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Profiles In Amazing People©
By William M Wright BBA MBA


Richard Branson, brash, bold and even considered overly confident. A few critics call him a self-centered publicity hound. I've listened to several Branson interviews and concluded his personality is unique in that he is a blend of businessman and thrill seeker. I call him the Indiana Jones entrepreneur and adventure capitalist. The headmaster of Branson’s school wrote a note saying, “Congratulations, Branson. I predict you will either go to prison or become a millionaire.” His first big business success came in the 70’s with his creation of Virgin Records the world’s largest independent record label, responsible for such artists as the Rolling Stones.

By the early 80’s Branson had expanded to over 50 businesses. The largest business mountain Branson has climbed was his investment in a struggling British Altantic Airlines renamed Virgin Atlantic Airlines to leverage his brand name to increase ticket sales. In 1999 his Virgin Group Enterprise needed to sell a 49% stake to Singapore Airlines. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Atlantic_Airways
Airlines are a capital intensive business and expanding competition and rising cost means few make any money. The famous businessman and investor, Warren Buffett said, "The way to make a million in the Airline business is to start with a billion."

The descriptive words "entrepreneur extraordinaire" fit Richard Branson. But listening to him speak reveals the sole of a classic British Empire explorer and adventurer like Sir Walter Raleigh, Captain James Cook and Sir Edmund Hillary. And the opening lines from Star Trek, “…to boldly go were no man has gone before” could be Richard Branson personal motto. Throw in a Branson quote “I'm still like Peter Pan who doesn't want to grow up.” and you have a complete visual of Branson. Richard Branson is a Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones style entrepreneur extraordinaire. A CEO with the sole of Indiana Jones.

I thought it would be more interesting to the younger generation to kick off my Profiles In Amazing People with the rouge entrepreneur and CEO of Virgin Enterprises who was once expelled from boarding school for his nocturnal visits with the headmaster’s daughter. But, after writing a fake suicide note, Branson got the expulsion overturned. I've included Richard Branson even though he is British in this series deticated to American Entrepreneur and Businessman and woman because he embodies the Yankee "can do" spirit.

Below is a article based upon interviews with and articles on Richard Branson.
More Richard Branson information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Branson
 
 
Breaking Free: Branson’s Early Years

“I was never, ever interested in becoming a businessman or an entrepreneur,” says Richard Branson. At 56, despite his intentions, Branson has become one of the most successful and eccentric billionaires of the 20th century. He is the man behind one of the most recognizable brands in history and is sitting on an estimated fortune of $3.2 billion.

Born in 1950 in Surrey, England, to happily married parents Ted and Eve, Branson recalls a childhood filled with nothing but love and encouragement. Ted was a lawyer who had reluctantly set aside his passion for archaeology at the request of his father to follow in the family footsteps. Eve was an airline hostess who originally pretended to be a man in order to become a pilot instructor. Together, the two ingrained within Branson a sense of hard work and the need to be financially successful.

Branson’s mother was always thinking of ways to make money. With no television in the house, Eve would spend most of her time in the garden shed constructing wooden tissue boxes and wastepaper bins, which she then sold to shops, including Harrods. Everything being the family affair that it was with the Branson’s, Ted spent his time creating special pressing devices to hold the tissue boxes together while they were being glued. “It became a proper little cottage industry,” Branson recalls.

Branson’s parents took extreme measures to encourage their children’s independence. While driving home one day when Branson was just four years old, his mother made him get out of the car miles before they had reached the house and insisted that he find his own way home. Not surprisingly, Branson got lost. But, it was a lesson he would never forget.

Soon, Branson and his siblings began setting challenges for themselves. One Christmas holiday, Branson bet his Aunt Joyce ten shillings that he would be able to swim by the end of the two weeks. He spent hours in the ocean each day practicing but still could not keep himself afloat. Finally, as the family was leaving on the last day, Branson made his father stop the car so that he could have one last chance at swimming. He ran to the ocean, pulled off all his clothes and despite the huge waves, managed to swim a circle. He had won his ten shillings.

Sent to boarding school until he was 15, Branson found success on the field rather than in the classroom. He excelled in a wide range of athletics, which found him popularity at school, but he struggled with his academics because of his dyslexia, which at the time was a relatively undiagnosed problem. “Since nobody had ever heard of dyslexia, being unable to read, write or spell just meant to the rest of the class and the teachers that you were either stupid or lazy,” he recalls. “And at prep school you were beaten for both.”

Sent to a different school, Branson was initially expelled for his nocturnal visits with the headmaster’s daughter. But, after writing a fake suicide note, Branson got the expulsion overturned. Back in school, Branson set up Student Magazine at the age of 16 and opened the Student Advisory Centre a year later, which was a charity to help young people. After his first issue of Student, the headmaster of Branson’s school wrote a note saying, “Congratulations, Branson. I predict you will either go to prison or become a millionaire.”

In the next forty years, Branson would go on to prove his headmaster right on both counts.

The Business Virgin: Branson Enters The Game

With his magazine failing him, Branson turned to the idea of setting up a record mail order business in 1970. At just 20 years old, Branson began placing record ads in Student and soon began to realize the high demand. He dropped out of high school and began focusing on his new business, which was now making a profit. This modest success allowed him to rent an empty shop on Oxford Street in London in order to set up a music store. His magazine staff was transferred to the discount record store and the operation began to take off. At a loss for a name, one of the girls suggested ‘Virgin’ since they were “complete virgins at business”. With that, the Virgin Empire was born.

Two years after his record store first opened its doors, Branson decided to team up with staff member Nik Powell to create a record label, which they dubbed Virgin Records. The company’s first release was Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, an instrumental recording that went on to become an international hit and first made the world aware of Virgin Records. The company gained further attention in 1977, when Branson signed the infamous and controversial band the Sex Pistols despite being warned not to do so. The Pistols did not last long, but Virgin Records would continue to make a name for itself as the world’s largest independent record label, responsible for such artists as the Rolling Stones and Peter Gabriel.


By 1983, Branson had expanded his brand to include over 50 companies, including everything from hotels, filmmaking and air conditioning cleaning. Sales totaled over $17 million but Branson was not satisfied. In 1984, he entered the airline industry, creating Virgin Atlantic Airways. Struggling to compete with the leading British Airways, Branson was embarking on one of the riskiest endeavours of his career.

The 1990s would prove to be too difficult for Branson to handle. The price of airline fuel was rising, the threat of terrorism was scaring people away from flying, and British Airways was secretly trying to put Branson out of business. By 1992, Branson had no choice but to sell his beloved Virgin Records to Thorn-EMI for $1 billion. With this, he was able to purchase Virgin Atlantic outright from the banks and has since turned it into the second largest British international airline. But, the sale of his beloved Virgin Records was a devastating blow to Branson.

From then on out, Branson embarked on an approach he called ‘branded venture capital,’ whereby he would begin licensing his powerful Virgin name and gaining controlling interests in other businesses. Branson now has his hands in over 250 companies and plans to create a shuttle service into space because, “It’s virgin territory.”

Branson is also known for his adrenaline-filled pursuits to break numerous world records, including crossing the Atlantic Ocean both by boat and hot air balloon. In 1998, his attempt to round the globe by balloon failed due to bad weather.

Whether a business or a personal challenge, Branson has attacked it with equal passion and determination, making himself not only one of the most profitable businessman in today’s world but also one of the most talked about
 
Screw It, Let’s Do It.

Having a personality of caring about people is important. You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.

A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.

We've got an engaging, edgy, vibrant, fun product, ... It may or may not work, but we're going to give it our best shot.

I believe in benevolent dictatorship provided I am the dictator.

We look for opportunities where we can offer something better, fresher, and more valuable, and we seize them. We often move into areas where the customer has traditionally received a poor deal, and where the competition is complacent. And with our growing e-commerce activities, we also look to deliver ‘old’ products in new ways. We are pro-active and quick to act, often leaving bigger and more cumbersome organisations in our wake. When we start a new venture, we base it on hard research and analysis. Typically, we review the industry and put ourselves in the customer’s shoes to see what could make it better.

I wanted to be an editor or a journalist, I wasn't really interested in being an entrepreneur, but I soon found I had to become an entrepreneur in order to keep my magazine going.

We'd love to be involved with the creation of something very special, something quite large and something quite exciting.

You never know with these things when you're trying something new what can happen. This is all experimental.

Well, I'm somebody who is just living...living life, and if I get frustrated by something, then I like to try to put it right.

It has been like hitting up against a solid brick wall. All day and all night long, we battled to get through it.

Right now I'm just delighted to be alive and to have had a nice long bath.

We have not scratched the surface ... It does seem that it needs to be treated like a war.

If I was a businessman, or saw myself as a businessman, I would have never gone into the airline business.

There is no one to follow, there is nothing to copy. We may even allow those aliens who landed here 50 years ago a chance to go home.

Records are made to be broken. It is in man's nature to continue to strive to do just that.

We're going where no one has gone before.

 

Ridiculous yachts and private planes and big limousines won’t make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa – and it’s about getting a balance.

Like getting into a bleeding competition with a blood bank.

I'm inquisitive.... and I love a new challenge... and if I feel that we can do it better than it's been done by other people, we'll have a go. Some people call that 'brand stretching' and say that this is not the way business should be done, and in the Western world generally it's not the way business is done. And I think to be perfectly frank the reason it's not done that way is that most big companies are public... they have fund managers who only specialise in one area... and so if you go and stray outside that fund manager's arena, the company gets criticised. Fortunately we're not a public company - we're a private group of companies, and I can do what I want.

Business is giving people in their lifetime what they need and what they want. And you know, I've had great fun turning quite a lot of different industries on their head and making sure those industries will never be the same again, because Virgin went in and took them on. Occasionally we'll come unstuck and you know, we'll learn from our mistakes but so far I think we've managed to get it right more often than we've got it wrong.

I'm still.... maybe Peter Pan.... doesn't want to grow up.

Above all, you want to create something you are proud of.... That has always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing.

All you have in life is your reputation: you may be very rich, but if you lose your good name, then you'll never be happy. The thought will always lurk at the back of your mind that people don't trust you. I had never really focused on what a good name meant before, but that night in prison made me understand.

My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them.

To be successful, you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running, and if you have a good team around you and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen. But you certainly can't guarantee it just by following someone else's formula.

I don't think of work as work and play as play. It's all living.

I had no interest whatsoever in running a company.

 was interested in creating — creating things that I could be proud of and so, you know, I was interested in being an editor of a magazine, things that I could be proud of, and so, you know, I was interested in being an editor of a magazine, but in order to be an editor of a magazine I had to become a publisher as well. I had to pay the bills. I had to worry about the printing and the paper manufacturing and the distribution of that magazine.

I want Virgin to be as well-known around the world as Coca-Cola.

I’ve had to create companies that I believe in 100%. These are companies I feel will make a genuine difference. Then I have to be willing to find the time myself to talk about them, promote them and market them. I don’t want to spend my life doing something that I’m not proud of.

As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation. I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back. The company must be set up so it can continue without me.

If you’re good with people…and you really care, genuinely care about people then I’m sure we could find a job for you at Virgin.

The companies that look after their people are the companies that do really well. I’m sure we’d like a few other attributes, but that would be the most important one.

A company is people…employees want to know…am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted.

In the beginning it was just about the business – now it’s about the brand.

Back then we would create a company based on frustration at other people’s service and suddenly realized we had one of the most respected brands in the world.

If you get your face and your name out there enough, people will start to recognize you.

Many people know the Virgin brand better than the names of the individual companies within the group.

Branding is everything. A young girl once came up to me and told me I could be famous because I looked just like Richard Branson!

Clearly in the eyes of the consumer the brand has not been diluted, but we must guard against that happening at all costs.

Our model is to develop each business separately with its own shareholder and management – this way we can concentrate on the job in hand, rather than be part of some enormous and faceless conglomerate.

We don’t actually plan to launch new businesses over the next few years, but we are planning to take the ones we have into new territories.

Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming.

Although my spelling is still sometimes poor, I have managed to overcome the worst of my difficulties through training myself to concentrate.

If you are trying to do something for the first time, it’s always an enormous challenge, and there is no guarantee of success. You never know with these things when you’re trying something new what can happen. This is all experimental.

We’ve got an engaging, edgy, vibrant, fun product. It may or may not work, but we’re going to give it our best shot.

We’re going where no one has gone before. There’s no model to follow, nothing to copy. That is what makes this so exciting.

If I was a businessman, or saw myself as a businessman, I would have never gone into the airline business.

My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them.

To be successful, you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running, and if you have a good team around you and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen. But you certainly can't guarantee it just by following someone else's formula.

A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.

Some 80% of your life is spent working. You want to have fun at home; why shouldn’t you have fun at work?

If a chairman of a company visits Seattle, that chairman should take all the staff out in the evening and have a few drinks together, talk together and party together and not be embarrassed about the staff seeing the weaker side of you.

I never get the accountants in before I start up a business. It’s done on gut feeling, especially if I can see that they are taking the mickey out of the consumer.

I believe in benevolent dictatorship provided I am the dictator.

It has been like hitting up against a solid brick wall. All day and all night long, we battled to get through it.

We'd love to be involved with the creation of something very special, something quite large and something quite exciting.
Fortunately we're not a public company - we're a private group of companies, and I can do what I want.

Because I don’t see Virgin as a company but as a way of life and I fully enjoy it, I don’t think I’ll ever retire.

I was never, ever interested in becoming a businessman or an entrepreneur

 

 

Lesson #1: Be A Good Leader

“Having a personality of caring about people is important,” says Branson. “You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.”

Branson is often criticized for his management style – or lack thereof. He holds no regular board meetings, has no business headquarters, and has no idea how to operate a computer. But, with his brand name licensed to over 250 companies, Branson has had to develop the necessary leadership skills to ensure his survival.

His overall leadership principle rests on the need to treat other people with respect but the nuts and bolts of it are much harder to pin down. Branson stresses the importance of time management skills, saying he spends roughly one third of his time on trouble shooting, one third on new projects – both business related and charitable – and one third on promoting and marketing his businesses. In between, he also makes time for his family and vacations.

“I’ve had to create companies that I believe in 100%. These are companies I feel will make a genuine difference,” says Branson. “Then I have to be willing to find the time myself to talk about them, promote them and market them. I don’t want to spend my life doing something that I’m not proud of.”

Branson hires bright people, gives them a stake in his ventures so that they are motivated to be even more successful and then delegates. While his staff often takes care of the daily operations of a company, Branson focuses his time more on the end user experience, doing publicity and promoting his products.

Part of being a good leader, according to Branson, is also the ability to know when to back away from a task. “As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation,” he says. “I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back. The company must be set up so it can continue without me.”

But, for Branson, the most important factor of good leadership is relating to other people. “If you’re good with people…and you really care, genuinely care about people then I’m sure we could find a job for you at Virgin,” he says. “The companies that look after their people are the companies that do really well. I’m sure we’d like a few other attributes, but that would be the most important one.”

Treating his employees as important team players is crucial to the success of Branson’s Virgin Empires, putting employees first, customers second, and shareholders third. “A company is people…employees want to know…am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted.”

With one of the most licensed brands in the world, Branson has demonstrated perhaps better than any other entrepreneur of the 20th century how good leadership skills can make the difference between success and failure.

 

Lesson #2: Build A Powerful Brand

In 2005, Branson said his goal was to turn Virgin into “the most respected brand in the world.” Branson is not far off from achieving his goal. Virgin was recently found to be one of the UK’s top three favorite and most respected brand names and both the brand and the man behind it are known throughout the world.

“In the beginning it was just about the business – now it’s about the brand,” says Branson. “Back then we would create a company based on frustration at other people’s service and suddenly realized we had one of the most respected brands in the world.”

Branson has managed to expand his brand so effectively by diversifying his portfolio; he doesn’t strive to be the biggest in the industry but rather the best. He doesn’t strive to take over large markets, but rather to make profits in small pieces of larger markets. In his own words, diversifying “enables you to have a contingency plan when the economy is going through a rough patch.” Once he grew his brand name and got his feet wet in numerous industries, he was able to attract investors and further develop his Virgin Group.

“If you get your face and your name out there enough, people will start to recognize you,” says Branson. “Many people know the Virgin brand better than the names of the individual companies within the group.” Indeed, few could identify all of the over 250 companies in which Branson has a stake, but there are few who do not know the Virgin name. “Branding is everything,” he says. “A young girl once came up to me and told me I could be famous because I looked just like Richard Branson!”

Branson and his Virgin Group have often been criticized for selling out and weakening their brand power by branching out to the extent that they have. But, this is something Branson has been very aware of since day one. “Clearly in the eyes of the consumer the brand has not been diluted, but we must guard against that happening at all costs,” he says. “Our model is to develop each business separately with its own shareholder and management – this way we can concentrate on the job in hand, rather than be part of some enormous and faceless conglomerate.”

As the influence of the Virgin brand continues to expand, Branson says he is beginning to take the company in a new direction. Instead of licensing out the name to an increasing number of products, Branson is choosing rather to focus on improving the ones that already exist so as to prevent its image from deteriorating. “We don’t actually plan to launch new businesses over the next few years, but we are planning to take the ones we have into new territories,” he says.


In the meantime, Branson has not stopped looking towards the future. He has registered the name ‘Virgin Interplanetary’ in case space travel becomes one day commercially viable. Even outer space will then no longer be Virgin territory.

Lesson #3: Keep Flying High

Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming,” says Branson.

Branson is no stranger to failure. Known for his often wild and dramatic ideas, Branson always knew that he would encounter letdowns along the way. But, the secret to his success has been his ability to make a strong recovery. More than perhaps any other entrepreneur in the 20th century, Branson has been able to successfully move from one venture to the next even after experiencing bitter disappointment.

Branson’s determination to succeed despite the obstacles stems from his childhood. The first major challenge that he had to overcome was his dyslexia. At the age of eight, Branson still could not read. “My dyslexia was a problem throughout my school life,” he recalls. After suffering regular beatings at the hands of his headmasters for his below average academic performance, Branson vowed to fight his handicap. “Although my spelling is still sometimes poor, I have managed to overcome the worst of my difficulties through training myself to concentrate,” he says.

Branson did not let dyslexia stand in his way. Having overcome a major life obstacle, Branson was now armed with a new confidence that he could take on the business world. Despite his overwhelming success with Virgin, his professional pursuits did not always end as Branson envisioned. For every successful Virgin enterprise or music group there also seems to be a failure. From Virgin Cola to Virgin Vodka to Virgin Cosmetics, Branson has experienced his share of business duds.

Virgin Vodka, launched in 1994, did not find commercial success, largely because it lacked brand added value. Whereas Virgin Atlantic had such unique features as on-board massages and free ice cream going for it, Virgin Vodka could not stand up to its competition. Similarly, despite being priced 20% below Coke, Virgin Cola only achieved a 3% market share in the UK. These companies have since virtually disappeared off the market. Branson was also forced to sell Virgin Cinemas and Virgin Cars, two ventures that he could just not make profitable.

“If you are trying to do something for the first time, it’s always an enormous challenge, and there is no guarantee of success,” says Branson. “You never know with these things when you’re trying something new what can happen. This is all experimental.”

But, that is precisely the Branson philosophy – try new things, branch out, and when you can’t find success with one venture, you simply move on to the next. He understood that an integral part of being an entrepreneur meant being willing to not only accept failure but to also be able to rise up and start again. After launching Virgin Vines in 2005, a hip new wine brand, Branson said, “We’ve got an engaging, edgy, vibrant, fun product. It may or may not work, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”

Branson was not afraid to take risks. Some paid off while others didn’t, but in never giving up, Branson demonstrated the rewards that are possible when entrepreneurs are not afraid to keep on going.

Lesson #4: Break Records

“We’re going where no one has gone before,” says Branson, referring to Virgin Galactic’s partnership with the state of New Mexico to build the world’s first commercial spaceport. “There’s no model to follow, nothing to copy. That is what makes this so exciting.”

Branson has made a career out of taking risks and daring to enter uncharted airways. From entering the struggling airline industry against already behemoth competitors to attempting to circle the world in a hot air balloon, Branson thrives on the adrenaline he gets from taking chances. Whether or not they pay off, he sets his goals high and doesn’t rest until he has left his mark.

The key to Branson’s fearlessness comes from how he views himself. He is not an entrepreneur; he is not a businessman; he is simply someone who likes to set exciting challenges for himself and rise to the occasion. “If I was a businessman, or saw myself as a businessman, I would have never gone into the airline business,” he says. “My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them.”

This is what led Branson to attempt to break a number of world records in the past ten years. In 1986, Branson’s boat, Virgin Atlantic Challenge II, crossed the Atlantic Ocean in record time. The next year, Branson crossed the same ocean for the first time ever by hot-air balloon. The list goes on: he shattered all the world records when crossing the Pacific Ocean in 1991 as well as when he flew from Morocco to Hawaii in 1998. These pursuits were not only for Branson’s personal satisfaction, but they also served to increase Virgin’s presence worldwide and heighten its reputation for being innovative and exciting.

“Records are made to be broken,” says Branson. “It is in man's nature to continue to strive to do just that.” For Branson, it is essential that he not only be the best at whatever he is doing, but that he does it in a unique way. That is why, for instance, when he launched Virgin Cola in 1994, he drove a tank up to the Coke sign in Times Square and fired at it to signify the challenge that he was starting. Branson didn’t want to just find success, but he wanted to do it in a flamboyant and original way.

“To be successful, you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running, and if you have a good team around you and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen,” says Branson. “But you certainly can't guarantee it just by following someone else's formula.”

By following his own path and refusing to accept the standards that had been set before him, Branson carved out a unique career and an impressive success for himself. He set his sights on the impossible and made it possible, and he had a little fun doing it along the way too.

Losing His Virginity: How Branson Achieved Success

From a dyslexic high school dropout to a thriving billionaire and adventure capitalist knighted by the Queen of England, Branson carved a unique path to success using his personality as his greatest leverage. His career has spanned over thirty years and his brand has become one of the most recognized globally. How did he do it?

Leadership: Branson once joked, “I believe in benevolent dictatorship provided I am the dictator.” Despite this, Branson’s success has come about in large part due to his leadership skills and the respect, care and autonomy he gives to his employees. He understood that without a solid team behind him, he would not be able to make his dreams come true.

Branding: "I want Virgin to be as well-known around the world as Coca-Cola,” Branson said. With over 250 companies bearing the Virgin name, Branson has come close to achieving his goal. With no university degree or formal education, Branson has managed to create a unique business strategy using unorthodox methods of licensing out his brand and promoting his products to no end. Despite claims of selling out, Branson has steadily grown his brand over the past thirty years and increased its presence worldwide.

Resilience: After a failed around-the-world balloon trip, Branson said of his experience, “It has been like hitting up against a solid brick wall. All day and all night long, we battled to get through it.” This battle is a familiar one to Branson, who has seen his share of failed business ventures. But, in typical Branson fashion, he rebounds from his failures with the same youthful energy he had the very first day he created Virgin Records. His passion to create cannot be quelled by any obstacle no matter how large.

Ambition: “We'd love to be involved with the creation of something very special, something quite large and something quite exciting,” says Branson. Never one to dream small, Branson always tried to be the best of the best. Whether it was breaking world speed records or providing impeccable airline service, Branson wanted his name to be at the top of whatever list he was dealing with. By dreaming big, Branson would leave his mark not only in the business world but also on the world as a whole.

Fun: “Fortunately we're not a public company - we're a private group of companies, and I can do what I want,” says Branson. He doesn’t care about accountants and doesn’t place much value in the advice of consultants. Instead, Branson flies by the seat of his pants and follows his instincts, often willing to take risks for the pure enjoyment of seeing if they will work out or not. He doesn’t partake in the formalities of the business world and as a result, has managed to take it by storm.

“Because I don’t see Virgin as a company but as a way of life and I fully enjoy it, I don’t think I’ll ever retire,” says Branson. As Chairman of the Virgin Group, he has revolutionized the business world and has had a blast doing it.