If you are into personal development, you probably heard the name Richard Branson. Before reading his autobiography, I knew that he is a very successful businessman despite his being dyslexic. I also knew that he owns an island, even though by mistake I thought he owns the Virgin Islands! I also knew he loves hot balloons. But I knew there are more about him that I can learn and apply to my life. I mean this guy started an airline business, a music company, a railway company, and owns a gay nightclub and so much more, and he not only founded these companies and made them super successful, but what really got me, was that despite all these he had time and energy to ride a hot air balloon and smash a world record. You know there is a cliché in personal development that when a successful person talks about their success, at the end they say, “If I can do it, You can too.” So, after reading the autobiography of Richard Branson, which is called Losing My Virginity, I told to myself, if I can do even one percent of the things this Richard guy has done, I will consider myself a success. In his autobiography, Richard talks about many life events that made him the person he is and how they led him to revolutionize industries from music to airline. It sounded to me that his secret to massive success is that he decides not to play by the rules, and he always tried to have fun in whatever he did. Branson says “ 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 not doing it. A business has to be involving; it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”
In this summary, I’ll share with you three key lessons that I learned from Richard Branson.
Key Lesson #1: Always be on the lookout for the next opportunity.
Branson was dating his then-girlfriend Joan in 1978 and they were in New York when someone approached them and asked Branson, “Did you name your company Virgin, after the Virgin Islands?” Branson said “No” but then he realized that is a great place to go for a holiday. He heard that if you went there and told them you wanted to buy an island, a local real estate agent will give a helicopter tour over the islands. So, he took his girlfriend and they just pretended they wanted to buy the island, but they really didn’t. But then he saw this most beautiful island called Necker Island. He asked for the price, and they told him it was 3 million dollars. Branson laughed and made an offer of 150,000 dollars. Which got them kicked out of the island. But then he found out that the owner really needed 200,000 dollars to finance another building. So, he upped his offer and was able to buy the whole island with just 180,000 dollars. He just saw the opportunity and bought the island for a fraction of the asking price. But the story becomes even more interesting. On their way back from the island to Puerto Rico, their flight got canceled. So, Branson charted a plane all by himself with 2000$, divided the cost by the number of people waiting, and on a blackboard wrote “Virgin Airways: $39 Single Flight to Puerto Rico.” And on the plane, the person sitting next to Branson told him half-jokingly, “You know what, this is not a bad airline.” And that’s when Branson saw the opportunity and started the Virgin Atlantic. There are always opportunities around us, and we should always be on the lookout to make sure they just don’t pass by us.
Key Lesson #2: Don’t feel discouraged by life challenges.
Richard Branson has a relaxed attitude toward taking risks. But you know why is that? When he was a child, his parents gave him challenges and as it turns out overcoming challenges is so helpful in becoming an entrepreneur. For example, when he was only 11 years old, his mom sent him on a bike ride to visit his grandparents that lived 50 miles away and she didn’t even give him directions. Even though he didn't know how to get there, he got there and made it back home feeling like a champion. Branson’s life is full of these challenges. Many other successful entrepreneurs faced challenges especially when they were growing up and that helped them to develop an entrepreneurial spirit in them, where all they want to do is to take risks and overcome the challenges they see around them. So, don’t feel discouraged when you face challenges, look at them as opportunities that can help you grow! See challenges as blessings, because if it’s hard for you, it is probably hard for others too! So, if you rise above the challenges, you’d be one of the few up there.
Key Lesson #3: Practice being creative every single day.
Richard Branson’s secret to success is his ability to turn difficult situations into profitable ones. He sees business opportunities where others don't. He is incredibly creative, and that's what sets him apart. Most people wouldn't have thought of chartering a plane and selling seats when they were stuck on a remote island, but Branson did because he practices creativity every day. You can’t make up stuff like this on the spot unless you’ve practiced the creativity you need way before even getting there. In 1990, when Saddam took over Kuwait, lots of people had to leave their homes and flee to Jordan. They didn't have anything, not even blankets to keep them warm. When Branson heard about this, he decided to help. He called the Red Cross and the Foreign Office and asked for donations. He even put ads on TV to ask for help. He was able to collect 30,000 blankets, and UNICEF gave more. They took out all the seats on a Boeing 747 and filled it up with blankets and medical supplies. They flew to Jordan and gave the blankets to the people who needed them. On their way back to the UK, they helped British people who were stuck in Jordan. It's really amazing how Branson can come up with creative solutions to difficult problems. If you want to be successful like him, you need to exercise your creative muscles regularly.
So, in summary, no matter what your upbringing might look like, you can achieve massive success, and not only that, you can have fun while making a fortune. Just make sure to always be on the lookout for the next opportunity and don’t let them pass by you. See challenges as opportunities for growth and every single day practice your creativity muscle.