I read Richard Branson’s autobiography “Losing my Virginity” in my early 20s at the start of my career and through the years in TV, in magazine/newspapers, in documentaries I feel like I have been tracking his life ever since. There’s few people that could be classified as iconic entrepreneurs, and he would safely be in that rarified few but singular in the sense that he has pushed not only business boundaries but also personal with his varying adventures and world record attempts (he has 7).
Necker Island is also part of his identity. For those of you not aware of the story he bought it when he was 28 in 1978 to impress his girlfriend Joan who became his wife. It’s been his home since 2006. Since then the island itself has built its own impressive reputation. It’s been the meeting point for several notable figures as diverse as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Princes Diana as well as Barack Obama and recently Ed Sheeran to name a few. Larry Page, co-founder of Google got married there and liked the area so much he bought a neighbouring island. Looking at pictures that dot the island and listening to the stories from the staff and Sir Richard himself I can’t think of a place that has marked the intersection of so many notable people in recent history.
So as someone who has admired his life for over 25 years and enchanted by his home in the Caribbean it’s sobering that I would not only meet Sir Richard Branson but have the chance to have meals, play games and have discussions with him over the 6 days I was on Necker Island. It was a pleasant surprise to learn first hand how caring, considerate and approachable he was, even to the level of sharing his phone number! It’s been a surreal experience in an unforgettable environment, will share more thoughts and insights on it later posts.