Richard Branson Biography | Businessman | Adventurer & Icon - Nitin Sharma

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Friday, 31 July 2020

Richard Branson Biography | Businessman | Adventurer & Icon

Is there anything Richard Branson doesn't? A high school dropout at 16, he's started companies, seen the world, and had more adventures than anyone could dream of in a lifetime. 


He's a creative personality, and a brilliant businessman... an energetic, charitable man who has built a brand recognized around the world. He's worth nearly 5 billion dollars. 

How did Richard Branson get to where he is today? 

Early Life Let's start at the beginning...1950 in Surrey, England. He was born the eldest son of Edward and Eve Branson, a lawyer and flight attendant. Though she was a flight attendant, Eve Branson didn't sit idly by on her days off. She built wooden trash cans and tissue boxes, selling them for extra money for the family. Watching his mother's success built Branson's admiration for entrepreneurs, and gave him an option for when school just wasn't working out.

She was always supportive of him and She was even known to tell people he would one day be Prime Minister of England. His mother was also an influence on Bransonreactiveve's mind and lifestyle, which have become so much a part of his international brand today that she didn't let her children watch TV, instead of pushing her son and two daughters outside to entertain themselves and "make themselves useful." Though brilliant, Branson wants a successful student. 

He has dyslexia and growing up, and the school was difficult for him. But dyslexia did not stop him, and now he credits it as a key part of the formula of his success.

Be you know what yare and weaknesses are and you know what your strengths are, and you make sure that you fin to stept people to step in and deal with your weaknesses." He moved through several schools as a child,  he eventually just giving up traditional learning at the age of 16. 

But he did not give up on achieving. When he dropped out of school, he knew that being an entrepreneur was the right Life for him. He started with an idea, and with ultimate goal far beyond just earning money. "From my very first day as an entrepreneur, I've felt the only mission worth pursuing in business is to make people's lives better." His first venture as a teen businessman was publishing a magazine called "Student." 

At only sixteen years old, with no import workbook from anyone but students, Branson was able to secure $8,000 in advertising fo the magazine's first issue. This was 1966, and $8,00 was a lot of money. So much, that Branson did even have to sell the first issue. Instead, he gave away 50,000 copiebuilding the brand name and a potentially loyal customer base for future issues.

 It was the first demonstration of brilliant businesses' minds with an utterly impressive talent for marketing. "Student" continued in its original form for three years, but in 1969 Branson felt the urge to make it bigger and take it in a new direction.

 Advertisements for records were an apart of the magazine's revenue, so Branson took records and the magazine, put them together, and saw a gap in the market for record sales email-order sales. the business was christened with the name we all now recognize … "Virgin." But it wasn't Branson who came up with named me, it was one of his first employees. Though they were successful, the name was perfect for the company as all of the young people involved were new to the business. It stuck and has now come to represent much more than mail-order music. 


Though the mail-order business was popular, it wasn't making enough money to stay afloat, and Branson needed cash. He decided the best way to do that was to avoid giving the government their entire share of the taxes he actually owed. He came up with a scheme through which he avoided reporting all the records that were sold in the UK, falsifying the numbers of those that were exported. It sounded good, and it brought in cash, but it was discovered. 

Branson ended up in jail and ended up having to pay over $60,000 in fines. This obstacle and a short time in jail did n't slow him, or his business ambitions down, though. Even with the tax fraud scandal, it was only less than two years after starting the mail-order record business that Branson was able to take yet another leap. In 1971, he opened an actual brick and mortar store to sell records. Then, it was only another year before he bought himself a home, and was able to build a recording studio inside of it. 

Now that he had a studio, the next logical step was to start a record label. 

So he looked around and ended up signing an artist he thought would be okay, but likely not to have overwhelming success as no one else would take him. 


The name of the new created label that this newcomer artist signed on to? 


The success of Oldfield and Branson under the upstart Virgin label didn't go unnoticed - far from it.

Huge names like the Sex Pistols, the RollingStones, Culture Club, Janet Jackson, and Genesis were later signed to the label. he was again itching to try something new. So he took what seems like a large jump across industries … 

he invested in new airline business. Before launching the full-fledged airline service, Branson had realized the potential for doing so when his own flight to the BritishVirgin Islands was canceled. Being wealthy, he didn't have to wait around an airport for the next flight at the whim of the airlines...he could charter his own plane.


He charged the others who were supposed to be on his original flight to the British Virgin Islands a small fee, and they all flew together on the chartered plane down to the island. His creative mind and business intuition saw an opportunity, and Branson was ready to seize it. Branson bought it to start-up his fleet of airplanes.

As he had with the mail-order record business, Branson saw a need and a way he could run a business better than others were currently doing. So he did. "We just made it that much more special than all the other airlines we were competing with," he says of what he achieved with Virgin Atlantic Airways. 

British Airways was not pleased by this new threat to their previously largely unchallenged primacy, and they didn't want to sit idly by while Virgin kept gobbling up market share. In 1993, Virgin accused British Airways of a series of so-called "dirty tricks" that ranged from computer hacking to libel. Following the accusations, British Airwayssettled, and forked over nearly $4 million in legal fees and compensation. 


What did Branson do with the money he received in the settlement? 


He didn't just put it in his account - instead, he shared it with Virgin's employees. On the contrary, Branson was forced to sell his music business to keep his entire empire going. 

 Over the years, he's been very open about just how difficult that sale was for him: "I mean, you build something from scratch, we had just signed Janet Jackson.

He's flashier than your average billionaire, with no qualms about risking his life in the pursuit of adventure … the adventure that also often serves double duty as a completely out of the box marketing strategy. 

He failed in spectacular fashion, as his boat capsized and he had to be rescued by a British military helicopter. "Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again" is one of Branson's life mottos, and try again did. In 1986, he attempted the Atlantic crossing again, but this time he succeeds in spectacular fashion - he broke the world record for the crossing by two hours.

 But breaking the record wasn't enough for Branson. 

He needed more adventure, and he wanted to keep his name and Virgin's name in the news. He'd done a water crossing - now he wanted to move into the air. Airplanes weren't exciting enough, so he opted to cross the Atlantic in a hot air balloon. 

Then, crossing the Atlantic wasn't enough, so he decided to cross the Pacific in a hot air balloon. It wasn't purely for the pursuit of adventure that he took on the hot air balloon challenges. He actually truly enjoyed traveling by hot air balloon. "My favorite mode of transport is hot-air ballooning … It's so graceful to be blown by the wind, to go where the wind takes you." The balloon Branson took on his first flight was a record-breaker in and of itself. It was the size of a 21 story building, and was built to fly at a speed of 200 miles per hour - it was the largest and fastest balloon ever constructed. 



The flight's path was from the state of Maine to Ireland, and when the balloon reached Ireland it didn't detach as it was supposed to. His crew jumped out of the balloon, but Branson was forced to stay put after the balloon rapidly lifted to 12,000 feet with him still in it. 

Terrified, but able to remain calm, Bransonnavigated the balloon back down towards the water, and jumped into the ocean when he was few dozen feet above its surface. The Pacific balloon trip wasn't much calmer- they ran out of most of their fuel partway through and were dependent on the jet stream to push them forward. 

They didn't break the records they wanted to, but they did live to tell the tale of their adventure. And that was all they could ask for at that point. Charity Work A man like Branson who devotes much of his life to the pursuit of pleasure and growing a business might seem to be full upon his time commitments. But for Branson, business and success are about much more than just amassing wealth - it's about helping people.

The Elders - a group of some of the world's most respected former leaders, including UN officials, President Jimmy Carter, and DesmondTutu. Branson provides funding for the group and its initiatives. Still, his initial idea, willingness to care, and leaping talking with one of the world's most famous men about his idea led to the group's creation and ability to influence world events. Environmental issues are one of Branson's passions. He's committed hundreds of millions to fight global warming and even hosted a summit at his private island in 2009. 


Why this commitment to the Earth and preserving its beauty?


 Like his creative bent, Branson credits his childhood home and the amount of time he spent playing outside. 

Overall, he's worked with dozens of charities in his Life, dedicating his time and money to the causes he cares about and that he believes matter most to his fellow humans. 

Most recently, Branson has thrown his charitable energy towards helping the Caribbean islands rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma's destruction during the fall of 2017. With his home on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, he has a personal interest in doing so but has gone well beyond just building his own luxurious home. He spent time helping mobilize rescue efforts, assisted with the distribution of water and supplies and helped people find shelter. Branson is not a man to stand idly by when there is a need or an opportunity. But he doesn't always stick to the serious stuff. He's made cameos in the Bond film CasinoRoyale and cemented his place as a 90s icon when he guest-starred on both Baywatch and Friends. 

He was also featured in the iconic Apple ThinkDifferent ad alongside such luminaries as John Lennon, Gandhi, Einstein, and Pablo Picasso. Richard Branson is not your typical uptight businessman. He's a creative luminary who has impacted all corners of the business and impacted many parts of the world. And that's what he aims to do, each day. 

He wants to put the things he's passionate about to work for himself and the world. That marriage lasted only seven years, and the couple divorced in 1979. 

It wasn't until ten years and two more children later that Branson and Templeman tied the knot. Conclusion Richard Branson could have continued to struggle through school, doing things he hated and that he didn't care about.

 He could have fought his way to becoming a lawyer like his dad, or settling into a middle-class office job in London or the surrounding areas. 

He could have stuck it out - but he listened to his instincts instead and went with his heart. A dropout, he could have fallen to the bottom and struggled through Life, feeling sorry for having a learning disability. 

He gives back to a world that has given him much, and he continues to succeed as a businessman and as an admired personality. Branson once said, "If you want to stand out from the crowd, give people a reason not to forget you." Richard Branson has certainly followed his advice, and it's helped him lead a successful and passionate life. 

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