When billionaire Richard Branson was 15, he dropped out of college to run a magazine.
On a recent episode of the “Armchair Expert” podcast hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, the Virgin Group founder said he made the choice for a straightforward reason: He knew he could earn cash at it.
By cold-calling firms and asking them to take out advertisements against their competitors, Branson raised $3,000 to $4,000 for his Student Magazine, he said. The headmaster at Branson’s school was bowled over by his persuasiveness, and offered a prediction and a warning.
“[I knew] I could pay for the printing of the paper and manufacturing, and so I quit school … with the headmaster saying, ‘You are either going to prison or you are going to turn out to be a millionaire,'” Branson, 72, said on the podcast.
The headmaster was right. Branson hasn’t spent any time behind bars, but he has an estimated net value of $3.5 billion, as of Thursday morning. His entrepreneurial empire has expanded past his teenage magazine to incorporate airlines, casinos, hotels and more.
Branson said he began Student Magazine because he felt the standard curriculum wasn’t teaching him anything relevant or interesting: Fairly than studying geometry, he desired to learn concerning the then-ongoing Vietnam War.
“There are a number of things I like to study, but not the things that the maths teachers are teaching me or the French teachers are teaching me,” Branson said. “Due to it, I ended up starting a magazine, which gave young people a voice out of the frustration.”
It can have been a reflexive response to his academic struggles, too: Branson has often talked about how, as a consequence of his dyslexia, he often fared poorly in class classes.
In a 2019 blog post, Branson wrote that dyslexia is commonly related to high levels of creativity and problem-solving abilities.
“These are also skills which might be going to be urgently needed in the brand new world of labor,” he added. “Problem-solving, creativity and imagination will likely be in high demand with the rise of AI and automation.”
In fact, it takes greater than that to construct a business empire after dropping out of college at age 15. At a base level, you could discover goods or services people want and discover a solution to monetize them.
Your hard business skills must go hand-in-hand with other soft skills, too. High emotional intelligence and demanding pondering abilities particularly matter, in keeping with a 2018 report from global accounting firm Ernst & Young.
For Branson, those were learned skills, he said on the podcast.
“I learned at a young age the importance of … bringing out the most effective in people,” Branson said. “What I did realize was that I needed to surround myself with individuals who were higher at things which I used to be not good at, due to my dyslexia.”
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