"More Than Money" by Neil Cavuto

From Chapter Five: Then Along Came Branson

HarperCollins
I’ll get around to Roger Ailes and Herb Kelleher a little later on. For now, though, I’ll start with multibillionaire Richard Branson, whose Virgin empire consists of hundreds of different companies worldwide, because he always seems to be having more fun than anyone else.

In countless interviews with me, the maverick, British-born CEO always struck me as unflappable and ever gracious. It’s as if he hasn’t a care in the world. He’s an entertainer who loves a little corporate shtick. He’s pulled off dangerous, outrageous, and unforgettable publicity stunts all around the world.

He is an inspired, international, dyslexic visionary who saw something many American executives were blind to: Bored Americans were hungering for pizzazz in everything — from the airplanes they flew in, to the record shops they frequented.

There’s nothing in Branson’s background that even hinted at the fact that one of the world’s richest men was in the making.

He was the oldest of three children born to Edward Branson, a lawyer, and his wife, Eve, a former dancer and flight attendant. Although far from poor, Branson remembers plenty of meals made up of bread and gravy.

Notoriously impatient, even as a child, the young Branson always was creating something, and even as a kid, Branson “thought” like an entrepreneur; while still a schoolboy, he hatched a scheme that saw him growing Christmas trees, a business that, sadly, if predictably, didn’t work out. But despite that disappointment, he never gave up trying. Pointedly, Branson enjoyed the process more than the final results. As he grew into adolescence, he also began new businesses, learning lessons from each one, whether they succeeded or not.

His creativity and entrepreneurial spirit are among the few positive consequences of his dyslexia, which seriously impeded his reading and writing, and caused him enormous trouble both in school and out. It was even a struggle to speak properly and comprehend what was said to him.

People who suffer from this horribly misunderstood condition are viewed as slow or stupid, or even worse, unable or unwilling to learn. The very real physical condition with which they grapple is often complemented by emotional distress and attendant psychological woes.

Dyslexia results from neurological, maturational, and genetic causes that affect everything from reading simple text to grasping basic concepts and principles. The common notion is that dyslexics see everything backwards, that letters or words are reversed, making reading almost impossible, but the condition is actually much more complicated than that.

The foregoing is excerpted from More Than Money by Neil Cavuto. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.

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