Lessons and adventures from Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson

Adventure / Fun / Philanthropy


I’m back from Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s private island…what an incredible experience. Before we get to the stories – the most important part of the trip was to raise money for Virgin Unite. This was our first joint Maverick Business Adventures and Centurion Mastermind trip lead by maverick member, Joe Polish and his partner, infomercial king, Dean Graziosi.

Pictured below are the 3 of us together with Sir Richard Branson holding a check for $447,000.

Maverick Business Adventures and Centurion Mastermind raise nearly half a million dollars for Virgin Unite

Maverick Business Adventures and Centurion Mastermind raise nearly half a million dollars for Virgin Unite

I’m incredibly proud of this trip because these funds will go to jumpstart a brand new program helping teach entrepreneurial skills to underprivileged youth across the U.S. Plus, some of the funds will go to support the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in South Africa. (In fact, just got our BETA test of the Maverick mentorship off the ground days before arriving on Necker.)

So what happened on Necker?

Well…on the business side we had an all-access Q&A session with Sir Richard Branson. This is not something we had last year. I shot a couple quick guerrilla videos for you. (Note: Most likely we’ll taking our best brainstorming sessions, exclusive interviews on the island more and putting it out into an incredible product with proceeds going to Virgin Unite.)



I jotted down a ton of notes from the 1 hr+ we had with Richard. Here’s one page from my private journal:

My private journal notes from Q&A session with Branson

My private journal notes from Q&A session with Branson

If it’s hard to read but here are a few of my favorite quotes from the session:

“Find great people and give them extreme freedom in the short run this will be difficult but it frees you up for bigger things.”

“If you are going to make a difference you have to work hard at making a difference.”

“As you get older you will leave behind your children and that’s your legacy.”

Plus we had a couple powerful brainstorms with the USA’s head of Virgin Unite, Darin Spurgeon and investment relations mgr (former PA to Branson), Nicola Duguid. Branson sat in on the main brainstorm for the Virgin Unite team with some killer ideas coming from attendees.

Then we capped it off with an optional, focused brainstorm around the idea of a group called “Entrepreneurs Unite”, which would let successful entrepreneurs get involved in initiatives ‘powered’ by Virgin Unite. It was exciting to see some of the attendees from last year’s Necker trip report back on the things they’ve done. Everything from donating 25 cents per book sold to planning a $100M barefooted run across the country.

A bit crazy and that’s Internet marketer, Tellman Knudson for you. (I told Tellman I’d be in the chase bus and I’d pay extra sponsorship money if I could throw out nails and tacks in front of him.)

Actually Tellman got married to his long-time partner, Jodi, on the island. You can see their 2 ½ year old son, Torger, napping while this is all going on. Pretty funny and Branson was the ring bearer. You just never know what will happen on Necker.

Tellman Knudson and Jodi getting married

Tellman Knudson and Jodi getting married

Speaking of what happens on Necker. A few of you might recall last year when I sorta got kicked off last year as a joke. (Read about it here for a recap)

So here’s the letter I got when I showed up on Necker from the General Mgr this year:

Welcome letter from Necker Island manager

Welcome letter from Necker Island manager

Anyway I didn’t see Gordo for several days while there until a fateful Monday afternoon. You see, they got some new golf carts on the island and they are pretty fast. Maybe 30mph or so is the top speed. Anyway, I was late to jump on the boat to Moskito island (Branson’s adjoining island he just bought). I was hauling ass around a blind turn until I look up in shock and see another golf cart bearing down on me. Shit!!

I slam on the brakes but still end up in a head-on collision.


I look up and guess who is in the cart? Of course, it’s Gordo. So of course I say, “Hi Gordo, nice to see you again. Thanks for the letter.” Ack!

Nobody was hurt but there was enough force to smash down the bumpers into the tires making both carts un-driveable until repaired. Nicely done. I figured out what happened, he’s British so he was driving on the left-hand side of the road and I was on the right-hand side of the road. Only adding to my rap sheet at Necker.

Good news is I did make the boat to Moskito island and after lunch on the island we competed in Beach Olympics with Mavericks vs. Centurions. Here’s a picture of the tennis ball game played like musical chairs with a few less balls than participants each time.

Beach Olympics on Moskito island

Beach Olympics on Moskito island

It got a bit heated with me and Dean Graziosi being the last 2 finalists. I have to hand it to him – the guy is quick. I tried to dive over him for the final ball but mis-timed it slightly. At least the audience enjoyed watch us compete. I am almost embarrassed to admit the Centurions won though I need to take up some gripes with the International Olympic Beach committee considering our group is significantly more athletic but somehow we got on the short end of the stick here. Ah well, always next years rematch.

One of my biggest goals this year was to finally get up on the kiteboard. Unfortunately I did for only about 2 seconds…I’m slowly progressing.


On the final night we had some outrageous wigs and glasses for dinner and dancing. Gordo told our crash story to everyone during ‘Maverick Moments’ and he presented me with my own car for use on the island next time. It’s a kids toy car with ‘Maverick’ on the side and then ‘Yan Man’ on the license plate. Pretty funny. At least they have a great sense of humor on Necker.

my new ride on Necker

I think every Maverick member there has a defining story and hopefully we’ll see even more members next year when we do it again (if they let me back on the island).


  1. May 28, 2009, 7:32 pm

    What a GREAT adventure Yanik!

    Thank you for sharing your stories and inspiring us to write our own stories. Congrat’s on raising $447,000! Woo-hoo, nicely done.

    Thanks again my friend,

    Captain-Rob Arrr 😉

  2. May 28, 2009, 7:39 pm

    I love all you Maverick Entrepreneurs!

    The whole concept of creating products that will help many small business owners AND proceeds going to a worthy cause – well…. this is what I am making my LIFE about.

    I first heard Professor Muhummad Yunus (founder of the grameen bank) talk about the concept of Social Business Enterprise a few years back – and now to see you guys DOING IT it’s so inspiring.

    I am a Maverick Entrepreneur in the making for sure – plus you guys need a few females in your adventures!

  3. May 28, 2009, 8:23 pm


    Thanks for sharing this buddy. Sorry I missed it. (But you knew that)


  4. Paul Sabaj
    May 28, 2009, 9:12 pm

    I love that you get to show us how to balance both work and play. You are truly an inspiration for us to follow. I love to always see the success of others to help motivate me and show the way to give back. It’s nice to see that there is more to life than just a paycheck and long hours at the office.Like they say when your numbers up nobody says I wish I spent more time at the office. Thanks for sharing

  5. May 28, 2009, 9:46 pm

    Thanks so much Yanik for sharing this wonderful adventure with us. I am such a great admirer of Sir Richard Branson. You and he are wonderful role models for every entrepreneur!

  6. May 29, 2009, 1:43 am


    You are living a wonderfully inspired life.

    It’s great.

  7. May 29, 2009, 11:04 am

    Beautiful, thank you for sharing …. Stay Blessed – Ntathu

  8. May 29, 2009, 11:37 am

    Hi Yanick,

    What a great weekend. Sun, beaches, positive minded, imaginative people, Branson, and the $ for such a great cause AND one that is very much needed today. What was it Bob Dylan said years ago?
    “Colleges are like old folks homes, except, more people die in colleges.”
    Nothing wrong with going out and building a life without having to worry if you have that degree or not. Sheesh. Good job by you guys!

  9. May 29, 2009, 5:46 pm

    What an amazing trip indeed. :)

  10. May 31, 2009, 1:26 am

    Looks like you had a blast. I think Virgin Unite is a great concept and what you’re doing for young entrepreneurs is amazing. Keep up the great work!

  11. May 31, 2009, 8:12 am

    Hi Yanik,

    Loved the part in Gordon’s letter that says, “Remember, you can ‘Just Say No’ to alcohol. I am sure this will make all the difference.” I don’t think so. With you, Yanik, and all the other Mavericks, I very much doubt the absence of alcohol would have the slightest difference to the “shenanigans” you get up to!

    Thanks for sharing another outstanding adventure with us. Truly inspiring and looking forward to joining you one day.


  12. Ray Barnes
    June 1, 2009, 6:26 pm

    I’ll be there with you some day, Yanik. That’s the reason I joined up with you! I want you to tell me WHERE TO GO!! Like Necker Island for instance.

    Ray Barnes

  13. June 3, 2009, 7:54 am

    […] Lessons And Adventures From Necker Island With Sir Richard Branson… […]

  14. June 3, 2009, 11:53 am


    hey beast, you’re the man, that was awesome inside access into your trip and every time you write about your stories it inspires me to be better at everything I do.

    I can’t thank you enough and just like Joel, I owe much of my success to you as I have invested in many of your products.

    You’re the man and you have always had the best interest in your customers and friends, that is priceless bruddah!

    See you soon!



  15. Elitsa Asenova
    June 12, 2009, 4:43 am

    Hi there, Yanik
    It’s great to hear from you.
    See you!

  16. June 18, 2009, 5:45 am


    I’ve first read about your story just recently from a doctor’s clinic here in the Philippines, and I must tell you I’m in so much awe and admiration for the wonderful things you’ve done with your life, and for finding your road through internet marketing.

    And now I’m reading your yanik silver site, your twitter and this one. Because I wanted to find information and tips how to make it big like you do. I want to be like you, I want to experience everything that life has to offer. I want to be where you are.

    Bu the thing is, I don’t have a credit card to avail of your products that would have helped me. And I don’t have cash either. You see, I’m that broke. But I have this drive to find my future in the internet world. I have even visited Jeff Johnson’s site because I though I could avail of all those products he’s mentioned that would help me build my own site and gain traffic and all, but only to get disappointed when I’ve realized I need a credit card to avail.

    If you could help me find a way to still make it, it would be a gift that could topple every other gift in my entire life.

    Thanks for the time.


    * Make sure you check out the free interviews we have on this blog – those will help and no credit card needed. – Y.S. *

  17. June 22, 2009, 4:24 pm

    Whoooo ha. Awesome updates!

    A word of warning about kiteboarding–watch out, as it will change your life and you may become a kiteboarding addict! ha! With just a bit more practice I KNOW you will be ripping back and forth and that is one of the coolest feelings ever! Yeahhhhhhhh.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson
    Extreme Human Performance

  18. December 29, 2009, 9:58 am

    […] Helped raise over $500,000.00 for Virgin Unite to start a Young Entrepreneurship program in the U.S. […]

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