An Open Letter To Sir Richard Branson

English: Industrialist Richard Branson at the ...

English: Industrialist Richard Branson at the Time 100 Gala, May 3, 2010. Photo by David Shankbone. This photos is licensed under the Attribution 3.0 license, which means it can be used and modified for any purpose only if the author is properly credited where it is used. Category: Richard Branson Category:Time 100 Gala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Sir Richard,

We haven’t had the pleasure of meeting each other yet but you never know what will come in the future.

You are a well known businessman who has a long list of accomplishments that have generated worldwide notoriety and a substantial bank account, not to mention a title.

I on the other hand don’t have your list of accomplishments nor have anything close to your bank account but I do have children who think I am much cooler than you are and that is worth quite a bit.

The Reality We Live in and The One We Want

Three hours I ago I told a friend about this letter and he asked me if I thought you had any chance of reading this and what I hoped to achieve by writing this note. I smiled and told him that most people consider it bad form to try to stab someone with a butter knife. It is not very effective and it is hard work.

I am sure he thought it was gibberish or some sort of  non sequitur but I didn’t care. The world is a place of wonders and more than a few people have trouble seeing that. He has his dreams and I have mine.

You are to blame for some of this. I read your essay with great interest and found it thoroughly enjoyable. There were several sections that resonated with me, but here is where my eyes kept landing:

“I love doing adventurous things and attempting to break world records. Trying things—even if you fall flat on your face—is more important than not trying at all. And if you do fail at something, you should pick yourself up and keep trying until you succeed. At Virgin, even if we fail the first time, we do try to succeed the second or the third time. We don’t give up.”

The willingness to keep trying, to take chances and to see failure as an opportunity to learn is something I believe in. It is not just because I am a father and I teach my children to never give up, but because I have been there. Some might even argue that at the moment I am there.

It is a frustrating moment in time for me and there have been more than a few moments where I have wanted to just go back to sleep, but what would be the point. There is the world we live in and the world we want to live in.

Let’s Have Dinner

Thirteen or so years ago I tried to schedule an interview with Bill Gates and was told I was number 678 on the list. When I inquired what I could do to move up I was told there wasn’t anything I could other than be patient and wait for my opportunity.

Well this isn’t going to be one of those heartwarming tales where I explain how one day I got my shot because it didn’t happen. It wasn’t for lack of effort either, but I am not upset about it.

That is because I have always felt that at some point in the future one of my writing gigs would provide the chance to meet him. I also saw it as a learning experience and one that has had yielded great benefits.

I suppose it is a long winded way of saying that I would like meet you too. You are a very interesting man and I would like to interview you in person.

Some might argue that I haven’t provided a compelling argument for us to meet, but sometimes simple is best.


One of my goals is to interview a number of business people from all walks of life. A man like yourself is high on my list and I don’t know what it will take to make that happen. I expect your schedule is quite busy and there might be some challenges, but no challenge was overcome by running from it.

So I encourage you to hop on the next Virgin flight to Los Angeles and let’s grab a bite to eat. Alternatively we can always use Skype or engage in a Google Hangout, whichever is most convenient.

I appreciate your time. See you around cyberspace.


Josh Wilner

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  2. Billy Delaney October 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I think one of the greatest ways to meet him is without him!
    Mr. Hill of the famous book, used to read everything these men said and wrote. He would gather quotes, notes and stories about how these men acted, their reputations and their vices and virtues.
    He would gather them in an imaginary council and ask them questions, and listen…
    I’ve tried this of a sorts…
    It works well enough for me to enjoy the exprience.
    Try it, after you’ve done your homework on a person you’d like to meet, and I’d be curious as to what happened.

    • Josh October 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      Hi Billy,

      I hadn’t thought about doing it that way, but it is an interesting idea. Have you focused primarily on the living or is this something you spent more time doing with the dead?

      It does give me a few ideas.

  3. Brian D. Meeks ( October 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    He is a good person to want to meet. I’ve whiled away many the hour dreaming of conversations with people I admire. I’ve always thought Tom Hanks would be a delightful person to share a meal with and who knows, maybe he’d like to make one of my books into a movie?

    Dreaming is the secret sauce of life.

    • Josh October 25, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Hi Brian,

      I have a friend who has met Tom Hanks several times. He says he really is a nice guy. I think he would make a great Henry.

    • Barrett Rossie October 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      I agree with Brian: Your choice of Sir Richard is great, as would be Tom Hanks.

      I always wanted to meet Tom Petty. He was like a best friend just when I needed one, through his music. I stood in front of him, singing along with the band, many times. One day (they were in the middle of doing 20+ shows in 30 days at The Fillmore in San Francisco), I swear he was looking right at me and said: “I think the same people keep coming to see us every night.” He was right!

  4. Tim Bonner October 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Hey Josh

    Best of luck with your request. I hope it happens and I look forward to seeing your blog post about the interview!

  5. Mary Stephenson October 25, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Hi Josh

    I suppose you could try to find out where Richard Branson will be shooting his next commercial. Well, just a suggestion it might work.

    I think sometimes we are mesmerized by famous people or maybe even hope that we could learn something really special from their success. Perhaps we could, but we might just find who they really are. Some people I have looked up to have turned out to not be so wonderful, rich maybe, but not such a nice person to other people.

    Even so I would still like to actually sit down and talk with some very rich and famous persons. But my opinions of some have changed radically over the years.

    Good luck and hope he actually grants you an interview.


    • Josh October 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      Hi Mary,

      I hadn’t thought about that, but that is an interesting suggestion. Might try tracking him down that way.

      I have had the opportunity to meet lots of different people and some of them have been jerks, but many have been quite nice and very interesting. I really want to pick Sir Richard’s brain and find out how much of his success is due to hard work and how much to timing/luck.

      I appreciate your coming to visit, it is always nice to see you here.

  6. Vidya Sury October 25, 2012 at 3:09 am

    I believe in the seemingly impossible, Josh. You know, years, nay, decades ago, there used to be a fantastic television program called Turning Point hosted by an amazing personality/celebrity Girish Karnad, who is highly accomplished and admired. One day, I was at a bookstore, in the Science section – I rather enjoy seeing the knowledge series (oh well, I spend a few hours in a bookstore flitting from one section to another…so…)when I saw a particular topic in astronomy, thought of the TV program…and wished that one day I would actually meet Girish Karnad and say hello. Guess what? I felt someone’s presence near me and saw a hand reach out over my head (ok, I am short) to pick up something from the bookshelf. I turned to see – Oh my gosh! – none other than Girish Karnad! Speechless I wasn’t, luckily and we struck up a conversation – a very pleasant one. Like a nut, instead of getting one of his books (he’s a published author, too) I requested him to autograph a copy of Sidney Sheldon’s Master of the Game – can you imagine? So silly. He laughed and signed it for me anyway.

    Had this happened now, I would have blogged about it 🙂 Back then, we wrote things like these either in letters to someone or just talked about them.

    So – I do hope Sir Richard Branson will see this post. And request you to have dinner with him. Or at the very least – skype/hangout with you.


    • Josh October 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      Hi Vidya,

      That is a great story and it fits with my image/impression of you. You have great energy about you, I appreciate that.

      Now I need to go read about Mr. Karnad as I am not familiar with him at all, but am curious.

      I will certainly keep you posted about Sir Richard. I believe it can happen.

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