Amazing Vagabond – Richard Branson – Billionaire Playboy

billionaire playboy Richard BransonThe fourth richest man in Britain is one of my idols.It’s not because he’s rich. There are plenty of rich guys who aren’t my idols. It’s because of the way he lives his life. It’s because of his philosophy on life. His tagline from his Google+ profile might give you an idea.

Tie-loathing adventurer and thrill seeker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Otherwise known as Dr Yes

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson  was born 18 July 1950. He is the fourth richest man in Britain and chairman and founder of Virgin Group which is made up of more than 400 companies.

His first business venture was when he was 16 after he dropped out of high school. It was a magazine called Student.

In 1969, Branson was living in a London commune, surrounded by the British music and drug scene. It was during this time that Branson had the idea to begin a mail-order record company called Virgin to help fund his magazine efforts. The company performed modestly, but made Branson enough that he was able to expand his business venture, adding a record shop in Oxford Street, London. With the success of the record shop, the high school drop-out was able to build a recording studio in 1972 in Oxfordshire, England.

In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records. Later he started his own record label. His first artist on the Virgin Records label, Mike Oldfield, recorded his single “Tubular Bells” in 1973 with the help of Branson’s team. The song was an instant smash, staying on the UK charts for 247 weeks. Using the momentum of Oldfield’s success, Branson then signed other aspiring musical groups to label, including the Sex Pistols. Artists such as the Culture Club, the Rolling Stones, and Genesis would follow, helping to make Virgin Music one of the top six record companies in the world.

In the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic Airways and expanded the Virgin Records music label.He has an estimated net worth of US$4.2 billion and owns his own island in the Caribbean – Necker Island.

Branson is an adventurer, humanitarian, and inspirational human being.

Virgin Galactic is the company that, for me, is the most exciting of them all. My wife didn’t believe me when I told her he owns his own spaceship.

World Records and Attempts

In 1985 he attempted the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing by sailboat. In 1986, in his “Virgin Atlantic Challenger II”, with sailing expert Daniel McCarthy, he beat the record by two hours.

IN 1987 his hot air balloon “Virgin Atlantic Flyer” crossed the Atlantic. In 1991, Branson crossed the Pacific from Japan to Arctic Canada, 6,700 miles (10,800 km), in a balloon of 2,600,000 cubic feet (74,000 m3). This broke the record, with a speed of 245 miles per hour (394 km/h). Between 1995 and 1998 Branson, Per Lindstrand and Steve Fossett made attempts to circumnavigate the globe by balloon. In late 1998 they made a record-breaking flight from Morocco to Hawaii but were unable to complete a global flight before Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones did it  in Breitling Orbiter 3 in March 1999.

In 2004, Branson set a record for  the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle.

In September 2008,  Branson and his children made an unsuccessful attempt at an Eastbound record crossing of the Atlantic ocean under sail in the 99 foot sloop Virgin Money.

Helping the World

Branson is one of the chief financial backers of ‘The Elders’ a group made up of  Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Li Zhaoxing, Mary Robinson, and Muhammad Yunus.

He has set up Entrepreneurship awards, schools, and hosted environmental gatherings on Necker Island with  prominent entrepreneurs, celebrities, and world leaders. They discussed global warming-related problems facing the world, hoping that this meeting will be a precursor to many more future discussions regarding similar problems. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and Larry Page of Google were in attendance.

He is an activist for peace, food justice, and global equality. He is a vocal proponent of a nuclear free world.

Here is a quote that perhaps sums up why he is a hero to so many.

“Screw it, just do it” is my approach to everything. I’m the sort of person who likes to give everything a try. If you are frustrated with how things are done, go and try something different, get fantastic people around you who share your beliefs and passion, and do it better. Imagine a record label wanting to start an airline, to go up against British Airways! But I was truly convinced after having been stranded as a passenger on an unnamed American airline that there was a better way, and that even I could do it better. As you can imagine, we faced a lot of skepticism and doubt. But if you can run one business well, you should be able to run another business well — and that has kept me going through all our risky business.

His autobiography Losing My Virginity is one of the most inspiring biographies I’ve read. He is also the author of  Like a Virgin – Secrets They Won’t Teach You in Business School and Screw It, Let’s Do It

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Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook