Richard Branson is used to shooting for the stars.
Last week, Virgin Galactic announced its plans to become the first publicly-traded space tourism company. It’s a bold feat, and one that Branson credits to dreaming big – and out loud.
“One of my most enduring (and hopefully endearing!) habits is talking about plans that are yet to come to fruition,” Branson writes in a recent blog post. “Whenever I come up with an exciting new idea or hear a thrilling new proposal, I want to tell the world about it straight away.”
He calls this habit “talking ahead of yourself.”
“Far from being a problem, talking ahead of yourself can actually be very useful,” he writes. “By setting yourself future goals that many people deem unrealistic, you actually bring them closer to reality.”
And Branson’s optimism has paid off. The self-made billionaire has made a fortune creating separate ventures all under the Virgin brandname, including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Galactic, Virgin Records(which he sold for $1 billion in 1992) and most recently Virgin Voyages, a cruise business launching in 2020.
He writes that the practice of talking about future ideas out loud incentivizes Virgin employees to reach goals, but it also turns restless energy and ideas into real action. “If you start planning ahead for when you do have the exciting new line, the growing profits and the new staff, you’ll be better prepared for success.”
Branson takes inspiration wherever he can find it, but he credits April Fool’s pranks – an annual tradition at Virgin – as a surprising source of ideas. As a prank, he once wrote about new glass-bottomed Virgin Atlantic planes, and the idea was so popular that he is now considering installing giant windows in the roof of the planes for stargazing (a decision made after realizing the luggage at the bottom of the plane would block any type of view through a glass surface.)
“Sometimes the most far-fetched schemes are the most plausible,” Branson writes. “Often sensible plans go out of the window. You have to be ready for anything. If you talk ahead of yourself, your team will be ready for it too. You’ve got to have a dream before you can go about making it come true.”