What does it mean to be an honourable innovator?
We recently wrote about Elon Musk as someone who has contributed such a huge amount to society as an honourable innovator, it’s not even funny. Today, let’s look at one of the few people on earth who operate in the same head space as Elon.
‘You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over. Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.’
The second you get comfortable in life, that’s when you should panic. Richard Branson is a man known most-commonly for all of the success he has experienced in his lifetime. Branson is someone who has gotten tonnes of publicity purely because of how much money he’s made.
But who is Richard Branson?
Most of you probably know this honourable innovator through his connection with the Virgin brand, namely Virgin airlines. But how did Richard Branson go from being a high school dropout to owning 400 different companies?
Richard Branson was not always an honourable innovator. His early days involved struggling through the education system while suffering from dyslexia. He was one of those guys who you just knew would either be a millionaire or end up homeless or in prison. That’s the thing, we all know a Richard Branson. But what made him go from a young lad barely making his way in life to one of the richest men on the planet?
Where did Virgin begin?
While most of you are probably familiar with Virgin Airlines, that isn’t where it all started for Richard Branson as an honourable innovator.
The journey began aged 16. Branson started his own newspaper magazine which was named ‘Student’, which gave him quite a bit of success. Several years later upon entering his twenties, Branson began a mail order service distributing music records for cheaper than the regular high street stores. This is where things began to take off.
This mail order service quickly led to the opening of his own record shop in London, followed by the launch of his own record label – Virgin Records.
In 1984, Branson’s reputation as a real honourable innovator began taking shape. It was during this year that Virgin Atlantic Airways was born.
During the following 8 years, Branson grew his empire on a global scale within this time frame and in 1992. The Virgin label was sold to EMI for £500 million. Serious cash.
Another Virgin branch that I’m sure you’re all aware of is Branson’s mobile company.
Virgin Mobile was created in the year 1999. It is a wireless communications brand used by eight independent brand-licensees worldwide. Virgin Mobile branded wireless communications services are available in Australia, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, France, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, South Africa, México, and the United States. Virgin Mobile branded services used to be offered in Singapore, India and Qatar.
Branson’s recent business ventures
One of Virgin’s most recent ventures is their new space tourism company – Virgin Galactic. This began in 2004. Virgin Galactic’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, had initially suggested that he hoped to see a maiden flight by the end of 2009. But this date has been delayed on a number of occasions.Most recently by the October 2014 in-flight loss of SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise.
Branson stated that Virgin Galactic was “in the best position in the world” to provide rocket-powered, point-to-point 3000 mph air travel on Earth. In October, 2017, Branson suggested that he could travel to space aboard a SpaceShipTwo within six months.
The 61-year-old achieved the kiteboarding record after crossing from Dymchurch, Kent, to Wimereux in northern France in three hours and 45 minutes in July 2013
On 30 November 2012 the business networking site LinkedIn announced that Branson had become its first member to reach one million followers. By 10 March 2013 at 17:16 GMT, his followers had grown to 1,521,636 people.
Branson, who was star of the 2004 reality TV show “The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best” (FOX, USA), was the richest presenter of reality television, with an estimated worth of £3 billion ($4.6 billion).
He led president Donald Trump, ex-star of US version of “The Apprentice.” Trump had an estimated worth of $2.9 billion (£1.4 billion), and Oprah Winfrey (USA), worth ‘just’ $1.5 billion (£763 million).
Why is he an honourable innovator?
It’s not because of how much money he’s made. Richard Branson isn’t an honourable innovator because of all the success he’s had. Not in my opinion anyway.
Let’s look at some of the ventures of Virgin that didn’t succeed. What about Branson’s attempt to compete with soft drink giants Coca Cola – Virgin Cola? What about Virgin Cars? Virgin Brides.
These all failed.
That’s what makes him honourable. Branson was and still is obsessed. He was never going to take failure as an option. In fact, these failures only helped him. It is his raw determination to grow his empire that has made him an honourable innovator.
Richard Branson is that lad in school who did fuck all, but you always had a feeling would go somewhere. You knew he would do something with his life.
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
Be sure to check out our last Honourable Innovator article on Elon Musk
SJB & GQ