Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Group, talks about innovative ideas: “Very often, innovative ideas are not received well by their own generation, and must wait for the next generation to be fully accepted.”
“Thirty years later, the Gaia theory is almost universally accepted, and it forms much of the basis of our current understanding of global warming.” At the annual conference for the Direct Marketing Association, Richard Branson discusses the challenges that an innovative idea must face before being accepted.
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Richard Branson was only 22 years old when he founded Virgin Records. Today, he is one of richest men in the world. His ideas are always original and innovative, and although many of them have been criticized by the general public, they have led to huge successes. It seems that his determination and his ability to sense a good business idea are two qualities that Branson was born with. These talents were even noticed by his teachers; his dean even told his parents one day: “Richard’s has two possibilities in life; he will either end up in jail, or become a millionaire.”
As it turns out, Branson did not end up in jail. But his best ideas, before they were understood and accepted in world market, had to face long and arduous roads, as well as face the skepticism of the masses.
At the annual conference for the Direct Marketing Association, Richard Branson talks about the history of a great idea, a theory that waited three decades to be taken seriously.
Branson introduces the audience to the Gaia Theory, a theory formulated in 1979 by the young scientist James Lovelock. The theory was about global warming, and today could be seen as a prophecy. According to Lovelock, the planet is a living and unique organism, a biological cell that reacts to all of the external stimuli. The Earth’s wellbeing is contrasted by the harmful elements that are introduced. According to the Gaia Theory, the Earth’s overheating, caused by the harmful gasses that are produced by mankind, would lead to Earth’s inevitable reaction to these changes. The reaction would occur in the form of global cooling, and possibly lead to another ice age.
Thirty years later, scientists all around the world are finding Lovelock’s hypothesis to be plausible, if not scientifically sound. Only now are they taking his findings seriously. During the years in which Lovelock was introducing the world to his hypothesis, Richard Branson was occupied with his own ideas. Branson himself fought hard to prove to the world that a nonconforming young man, who hated the formal jacket-and-tie lifestyle, would someday become one of the most brilliant minds in the United Kingdom.
What does Branson’s empire have to do with Lovelock’s theory? In reality, not much. However, one of the most important aspects of both ideas lies in the fact that not all innovative ideas are accepted immediately. In fact, it may take years for society to accept an idea. The important message is to never stop dreaming and creating.