'Screw It, Just Do It:' Life Advice from Sir Richard Branson
It's been an eventful few weeks for business mogul Sir Richard Branson. After he rode out Hurricane Irma in a wine cellar on Necker Island, he’s been hard at work helping rehabilitate the Caribbean. He spent the past few days at the World Bank and IMF in Washington, D.C., working to ensure the rebuild program uses clean energy.
Branson also just announced Virgin Group's investment in Hyperloop One, the ultra-fast transport system thought up by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in 2013. And within the Virgin Group itself, Branson still has his sights set on going faster and higher than regular humans have ever gone before.
At 67, it seems like Branson is everywhere. The billionaire said he’d be jetting off into space at 3,000 miles-per-hour in the next six months. (Guests like Brad Pitt, Paris Hilton, and Tom Hanks will follow shortly thereafter if all goes to plan.) He shies away from talking about all his successes in business; he'd rather riff on his past and future adventures.
“I’m uncomfortable with talk about billionaires," he told Fielden. "I’ve never seen myself, particularly as an entrepreneur. I've seen myself as somebody who loves to dive in and make a difference in a particular field.”
His new book, Finding My Virginity (Portfolio), came out last week, 50 years after Branson started making a difference with his first business at 15 (he started Student magazine to protest the Vietnam War). It’s his second autobiography and it picks up where the first left off, following his life from 1999 to present. In it are more adrenaline-filled stories of pushing the boundaries in far-off places with powerful friends as well as countless insights from the godfather of entrepreneurship.
Branson’s voice keeps to form: nonchalant, encouraging, no bullshit, and free-spirited. He's the guy that's not afraid to jokingly throw a cup of water on Mark Cuban. Whether written or aloud, Branson keeps to his 'Screw it, let’s do it' mentality. It’s the same mantra that’s landed him in life-threatening situations (75 of them, he says in the book).
And it was likely that same voice that compelled Branson to dish with Fielden on President Trump. Branson showed a letter from 2004 where Trump berated him about his show The Rebel Billionaire.
“At least your dismal ratings can now allow you to concentrate on your airline which, I am sure, needs every ounce of your energy,” Trump wrote. "Like television, you should try to get out the airline business too, as soon as possible! Actually, I wonder out loud how you can be anywhere close to a billionaire and be in that business. Perhaps the title of your show, The Rebel Billionaire, is misleading?” Some vintage stream of consciousness from the Trump brain right there.
When asked for his thoughts on Trump from his perspective as a billionaire businessman, Branson laughed. He said, “I think [Trump] went bankrupt on four different occasions. I’m not sure I would necessarily want to do business with someone that just on and on kept going bankrupt. I don’t think he was a particularly successful businessperson ... But look, he’s done all right and obviously, he's proved us all wrong.”
Branson passed on a few pieces of advice to the crowd on how he's remained creative and productive while working from home, or on an island, throughout his career. Outside of developing a fondness for long baths, "You need to have a little notebook and a pen wherever you go. And keep your eyes open. ... Most wonderful ideas get lost because people don't write them down."
And if that fails, live by the mantra. "Screw it. Just get on and do it.”