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Your Knight in Shining Armor: 3 Lessons in Success from Sir Richard Branson


If any one person comes to mind when someone says “serial entrepreneur,” it’s Sir Richard Branson. Even his name sounds fancy and successful, right? So, how does a drop-out with a learning disability become one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs to grace this planet (and maybe others)? Take a seat and fasten your seat belt … it’s time for takeoff.

Branson was able to overcome dyslexia to become one of the most respected and successful serial entrepreneurs of his time. Branson’s first business, which he started shortly after he dropped out of boarding school, was a small magazine publication called Student that sustained itself with advertising revenue in its first year. 

Fast forward to today. Branson is responsible for more than 200 companies located in more than 30 countries worldwide and still finds time to schedule in an occasional tennis match on his private island in the Virgin Islands. So, how can professionals mirror Sir Richard Branson’s success? Here are the three things to keep in mind, to begin the journey:

1. Simplicity: As a result of Branson’s dyslexia, he was adamant about keeping all business communications and decisions simple. If he couldn’t understand a proposed campaign message on the first go, then it was “rubbish” and tossed out. Keep your message simple, straightforward, and leave the guesswork out. If you clutter people’s minds with filler information, then your message will surely get lost in the shuffle. Simple is effective, if done right, so focus on what will captivate your audience in the fewest words or images and run with that.

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2. Leadership: Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. Like the great Kenny Rogers said, “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” The same goes for business — do what you’re good at (hold ’em) and delegate the rest (fold ’em). Don’t be a control freak. Pass the baton when the occasion calls for it and handle the responsibilities that you excel at. You’ll find that when you clear up mental space by delegating tasks, you will be more productive and have more time to innovate, which means you have more time to be a leader.

3. Ambition: Dream big … like, ridiculously BIG! Branson says over and over that he wants to create things that he’s proud of, so he sets huge goals that seem impossible to attain … and he usually ends up proving himself wrong and succeeding at pretty much everything. From submarines, to space shuttles, to aircrafts, to music, Branson has excelled at them all. Shooting for the stars is a real thing, and it has definitely paid off tenfold for Sir Richard Branson’s empire.

It’s always reassuring to hear the stories of successful people and discover that they started out pretty average or, in Richard Branson’s case, at a disadvantage, because it reminds us all that anything is possible.

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(Photo Credit: Shinsuke JJ Ikegame/Flickr)

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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