14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2009
Format: Audio CD
For years it's been frustrating to me that none of Richard Branson's books were available on audio, so when this one came out I jumped on it.
Okay, this book is not as instructional and detailed as books like Good to Great. However, as wonderful as those other authors are, none of them have founded multi-billion dollar international firms. So what advice is here is coming straight from a source.
I know some are probably scoffing at the idea, sure that this book is ghost written, but I doubt it. Branson is a brand fanatic, who has made himself the living symbol of the brand.
Unlike Trump and others who espouse a cut-throat, zero-sum philosophy, Branson shows that entrepreneurship and conscience are not mutually exclusive. You can be a good person and a good businessman.
So if you want some sound business advice and a solid dose of hope this is the book to read... or listen.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2013
Even though I admire Richard Branson very much, after reading this book I admire this person even more. Great man who changes the world and great book that can change your mindset and attitude towards the world. Richard is one of my teachers (through the books), and he really makes a big difference in my mind when reading all the experience this great man can provide me with. I believe, he can be a leader for many of you too!
I love the way Richard Branson looks to the world and to the businesses. He is really very inspiring personality, who really has a lot of influence to my life. Business Striped Bare is not the first Richard's book I've got to read, I read almost all of his books and even had a chance to meet him. Since I've started to be interested in Richard my hunger to meet him started to grow. Now I have another dream, and it is to start some great project (business) with this amazing person and work with him together.
This book really blew my mind. It's full of priceless advises which comes from experience of creating one of the biggest brands in the world - Virgin. It really opened my eyes to see more global things and to think more global. The book is distinguished into couple big chapters where Richard explains the most important parts of the business like right people, brand, trust and commitments, failures and learning from them, innovations, leadership and social responsibility. This last chapter really got my attention. I really love how Richard looks to the world from social spectrum. Even though some people might not agree with me, but this man is really changing the world into the better place. All the projects he describes in the book are really of great value (and I don't mean value in money). All the innovations Richard is trying to develop are so amazing that it really will change the face of the world in couple of years. That's where my mind stops to look at small things and tries to see big opportunities and really valuable (not just in money) things. We all can do something but after reading and understanding some of Richard's thoughts it becomes so strange to care about just any worthless thing.
One of the things that really inspired me a lot was the board of old and very respectable people from the entire world. For those who have never heard of this, it's a group of people who meet to discuss the global problems of the world and none of them is politician or has any other interest except really big experience in life and a wish to make world a better place. This really made me to dream one day to be one of those people.
Considering all above I can say that Business Striped Bare is a very strong book. I really recommend it to everyone who really are in business and want their business to grow big. Richard managed to create such an amazing empire and he really has so many advises which could be used to be successful. Epilogue of this book is even stronger and for the end of this review I would like to share one quote: "It's possible to choose different ways in this life, and it's extremely important to choose the right one. And like it's not enough, it's not good choice to choose nothing, because such attitude to life really ensures failure".
So, tell me, what way in life do you choose?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I wonder if this book is just a publicity stunt to answer all the criticism Branson and Virgin have garnered over the years. The stories are often fun and interesting, it's very well written (likely by a big staff of highly paid writers), and it does give you good insight into the motivations of a good company leader. However, there's something funny about it - it seems too well planned and every once in a while it talks about a sensitive topic, as if the whole point is to reframe Branson's and Virgin's image. I'll admit the manipulation is subtle and masterful, but there nonetheless. I don't know much about Virgin but after reading this, I know more and like the company more. So, I'd say they have a success here. If you can see past the massive ego, it's a fun read and informative.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2012
This is the second time I have listened to Sir Richard Branson's book, but the first time I have reviewed it. Richard Branson is a fascinating entrepreneur. Struggling in school, he started a newspaper for students. It quickly grew in popularity to the point he received an offer to sell it. He immediately turned that money into the music business, reselling vinyl albums by mail cheaper than the corner shops. The next logical step was to create a recording studio and begin promoting bands. From there, things continued to grow and grow. The result of his willingness to strike out into areas he knew nothing about became known as the Virgin group of brands.
Business Stripped Bare is a look at Branson's business philosophy and brand genius. He shares the story of how he built the brand and why he feels it is successful. He is brash, challenging, energetic and doesn't subscribe to stuffiness on any scale. He believes in keeping businesses as small as possible (100 employees where possible), empowering employees to make decisions and energizing them around the brand.
The Virgin Group is one of the largest privately held companies in the world and this inside look at how they approach business is fascinating to me. Branson's easy-going, chatty-style of writing is engaging. He provides story after story demonstrating his core beliefs on building a business. More than most business books, I found the advice useful and entertaining. While not a step-by-step manual, he covers the more intangible aspects of success, such as keeping employees engaged, dreaming big, where to never compromise, how to recognize and capitalize on opportunity and how to learn from mistakes.
There are few global business leaders I would like to meet. Branson is one whom I would. Judging from his writing style, I think I would l even be comfortable talking with him. Perhaps this book is ghost written, but the style matches what I have read about him in the news. He seems like a normal guy who made it big. He isn't afraid to let it all hang out on the line in promotion of the company, even if it means bungee jumping from a helicopter or showing up naked to a product release. He does things on his terms and no one else's. He believes in his people and is relentless in the pursuit of of perfection for the customer service and safety.
One thing I took away from his book is the importance of constant observation. He carries a notebook with him everywhere he goes and writes down every observation. Everything from worn carpet on a plane, salt shakers on trains to ideas for improving cell phone offerings go into the book for review and implementation. He prides on Virgin's ability to rapidly adapt and execute change quickly to meet customer needs and expectations. I believe they are richly rewarded for this attention to detail. There is a lot to be learned from his approach.
Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur is a book every entrepreneur should read and reread. I believe his advice to be sound and immediately adaptable to any size business. I am attempting to implement as much as possible within my own company, even though it is far from entrepreneurial. Of course, I also try to apply it to the virgin brand of my own. If I have even a half a grain as much success as he has, I'll be satisfied.
on December 2, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Richard Branson’s book, “Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur,” was not a typical biography. Instead, it was an autobiographical account of Branson’s business/entrepreneurial techniques, ideas, and opinions. With the extensive experience Branson has, it’s easy to imagine that the book could get bogged down with complicated strategies and the like. However, much like Branson’s view on business, the book is simple and to-the-point. It’s split into seven sections: People, Brand, Delivery, Learning from Mistakes and Setbacks, Innovation, Entrepreneurs and Leadership, and Social Responsibility.
In “People,” Branson talks about how the people that run businesses are just as important as the people that make up the business itself, right down to the cleaning staff (he goes on to give examples of how people in low ranking positions moved up in his companies to managerial roles). He implies that, more than anything else, it is important to work with people who know who they are, more than what they know, as skills can be taught, while attitude cannot. This chapter was a superb example of how any business can be successful based on the combined efforts of different people.
In “Brand,” he talks about how he cultivated the Virgin brand. He boils it down to this: your brand is what the customers get. Whatever image you want your venture to have, whatever you want people to expect, you need to provide. However, he notes, perfection is impossible, and to remain flexible. He also provides examples about ways he has cultivated Virgin’s brand, both through how he lives his life and how his companies operate. But, most importantly, he notes that a brand is a promise that you absolutely have to follow through on, and that if you don’t define your brand, your competitors will.
The next chapter is “Delivery,” which discusses how to deliver on a brand. Branson tells several stories about how his companies went about delivering on their brand, as well as how he goes about delivering on the Virgin brand. The two most important elements, he says, are “good communication, and attention to detail.” This doesn’t mean micro-managing, though. It means that, whoever is assigned to each detail, needs to be attentive and communicate about what is happening. A key aspect of delivery, he states, is to think like an entrepreneur. Furthermore, the emotional investment of an entrepreneur in their venture(s) create an environment where cultivating and delivering on any and all promises made by the company is the top priority. He also mentions that big businesses suffer from the lack of this investment.
The next chapter, “Learning from Mistakes and Setbacks,” is a perfect example of the lemonade principle, as well as the principle of affordable loss. This was a fascinating chapter to read, as it discussed many stories of failures and shortcomings from Branson’s time as a student with a startup, all the way up to struggles with Virgin Money. He tells how his strategy of having multiple smaller businesses (he even splits them when they get too large) creates contingencies so that if one business fails, or is struggling, the whole company doesn’t go down. Similarly, he communicates that “the one thing [he] learned in business is that everyone will make mistakes.” The trick, of course, is knowing what mistakes you can afford to make, and what you can risk on the ventures. He also offers other ideas on what to do if your business does happen to fail, such as downsizing and specialization.
“Innovation” is the next chapter in the book. In this section, Branson discusses ways that innovation can happen. He uses both Virgin America and Virgin Galactic as examples, citing how they were the result of years of research, collaboration with other companies, and luck. In fact, Branson goes so far as to say that luck is extremely important in business. Not necessarily that you need to “get lucky,” however, so much as needing to take advantage of the luck you have. Most importantly, he says that innovation doesn’t have to mean “new,” it just has to mean being the best at what you’re doing. Whether breaking into a previously occupied market space, or creating your own venture, the most important thing to do is to excel at what you’re attempting more than anyone else.
In “Entrepreneurs and Leadership,” Branson discusses the benefits (and pitfalls) of an entrepreneurial mind. He states that there is a fundamental difference between “entrepreneurs and managers,” and that, while entrepreneurs are generally the driving force behind startups and young companies, they are not always suited to management. In this chapter, he gives an excellent account of Nelson Mandela, who, as he states, is an “entrepreneur, through and through.” He tells of how he and Mandela started Global Elders with Virgin Unite, as well as how Mandela used the Virgin Brand to save a fitness club that thousands of South African jobs relied on. In this chapter, it is shown that while entrepreneurship is a good motivator, too much innovation in a managerial role can bring down a company.
The final chapter is “Social Responsibility.” This is chapter, Branson talks about how it is a businessman’s responsibility to be philanthropic. “Without contribution from the business sector… what we end up with is a market of good intentions.” He tells about Virgin Unite, a non-profit created by Virgin. Branson also talks about the philanthropic endeavors of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, and how their actions are influenced by the people they meet and the places they go.
Branson’s book is not as specific about business strategies as a textbook or classroom would be. Instead, he uses stories and examples from his experience as a businessman and an entrepreneur to let the reader draw many of their own conclusions on how best to run the business. Most of all, he preaches that, if “you care about something enough to do something about it, you’re in business.” As such, this is an excellent guide for entrepreneurs and seasoned businessmen alike.
on May 11, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is less a biography of a person (which is what I thought when I picked it up) and more of a biography of the Virgin brand. Branson’s resume speaks for itself—he is one of the richest men alive and thinks about business in very practical ways. This book is a little cliche at times, and I came away with the sense that, while Branson does offer plenty of criticisms, he stops just short of the harsh ones that full disclosure demands. Nonetheless, there are real lessons here, like how to protect the downside, why to always take notes (details matter, and don’t trust your memory), and test ideas in a group (reminiscent of Billion Dollar Lessons). BSB is setup as a series of case studies into each major industry that Virgin expanded into, the challenges it faced, how it handled them, and what it did well and not so well. So, while there is an overarching business philosophy at work, it arises organically out of Branson’s experiences in building businesses, rather than as a series of hard rules that he mechanically applies to make piles of money. That feels real, because if it were so easy as a set of perfunctory rules, everyone would do it. Later chapters cover Branson's adventuring into charitable giving and organization building, and the beginnings of Virgin Galactic. I am not sure how much of the optimism surrounding that endeavor has changed since publication in light of recent events, but the thoughts in the book are interesting regardless.