He warned himself about the bumps forward, but to give attention to his goals – even in the face of adversity.
Branson also wrote about the value of learning from flaws, and transforming troubles into opportunities.
Here is some of his best advice:
1. “The street forward is pock-marked numerous bumps, chasms and forks. You will see times where you want to give up and put everything in. Don’t. By turning difficulties into opportunities, you will see success you never realised you were capable of achieving.”
2. “But you won’t always do well. In fact, you will fail again and again. That’s ok though, because failure is an inescapable part of every personal and entrepreneurial voyage.”
3. “It’s important to choose yourself up, retrace your steps, check out what went wrong, and study from your faults.”
4. “Continue steadily to take chances. In the foreseeable future how ‘lucky’ you are running a business will be dependant on how willing you are to take measured risks.”
5. “Don’t let the naysayers deter you.”
6. “Don’t hesitate to delegate responsibility.”
7. “Your ability to have calculated risks as well as your incurable optimism will lead to great levels – both in business and in life.”
Richard Branson’s Notice To His 50-Year-Old Self
In My Notice To 50 Year-Old Me personally, Branson – who’s known among some Virgin staffers as Dr. Yes (credited to his proclivity to state “yes” almost automatically to guidelines) recommended his younger self applied to produce a higher cultural impact and a positive difference in people’s lives.
Here is a few of his best advice:
1. “You’ve never removed into business to earn cash, but instead always wished to make an optimistic difference in people’s lives.”
2. “It’s up to all or any of us to create the world you want to live in, and we can if governments, businesses and individuals interact.”
3. “If you want more incentive to act, think about your children.”
4. “Passionate people are happy people. The future needs excited, happy and self-confident young leaders, willing to task the position quo and stand up for their convictions.”
5. “Plus life is more pleasurable when you use your family and friends.”
6. “…the sky is no longer the limit and the near future will be so bright, if you keep up to consider opportunities where others see challenges.”
7. “Remember, whatever you do and wherever going, ensure you place goal at the heart of your words and activities.”
Richard Branson’s Letter To His 65-Year-Old Self
In My Notice To 65-Year-Old Me, Branson tells his present-day personal that it’s an enjoyable experience to be alive.
The self-described “Tie-loathing adventurer, philanthropist & troublemaker” believes firmly that business can be a force once and for all.
Branson writes specifically about the world he wants to reside in, but recognizes that there surely is a lot more to do.
Here is some of his best advice:
1. “Yes, the human race happens to be facing so many challenges, but the soul of entrepreneurship is flourishing, and doing great things to work at creating a global where everyone and the earth thrive.”
2. “Keep having a great time, taking chances and looking to discover the best in people.”
3. “Keep dreaming big and declaring yes to your heart’s dreams.”
4. “Keep considering the earth with wide-eyed eagerness, and thinking that together our company is stronger than the problems that confront us.”
5. “Keep zest forever, love and the open fire in your abdominal – always remembering Steve Jobs’ words: ‘The people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world will be the ones who do.’”
6. “Most of all, keep immersing yourself on earth – it’ll always be the ultimate way to learn and look forward.”
7. “Now is no time to decelerate; your very best years remain yet to come – so keep the body and mind active, and love in your heart.”
Richard Branson is one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time. He’s a personal hero of mine, and I’m sure many other entrepreneurs, mavericks and rockstars. In this exclusive Richard Branson interview he shares with us everything on building an empire.
We were lucky enough to get in touch with him to find out what it takes for him to turn his ‘ideas into reality’, musings on entrepreneurship, and his thoughts for the next generation of entrepreneurs. This interview was originally conducted for Issue 8 of dailysignalnews Magazine, but I thought what the hell, there is some serious GOLD in here, let’s just give it away 🙂
Here are the exact questions that we asked him and his responses.
I think you will find these extremely inspiring.
The Richard Branson Interview:
dailysignalnews: Even though you’re remarkably successful, do you still find yourself seeking mentorship from others?
BRANSON: With all my employees, I listen to them, trust in them, believe in them, respect them and let them have a go! I never believe I know better than they do and have been fortunate over the years to build up a very strong management team whom I can trust and take advice from.
In the past, I have had some wonderful mentors. Outside my friends, family and staff: Freddie Laker, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Peter Gabriel, the late, great Mo Mowlam and the aviation genius Burt Rutan have all given me some great guidance and inspiration.
dailysignalnews: How we bounce back from our set-backs and failures is often thought as critical to success. What is your advice for young entrepreneurs starting out and facing tough set-backs, and do you have any particularly memorable experiences that have come from failures?
BRANSON: I’ve had many challenges – every entrepreneur does – it’s the nature of the beast. It can be a challenge not to let failure, or negativity from others, prevent you from going after what you believe in and what in your gut you know can work. However it is important to face these challenges head on and give them a go and importantly don’t beat yourself up if you fail – just pick yourself up, learn as much as you can from the experience and get on with the next challenge.
Granny’s favourite saying was – You’ve got one go in life, so make the most of it.
dailysignalnews: When did you first start dreaming up the concept for Virgin Galactic – was it a culmination of your aviation adventures, or was it a dream that was around back in your Student magazine days?
BRANSON: It all started back in 1969 at my family home in England with my parents and two sisters watching the live black and white pictures of astronauts travelling to the Moon. I was spellbound and from then on was determined that one day I would follow them to space!
dailysignalnews: Until Virgin Galactic, Virgin brands were usually an alternative to an existing category – offering everyday consumers more than they were accustomed to within the sector – a disruption to the status quo. But with Galactic, Virgin becomes the innovator. Is there a difference in approach to business when switching from ‘improver’ to ‘innovator’?
BRANSON: Not really. The core principles are the same. I believe a great company, whether improving a sector or creating a new one, needs to have an excellent product or service at its core; needs strong management to execute the plan and a good brand to give it the edge over its competitors. Providing quality service, combined with value for money and in an innovative way ensures you offer real value – and finally to be responsible to society and the planet.
dailysignalnews: If you were a start-up now, with no money, how might you approach launching a business, and do you think the internet has leveled the playing field for young entrepreneurs?
BRANSON: First and foremost a successful business must have a sound knowledge of its market and work on how its product or service will be different, stand out and improve people’s lives. If you can ensure it responds to a real need out there in the market place, your business can punch well above its weight.
All in all, the internet is a force for good, providing young entrepreneurs with access to an incredible wealth of information, has changed the way we see the world and is also a great source of innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities.
dailysignalnews: When you come up with a business idea, do you generally know if it’s going to be a winner? What do you listen to first: your gut, your heart, your brain, or your accountant? And is there a winning formula?
BRANSON: I definitely go on gut instinct but it has always had the back up of research and information. Never to be frightened of taking risks and always follow your instincts! Don’t be afraid to take that leap into the unknown. I’ve taken many knocks over the years but it has only made me stronger and more determined to succeed. I always say ‘The brave may not live forever – but the cautious do not live at all!’
dailysignalnews: You are a high-achiever in both business and personal accomplishments – your extreme adventures have a high profile, but you also complete challenges with your family (such as running marathons together and climbing Mont Blanc). Do you have a particular process for setting and achieving these personal goals?
BRANSON: I like challenges in life and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I just think you need to spice up life every now and then with a bit of adventure and excitement. After all – life is not a dress rehearsal! I was very impressed and must say a little jealous of Felix Baumgartner’s recent record for the highest and fastest ever skydive jump from space. I am yet to decide what my next big challenge will be…but watch this space.
dailysignalnews: Leadership was once described by Sir Ernest Shackleton as lonely – a necessary solitude in order to be able to separate yourself when you need to make tough decisions. How do you balance this with your evident charisma and popularity amongst your staff – do you ever have to step back from the fun in order to be ‘the boss’?
BRANSON: I believe a good leader brings out the best in people by listening to them, trusting in them, believing in them, respecting them and letting them have a go. When employees tell you about their good ideas for the business, don’t limit your response to asking questions, taking notes and following up. If you can, ask those people to lead their projects and take responsibility for them. From those experiences, they will then have built the confidence to take on more and you can take a further step back.
dailysignalnews: Our future generation of leaders will no doubt look to you for inspiration, and your influence over this next generation will be a legacy. What do you want to see from the next generation of leaders and how can you help them?
BRANSON: If young people do see me as an example (I’m very flattered if they do!) I hope it is as someone who will go out there and live life to the full. I have always believed that business should be a force for good and The B Team – an organisation incubated by Virgin Unite, the not for profit arm of the Virgin Group – has started to frame a new approach to business where people and planet are business priorities alongside profit.
Mentorship is key to unlocking each of our entrepreneurial spirits. The Virgin Group operate a number of entrepreneurial programmes around the world. The Branson Centres For Entrepreneurship provide mentorship to young entrepreneurs in Jamaica and South Africa, Virgin Media Pioneers connects entrepreneurs together so that they can share their ideas and get feedback from other aspiring innovators, and our work with Start Up Loans in providing UK entrepreneurs with mentorship and a loan to help get them on their feet.
dailysignalnews: Out of all the ideas, products and services you have created, if you had your time all over again, and could only choose one to work on, which would it be and why?
BRANSON: It’s difficult to pick just one, as we have had many successes to be proud of over the years! For me, the triumphs that stand out the most are when, despite a lot of doubt and criticism, Virgin has entered a sector and truly turned it on its head in a positive way. Watching my staffs’ faces, whether that be at Virgin Atlantic when we first launched in 1984 or at Virgin Trains in 1997, when the doubters and the critics who said we’d never do it, we’d never turn an industry around, we’d fall flat on our backsides, being proved wrong. There’s no better satisfaction than watching the people around you, who have worked day and night to get something right, realising that dream.
dailysignalnews: What question would you ask yourself, Sir Richard Branson in 2013, if you were a young entrepreneur starting out? Which question would you most value the answer to?
BRANSON: That’s a very difficult question as I have learnt so much over my 40 years of business which would have been valuable to me when I was younger. Maybe, is it ok to take big risks?
dailysignalnews: When coming up with a business idea, what generally are your work processes to get this idea off the ground?
BRANSON: I am a great believer that you need passion and energy to create a truly successful business. Remember many new businesses do not make it and running a business will be a tough experience, involving long hours and many hard decisions – it helps to have that passion to keep you going.
First we develop a sound knowledge of the market using many different channels including social media, and then we work on how our product or service will be different, stand out and improve people’s lives compared to other existing ones. Our brand appreciates what the customer wants and is always delivering an extremely high standard of product and service. Our staff believes in what they sell and would buy the product themselves. We would need to ensure that our brand is not at risk of disrepute and would adopt it to local cultures whilst still staying true to the core of what the brand stands for, at Virgin that is: quality, value for money, innovation, competitive challenge and fun.