10 questions I've never been asked before

Richard Branson dressed as a snowman holding a sausage dog with a Christmas hat on
Image by Greg Rose
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 20 February 2020
It can be really easy to get comfortable in life and to only do things inside your comfort zone. You’re unlikely to get hurt here, you might get really good at doing the one thing you know you can do...

Over more than five decades as an entrepreneur, I’ve been asked just about every question under the sun. As a bit of fun, my team and I came up with 10 questions I’ve never been asked before, and it led to some pretty peculiar answers. I hope you enjoy.

Richard Branson smiling
Image by Virgin Atlantic

1. If you could be an animal, what would you be?

It would have be a painted wolf, my favourite animal, which I have had the pleasure of watching many times at Ulusaba, our game reserve in South Africa. I love how they work together as a family and they are just the most beautiful creatures.

2. What’s the strangest thing a Virgin admirer has ever done?

It’s hard to say! I’ve received some truly weird and wonderful gifts over the years – including this truly bizarre cake model of my head. One of the team got a shock when they opened the fridge in the office and saw me staring back at them!

3. Potatoes – baked, mashed, roasted or fried?

Roast potatoes are my favourite. I like potatoes with many meals, but nothing can beat a good Sunday roast.  

4. What was the scariest adventure you’ve ever embarked on?

There’s been a lot of close shaves over the years. The challenge I was most scared of was when we were crossing the Pacific in a hot air balloon. Having accidentally lost half our fuel we thought we would run out of fuel halfway across the Pacific. Basically we knew we were going to die. We were travelling about 80mph and the only way we would survive is if we could average 180mph. The final chance we had was to try and get into the core of the jet stream. Luckily the strong winds saved us from crashing into the Pacific.

Richard Branson with his father Ted Branson
Image by Thierry Boccon-Gibod

5. What’s your earliest memory?

When I was really little, I remember winning 10 shillings from my Auntie Joyce by jumping into a freezing Devon river and trying to swim for the first time.

6. If you were an ice-cream flavour, what would you be?

Cold Sex Pistols Ice Cream, of course!

The Sex Pistols stood together
Image by Virgin Records

 7. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to flap my arms and fly. I used to have recurring dreams about flying and it definitely inspired my pursuits in aviation and space travel.

8. What’s the most memorable meeting you’ve had?

It would have to be the first meeting we had with The Elders after the wonderful group were brought together by Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel.

9. If you could live in another time, when would you choose?

It would be fascinating to live in the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and go on adventures with Ernest Shackleton. 

10. What’s been your greatest ‘aha’ moment?

The moment we realised it would be possible to build a commercial space company and began the journey to creating Virgin Galactic.