Hi everyone,

I’m here in New York this week as Don’t Look Down, the new documentary about my world record breaking hot air balloon adventures, premieres at Tribeca Film Festival. I’m also calling for an end to the war on drugs in my role as a Global Commissioner on Drug Policy, as the UN holds its first special session on drug policy in 18 years. I’m looking forward to answering your questions on adventure, drug policy and everything in between.

Proof: https://twitter.com/richardbranson/status/722790719988097024

PS: Volunteer moderator u/courtiebabe420 is helping me with this AMA today.

Thanks for joining everyone!

Comments: 824 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

Bobsupman491 karma

Is Necker island secretly the facade for an underground Supervillian lair from which you will launch a unstoppable robot army that enslave all of humanity?

TheRichardBranson776 karma

How did you find out? (strokes cat!)

ScubaDanel250 karma

Does money buy happiness?


TheRichardBranson764 karma

No. But it is nice to have the security that if you have a family member that is ill, you can make sure you can get help for them anywhere in the world. What brings happiness is creating things that you can be proud of, not the financial rewards that come from that.

zappa325182 karma

Hi Richard! I remember you did that one prank with the alien and the hot air ballon on April 1st a while back. What was your reaction to the results?

TheRichardBranson601 karma

What do you mean prank?! We had an absolute blast. We flew over London on April Fool's Day, all the traffic on the motorway stopped and everybody got out of their cars. We landed in a foggy field and were surrounded by the army and three police forces. I've never laughed so hard. When the policeman with the truncheon approached the spaceship and a dwarf we had on board dressed as ET walked out towards him and he belted off in the other direction.

IDKSomeFuckingGuy151 karma

hi richard!

if you could give yourself one piece of advice at 21 years of age, what would you say?

TheRichardBranson458 karma

Hi. Just throw yourself into every second of every day and make sure you have an absolute blast. Don't take yourself too seriously and enjoy life.

dandyliger126 karma

Have you ever wanted to get into the video game business? My company is looking for investors :)

TheRichardBranson302 karma

We were in the video game business ourselves in a big way once. Maybe we should get into it again! By all means, contact our head office and quote this note. Best of luck.

siredmundsnaillary103 karma

Hi Sir Richard,

One of my life goals is to go into space. I think the progress you're making with Virgin Galactic is incredible, but the initial prices seem like an awful lot of money. How long do you think it will take before space travel becomes affordable to the masses? Do you think it will happen within my lifetime?

TheRichardBranson175 karma

I have no idea how old you are, but I really hope that you will become an astronaut in your lifetime. We are doing our utmost to make space travel safe and affordable for as many people as possible. I really think we will succeed at that. Start saving up!

x80486100 karma

Which industry do you regret not going into, if any?

TheRichardBranson285 karma

I don't regret anything. But Larry Page once said to me onstage: "Richard started 400 businesses, I've only started one." My response was: "I'll swap!"

Rapturesjoy99 karma

Dear Mr Branson, as a sufferer of dyspraxia, I know how difficult it is to overcome the stigma of learning disabilities. How did you overcome yours, did you have a difficult time at school, did any of the teachers or students put you down because of it, and if not how did life treat you in general? You are a inspiration of mine, and I respect you greatly for it.

TheRichardBranson171 karma

I had a dreadful time at school with dyslexia. People just assumed I was thick. How I got over it was to concentrate on the things I was good at and when I left school surround myself with people who are better at things than myself.

jjooyy_98 karma

Of all your business ventures, is there any one that you, in hindsight, would have not gone into, if had the chance to “do over”?

Also, is there something you had the opportunity to invest in, did not, and wish you did?

TheRichardBranson185 karma

A number of things. We missed out on Trivial Pursuit, JetBlue was nearly called Virgin Blue, Ryanair was nearly called Virgin, and there were plenty of others! But you can't be greedy, and I have absolutely no regrets.

eccentricstuff93 karma

Richard, what to do when one goes through a rough patch in life?

TheRichardBranson304 karma

I think the key thing to realise is that it won't last. I've lost a friend or two from depression and just wish I could have got them to realise that fact. Get out and spend time with family and friends, be as positive as you can, make an effort with other people's problems and in time your own will disappear.

please-enlighten-me86 karma

Sir Richard. What do you consider your first duty to the realm?

TheRichardBranson293 karma

As a knight of the realm, I have to keep my horse in shape and my lance sharpened so that I can rally behind the Queen.

aurthurallan66 karma

What do you think will be your greatest legacy, and what would you want it to be? Commercial Space Flight? Criminal Justice Reform?

TheRichardBranson200 karma

It's a good question. I'm lucky enough to be involved in a number of different challenges. I feel passionately that criminal justice reform is needed, particularly here in America. There was a 72-year-old last week sent to prison for life for three marijuana plants found in his garden. There's still a lot of work to be done.

ApulMadeekAut61 karma

How dose one become so incredibly awesome?

TheRichardBranson98 karma

I love you too!

zachms60 karma

Hello Richard, as an inflight employee of Virgin America I want to say thank you for paving the way for an excellent place for me to work these past 5 years.

How serious are you when you say you refuse to let the Virgin America brand go away? And can you give any hints on what may be happening with it as of now?

TheRichardBranson86 karma

I'm so glad you've had a blast these five years and are helping to make Virgin America the best airline in the world. I'm travelling to Seattle in the next couple of weeks on the invitation of Alaska Airlines to talk about the brand. I'm hopeful that sense will prevail, as I think all our travellers and staff do. Please give the whole team my best.

NoLiePlz56 karma

If I am correct, you have invested in ‘OneWeb’, will this project provide free internet access to all?

Im in McDonalds now pretending to be a customer just for free wifi!

TheRichardBranson122 karma

The idea behind OneWeb is to connect the four billion people who don't have internet or wifi access. It won't be free, but it will be very affordable. Virgin Galactic will play its part in getting the satellites into orbit.

BasantaRaj54 karma

What is life without adventure for you? Have you ever gone through depression & like gave up on everything completely?

TheRichardBranson171 karma

When I turned 40 I told my wife that I was going to go to university, which I had never been to. Quick as a flash she said "you just want to go and chat up girls at university. Get back to work!" So I went back to work. Wives can be sensible people. I've been lucky, I've had a really full-on life. The key if you have depression is your friends. Spend time with friends who can help you overcome it.

MattBaster47 karma

What piece of existing tech do you wish you would have pioneered?

TheRichardBranson287 karma

iTunes, so that I could have put our record stores out of business, rather than have Steve Jobs do it!

ironchefchopchop41 karma

Who does your hair?

TheRichardBranson238 karma

Donald Trump!!!

stone_free_jimi40 karma

Hi Richard. I've always respected how you chose Tubular Bells as the first album to be released by Virgin Records. Do you think the label's success was due to the unique nature of the album and presenting Virgin Records as a risk taker, or was it more a case of right place, right time? What advice would you give to new independent record companies getting started?

TheRichardBranson51 karma

Mike Oldfield was 15 and had produced this wonderfully haunting album. We couldn't persuade any other labels to put it out, so we set up our own record company. We put all our efforts behind it and were fortunate in how well it did. It's tougher these days to set up a successful record label, but give it a try, and best of luck.

suaveitguy39 karma

The story of you buying Necker Island for 3% of the asking price is amazing.
Does it still make you shake your head that you were able to buy it for the price you did?
Why would you ever make an offer that low? Have you made successful offers on other properties like that?

TheRichardBranson72 karma

One of the advantages I had on Necker Island was that I didn't have any money and that was all I could afford. I had to sweat to find the 3% and was fortunate I was the only person to see the island. Putting a low price for things and gauging the response often makes sense. Sometimes one is surprised that people are willing to go so low. We've now got many other wonderful properties around the world in beautiful unspoilt places, such as Ulusaba in South Africa, and paid reasonable prices for them.

Cumila-toot37 karma

What was your first thought when you made your first profit??

TheRichardBranson161 karma

That the accountants must have got the figures wrong!

Dr_Holmes31 karma

What is your average day like?

TheRichardBranson74 karma

When I'm at home on Necker Island I play a hard game of singles tennis morning and night, find time to kitesurf, work hard in between and let my hair down in the evenings. When I'm travelling it is full on days, often don't find the time to look after my body, which we all should do.

nate29 karma

How much of your success do you attribute to luck vs skill? Could your success be reasonably replicated by a hard working person, or do the conditions not exist as much anymore?

TheRichardBranson63 karma

I think that luck plays quite a big part in life, especially when you embark on adventures like crossing oceans in balloons! But the old saying you make your own luck has some truth in it.

Zummie29 karma

What was the prettiest view you have had from a hot balloon? (I am fishing for an /r/earthporn photo)

TheRichardBranson69 karma

Crossing Mount Everest, K2 and the whole Himalaya chain. Must be the only people to ever do that, 36 hours over the most beautiful mountains in the world.

ArthurBoreman28 karma

Mr. Branson-

When evaluating a new business opportunity, what are your "rules of thumb" (so to speak)?

TheRichardBranson66 karma

I always say "What is a business? Simply somebody coming up with an idea to make life better for other people." If you have such an idea, give it a go. If you fall flat on your face, pick yourself up and try to succeed.

Rapturesjoy22 karma

Do I have to call you Sir?

TheRichardBranson50 karma

Nobody else does!

Marie_Morita22 karma

Thanks for doing this Richard,

Who is your favourite actor?

TheRichardBranson56 karma

Kate Winslet. Her performance in Steve Jobs was nothing short of brilliant and she should have won the Oscar.

HubertX22 karma

I have a medical condition which could be helped with marijuana but it is illegal in my country. My plan is to try and obtain some seeds and grow my own small supply (for safety mainly). Do you agree with this? Do you think people with medical reasons should ignore drug laws?

TheRichardBranson88 karma

If you are ill, you should do whatever you can to alleviate your pain. In the meantime, we'll continue to do what we can to get sensible drug laws.

chooter19 karma

My first cell phone was actually a Virgin Mobile phone! What inspired your company to create Chrismahanukwanzukah?

TheRichardBranson21 karma

The more holidays the better!

upupandadam15 karma

I used to work for you at a Virgin Megastore. How hard was it selling a company you obviously have a lot of history with?

TheRichardBranson28 karma

Good to come in contact with you again. As you know, Virgin Megastores were really fun places to work and visit. It was extremely sad to have to sell, but sadly after invention iTunes we saw the writing on the wall.

cardinalsfan123415 karma

There is a huge amount of resistance to legalizing even a harmless drug like weed in the US. What do you think needs to be done to make the war on drugs end in America?

TheRichardBranson54 karma

The Global Commission on Drug Policy are pleased that different states are experimenting on different approaches, from Colorado and Washington State legalising. That enables us to look at these states and see what the effects are. What we have found so far is that there hasn't been an explosion in usage, the taxes raised are going to excellent causes like rehabilitation centres and education, rather than that money going into the underworld. Legalisation didn't cause the problems many critics expected.

lolihull14 karma

Do you think the UK is ever likely to decriminalise marijuana? It feels like it would be such a huge back-pedal for the current government but I remain hopeful.

TheRichardBranson31 karma

One day sense will prevail

Knurling_Turtle13 karma

What are some books, besides your own, that you find yourself recommending to friends or giving away as gifts the most and why?

TheRichardBranson50 karma

I'd recommend a book I just wrote the introduction for, Ending The War On Drugs. I feel passionately that if my children, brothers or sisters have a drug problem, it should be treated as a health problem not a criminal problem. Ending The War On Drugs features a number of different articles from wonderful people who are experts in this area. I'm biased, but I would recommend it. https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/ending-war-drugs

DiggerDan12 karma

Any encouraging words for up and coming entrepreneurs?

TheRichardBranson41 karma

Screw it, just do it! (And have a lot of fun in the process.)

HappyChanter12 karma

What are your spiritual beliefs, and what role (if any) do you think they have played in your success?

TheRichardBranson87 karma

I marvel at evolution and this beautiful planet that it has created.

rafferty8512 karma

How's the fireproof turtle doing?

TheRichardBranson23 karma

She is doing great since the fire -- and has had lots of babies!

RealVanossGaming11 karma

Hi Richard!

My question is, who did you look up to when you were growing up?

TheRichardBranson33 karma

I looked up to Sir Freddie Laker, the pioneer of cheap air travel who was driven out of business by British Airways. It was he who told me to "Sue the bastards!" when BA tried to do the same to us. We took his advice and succeeded. He also suggested I use myself to put Virgin on the map, which led to ballooning and boating adventures like the ones you can see in Don't Look Down.

lula248810 karma

You are given 1000 bananas. Except selling, what do you do with them?

TheRichardBranson31 karma

I'd sign them and sell them for charity.

pastsevenstars10 karma

Hi Mr. Branson! What do you believe is going to be the next big tech innovation in the world?

TheRichardBranson26 karma

If I knew I would have started it! You've got to come up with your own. At Virgin we're excited about Virgin Red, our new app, and there will be plenty more on the way.

courtiebabe42010 karma

What inspired you to create a film about hot air balloons and the adventures you've taken with them? Was the process more difficult than you expected?

TheRichardBranson14 karma

I've seen some wonderful feature documentaries, such as Senna and Into Thin Air, where they have taken real footage and created masterpieces. We had two incredible adventures crossing the Atlanic and Pacific. It had me on the edge of my seat, i thought others might feel the same. I wanted to give people a taste of what it was like to fly. My son's company Sundog Pictures did a great job and we're very happy with the outcome.

EdwardMorra9 karma

Does Edward Morra form Limitless exist in real life?

TheRichardBranson19 karma

It was actually Virgin Produced who made the film Limitless. I've been searching for the recipe ever since!

TimothyBukinowski9 karma

i was once told by a co-worker in legal aid that the quickest way to get one million dollars is to ask someone with two million dollars if you can have one. I have always wanted to ask a rich person if this is true? But seriously, guys like you and bill Gates, who both have great wealth need to be involved in social issues that are pretty hard to argue against, and ending the war on drugs seems pretty obvious. So, ya know, thanks for that, and for ending your mtv cribs epsiode on a toilet.

TheRichardBranson74 karma

It seems a pretty savvy way to me! Good try! I always used to say that the easiest way to become a millionaire was to start off as a billionaire and go into the airline business.

GeraldBrennan8 karma

What business leaders do you most admire, and why?

TheRichardBranson34 karma

I admire all entrepreneurs big and small. An entrepreneur is like an artist. They take a blank piece of canvas and fill in all the details to create something unique and special. They should be held on the same pedestal as artists when they succeed.

Buzzdanume8 karma

Well since you've worked with both, do you see a possibility at any point in the future for legally consuming thc while on an airplane? Possibly even in 0g?

TheRichardBranson35 karma

You don't have to get high to get high!

cromagged8 karma

favorite Megadeth record, Sir Dick?

TheRichardBranson14 karma

I like Rust In Peace, but I prefer the deafening harmonies of Endgame.

Mama__Murphy7 karma

What is your favourite film?

TheRichardBranson9 karma

Borsalino, a wonderful Gallic gangster film. I saw it three nights in a row.

Knurling_Turtle4 karma

I expect you spend a lot of time with futurists. What does the world look like in 20 years? 50?

TheRichardBranson30 karma

I'm hopeful that every decade from now, the people of this world will experience less conflict, less famine, will live longer, and will generally have a better life. But it is up to all of us to make certain that this happens. I'm also hopeful that more and more people who are trying to look after the rare species of this world and this beautiful planet, but a lot more work needs to be done to ensure this.