Questions and answers

Richard Branson reading his ipad while having a cup of tea
Owen Buggy
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 30 May 2021

Recently I launched a newsletter on LinkedIn, where I answer a question from my followers once a month. Thank you to everyone who has submitted such thoughtful, interesting questions so far and keep them coming!

We have had so many brilliant questions that I thought I would also answer a few more on my blog. One that stood out to me was from teacher Meriel Rhodes who asked a few questions from her class of students. 

If you could give 3 pieces of advice for life to a 10-11 year old what would they be and why?

1. Find what interests you and strive for it 

2. You can do anything if you put your mind to it 

3. Stop worrying about what other people think 

Have you been driven more by your failures or your successes? (Please explain how / why)

I would say I am more driven by failure – but when things don’t quite work out my way, I try not to see that as a negative experience, but rather as a chance to learn something new and try again. I always want to keep moving forward and when I’m presented with a problem, I always try and take a step back and find the solution. The last 12 months have certainly presented many challenges, and I have been driven by our setbacks to work with our teams around the world to try and find ways around the problems and I’m now focused on recovery as many parts of the world look ahead to safe reopening.  

On the flip side, if we’re successful at something, it’s usually because we have created a business that has a positive impact on people’s lives and our customer’s experience – and that’s also a mission that spurs me on. It’s why we started Virgin Atlantic all those years ago to prove that flying could be a fun experience and to shake up aviation. We use this ethos of doing things differently to benefit our customers whenever we start a Virgin business – whether it’s a Virgin Money bank, a Virgin Active health club or a Virgin Hotel

While I have also been fortunate to tally up a few successes along my business journey, I never want to sit still. We’re always out there looking for the next opportunity to start a new business or to invest in something ground-breaking. In the last decade, there has been so many exciting opportunities – from reaching space with Virgin Galactic and launching satellites with Virgin Orbit to reinventing transportation with Virgin Hyperloop to launching a completely different kind of cruising experience with Virgin Voyages

What do you consider to be your greatest success and your greatest failure? If you could change one of them which would it be and why?

My greatest success is my family. I am so proud of my two wonderful children Holly and Sam, and our grandkids who are growing up into such wonderful, curious and creative children.

As I mentioned above, I try to see failure as a learning opportunity. Over the course of 50 years in business, I have encountered many of these - one of the more memorable examples is Virgin Cola – you can read all about that adventure here.

What are you curious about?

I’m very curious about finding solutions to the climate crisis. We have invested in many innovative businesses, from Virgin Hyperloop, which has zero direct emissions, to Agilyx, which recycles plastics that are currently very difficult to recycle, to BMR, a clean energy company in the Caribbean.

If you could bring any five people in the world to a meeting room who would you ask andwhat would you talk about / would the agenda be?

Right now, I would have my wife, two kids and my sisters Vanessa and Lindy. Our mum Eve passed away this year from COVID-19 and it would be nice to get the whole family together (their kids and all the grandkids would have to be somewhere nearby too). Our agenda would be catching up and having fun family time. I would make the meeting room our Great House on Necker andI’m sure we would be dancing on the dining table by the end of the night.

The Branson Family
The Branson Family

If we can do it, should we?

My motto is: Screw it, let’s do it!  

Thanks for the questions – I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts too. Share your comments on social and I’ll have a read through. And of course, don’t forget to sign up to my LinkedIn newsletter for more answers to your brilliant questions.