Richard Branson, the billionaire tycoon responsible for the Virgin Group, credits his mother with being the most profound influencer in his life. When it comes to business, Branson shared that Sir Freddie Laker, the British airline entrepreneur who pioneered the “no frills” airlines model, had a significant influence on his early days in business. Branson has also been influenced by some of his contemporaries in the business world. Select works of non-fiction as well as fictional characters also rank among Branson’s biggest influencers.

Branson exudes pure love, respect and admiration for his mother. Some of the most important lessons that Branson learned from his mother are having no regrets, learning to survive, putting others first, keeping your feet on the ground and that every day is an opportunity to achieve something new.

Recent influencers for Branson include Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, for successfully replacing Steve Jobs at the helm of the company as well as his courage to publicly announce that he is gay. He has also referenced Megan Smith for her revolutionary work at Google X.

Other important influencers for Richard Branson range from Al Gore’s book, "An Inconvenient Truth," to the fictional character of Peter Pan. Branson frequently cites "Long Walk to Freedom," Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, as one of the most influential books he has read. Mandela was also a personal inspiration to Branson, as well as a friend. Lessons from Mandela that guide and inspire Branson include letting your vision guide you (instead of your fear), focus on your customer instead of your competition, persistence is not inflexibility, and you don’t have to be perfect to make a difference.

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