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Richard Branson Wage War With Trump And Believe He Is Going To Win
[Image: 3065614-poster-p-2-richard-branson-dont-look-down.jpg]

The billionaire's thoughts on leading through crisis, looking death in the eye, & why he thinks his fellow 1 percenters should pay more tax.

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is in New York today to promote his new film Don't Look Down, which chronicles his harrowing 1987 marketing-stunt-cum-personal-adventure crisscrossing the globe in a giant hot air balloon. The trip was, ostensibly, meant to publicize his then-young airline, Virgin Air. Publicity exercise or not, this was no easy task, and during the voyage Branson truly believed he was about to die.

The English tycoon took some time to meet up with Fast Company and speak about the moment he stared death in the face, leading his company through tragedy and, of course, the recent election of Donald Trump (whose policies Branson has railed against in recent months) to the highest office in America.
So this journey you took—obviously the climax of it is, you think you're going to die. Coming that near to death and really believing that that was going to happen to you, how did that affect you as a person and also as an entrepreneur and a business person? What did that teach you?
Well, if you're an entrepreneur, which I was at the time, you're struggling to survive and you're trying to work out ways of protecting the downside, so that if things don't go well, it's not going to bring everything crashing down. And I've been quite used to those sorts of battles.
If you're an adventurer, the downside is slightly more serious because you're putting your life on the line, but in fighting to survive, it has some of the same—I mean, when you're really facing, especially in the Pacific where it was a long, drawn out time, you just have to fight to survive, hold yourself together, do everything you can to not let go, not let your body go, not let your mind go, not to give in. And you know, I think it was a combination of the determination to survive, plus some very good luck. What was absolutely extraordinary was the way the balloon started moving faster and faster and faster through the sky. I almost started believing in becoming religious because it was unprecedented for a balloon to be going 240 miles an hour, and without it going 240 miles an hour we wouldn't have survived [Editor's note: because if they hadn't been moving so fast, they would have run out of fuel before reaching land], so I do thank God occasionally, even though I'm a believer in evolution, and occasionally say, "If you're up there, thank you very much" [laughs]. And we spend a lot of time now, you know, sort of trying to give back because we were extraordinarily lucky.
In business, if you're an adventurous person, and even now in America, half the country is feeling a lot of despair because of the outcome of this week—how do you not give up your mind, give up your body? How do you keep yourself alive in whatever sense of the word, physically, mentally, through those kinds of really extreme circumstances?
Well, I think, as you say, there's at least half of America who are despairing at the moment, and I think all of us need to work together to fight xenophobia and racism and some of the horrible things that have come out both in Britain and America in the last few months. I think if we stay united doing that, and those people who maybe have a bit more influence than others, you use that influence, use their wealth, use their strength, to try to guide things in a better way, then something positive can come out of this sad event.
So let's take some examples. Trump says he doesn't believe in global warming. 99.9% of scientists do believe in it. The world is facing a potential catastrophe if he starts opening up the coal mines again and creating jobs there instead of creating jobs in clean energy—then it's up to us business people to protest, but also to get on out there and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the clean energy sector and make sure we do get to a carbon neutral world by 2050. And make a lot of noise about it. I mean, shame the administration with facts and scientific facts to get them to change course.
If they they threaten to abolish universal health care in America, business needs to step in and try to make sure that people who can't afford health care are looked after. And business needs to show America how we can set up universal health care systems in other countries that don't have it, as a shining light to America.
And if immigrants are going to be deported from America, business needs to stand up and shout and say, "we need them." I mean you've got full employment in the States. You can't send these people home because the economy will rupture and our businesses will suffer. Talk to the Republicans in the language they know and if they start putting up trade barriers, business needs to shout and say, "this is going to backfire on the American public." They're going to be upset when they have to pay much higher prices for their goods, and inflation is going to go up, and it's going to cost people more money.

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