There are few if any entrepreneurs who have ventured more successfully in more businesses than Richard Branson. And who can compete with him in terms of flair?
As important, he has long brought this entrepreneurial energy and skill to bear on social problems as well as business. Inspired by Nelson Mandela, he helped launch The Elders, an independent group of top global leaders tackling key world problems. In 2009, frustrated by inaction on climate change, he set up the Carbon War Room to cut global emissions by scaling market-based, entrepreneurial solutions. In 2013, Richard and Jochen Zeitz established the B Team, a platform pressing for new ways of doing business that benefit people and the planet.
Entrepreneurship is so central to Richard that it is hard to imagine him being anything else as a young person. Sure enough, at 16 he started a magazine, Student. Also as you would expect, it was not conceived small or amateurish. The first issue ranged from interviews with Vanessa Redgrave to articles on White Slavery Today. Student was not narrow, had flair and was not afraid of controversy.
Once engaged, again a harbinger of many things to come, Richard was all in. He persuaded his parents that he needed to work full time at his creation and shifted his office from a school phone box to a London basement. Always willing to learn and adapt, he began selling discount music records in the back of the magazine, and quickly founded Virgin Records, which he later sold for $1 billion. It was the launching pad for hundreds of businesses around the world.