Entrepreneurs

If billionaire Richard Branson were 20 again, here's what he would do

Richard Branson
Photo by Hulton Deutsch

If Richard Branson had to give up of his fame, billions of dollars, and 60-plus businesses and go back to being 20 years old again, the 66-year-old investor and entrepreneur says he would do it gladly.

For a blockbuster success like Branson, starting over would be risky. Maybe he wouldn't be as lucky the second time around. Maybe he wouldn't end up able to go jet-skiing with President Obama.

Branson doesn't place safe bets, though. He wouldn't be the entrepreneur he is today if he did. Branson's vast and sprawling business empire grew from a mail-order discount record business he started in 1970. He seems confident that, if necessary, he could succeed all over again.

"Sometimes I think to myself, What if this is all a dream? I'm going to wake up and be 20 years old, with my whole life ahead of me," says Branson, in a blog post published Wednesday. "This thought doesn't scare me. It excites me. I'd quite like to go back and plot out my life all over again — dreaming big dreams."

Branson attributes his success to his willingness to dream big dreams, and, like Barry Jenkins, director of the 2016 Oscar-winning film "Moonlight," he encourages others to do the same.

"Dreaming is one of humanity's greatest gifts; it champions aspiration, spurs innovation, leads to change, and propels the world forward," says Branson. "In a world without dreams there would be no art, no adventure, no moon landing, no female CEOs, and no civil rights.

"What a half-lived and tragic existence we would have."

"Look at the world with wide-eyed enthusiasm, believe you are more powerful than the problems that confront you, and dream big." -Richard Branson, founder of Virgin

Branson suggests ignoring the skeptics as well as your own critical inner voice.

"Don't be self-conscious about dreaming, or about people thinking you're too idealistic, and not serious enough," Branson says. "Don't allow your self talk to be judgmental. Look at the world with wide-eyed enthusiasm, believe you are more powerful than the problems that confront you, and dream big."

And if you set a lofty goal and don't accomplish it, Branson says all is not lost. The process of working towards a prize is a learning process in itself.

"The benefits of dreaming far outweigh the perceived risks, because the value of dreaming isn't just measured by the outcome, but the inspiration that comes from journey of achieving the dream."

See also:

What Richard Branson learned when Coke put Virgin Cola out of business
Richard Branson: To get to the top, hustle like an underdog

Why Richard Branson had tears streaming down his face when he sold Virgin Records for a billion dollars

Billionaire Richard Branson's best advice for future generations comes from Dr. Seuss