Birth Date: 18 July 1950
Occupation: Chairman of Virgin Group
Spouse: Joan Templeman (1989)
Children: Holly Branson and Sam Branson
Works: Autobiography titled 'Losing My Virginity'
Making a lot of mistakes and learning from them is what life is all about and who else can define 'impossible' better than this stalwart, who has made it large in life. You can call him the man who believed in his abilities, or the young boy who was dyslexic and a school dropout. Sir Richard Branson, noteworthy to be regarded as a touchstone for youngsters, has always believed in the power of his dreams and the secrets of his heart. Sir Richard Branson, though a billionaire, is renowned for his approachability and ability to succeed against all odds.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is one of the world's most respected and trusted brands. With businesses ranging from communications, travel, financial services, music, recreation, holidays, and well-being, there isn't any sector that hasn't been covered by the Virgin Group of Companies. Sir Richard Branson who believes in taking big risks and receiving equally big rewards strives for quality, innovation and competitive spirit. There is no doubt then why he is indeed the most successful businessman alive today.
Initial Steps to Greatness
Sir Richard Branson was born in London on 18 July 1950. He is the eldest son of Edward James Branson, a barrister and Eve Huntley Branson an airline stewardess. Sir Richard Branson is the grandson of Honorable Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson who was a judge of the High Court of Justice. Sir Richard Branson attended the Scaitcliffe School after which he joined the Stowe School in England. A dyslexic, Sir Richard Branson dropped out of school, and not allowing himself to be defeated by his disability, he developed 'Student' a youth-culture magazine at the age of 16. Launched in 1966, the publication that was completely run by students for students, had sold an amazing $8k worth advertisements in the first edition itself. By the age of seventeen, Sir Richard Branson had initiated the Student Advisory Service, a charity to help young people. Sir Richard Branson married Kristen Tomassi in 1972, but the marriage ended in divorce. He married Joan Templeman on Necker Islands in 1989 at the suggestion of his daughter Holly who was then 8 years old.
Timeline of the Brand 'Virgin'
1970 » Sir Richard Branson ventured into the music industry with his mail order catalog that aimed to sell discounted records cheaper than the existing 'High Street' outlets. Being the first venture into business, it was named Virgin, as suggested by one of his early employees.
1971 » Following the success of the mail order catalog, Sir Richard Branson opened his first record shop on Oxford Street in London. Owing to the huge success, Branson, was arrested and interrogated for charges of selling records that had been declared as export stock.
1973 » Sir Richard Branson along with Nick Powell launched the Virgin Records label in a country estate that they purchased.
1973 » Virgin Records released its first music record with Mike Oldfield's' debut album 'Tubular Bells'. The album went on to become the chart-topping bestseller.
1977 » Virgin Records went on to sign up top music artists and controversial bands like 'Genesis', 'The Sex Pistols', 'Faust and Can', 'The Rolling Stones', and 'Simple Minds'. Virgin Music was considered to be one of the top recording companies in the world.
1983 » He launched Virgin Vision to distribute films and videos for television and broadcasting sector.
1984 » Sir Richard Branson ventured into the aviation industry with Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Cargo. One of the main businesses, it has won him many awards. Virgin Airways is the second largest British International airline.
1984 » Virgin Vision launched a 24-hr satellite music station named 'Music Box'.
1985 » Sir Richard Branson initiated the Virgin Holidays after the successful launch of Virgin Atlantic Airways. It is one of the most successful tour operators in the United Kingdom winning 13 awards and recognition as a consumer super brand.
1987 » Virgin Group invested in the Mastertronic Group, which became Virgin Mastertronic, a computer game software developer.
1992 » Sir Richard Branson sold Virgin Records to Thorn EMI to keep his airline company afloat.
1994 » Virgin launched Virgin Cola and Virgin Vodka.
1996 » Virgin Group ventured into rail services with their brand name Virgin Trains, which offered long-distance passenger services.
1996 » Making another attempt at recording business, Sir Richard Branson launched V2 Music.
1998 » Sir Branson extended his business to the telecommunication sector with the launch of Virgin Mobile.
2000 » Virgin Airlines launched Virgin Blue, now known as Virgin Australia. This year also saw the launch of Virgin Cars Ltd., an Internet automobile retailer.
2004 » Extending his business ventures to space, Sir Richard Branson announced the launch of Virgin Galactic with a promise to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists.
2007 » Virgin Media is launched which provides mobile, television, and broadband Internet services in the United Kingdom. Sir Richard Branson along with Al Gore launched Virgin Earth Challenge.
2008 » Entering the healthcare sector, Virgin announced Virgin Healthcare. It also was the year when WhiteKnightTwo - VMS Eve - was unveiled.
2009 » First of its sorts, Virgin Galactic unveiled Virgin SpaceShip enterprise. The year 2009 was also the year when Virgin Atlantic celebrated its silver jubilee.
2010 » Virgin Galactic took its first test flight, while Virgin Produced debuts with 'Limitless'.
2011 » Sky is not the only limit; this can be said for the fact that Virgin took a dive into the oceans with the launch of Virgin Oceanic, a deep-sea submarine.
Joie de Vivre
Sir Richard Branson's flair for risks has made him attempt several record-breaking stunts including various attempts to be the fastest to cross the Atlantic Ocean. He apparently crossed the Atlantic first in 1986 in Virgin Atlantic Challenger II and the following year in his hot air balloon named Virgin Atlantic Flyer. Sir Richard Branson then broke the record by crossing the Pacific Ocean, flying from Japan to Arctic Canada in his hot air balloon in 1991. In 2004, a new record was set by crossing the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle.
Sir Richard Branson has made appearances in sitcoms including, F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Baywatch, Birds of a Feather, Only Fools and Horses, The Day Today, Goodness Gracious Me and Tripping Over. He challenged 16 contestants on the reality show, The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best. Sir Richard Branson has also made appearances in films like, Around the World in 80 Days, Superman Returns, Casino Royale and London Dreams.
In 1993, Loughborough University awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology to Sir Richard Branson. In the year 1998, Branson released his autobiography titled 'Losing My Virginity', which went on to become an international bestseller. He was knighted in 1999, and earned the title of 'Sir' for his 'services to entrepreneurship'. He was also awarded the ISTA prize for developing the suborbital transport systems with Virgin Galactic in 2011. He was awarded the President's Merit Award for his contribution to the music industry.
With the intention of opening a school to support budding entrepreneurs in South Africa, Sir Richard Branson set up the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in 2005. His non-profit organization, Virgin Unite aims to build a better world for everyone. He opened the second center in Jamaica in 2011. He is a signatory of Global Zero, an initiative made for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
A person who is not afraid of taking risks and making mistakes - that's what Sir Richard Branson is all about, for his life revolves around indulging in his passion. "Oh, screw it, let's do it"; that's the philosophy that Sir Richard Branson lives by and I guess it's undoubtedly a mantra we can apply to our lives as well.