“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.”

By Maya Kachroo-Levine
May 25, 2020
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Credit: Don Arnold/WireImage

Is there anything Richard Branson can’t do? In 2019, I had the pleasure of being led in song by Sir Richard Branson himself, at which point I definitively concluded that no, there isn’t. He originally founded Virgin Group as a record label — in the early ‘70s — and it officially became a travel operation 12 years later with the creation of Virgin Atlantic.

The idea for Virgin Atlantic was born when Branson pooled the resources of everyone on a grounded flight to charter a private plane so the passengers could get home. He’s an entrepreneur, and that spirit shows even — and perhaps, especially — when stuck on a tarmac thousands of miles from home.

His entrepreneurial accolades are ever mounting: as of December 2019, Forbes estimated his net worth at $4 billion, though his resilience as a Virgin Atlantic leader is a better testament to his true business savviness. Beyond running companies, Branson is an avid traveler and consumer of the world’s wonders. And as a result, he’s taught us more than a few things about respectful, inspired, adventurous, off-the-beaten-path travel. His traveling and entrepreneurial spirits comes through in his words, from snippets of interviews, to notes posted on Virgin.com, to his books.

Here are a few words of wisdom from Sir Richard Branson himself to inspire you when you need it most.

From "Finding My Virginity"

“However important business is, family always comes first.”

“Life is made up of a series of small moments; we simply must try to cherish each one. Whether that’s watching a film curled up on the sofa, going out to dinner, or spending time with our family, we try to make our time together count.”

“Regretting not doing something is worse than regretting doing something. It means I can sleep with a clear conscience.”

“It’s very important to take risks in life and business, but they need to be calculated  —  there is no point risking your neck for something with little chance of success.”

“If it can’t fit onto the back of an envelope, it’s probably a bad idea. Keep it short, sharp, and picture-perfect.”

“If I had to give one reason why I have been fortunate enough to experience some success, it would be my knack of bringing together wonderful people.”

“You can only lose your virginity once. But in every aspect of my life — building businesses, raising a family, embarking upon adventures — I try to do things for the first time every day.”

“I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. But I do believe that, whatever happens, you can learn from it and create something really positive. Better things can come out of adversity.”

From his musings on Virgin.com

“Please be polite. Nothing in life should erode the habit of saying thank you to people or praising them.”

“You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over."

"I'm prepared to try anything once."

"My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them."

“Life is a hell of a lot more fun if you say yes rather than no.”

“I don’t really separate work and play — it’s all living.”

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.”

“The best way of learning about anything is doing.”

“Take a chance. It’s the best way to test yourself.”

“Those who are bold have a higher chance of being rewarded.”

From "Screw It, Let's Do It"

“Respect is how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress.”

From "Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School"

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”