It was an easy decision for Victor. The seventh grader was inspired by Branson’s success. He also knew that Branson had struggled with reading and writing in school. Victor wrote:
“Dear Mr. Richard Branson… It is difficult for me to read and write essay papers… When I am feeling down, my mom reminds me of all the successful people we know who are dyslexic and all of their great accomplishments. Then I know I’m not the only one struggling. When you were having a difficult time learning, what do you think about? What inspires you and pushes you to keep going when you are discouraged?”
To Victor’s surprise, Branson wrote a letter right back.
Thank you for your letter. I am most humbled that you find inspiration in my story. I have struggled with dyslexia, and at times my condition has made me feel the lowest of lows.
It sounds like you’re in a great school, which is catering well to your learning needs—so you’re off to a much better start than me. Just don’t worry if you find things difficult… remember: school does not define you.”
Branson also encouraged Victor to follow his passions:
“If you focus on what you are passionate about, you will most certainly achieve great things. I did, and in an odd twist of fate, it was my dyslexia that paved the path to my success.
Challenged with a learning difficulty that caused me problems with reading, writing and spelling, I saw things differently than most people and learned to value simplicity. When I started Virgin, I made sure that it became the cornerstone of the way we did things—and in the process I managed to turn a great disadvantage into my biggest advantage.
Victor, just because you don’t get the grades in school, doesn’t mean you won’t make the grade in life. Keep your head up, a smile on your face and a positive attitude and all your dreams—like mine—will come true.
All the very best,
Getting a personal response from Branson was a big confidence booster for Victor. “Richard Branson embraces his dyslexia, he talks about it,” noted Victor’s mom Jenn McMaster in an interview with a local news station.
This isn’t the first time that Branson has reached out to young people with dyslexia.
Last May, Branson shared a video by Isley Hermansen, then a 12-year-old with dyslexia. He also sat down for an interview about dyslexia with Quinn Bradlee, from Understood founding partner the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Branson seems to have a soft spot for young people with dyslexia.
See Victor’s full letter to Branson, and Branson’s response, on the Virgin website.
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The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.