Master Your Mindset #8:
Richard Branson: Imaginary Board Member #3
I was seven years old when I had my first crush. It’s probably somewhat normal for a little girl to crush on someone she sees on television but probably not that often when they are about 60 years older.
My first crush was on Ronald Reagan. I mostly appreciated his fascination with space and how he used his presidency to advance our efforts there. I loved his suits, the way he spoke, and the excitement and comfort in the way his speeches made me feel. I liked men in suits. I saw them as professional, intelligent, and successful. That all changed in college.
Once I got to college and learned that most of the information I had been taught was wrong and had the chance to be adventurous and make money my way, I was attracted to something very different. I liked risk-takers, adventure seekers, intellectual thinkers, and dreamers. I liked that they were wearing jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops. It made sense because I do everything better when I am comfortable. It made me believe in my self-worth and the value of my mind over the price or perception of my clothes.
I moved to California at 23 to start a business centered around a product I had invented, whose manufacturer was in Los Angeles. I loved entrepreneurship. I loved figuring things out—the risk and the reward. I liked being my own boss. Reality TV was becoming a thing and soon Donald Trump and Richard Branson had their own shows for entrepreneurs.
Richard Branson was my type! Holy cow is he the whole enchilada! I remember the first time I saw him on a hot air balloon and thought, THAT is my kind of person! Branson is my favorite type of mindset. The song that goes, “I get knocked down, but I get up again,” comes to mind. His story is filled with wild ideas, successes, failures, highs, and lows but always has determination at the forefront.
I’ve read Branson’s book, Losing My Virginity, which shares an in-depth look at his business life from the college newspaper and record shops to his vast collection of companies today. His story is a fascinating one and it includes a love of exploration in every arena.
I have had the great pleasure of joining Richard and his crew on a few exciting adventures from Virgin Galactic to Virgin Oceanic and his mind is always turning. It’s either far-out conversations, business strategy, chess, cards, or kitesurfing but there is never a dull moment. My moment of glory was beating him in a game of hearts right after he taught me how to play.
A lot of billionaires lose their marriages and end up with much younger women, but Richard has been married to his love, Joan, since 1989. They have a close family; she accompanied many of our adventures, and sometimes his son and daughter did also. I admire his commitment to his wife and family.
Branson, too, signed the Giving Pledge to commit half his wealth to charity. Many of his conversations that I was privy to, were about innovations and ways to improve the quality of life in impoverished areas. I admire a brilliant mind, but I adore a generous heart. Richard Branson is both.
– Christi McAdams