Last July marked 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission was successfully completed; the first mission that would allow two astronauts to reach the Moon. And also in July, Sir Richard Branson, the founding millionaire of Virgin Group, turned 69; celebrating with the astronauts in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This was no coincidence: Branson is heavily involved in space exploration through his company Virgin Galactic, which plans to take tourists into space.
How to understand Branson’s complex vision? To get a little closer to his thinking, let’s review the prologue that Branson wrote in 2018 for the book, “Moonshots, Creating a World of Abundance,” by Naveen Jain & John Schroeter. In just a few pages Branson summarizes the ideas that have guided him, and which I have laid out in five sentences:
- Ask the right question. When people ask how Branson became a millionaire, his wisecrack response is usually: “I began as billionaire and started a new airline!” However, when reflecting upon this, Branson proposes a change of question: “Instead of asking successful people about how to get rich, they should ask them how to do things that are meaningful. My life has never had anything to do with material wealth. The fact is that I have always had only one mission in life, and that is to improve people’s lives. Sometimes the efforts are filled with problems and fail, but sometimes they have great success. Sometimes they are surprisingly easy; other times they are like sending a ship to the moon.”
- Make a dramatic and positive difference to others. In all his companies, Branson has started with crazy ideas and seen how far they could go. “It is an ethos that led me from selling vinyl records from the trunk of my car, to making commercial space travel as accessible as commercial aviation. Despite how diverse Virgin companies are, there is still one thing that underlies even the craziest ideas we have pursued: it makes no sense to start a business, if it isn’t going to make a dramatic and positive difference to the lives of other people.”
- Break the rules with a “virgin” attitude. Branson has always taken the attitude that there are no rules. He says: “I am so grateful to have never learned all the conventional ‘what to do and what not to do’ in order to start and run a business. Actually, it has been a great advantage for me (as I often say, you don’t learn to walk following the rules: you learn by doing and falling). It is also the reason why we have been able to enter and shake up entire industries. Because we are “virgins” in every market we enter, we bring a very different mindset to the problems and challenges there. In fact, we do things very differently. Consequently, industries change simply because we enter them.”
- Have an entrepreneur’s mind. For Branson, entrepreneurs are the best problem solvers in the world, but they require a different way of thinking: “[…] an inquisitive, curious and imaginative mind, the kind of mind that drives the entrepreneur’s sails. In fact, fortune favours those whose mentality – and creative optimism – drives them to work to make a big difference in the world. It is a mentality that is equally essential to prepare you for any of the many possible futures that might be awaiting, what Naveen Jain calls the ‘quantum future.’ And the more daring the vision for the future, the better.”
- You are never too old to rock. The challenges of Sir Richard Branson have been enormous, seemingly unattainable: “I have found that this approach is the true differentiator in my life. And it can also be for you. In fact, if your dreams don’t scare you, then they are too small. Take that huge, bold, impossible and scary dream, wrap it in passion and conviction, and then, driven by the business mindset, ‘just do it,’ you can do it. Contrary to what they once told me, you’re never too old to rock, and you’re never too young to fly. So take your best shot, and while you do it, turn it into a ship to the moon. Make it count. Do it boldly. Because while the brave may not live forever, the cautious do not live at all.”
Author: Jorge Oropeza
Naveen Jain & John Schroeter, “Moonshots, Creating a World of Abundance (Foreword By Sir Richard Branson), 2018, Moonshots Press, USA.
“He has USD 4000 million, uses the same pair of jeans every day and plans to take tourists into space,” July 2019, infobae.com
https://www.infobae.com/america/mundo/2019/07/19/tiene-usd-4000-millones-usa-todos-los-dias-el-mismo-jean-y-planea-llevar-turistas- to space/