Creative ideas tend to strike in the oddest places. In the shower, on the commute to work, or precisely when you’re supposed to be asleep.
Creativity doesn’t occur in a specific location, although sometimes it certainly helps to have a safe hub where you can sit and dream up your wildest plans. For some, this is their office, but for Richard Branson, it’s in the places you’d least expect.
Here are four places the beloved billionaire says have inspired his most creative ideas. Spoiler alert: none are at his desk.
1. Friend’s basement
In a blog post on Virgin, Branson described how he and a group of friends began working on Student Magazine, his first entrepreneurial venture.
This was when he was 16 years old and had just dropped out of school to start the magazine which would cover everything from pop-culture to the Vietnam war. Of course, as it was not entirely a “legal operation,” it had to be done in secret.
So Branson and his rebellious friends worked in the basement of his friend’s house in London. It was cramped and chaotic, but ideas were flying and energy was high. They were once inspected by officers and had to hide everything. Unfortunately, a phone stuffed inside a cupboard rang during the inspection!
2. Church crypt
After the teens were kicked out of the basement, they went in search of a new underground workspace.
A local minister loaned them the church crypt, where Branson used a slab of rock on top of two coffins to work on. The group rushed to finish the new issue while in an even more cramped (and definitely creepy) place. Makes your office cubicle seem a little less depressing, doesn’t it?
As Branson’s ventures grew bigger and he jumped from magazines to creating Virgin, he didn’t have enough money to buy a house. So, according to CNCB, he bought a houseboat instead.
At the time, it cost him less than $3000 and it turned out to be one his most productive workspaces ever. He ended up keeping the houseboat even after Virgin took off and he had the chance to work in an actual office.
He spent most of his time on the boat, spending time with his kids and conducting business meetings. As he wrote in his blog post, “Some of our happiest days, and greatest business deals, took place on the houseboat.”
As Branson’s success soared, he began upgrading his workspace. Nowadays, he works out of a comfy chair or a hammock on his private island.
Necker Island, as he named it, was initially meant to be a hideaway for bands to record their music in private. But it ended up becoming a hotspot for entrepreneurs and company events.
Branson explains how the island allows him to be surrounded by what inspires him the most: nature, fun, and family. Now his best ideas happen while rocking gently in a hammock, after a morning of running and kayaking.
While buying your own private island may be a stretch, the fact that Branson used to work out of a crypt just goes to show that you don’t need to spend money prepping your perfect office for creative ideas to hit. They can happen anywhere you want them to, so take a pen and a notebook and head out to a park, café, or even a church. Your most creative ideas are waiting.