When you think of the word entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson is usually on the list that people consider. He has personally re-written the book on diversification of companies and brands. You would actually be hard-pressed to find an industry in which Branson does not have a hand in or has not at least explored. There is plenty that can be learned from this innovative and visionary.
Richard Branson is the sole owner of the Virgin Group consisting of numerous brands and companies. He has been active in business since before 1970 and is considered to be one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the business world to-date. His success is actually so public that Branson has become a well-known, household name celebrity. With a little digging into the life of Sir Richard Branson, the following is a list of 20 things you didn’t know about him.
With all that money he makes, Branson must have some type of hobby. Well, he does. Branson is an avid car collector who owns priceless vintage vehicles such as the Humber Super Snipe and Morris Mini Minor. Many of the automobiles he owns, the average individual has never even heard the name. The leader of Virgin enjoys investing in pricey but elegant automobile collectibles. For his daily commuter and tasks, he drives a Range Rover.
Created the Necker Nymph Submarine
Everyone dreams of flying in the car in the sky like George Jetson. Well, billionaire Branson did the opposite and found a way to travel beneath the ocean. Known as the Necker Nymph submarine, Branson can take an underwater ride that transport high-profile visitors to Necker Island. There is no better way to travel to your own private island than on an underwater submarine controlled by one of the biggest company owners in modern history.
Cried When Selling Virgin Records
His entire empire began with Virgin Records. Therefore, when he had to sell the record label in 1992 for over $1 billion, he is reported to have cried through the entire selling process. To Branson, it was wasn’t the money (nobody would cry in sentiment over earning $1 billion), it was more of the fact that Virgin Records was the gateway to his success. Although an intangible entity, he had a major emotional attachment to the label and its assets; understandably so.
Does Not Sit on a Board of Directors
Despite owning and operating the company, Branson does not sit on the Board of Directors for any of his 200 plus companies within the Virgin Empire. The reason is that he has never considered himself to be a businessman. As a result, he decided from the beginning not to be the director of any of the Virgin companies. He prefers to have the experts work on the business part of his company so he can act more as a creator and visionary. He has remained true to his word over the years and simply creates ideas, jobs and value for the organization.
Despite his monumental success and wealth, he is always a dad and a husband first. As a result of this viewpoint, he has compassion for his employees who are struggling with family issues or need to leave early to get to the latest play or sports practice. Given that he is a family man who understands life outside of work, the Virgin Group is an excellent place to work. In a recent British poll, he is one of the very few human’s, after Mother Teresa of course, who would be eligible to write the Ten Commandments that make up the behaviors of man. As funny as this sounds, it is quite the honor that showcases popularity.
Fond of Elon Musk
Richard Branson and Elon Musk are very similar in that they are both high-profile entrepreneurs who are in the private space flight segment. In fact, Branson and Musk are good friends as they both have the same goals with their respective companies: to commercialize space flight. Interestingly enough, they are neighbors on an island located in the Virgin Islands so they are close friends. Both have had a difficult time with the commercialized private spaceship industry but are confident that they can pull it off.
Has Been Awarded by the United Nations
Most consider Branson to be a crazy dare devil who is filthy rich. All of these statements are true. However, he has also been given an award by the United Nations. Known as the Correspondents Association Citizen of the World award, Branson earned it, with Nelson Mandela, when they collectively initiated The Elders; a human rights advocacy group that formed in 2007. The purpose of this group was to create improvements and voice concerns over the areas of human suppression and injustice in all corners of the globe.
Has Been Knighted
Based on the “Sir” status, you most likely knew that he has been knighted by royalty. However, did you know that Branson is a prankster and joker who makes fun of himself on a regular basis? This statement is proven by his appearances on Baywatch and Friends. Also, his jokester attitude is perfectly portrayed in his many commercials that you have most likely watched on television or the Internet. It is rare to see someone with so much wealth and power be so down to earth and fun.
Has Implemented a Succession Plan
Branson has spent an entire lifetime building the Virgin Empire that you see today. He is confident that the company can continue to expand and operate long after he is gone. To keep the company in the family he has implemented a family succession plan as his children can continue to be the face of the company after he has resigned. In addition to the family succession plan, the delegation of work he has given over the years has created a strong foundation that made the brand strong on its own. He feels that Virgin currently runs well and should continue to do so after he steps down.
High School Dropout
Most people do not know that Richard Branson dropped out of high school. Many articles and stories talk about billionaires who dropped out of college and while that is impressive, Branson did not even finish high school by dropping out at the young age of 16. Although the schooling system is a little different in the United Kingdom, 16 is still a young age to leave school in any country.
His Mother Knew he would be a Success
Born in the small British town of Surrey in 1950, Branson’s mom always had the highest of hopes and dreams for her son. She often told people that he would be so successful and would eventually become the Prime Minister of England. Although he has not run for Prime Minister (yet), to her delight, he has filled those shoes well and is at the top of the world.
Holds the Hot Air Balloon World Record
Branson holds the Hot Air Balloon World Record due to his the fact that he is the only individual to the Atlantic Ocean in a giant hot air balloon. In 1987, he cross the pond in a balloon alone. Then in 1991 he broke his own record by cross the Pacific Ocean, which is approximately 6,700 miles in a Virgin hot air balloon. He is an absolute marketing genius as this gave all entities of his company free positive publicity, advertising and overall goodwill; something many large companies pay billions to acquire. This showed the world that he is not a boring CEO whose sole focus is making money.
Branson has been married twice and has children with two different women. In 1972, he married Kristen Tomassi but the relationship did not last and the two got divorced in 1979. He remarried in 1989 to his current wife, Lady Joan Templeman. Branson is the father to two children, Sam and Holly Branson who are the heirs to the Virgin fortune. The media reports that he is an excellent father who is always there for his children.
As a child, Branson had a severe case of dyslexia that prevented him from being able to focus on reading and writing. This could have been one of the primary reasons for him dropping out of high school. However, through hard work he was able to overcome this challenge and you would not even know that he is dyslexic today. Ironically, during his time in high school, he founded a magazine titled, “Student,” which successfully sold advertising space among other content. Even during high school, Branson was using his business smarts to make improvements in the lives of others.
Owns an Entire Island
Branson is so rich, he owns an island; literally. Called, Necker Island, he rents his home out to celebrities and occasionally stays there while on vacation. Necker Island is the preferred location for numerous celebrities including Oprah, Kate Winslet, David Beckham, Jimmy Fallon, Mariah Carey and several others. Branson charges $42,000 for one night on the entire island and $27,000 for one night to book a single villa.
The Perfect Manager
As an entrepreneur and friendly manager, it took time for Branson to perfect that combination with all of the pressure and stress he is under. Per business records, he is an owner that believes in a bottom heavy corporate structure that allows him to delegate and provide responsibility to his workers while empowering them. This results in a happy and productive employee who is willing to go the extra mile for him and the company.
Top Five Richest in the United Kingdom
It comes as no surprise that Branson is one of the top 5 richest individuals in the United Kingdom. Ironically, in 2013, his net worth was ranking as the 254th richest person in the world at around $4 billion. You would think with such a vast empire of companies and endeavors that his global ranking would be much higher than in the 200’s. Nevertheless, he is rich and he certainly knows how to enjoy life to the fullest.
Virgin Group Consists of over 200 Businesses
The average individual has heard of Virgin Airlines and Virgin Records, however, Branson’s entire Virgin Empire is comprised of over 200 different businesses that range from health clubs to night clubs and cosmetics to clothing. He has redefined the word diversification with his hand in every pot, most of which are completely successful. By surrounding himself with industry experts in each of the 200 business categories, Branson’s company can become an authority for that industry.
Virgin Record Namesake
In 1969, Branson created Virgin records. Given that this was his first attempt at being an entrepreneur, he named the company Virgin and this name has stuck ever since. The name Virgin is now synonymous with success, wealth, power and incredible innovation that is slowly changing the world for the better in many industries and markets.
Visions of Virgin Interplanetary
Space exploring or even simply visitation can be a costly endeavor. However, with visionaries like Branson, who is commercializing the entire trip as an experience, companies like The Virgin Galactic have emerged. As a segment of Virgin Airlines, which makes suborbital flights into space with a GBP200,000 ticket, Branson is actually on-board most of these flights, thumping around with complete excitement. In addition to his space flights, Branson has actually registered the trademark, “Virgin Interplanetary” during live broadcasts from space. Talk about a person who really knows how to plan ahead for the future.
Richard Branson is an industry leading (multi-industries for that matter) visionary and entrepreneur where the sky is limit with what can be achieved. In his world, family comes first and he is an excellent father to his two children. With such a packed schedule, he always finds time to create innovative ideas while tending to his family’s needs. There are many things about Richard Branson that most people were unaware of. The aforementioned 20 only capture a small portion of just how incredible he really is.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker