Richard Branson owns over 400 companies, and is a billionaire despite doing very poorly in school, no college education, dyslexia, and a very short attention span.
What is his secret?
He is, in his own words, “a benevolent dictator,” who is compassionately unreasonable.
What does this mean?
Richard Branson gets a clear picture of what he wants and makes leveraging the resources of others an art form. He sees failure differently than most people. Failure is not final, only a chance to do things a little better next time because you’ll know better. He identifies a need in the marketplace that he thinks he could service better and then forms a business around creating a solution that millions of people will want and use. He is relentless in the outcomes he sees in his head and demands from everyone creative work that solves the problems necessary to accomplish his stated outcome. Branson keeps his outcomes and directives simple and does not mind risk because his attitude is always, “let’s find out and see what happens.”
I think this poem by George Barnard Shaw suits him very well:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Here’s a great short interview where Seth Godin interview Richard on failure:
In an article from the New York Times, when asked if he invest in stocks Richard Branson is quoted as saying:
Except for relatively small personal investments in the index funds, Mr. Branson says, he avoids the stock market because he thinks he can do better plowing his own money back into his own Virgin empire, which now counts more than 200 companies with annual sales of about $2.5 billion, according to The Sunday Times of London. Only once did he consider buying individual shares — in oil companies, ”so that if oil prices went up, it would compensate us for the use of oil in our planes.” — but in the end, he thought better of the idea.
So what is Richard Branson’s secret?
- To Thy Own Self Be True!
- Fail Fast, and Fail Often!
- Learn from your mistakes and have fun along the way.
- And modify your approach until you get what you want (from others as well as yourself)
Now it’s your turn: What do you admire most about Richard Branson? What best practices on living your epic life can you glean from from him? Make sure you post your comments below, I am curious about what you think.