In what ways does your family inspire you?

Richard Branson with Sam and Holly as children in front of a UFO
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 7 August 2023

In what ways does your family inspire you? I was asked this question for my Ask Richard LinkedIn Newsletter, but I wanted to share my answer with all of you.

When I read the question, my sister had just sent me the most wonderful photos from when my son, Sam, was born. I had rushed straight to the hospital after our first Virgin Atlantic Challenger adventure, where a team of us attempted to make the fastest-ever trans-Atlantic crossing. Our boat ended up capsizing and we had to be rescued by an RAF helicopter, but the disappointment and exhaustion melted away the moment I held Sam in my arms. Here I am, still in my sailing clothes but happier than ever... I ended up sleeping on the hospital floor, but it was still more comfortable than the boat!

Richard Branson holding Sam Branson after his birth, post the Virgin Atlantic Challenger
Virgin Atlantic

My family is my biggest inspiration, and my children are my greatest achievement. Without the love and support of my wife, children, parents, nieces, nephews and grandchildren, I wouldn’t have the drive to keep dreaming and to bounce back from every setback.

I’ve been married to my wife Joan for 45 years now and she has been my constant rock and a steady source of wisdom. When I need a voice of reason or when I have doubts, Joan inspires me to stay true to myself and persevere. She was also the inspiration behind Necker Island, which I originally bought in an effort to impress her! The family memories we’ve shared on the island made it one of the best decision I’ve ever made.

Black and white image of Richard and Joan Branson hugging
Image by

We’ve always run Virgin as a family business, and my children have been inspiring the Virgin story from their very first days. Growing up, Holly and Sam were at almost every inaugural flight, Christmas party, launch event and world adventure. They also remain at the front of my mind when I make important business decisions. I always ask myself: ‘Is this something my children and my grandchildren will be proud of?’ and, ‘will it make the future a little bit brighter for the next generation?’ I’m sure all parents would agree that this is the best way to make decisions and to find the inspiration to do the right thing. Now that my children are older, they continue to challenge me and inspire the way I work.

As Virgin’s Chief Purpose and Vision Officer, Holly’s passion for purpose-driven business constantly motivates all of us to uphold Virgin’s purpose of ‘changing business for good’. Sam’s adventurous spirit, endless creativity and his passion for the environment helps me see the world through a different lens, and tackle old problems in new ways. He’s also an incredible storyteller, so I find a lot of inspiration in his words, films and music.

Richard, Holly and Nelson Mandela and family standing outside together

I also can’t talk about family inspiration without mentioning my parents. My dad Ted’s life motto was: ‘Isn’t life wonderful’, and his zest for life inspired everyone around him. In particular, dad inspired me to remain curious and always find a new reason to smile. My mum, Eve, was one of the most energetic and optimistic people I’ve ever known. She helped me overcome a deep shyness, and I learnt from an early age how to tackle my fears head-on. When things don’t go to plan, I think of my mum and find the inspiration to keep going.

Richard Branson with his parents Ted and Eve holding a model Virgin Atlantic plane

It’s quite remarkable to look at all the different ways in which my family inspire me. Whether it is your family members, friends or colleagues, it’s so important to surround yourself with people who inspire you, believe in you and challenge you. It’s equally important to encourage others in the same way.