From Necker Island: A Peek into Sir Richard Branson’s Powerful World of Influence and Impact

by Jeremy Tang

Sir Richard Branson/Necker Island Part 4 > final thoughts on my 6 days on Necker island and conversations with Sir Richard. 

Lots or rich stories were shared during my time there. One that struck me was in relation to a story he recounted from 2003 when he tried to stop the Iraqi war. There’s been some superficial mention of this online but missed a critical detail that talks had progressed where Saddam Hussein had already agreed to leave Iraq and live in exile thanks to conversations that Sir Richard helped facilitate between him and the King of Jordan. The final step was to have two respected elders formalise this agreement, specifically Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan through a direct meeting with Saddam. The same week this was supposed to happen was when the US invaded and the rest is history. The story struck me on how line between success and failure is so thin but also reinforced Branson’s philosophy about thinking bigger on how you can have a positive impact on the world.

While that initiative didn’t go as planned it did lead to the formation of The Elders organisation an independent group of global leaders working for peace, justice, human rights and a sustainable planet. The foundation for it had been laid on Necker Island and in honour of that, a building called the Elders Temple was created, officially opened by Nelson Mandela himself.

So it was that I felt humbled to have the opportunity to present in the same building that gave audience to Nelson Mandela, Desmund Tutu and Jimmy Carter to name a few. Beyond the limelight of Necker Island’s renowned resident, I must spotlight the remarkable entrepreneurs from around the globe I had the privilege to interact with during my stay. Over the course of six days, I absorbed their captivating stories, all echoing a shared philosophy best illustrated by a dice analogy.

Imagine life as a dice game where landing on a 1 signifies success. Some of us are handed a 4-sided dice, giving us a 25% chance at success, while others might have a 6-sided or even a 20-sided dice, translating to a 16.67% or 5% probability of success, respectively. This dice represents our innate abilities or talents—the more sides it has, the tougher the odds. But true accomplishment isn’t merely about the initial odds one starts with. It’s about perseverance and the number of times one is willing to roll, despite the challenges. The individuals I met on Necker Island exemplified this spirit. Most didn’t commence their journeys with obvious advantages. Instead, they were marked by their unwavering tenacity, understanding that setbacks were merely signals to try harder.

Fun fact: the character of Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul was based on the life of the bearded guy holding the wine in the picture below. He had some interesting stories from his time as a lawyer which aren’t so suitable for Linkedin. All I can say is that he definitely liked to roll the dice.

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