65 innovations that changed my life

Andrew Breslin of Dubai sent me a #challengerichard to list 65 innovations that have changed my life. Here goes:

1.            Bicycles – When I was a kid my mum would send me out to explore. Cycling gave me independence and an adventurous spirit. I still love to jump on a bike.

2.            TVs – Growing up in Surrey in the 1960s, television opened up my world, giving me access to news and cultures outside my immediate surroundings. 

3.            Pens – My first business was centred on journalism. If I didn’t love writing, Virgin wouldn’t exist.

4.            Notebooks – Writing down notes has helped me come up with my best ideas.

5.            Phone boxes – I started out conducting business for Student magazine from a red phone box.

6.            Dictaphones – A journalist’s/magazine editor’s best friend!

7.            Kettles – I drink 20 cups of tea a day, so the kettle is a blessing.

8.            Music records – We started Virgin by selling cut price records by mail order. Wow, we’ve come a long way.

9.            The postal system – Without the postal system, delivering our cut-price records, Virgin Mail Order would never have started, meaning Virgin wouldn’t exist.

10.          Condoms – We set up MATES condoms to help tackle the AIDS/HIV epidemic of the 1980s.

11.          House boats – I lived on a houseboat for most of my early 20s. I loved it.

12.          Airplanes – Where would Virgin be without air travel?!

13.          Hot air balloons – Oh, the adventures I’ve had.

14.          Parachutes – Those adventures didn’t always end well. Thankfully the parachute was invented.

15.          Speedboats – The speedboat has encouraged my adventurous spirit. 

16.          Helicopters – Helicopters have saved my live on a number of occasions. 

17.          Seat belts – Unfortunately I’ve been in a few car crashes. Seat belts have saved my life. 

18.          Microphone – While public speaking is not my favourite thing, I’m grateful that the microphone was invented to allow people to speak up.

19.          Flip flops – Island life wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without flip flops.

20.          Flippers – I love diving, and flippers make it easier to get down deeper and explore more. 

21.          Tennis racquet – Tennis is my favourite sport. I travel with my trusty racquet whenever where I go.

22.          Chess – In my opinion, chess is the best game in the world. It teaches tactics, planning, bravery and risk-taking.

23.          Cameras – I’ve always documented my life with photos and am quickly building up a collection of wonderful photos of our grand babies.

24.          Film – Not only have I been able to document my adventures and milestones, I have got so much joy out of watching my son fall in love with film-making.

25.          Computers – Thinking back to the days that we did business without computers makes me laugh and cry!

26.          Internet – I can’t imagine reverting to business without the internet. It’s also done great things for the way the Virgin Group communicates globally. 

27.          Email – Our fax machine used to ring wild, spewing out unsustainable amounts of paper, then email came along and changed things for the better.

28.          Mobile phones – Thanks to the mobile phone, I can do business from anywhere in the world. 

29.          Lie-flat beds – Being able to get a good rest on a plane makes my busy travelling schedule manageable.

30.          Telescopes – Star gazing, as well as watching man walk on the moon, sparked the Virgin Galactic dream. 

richard branson telescope

31.          Spaceships – We’re on the brink of opening up space for everyone.

32.          Submarines – I believe that getting to the deepest points of the world’s five oceans is the last great challenge for humans, and will do great things of ocean conservation.

33.          Pendolinos – This Virgin Trains electric high-speed train transformed rail travel in the UK.

34.          Wifi – Like the mobile phone, wifi has revolutionised the way we do business.

35.          iPod – This small, yet genius gadget pretty much put Virgin Records and Virgin Megastores UK out of business, but lucky we had the foresight to move into air travel. 

36.          iPad – I like to check up with what’s going on in the world by scrolling through the news on my iPad.

37.          In-seat entertainment – In-flight entertainment makes my travelling more enjoyable.

38.          Online shopping – What a game-changer!

39.          YouTube – Not only do I like to post videos, I love to watch talks from inspiring people.

40.          Twitter – I began tweeting in 2008 to share stories and connect with people. I still love to check Twitter daily.

41.          Facebook Facebook makes staying in contact with people and gaining feedback easy.

42.          LinkedIn – I love checking in on LinkedIn’s community and sharing business tips.

43.          Skype – Joan and I love to Skype with Holly and Freddie and Sam and Bellie, and see how much our grand babies have grown.

44.          Google Hangout – I can’t be everywhere I’m invited, so the next best thing is to have a Hangout.

45.          In-flight wifi – Travelling a lot I used to often be disconnected for long periods of time. Now because I can keep on top over everything while in the air. 

46.          Radio – Two of my favourite things, news and music, in one place.

47.          Kiteboards – Kitesurfing brings me so much joy. It’s great exercise, recreation, relaxation and stress management, and it helps me to clear my head.

48.          Solar power – The future looks bright with solar power technology becoming more affordable and accessible.

49.          Wind turbines – Clean energy innovations are my favourite innovations.

50.          Biofuels – The advancement of biofuels is helping us to reduce our environmental footprint and tackle climate change.

51.          Electric cars – Making green sexy! I love joining our DS Virgin Racing team, track side for Formula E events.

52.          Carbon capture and removal technologies – Great advancements are happening within this field, bringing a world no longer threatened by climate change closer to reality.  

53.          Unlimited leave – Innovation isn’t just restricted to technology; we’ve introduced unlimited leave into our London HQ and the results have been great. When our people are happy, I’m happy.

54.          Shared parental leave – We are proud of our family culture at Virgin, and therefore offer our London HQ a wonderful parental leave policy. Supported people, support the business in return.

55.          Hearing aids – I’m fortunate enough not to have hearing troubles, but have experienced first-hand, through working with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, the brilliant work these little devices do.

56.          Apps – Apps put so much information and fun at my finger tips. Have you tried out our Virgin Red app?

57.          The Sharing Economy – A human and intelligent socio-economic ecosystem, changing the world for the better.

58.          GoPro – Adventures are so much more fun when you can watch them back!

59.          Drones – We’ve been testing out our 3D Robotics drone on Necker a lot. It’s changed the way we see the island and has also helped me with my kitesurfing technique.

60.          Virtual reality – Welcome to the future.

Richard Branson Virgin Racing

61.          Ring doorbell – A great innovation that makes sure we never miss a visitor, while protecting our home. 

62.          Creative Live – I love to watch interesting talks and learn new skills. 

63.          Crowdfunding – I wish this innovation had been around when I was starting out in business. It has helped me spot some magnificent opportunities to invest in.

64.          Change.org – Online petitions are a wonderful way to create much-needed change.

65.          Satellites – Satellites can offer high speed internet and telephony to billions of people who don’t have access. We’re excited to be creating the world's largest satellite constellation through OneWeb.

What innovation has changed your life? I’d like to hear about it in the comments below. 

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