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Richard Branson seated on a red couch, smiling and facing the camera

Richard Branson: Dyslexia is an Opportunity

Richard Branson smiling with arms crossed, wearing a black top

Richard Branson

Rockville, Md., Oct. 3 – Richard Branson always has had a “go getter attitude” in life, even when it comes to his dyslexia.

“Dyslexia is a kind of disability, but actually it’s an opportunity if you turn it into such,” he said during the SkyBridge Capital’s SALT Conference in Las Vegas.

As a child, Branson struggled in school with his dyslexia, failing at the all-boy school Scaitcliffe. When he was 13, he transferred to the Stowe school, a boarding school in Buckinghamshire, England. His struggles in school did not get any better, so at the age of 16, he dropped out of school.

This led to the beginning of his entrepreneur career; he started a magazine that was made by and for students. Called Student, the first edition sold an estimated 8,000 advertisements, enabling him to give out the first 50,000 copies for free.

The magazine lead to the birth of Virgin Records, which was originally created to help with funds for his magazine. It became very lucrative, leading to him opening up a record shop that then led to him opening a recording studio called Virgin Records in 1972.

The recording company soon became one of the top 10 in the world. Some of the artists in his label included The Sex Pistols, Mike Oldfield, X-Ray Spex, XTC, Penetration and The Rolling Stones.

His next business adventure led him to opening a travel company in 1980 called Virgin Megastores and, just four years later, Virgin Atlantic airline. Because of financially issues, he had to sell the airline. Upset about his loss, he made a radio station and, then years later, he opened up another record label.

Branson has had more than 200 companies in more than 30 countries. He stayed driven and determine to in life, becoming a wealthy man in the process.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again,” he has said.

Branson turned his dyslexia into an opportunity, earning him a place in RespectAbility’s  #RespectTheAbility campaign. The campaign highlights successful entrepreneurs with disabilities, as well as companies that employ people with disabilities. Approximately 15 percent of business owners have a disability.

Studies have shown that one-in five Americans are living with a disability. Most of these people have the desire and drive to work. Yet 70 percent of working-age Americans with a disability are unable to find a job. Branson shows that with the right determination and hard work, it is possible to work and be successful.

“A passionate belief in your business and personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure,” he said. “If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be?”

#RespectTheAbility Success Stories

Download our free toolkit, “Disability Employment First Planning Tool,” for more information.

Meet the Author

Katie Townes

Katie Townes is a Communications Fellow at RespectAbility and a graduate of City University of New York City College. She wants to break perceived thoughts people might have about a person with a disability. She created a platform for gamers with and without disabilities to come together in a judgement-free environment.

8 comments… add one
  • Rishen Moodley Feb 15, 2018, 5:12 am

    Hi there my name is Rishen Moodley from south africa and I was touched by the story I am reading about so many people with disbilitys.I my selfmade person and have had a learning problems from school but however I have to live with this.I am a selfeducated person I personally was not good in school however everyday is a learning experince to better yourself.I was not a bright spark in school and regret alot of things in life.Infact I hated school and the teachers hated me because my mind was not in the classroom.thank you for posting these story it really inspires human beings out there in the world

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