On August 17, 2015 at 6:31 AM a tweet was seen: “Make sure humanitarian efforts don’t go unnoticed this World Humanitarian Day”. His simple tweet was seen by over eleven hundred people and retweeted hundreds of time. That alone did a great deal for humanitarian efforts. It got people thinking and talking and, as usual, led to action. One tweet got people thinking and enabled others to dream big.
The use of twitter, a social media site that limits the amount of characters might seem fitting for a lad who suffered from dyslexia. Most would not have expected him to try very hard to learn, especially since he was born with the proverbial silver spoon. The little rich kid who sent that tweet on August 15th began his entrepreneurial ventures by buying American record manufacturers excess stock; you know, the stock nobody wanted. He then sold the excess record albums out of the trunk of his car to anybody and everybody. He soon was selling to retail markets in England and then started a mail order discount record business. That led to opening his first store, the name chosen after being suggested by an employee to recognize the lack of experience they all had in what they were doing.
He was seeking to make a place in the world and our young man who had trouble in school suddenly found himself not having trouble in the business world. He began opening other businesses, none of which he really was an expert in and all with the same name reflecting his lack of experience. From records he branched out into an airline, a soft drink company, a liquor company, a mobile telephone company, a communications empire…the list goes on.
He also sought to achieve personally and in doing so has set some personal and world records by crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat alone and flying around the world in a hot air balloon. All bore the name “Virgin” and were piloted by none other than Richard Branson, now Sir Richard Branson.
Branson started his first charity, “Student Valley Centre” at the age of seventeen. It is difficult to find an area of life that his foundation and charitable giving does not support. Among the causes he supports are Domestic Violence, Animal Abuse, Adoption, Fostering Orphans, AIDS and HIV, At-Risk/Disadvantaged Youth, Cancer Education and Research. Children’s Causes, Conservation Efforts, Disaster Relief, Education, Environment, Family/parent Support, Gender Equality, Health Rights, Physical Challenges, Homelessness, Human Rights, Hunger, LITERACY, Mental Health, Poverty, Clean Water, Weapons Reduction, Women’s Rights, and Global Warming.
All of his causes affect the citizens of the world. He was awarded the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award for his environmental and humanitarian efforts. He was also awarded the Knight Bachelor (hence the title “Sir”) by the Queen of England. Branson credits all this to his desire to seek new things and answers. “My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them…from the perspective of wanting to live life to the fullest.”
The beginning of the New Year gives us all a chance to ask what identity we want for ourselves. Who do you want to become in 2018? Branson thought himself “huge” and then set out to make it happen. He defined living life to the fullest by giving as much as he could to help others be huge.
Stop thinking small and give yourself a large identity. We all can achieve great things when we work together. The first step is to decide we want to make the world a better place and to individually make a difference in the world – no matter how small or how large that difference might be. When we dream big, we seek to be a better person and help another. By dreaming such big dreams, we will give ourselves a wonderful today and a better tomorrow.