Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, is one of the most influential personalities on LinkedIn. What is really remarkable about his LinkedIn footprint is that it features a mentoring section in which he shares genuine viewpoints and inspirational advice which stem from his long-standing personal experience and expertise. Today, I started following him on LinkedIn and I collected his most profound words of wisdom that can be of interest to young people, graduates entering the labour market, and budding entrepreneurs.
“Spend your time working on whatever you are passionate about in life.”
If your degree is focused upon a specific area, that shouldn’t prevent you from flirting with other directions or ideas. Also, if college hasn’t worked out for you, don’t let that discourage you. Virgin’s expansion into so many different areas came as a result of Branson’s insatiable curiosity to explore new experiences and pursue fresh challenges.
“Take on new experiences and travel.”
Take a break if you have the chance and consider your options to advance your career. By travelling and pursuing new experiences will enable you to explore and choose from an enormous range of business ideas that will help you to innovate. But even if you don't want to reinvent the wheel, you may find a business that works in another market that could be adapted for your own.
Gap years don't necessarily have to happen before you go to college. A smart option is to travel instead of going to university. You can work and still have a lot of fun along the way: you won't create as much debt; you'll incredibly learn a lot and may come back with some great ideas.
“Grab existing opportunities or create your own.”
If you spot an opportunity early on and you are really excited by it, throw yourself into it using every resource available. Be ambitious. Who knows? Maybe there won’t be another time in your life when you have so much freedom of opportunity. Grasp it with your hands.
If you can’t find a vacancy that matches what you want to do, why not try to create one yourself? Branson admits that “We always enter markets where the leaders are not doing a great job, so we can go in and disrupt them by offering better quality services. Until this week, I had never had a boss in my entire life. I lasted about five hours before Tony Fernandes sacked me, after throwing a tray of drinks over him while working as a stewardess on a flight! (It was all for a bet to raise money for charity, so I wasn't too upset.)”
“Don’t be afraid of taking risks and trying new things.”
According to Branson “when most people think about taking a risk; they associate it with negative connotations, when they should regard it as a positive opportunity”. Believe in your own strengths and back yourself to come out on top. Whether that means studying a course to enable a change of direction, pursuing an entry level position on a career ladder you want to be a part of or starting your own business – you’ll never know if you don’t give it a try.
If you are put off by the fact that you might have to struggle along by yourself, just seek out the help of a person who can make sure you are on the right track. Branson admitted that “When we started Virgin Atlantic it was a rather uncertain time, but thankfully I found myself a mentor in Sir Freddie Laker – the Laker Airways founder – who was able to offer some expert advice and plenty of reassurance.” The moral of this story? A fulfilling career is waiting for those brave enough to find it!