My advice for young people

“Find one person younger than you were when you started, and offer them non-monetary support to help them find success.” I love this #ChallengeRichard that came in via Twitter. It epitomises the spirit of business and my belief that you’re never too young to be an entrepreneur.

I recently received the wonderful letter below from nine-year-old Annie Spicer-Jones of Kent. Accompanying her letter, Annie sent me some designs of an aircraft that she invented. I thought I’d address the #ChallengeRichard by replying to Annie with some tips to help her succeed in achieving her dreams.

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Dear Annie

Thank you for your letter, your creativity is inspiring. I enjoy talking to young people about their dreams. Too often children are told that they cannot do this, and they shouldn’t do that – but that just restricts their imagination. Don’t ever let anyone prevent you from dreaming. Imagination is one of our greatest gifts. Without it we would never make the changes that make the world a better place.

I love your designs for your airplane, but more importantly, I love that you took the time to really think things out and get them down on paper. Keep doing this. As you get older you’ll find it will help you achieve your dreams. I’m constantly doodling and writing down my ideas as they come to me. I have carried a notebook with me at all times ever since I was a kid. If I hadn’t documented my ideas, maybe Virgin wouldn’t exist today!

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I think it’s great that you are looking at how you can change the airline industry with a new and exciting product. That’s innovation. It’s a big word, I know, but as you get older and enter the working world, you’ll realise just how important it is to innovate. Innovation has been the key to many of humanity's greatest successes.

I also think it’s wonderful that you are looking at an industry that is largely made up by males. If you’re thinking about becoming an engineer or a pilot, then my advice is to go for it. Go out and grab it with both hands. The world needs more female engineers and pilots, and entrepreneurs. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve it – you’ve clearly got drive, which is a necessary quality of all these careers.

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And thank you for writing to me. It’s so important in life and in business to ask for feedback. It’s amazing what doors can open if you reach out to people with a smile, friendly attitude and a desire to make a positive impact.

Keep designing and keeping dreaming Annie – who knows, maybe one day you will come to work with us at one of our airlines or even our spaceline.

All the very best to you, 

Richard Branson

That ticks off challenge number nine of my #ChallengeRichard quest. Don’t forget to keep sending in your challenges.


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