Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson has spent his entire career pushing the envelope.
It’s resulted in an eclectic and expansive set of companies under the Virgin name, including airlines, a bank, and most recently a hotel chain. He’s a self-made billionaire who dropped out of high school and hasn’t stopped doing things differently for the past 45 years.
Though he’s well-known for his penchant for pranks, his costumes, and his private island, he’s built an empire and survived countless setbacks thanks to his commitment to being an exceptional leader.
In his book “The Virgin Way,” Branson breaks down the top 10 rules that have motivated him and his employees every step of the way.
We’ve explained them below.
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1. Follow your passions, but protect the downside.
Sir Richard Branson.
Branson has never been someone to back down from an idea because others criticized him for it, and admires those who take the risk on something extraordinary.
That said, Branson never jumps into a project that will ruin him if it fails. It’s a lesson he learned from his father, who allowed him to drop out of school to start a magazine as long as he sold enough advertising to cover the cost of printing.
He uses the investing term “protecting the downside” to describe this limiting of risk, and it’s how he convinced his business partners to join him in making the huge leap into the airline industry in 1984. They could trust him to pursue this seemingly ridiculous idea since he got Boeing to agree to take back Virgin’s one 747 jet after a year if the business wasn’t operating as planned.
2. Do some good.
Branson runs alongside the Virgin team in the 2010 London Marathon.
Branson’s a firm believer in philanthropy and has signed Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, a promise to donate at least half of his fortune to charity.
He recommends charitable works as a great way to unite employees, and it’s why he gets large groups of Virgin employees to run the New York and London marathons to raise money for their favorite charities.
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