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Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way Paperback – October 19, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (October 19, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812932293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812932294
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

Branson does business the way we should all aspire to do business.
M. Forseth
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in business leaders biographies.
Branson's story is quite Interesting and this book is fun and easy to read.
P. velosa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James N Simpson on September 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a sensational book. Most autobiographies are boring and so full of only positive stuff about the person that you just know you are not getting the full picture. In this book Branson openly admits mistakes and bad business decisions. He gives credit to others acknowledging Virgin's success would not have happened without them. He also included instances when he has been brought back down to earth for example when two tourists asked for a picture he thought that he was being nice and started posing for them until he saw their confused faces and realised they wanted him to take a picture of them.
This book tells the reader everything about the Virgin empire from the first issue of Student magazine in 1968 to approval for their trains thirty years later in 1998. Obviously a lot more has happened since 98 such as Virginblue in Australia but we will have to wait for the sequel for that. This is a brilliant book which is as enjoyable as the great financial fictional thrillers like Harry Bingham's the Money Makers and Maxx Barry's Syrup. This is so mush more inspiring when you realise Branson is not a fictional character and these achievements are real. This book will inspire you to get out there and make money. Buy it!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on November 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Now with the caveat that this is Branson's view of how he got to where he is today, I found this book to be a terrific read. In my mind, 'Losing My Virginity' perfectly encapsulates the way a leader is supposed to think and act.
Ever heard Branson speak in public? He's surprisingly shy, ill-at-ease, and not all that eloquent. But the guy works hard every day at crafting his vision and pushing it forward one day at a time. That's the genius of this book - Branson shows us the method he's used to succeed and admits that there's no great genius involved, but a heck of a lot of perserverance, determination...and a fair degree of flair!
My caveat at the beginning? If you want a very different viewpoint of Branson's career, check out Tim Jackson's excellent "Virgin King."
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