What Would Virgin’s Richard Branson Do?


Just in case you don’t know him, Richard Branson is a British billionaire who owns the Virgin brand of companies.

He is a hero of mine.

I adore Virgin Atlantic and won’t fly to London with anyone else.

I emigrated to the US on a Virgin Atlantic plane.

I’ve even got a jigsaw puzzle of one of the Virgin planes.

I bought replicas of the planes for my plane-mad son to play with.

I’ve written blog posts on Virgin flights.

And I’ve long been a fan of Richard Branson, right back to the days of my early career.

I liked his freewheeling style, the fact that, like me, he didn’t go to university, that he was creative.

And flawed.

I really liked how he clearly had limitations.

And I imagine he can be a bit of a nightmare to work with – he comes across as pretty scattered, wild, a bit hippy. And dippy.

But in a way that people forgive him.

You can’t ignore his success.

He hasn’t been beset by scandal, he is still married to the mother of his grown-up children.

He has done (and said) some ridiculous things, some brave things and some embarrassing things.

But he’s still a billionaire who seems grounded, normal, and honorable. And is considered a leadership hero of our modern age.

Why is that?

Is it because he’s dyslexic but hasn’t let that stop him?

Is it because he’s upfront about what he’s not so good at?

Is it because he has built a phenomenally strong brand?

Is it because he has a great PR firm?

I really don’t know (I do think he has a great PR firm) but I know he has a personality that I can relate to albeit in a more modest way.

Like him, I have lots of ideas but lack the follow through – either because I procrastinate or get bored or I don’t have the time or the skills.

Or, of course, the money.

But Branson has, or has had, essentially the same problems.

He does have money now but he didn’t when he was younger, bootstrapping a record company and doing some risky financial things to make his business work that pushed him just over the wrong side of the legal line so that he spent the night in a cell.

Richard Branson is great at what he’s good at and hiring people to do the rest.

He’s great at taking risks, motivating people, hiring the right sorts, (and listening to them,) coming up with ideas, having a vision.

He is a disaster at details, routine, and number-crunching.

He relies on others to fill in where he has gaps.

While he creates.

He states that he never runs by a business idea before accountants when starting a new business.


He works purely on gut and the instinct to create.

As someone who has constant back and forth chatter going on in her brain, these words make me sigh with relief.

As the creative, the sensible and the rational war in my brain, it is so freeing to hear this.

So when I get stuck, bored or procrastinate, I notice, I sit.

And I ask ‘What would Richard Branson do?’

And I go do it. It makes for an exciting life!

Who can you rely on to fill in your gaps? And what can you create today?

Let me know in the comments!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary E. Ulrich
October 13, 2011 at 4:28 am

I don’t know much about him, but he is inspiring and fun to watch. Glad you had another great plane ride to England. Bet RB wishes there were more true fans like you Alison.

There is something to be said for taking risks and not worrying about the consequences. Humm, I’ll have to take a leap of faith today on several issues in my family, maybe I’ll join you in thinking WWRBD?
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Alison Golden October 13, 2011 at 9:15 am

Hi Mary:

When I’ve ever blasted through a resistance, it has always required a leap of faith. I think they are essential. I hope yours turn out to be fruitful today. Let me know how you get on. 🙂


October 13, 2011 at 10:25 am

I was inspired by this….and trust me…I NEED the inspiration right now. Not running a new biz venture by accountants??? WOWza…that’s unheard of! But it goes to show the power of intuition. Love this post!
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Alison Golden October 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I much prefer trying things out to see if they’ll fly. Having to do business plans and so on feels like such a fag. But it goes against conventional wisdom so when I read this kind of thing, it makes me feel less crazy. I have to say though, I’ve never used any money I can’t comfortably afford to lose.


Kristl Story October 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I had know idea about his background…WOW!
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Alison Golden October 30, 2011 at 4:43 pm

He’s quite a character…


October 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I surely didn’t know much about his backgrounds too but this is interesting and impressive facts you are sharing. Thanks for this post 🙂
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Nora October 17, 2011 at 7:59 am

I thought billionaires were the formal and secretive type. He is a bit different and likes to venture into the world taking risk and the like which we normal people do. Thanks for sharing, I get to know new things with the information you shared.
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Nikea October 18, 2011 at 9:04 am

He sure is a very interesting person.. Thanks for sharing some backgroung of this life.. Keep posting some more!
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Nikkie October 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm

He can be an inspiration to all people and I am hoping that this can really help motivate more people…
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Berna October 21, 2011 at 8:20 am

I never heard him before, but he inspired me. It can help motivate other person.
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Miss Kimbers November 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm

What would Branson do? That’s what I was thinking last weekend when Qantas decided to ground their entire fleet! My friend and I had a discussion about how Branson would not ever do such a stupid thing, and what a great guy he is:)
From now on, I am flying with Virgin all the time:)


Alison Golden November 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I’m with you, Miss Kimbers. Virgin all the way. 😉


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