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Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way Paperback – June 7, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

In this autobiography, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says one of his prime business criteria is "fun." Fun made Branson a billionaire, and few business memoirs are one-billionth as fun as Branson's, nor as niftily written. Not only does it relate his side of near-death corporate experiences, it tells how the chairman literally cheated death by gun, shipwreck, and balloon crash.

Branson's empire--now encompassing interests in an airline, pop music, soda pop, e-commerce, and financial services--began when the dyslexic 16-year-old dropped out of school in 1968 to found the British magazine Student. His headmaster said, "I predict that you will either go to prison or become a millionaire." Briefly imprisoned for dodging customs selling records, Branson got his first million by releasing Tubular Bells, a maverick recording all the stuffy executives rejected. (1998's Tubular Bells III puts the series' sales over 20 million.)

Despite wild tales of Branson's wife-swapping and Keith Richards fleeing naked from Branson's studio at gunpoint with another man's woman, the most shocking parts of the memoir concern British Airways' James Bond-like "dirty tricks" campaign against Virgin Atlantic, resulting in the biggest award for damages in English history.

Though it's filled with famous names, witty quotes, and pulse-pounding accounts of lunatic balloon adventures, it is as a business thriller that the book really scores. His instinctive bet-the-ranch tactics could cost him all, or earn another billion. Either way, Branson will likely remain the most entertaining entrepreneur in Europe. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Richard is good-looking and very smart, which is sexy to start with. He also makes a billion dollars before breakfast—and still knows how to have fun."
-- Ivana Trump
“Few people in contemporary business are as colorful, shrewd, and irreverent, and probably no one’s nearly as much fun to be around. . . . Branson embodies America’s cherished mythology of the iconoclastic, swashbuckling entrepreneur."
-- GQ
“Branson wears his fame and money exceedingly well: no necktie, no chauffeur, no snooty clubs. . . . What continues to set Branson apart is the unique -- and, to some, baffling -- nature of his ambition. . . . He isn’t interested in power in the usual sense of influencing other people. . . . Boiled down to its singular essence, Richard Branson just wants to have fun.”
-- Newsweek
“Branson, a self-described ‘adventure capitalist,’ is a business-creation engine who was clearly born in the wrong place. . . . Those business instincts are matched by an ability to motivate people who work for him. And who wouldn’t want to -- Branson seems hell-bent on making sure that everybody, but everybody, is having as much fun as he is.”
-- Time
“Richard Branson . . . is dressed to the nines: in a $10,000 white silk bridal gown with a traditional veil and train and acres of lace. . . . Branson is expected to do the unexpected, even the bizarre -- anything to publicize his latest venture. . . . The fact is, Branson’s widely reported stunts seem almost staid compared to the unconventional way he manages his burgeoning empire.”
-- Forbes ASAP

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; Updated edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307720748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307720740
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (369 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By high aadmi on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Warning: Don't get carried away by the title of this book, it is purely metaphoric.

When you are handed a 600 page autobiography of an entrepreneur, at first, you may wonder whether such a piece is worth even leafing through. Who has the time to read stuff like this?

LOSING MY VIRGINITY is an extraordinary book written by an extraordinary man, Richard Branson. One may actually have some reservations about reading about a not exactly well-known business magnate (I am talking about India, of course). But rest assured, once you read through the author's bio and the very impressive blurbs, you will realize that it is far from a conventional (boring, if you like) memoir.

Branson is one of a rare breed, a paragon of British entrepreneurship, and a genius who has revolutionized British culture and lifestyles. Throughout this book, one can find a real humility in Branson's narrative of himself and his experiences. Like most contemporary memoirists, Branson uses the confessional mode of writing, which has allowed him to do things that a conventional novel will not. Branson's style of writing is so good-humored and his perceptions so remarkable that this book is worth a read even if you don't have the slightest interest in business. As one critic wrote about this book - Heavy but impossible to put down.

The book is written in a chronological fashion, and the chapters have rather stimulating titles. The chapters are actual chunks taken from Branson's life, and provide a rich visual and verbal experience to the reader. Some 130 photographs (both color and black & white) are there, and they complement the narrative beautifully.

It is fast paced, and has an honesty which is a little trivial at times. Branson reveals much about himself.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Shola Abidoye on September 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with several other readers. Sir Branson articulates himself to be a born entrepreneur, risk-taker (sometimes calculated, other times not), iconoclastic and, perhaps subtlely, family-centered.

Unfortunately, his vivid descriptions of his variegated love life and only tangential discussion of his personal life philosophy and philanthropic work, leaves one saying "He's an exciting, flamboyant character; but not someone who will be remembered in the manner of a Carnegie or Rockefeller".

Whenever I read and review biographies, I try to encapsulate key takeaways--relevant teaching points--for future benefit. I present them below in the hope that they might be beneficial to someone:

-A tight knit social circle of family and friends is critical; the wealthier and more successful one becomes, the tighter and more important this circle should be

-JVs (Joint Ventures) can be a valuable way of expeditiously creating new business lines in an unfamiliar industry or environment

-European banks are far more conservative/less risk-taking than American ones (rather well known)

-Sub-units managed as individual corporate entities are an effective way of hedging risk and building employee buy-in

-Put employees first (vs. shareholders) and profits to owners/shareholders will dutifully follow

Overall, I am pleased that I read this book because I enjoy Virgin's services (particularly Virgin Airways). Branson's adeptness at branding is unquestionable. However, I came away with the feeling one often has after completing a meal at a much hyped restaurant yet not having had one's appetite pleasurably satisfied.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The book was, to my delight, a very interesting read. "Losing My Virginty" reads like a novel and I would say that it was as interesting as both "Memoirs or a Geisha" and the "Harry Potter" series. Yet the book was full of lessons in a variety of business fields; entrepreneurship and risk-taking being at the forefront of those fields. In its value as a business book, I would compare it to "Lessons from the Top" and "The Millionnaire Next Door", both of which were a much less gripping read. However, "Losing my Virginity" is different from those two books in that it is primarily about "World Class Entrepreneurship".
Branson takes the reader on a trip back to the 60's and 70's when Virgin took off and gradually leads you into the "jetstream" of his turbulant life. You will enjoy the ride.
This is definitely a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and earnestly recommend to anyone, not necessarily to businessmen, just to anyone who wants to make the most of his/her life.
Richard Branson used the book well on many occasions to tell his side of the story and to clarify to the public certain events that may have not been fully disclosed in that way during the time of their occurance.
He also talks freely about matters, which a conventionial bussinessman would find out of place, beyong the point or even downright embarrassing. Those "personal" moments are actually the essence of what this book is all about. The book is about Branson's life and Virgin Group is just that, a very large chunk of Branson's life.
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