He is a history-making, record-breaking, blonde-haired Knight Bachelor of the British Empire. He defies death on regular occasion, and conceives revolutionary entrepreneurial endeavors that make most modern millionaires look like slackers. He’s got 7.5 million followers on Google Plus, 2.3 million Likes on Facebook, 6.5 million people read his tweets, and he’s a LinkedIn Influencer who reaches 6 million professionals with his article posts. If you don’t know much about Sir Richard Branson, here are some quick reasons why the man deserves your respect.
A Story of Well-Rounded Success
Let’s start with success. This guy’s had it and got it–almost $5 billion worth, from businesses he started himself to various investments. Sure, he may not have necessarily started from the bottom (his lawyerly British family was able to put him into an independent prep school visited often by the Royal Family), but he did hustle. According to his blog post “My First Job: Breeding Budgies,” after starting a business while in boarding school breeding and selling budgerigars (canary-like birds), he launched a successful magazine called Student, which provided the foundation upon which he would build Virgin Records. From Virgin Records he helped introduce the world to acts like Culture Club and Sex Pistols before selling it in order to provide needed financial support to Virgin Airlines. From there came prepaid cellular provider Virgin Mobile, Virgin Trains, V2 Records, and what’s definitely his dreamiest business idea to date: Virgin Galactic.
Taking his talents to space, Branson plans to be on the first space-shuttled suborbital trip, which in recent months have been at risk of closing down due to failed launch attempts. In early 2015, the National Transportation Safety Board found that human error-due to lack of planning-led to the October 2014 crash of the company’s $400 million flagship spacecraft in the Mojave Desert. Despite failed launch attempts and losing almost 30 of it’s pre-booked space flights, Virgin Galactic is back at it rebuilding their business. Over the past six months, Virgin Galactic has quietly reshaped its business model, focusing on the small satellite launch market and plans to unveil a new Spaceship Two before year’s end. Tickets aren’t totally crazy ($250,000 for a space ride doesn’t sound unreasonable if you have it to spend), which is probably why more than 600 people are already signed up to blast off. In the meantime, Branson’s still spreading Virgin’s earthly atmospheric wings saying that he’s looking to develop airplanes that take only a single hour to move between Japan to New York City. He knows a little bit about speed, having set several records relying on quickness, including the fastest transatlantic boat crossing in 1986, and the fastest amphibious vehicle crossing of the English Channel in 2004.
In addition to owning various businesses dealing in everything from comic books and animations, to financial services and fancy vacation retreats (including private islands and a 105-foot luxury catamaran superyacht) through his Virgin Group umbrella, Branson also has Virgin Unite, a nonprofit that supports an entrepreneurial school in South Africa (he called Nelson Mandela one of his biggest inspirations), is a passionate advocate for ecological causes and humanitarian aid, and a sometimes-activist who participated in a hunger strike against Sudan’s refusal to permit aid groups into Darfur in 2009.
A proud father of two with plenty of amazing experiences and no signs of slowing down, Sir Richard Branson may be the greatest Virgin of all time, but at 65 years old and having accomplished so much, it’s probably best to go ahead and call him “Sir.”
“Don’t think what’s the cheapest way to do it or what’s the fastest way to do it….think what’s the most amazing way to do it.”
Richard Branson is currently #330 on Forbes 2015 Ranking and is worth an estimated $5.1 billion.
Was honored in 1999 by Queen Elizabeth II as Knight Bachelor for his “services to entrepreneurship”
Was Knighted Charles, Prince of Wales on March 30th, 2000 in Buckingham Palace
Received the “Tony Jannus” award for his accomplishments in air and commercial transportation
Branson was ranked in 2007’s Time magazine “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World”
In 2007, Branson was presented with the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award for his support for humanitarian and environmental causes.
In 2011, Branson was awarded the ISTA Prize by the International Space Transport Association for his achievements in development of suborbital transport systems with “Virgin Galactic.”