Branson: If you have to make a fool of yourself, do it

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Richard Branson's Tips for Success

Self-made billionaire Richard Branson is shameless.

"Be willing to use yourself to get out there and put the company on the market. If you have to make a fool of yourself, make a fool of yourself, but make sure that you end up on the front pages, not the back pages," Branson said. "In time, it's possible that your company will stand out from the crowd and you'll be successful."

Branson knows what he's talking about. He's an enthusiastic participant in publicity stunts. Once he lifted his kilt for the cameras, revealing the slogan "Stiff Competition" on his underwear, at a media event for Virgin Atlantic. Then there was the time he dressed in drag as a flight attendant after losing a bet on a Formula 1 race.

His own lofty ambitions extend beyond his businesses. Branson used to attempt to break a record every year, but he has recently calmed down a bit.

"I had to write a new will every year, so it was quite a good time to reflect and make sure you've got your house in order," the billionaire businessman told CNBC a few years ago.

View photos of Richard Branson through the years:

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As paranoid as that sounds, it was close to necessary when Branson attempted ocean crossings by hot air balloon with Per Lindstrand. In their 1987 Atlantic Ocean crossing, they made three landing attempts. Lindstrand jumped out during the second attempt and was stranded in the sea for two hours, leaving Branson to pilot the balloon on his own.

"You never think you're not going to make it and you always think you're going to come home," Branson said as he reflected on his record-chasing past.

Today, Branson's pioneering impulses are channeled into Virgin Galactic as he competes with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the private space exploration industry. It's Branson's adventurous streak that motivates him to commercialize space travel, making it possible for civilians to see the final frontier.

But even the mischievous mogul says a good business venture needs substance and can't actually be sustained on flash alone.

"There's no point in starting a business unless you're going to make a dramatic difference to other people's lives. So if you've got an idea that's gonna make a big difference to other people's lives, then just get on and do it," he said.

Still, life and business are adventures for Branson, and should be treated as such.

"Have a blast. Have a lot of fun doing it."

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Branson: If you have to make a fool of yourself, do it
Co-founders of Birchbox, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp attend the opening of the Birchbox flagship store on July 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Birchbox)
Rent the Runway co-founders Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman attend the 4th Annual Fashion 2.0 Awards at SVA Theater on March 13, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and chief executive officer of Slack Technologies Inc., smiles during a Bloomberg West television interview at the Vanity Fair 2015 New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel speaks onstage during 'Disrupting Information and Communication' at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 8, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
Nic Jammet, Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru are the Co-Founders of SweetGreen in Washington, D.C. on October 17, 2011. Jane Black's November column is about SweetGreen and its efforts to stay true to its roots as it grows to be a regional and national chain. Nic Jammet, the young, charismatic co-founder, who is working hard to make sure that they still feature local products from small farms, even in wintertime. They have gone from 1 store in 2007 to 10 today, including several in the Philadelphia area. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Soylent CEO Rob Rhinehart holds a bag of finished product inside a warehouse in Oakland, California where the company runs its business on September 09, 2013. The 24-year-old software engineer developed Soylent, a homemade nutrient concoction, designed as part meal-replacement drink, part thought experiment, providing every necessary nutrient while challenging societys current perception of nutrition. (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) Casper Co-Founders & Chief Executive Officers T. Luke Sherwin, Jeff Chapin, Neil Parikh, and Philip Krim attend Casper's LA celebration at Blind Dragon on July 9, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Casper Sleep Inc.)
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