Dream big, and let your passion shine … Richard Branson’s poem to entrepreneurs

March 2, 2017

A couple of years ago, I spent the day with Sir Richard Branson. I wanted to know what drives one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, and to learn a bit about what he is really like as a person. He’s very down to earth, self-deprecating and maybe slightly embarrassed by his high profile.

You can read my full Branson interview here.

One thing he did tell me was that he loves ways to capture ideas short and simply – a poem beats a long novel, a diagram beats a detailed report, and inspiration is always better than information. He told me that his favourite author is Dr Suess, the creator of the cat in the hat, green eggs and ham, and all that.

So here is a poem Branson has just written, straight from his Neckar Island hammock:

The road to success is paved with tests,
So you’ve got to believe in yourself above the rest.

Dream big, and let your passion shine,
If you don’t, you won’t end up with a dime.

Challenge the status quo, disrupt the market and say YES!
And remember that innovation is an endless quest.

Don’t forget to change business for good,
If you want to change the world then you should.

If you think with your head and listen to your heart,
I promise you’ll get off to a flying start.

Make bold moves, but always play fair,
Always say please and thank you – it’s cool to care.

Do what you love and love what you do,
This advice is nothing new.

Now, stop worrying about whether your business will be a hit,
Rise to the challenge and say ‘screw it, let’s do it!’

Actually, this is not Branson’s first attempt at poetry. At the age of 16, a time when he left school and launched his first venture Student magazine, he wrote this poem to his first girlfriend, a Dutch girl. For some reason she seemed to make him feel old:

I am getting old now

and this but my seventeenth year,

holding in a wrinkled, thoughtful head

memories of an age.

Now-without you

out of step with time

as my pen scratches paper

and the clamy grip of censure settles on my hand.

Through all my friends growing quickly younger as I

so fear

this coming and passing of year upon year

without you

You recall, before our parting, little Dutch girl

the time

we exchanged our love and rode along streams together

innumerable streams

on the backs of mountains, and our separate fates

black as smoke waiting above us?

Now-

how changed, so changed our days – not my fair thoughts

of you remain the figurehead of life.

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