The Definitive Guide to Business

Billionaire Richard Branson's favorite quote helps explain why he's so successful

Sir Richard Branson
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Sir Richard Branson

Richard Branson left school at age 16 to start his first business. Today, the 66-year-old entrepreneur has overseen hundreds of companies and built a fortune of approximately $5 billion.

In a recent blog post, the Virgin Group founder shared his favorite quote, from famed singer-songwriter John Lennon:

"[Lennon] said: 'When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy.' They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life.'"

Branson, like Lennon, measures success by his happiness — not by the amount in his bank account. "It's a common misconception that money is every entrepreneur's metric for success," he wrote. "It's not, and nor should it be."

But happiness isn't just a metric to measure his level of success — it's also the key to it, he emphasized: "Most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness. But I know I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy."

Branson is not the only established entrepreneur convinced of this secret to success.

As Matt Maloney, CEO of GrubHub, told Business Insider: "If you are truly effective at what you enjoy, money usually follows your passion. Passion drives interest, which in turn drives focus and commitment. Both qualities are requirements for success."

Plus, research suggests that successful people tend to follow their passion and do what makes them happy.

"To the average person, it looks like the rich are working all the time," self-made millionaire Steve Siebold, who studied 1,200 of the world's wealthiest people, wrote in his book "How Rich People Think." "But one of the smartest strategies of the world class is doing what they love and finding a way to get paid for it."