As the founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson has established more than 100 companies, employing around 60,000 people worldwide.
The 66-year-old entrepreneur has an estimated net worth of £4.3 billion, making him the eighth richest billionnaire in the UK.
So it came as a surprise when Branson told Business Insider that he still gets “nervous” and is “naturally shy.”
“When I was a young boy, I would often refuse to talk to adults and cling to the back of my mother’s skirt,” he said. “As an introverted kid, my mother worried my shyness would become debilitating as I got older — to help try and tackle my shyness my mother always challenged me.”
“My shyness has never disappeared completely,” he added. “Believe me, I still get nervous from time to time.”
But Branson has a positive approach to overcoming his fears — by addressing them directly.
“I am also the first to say yes and tackle my fears head on,” he said. “This approach to challenges has allowed me to chart an exciting path in life and in business, so I will be eternally grateful to my mother for that!”
he entrepreneur has previously said that he feels anxious before public speaking events. In a 2015 article originally written for Entrepreneur.com, Branson explained how he copes with being on stage:
“When you need to speak in front of a crowd, close your mind to the fact that you’re on a stage with hundreds of people watching you and instead imagine yourself in a situation where you’d be comfortable speaking to a group.”
In the same article, Branson revealed that he has learned lessons on public speaking from Winston Churchill:
“Like Churchill, I found that if you practice, practice, practice, then practice some more, that will gradually mitigate the fear of public speaking, no matter how debilitating. Repeat the speech until you are even hearing the phrases in your dreams, and it will be much easier to deliver.”
Richard Branson’s comments are part of a longer interview conducted with Business Insider, which will be published soon.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.