Richard Branson’s University of Life

This time of year is a worrisome period: the exams are finished and now the waiting for the results is full on. {Actually today I saw a Dutch flag hanging from a window, celebrating, but what? I thought, The Results haven’t come through yet…maybe a driver’s licence? Can do, definitely worth celebrating: freedom ahead! Beep beep ;-)} Anyway, our babysit is one of them, just finished her exams, not sure how it went but also, not sure yet what she will do next. Study or travel. If study, study what, if travel whereto.

Branson college

Branson College: black and white era (photo Richard Branson)

Richard Branson (founder at Virgin Group) published a heartfelt bit of advice for the class of 2013:  “The best advice I could give any graduate is to spend your time working on whatever you are passionate about in life. If your degree was focused upon one particular area, don’t let that stop you moving in another direction. If college hasn’t worked out for you, don’t let that put you off. (…)”

What a relief. No pressure, but also no direction maybe… which is ok, as the best you can do, the successful entrepreneur goes on, is travel. Look around, see what the rest of the world is doing, get inspired. It will not cost as much as university and the amount of business ideas that people pick up from travelling are countless. An ad for the gap year. He claims that “(…) Virgin’s expansion into so many different areas is borne out of my insatiable curiosity to enjoy new experiences and pursue fresh challenges.

Now you may think, easy for him to say, he’s got there already. Yes. Maybe. But. I was amazed to read that he dropped out of school at the age of 15! Totally selfmade he is then! His entrepreneur blood took hold of him and slowly transformed him into The (Sir) Richard Branson we know. I find him very inspiring and follow his posts through LinkedIn: a mind jog every time.

He has been in a job for about 5 hours his whole life, i.e. hired by someone. He was a stewardess for a bet, and ended with the sack when he spilt a drink over his ‘boss’. Of course he is in many jobs so to speak: he’s is his own man, runs the Virgin Group and is involved in a few world-keeping organisations.

Branson stewardess

Branson as a stewardess: a more colorful era (Photo Richard Branson)

Although a believer in the power of doing business, he wants to stress that ” (…) Education is absolutely crucial to success and to the progress of the world at large. (…) Equally, if you spot an opportunity early on and are really excited by it, throw yourself into it with everything you have got. Be ambitious. (…)”

In other words; you have to help yourself first before helping the world. Get an education, in school or in life and than move on to do good.

Virgin-Unite water project

Virgin Unite – project clean water

Doing good is what Branson aims through Virgin Unite. Who unite people and entrepreneurial ideas to reinvent how we live and work in the world to help make people’s lives better. Their aim is to do their bit to revolutionize the way businesses, government and the social sector work together – driving business as a force for good.  They also incubate new, independent approaches to leadership including the Elders, the Carbon War Room, and the Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship.

And this is just one of many ideas, projects, workgroups he is involved in. Exceptional, who can top that?! But then again, it’s not the harvest of a gap year, but a gap life.

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About Wilson

relentless hunter gatherer of soothing beauty, great and small
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