69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2005
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. Towards the middle, he gives a passionate account of his devotion towards music. His other great passion, adventure (some of which have been near-death experiences), is also dealt with in detail. Branson's love for ballooning, which he calls the most exhilarating of all sports, got him an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records, a real tribute to his daredevilry.
Branson's tale is novel, and is filled with instances of courage, the courage to break away from tradition. At age 16, Branson started a student's magazine and then ventured into music, which was a big hit. Richard Branson recounts this as a sad moment in his life when he had to sell Virgin Records to Thorn EMI in order to keep a floundering Virgin Atlantic Airways afloat. Today, apart from Virgin Atlantic, the Virgin Group owns Virgin Cola, Virgin Vie, Virgin Brides, Virgin Mega-stores and many more such ventures, which cater to everything any person would want in his daily life. Now, after conquering the world, he wants to fly you to space.
I would hate to spoil the read for you, so suffice it to say that LOSING MY VIRGINITY is a real, inspirational story that can only be told by the man himself. Such is the popularity of this book that it has become a byword for 'What they don't teach you at Business Schools'. From another perspective, it is a comic recollection of life's ups and downs juxtaposed with anecdotes about rock stars, politicians, friends and foes.
One finds no moral story in the end, no grandfatherly advice to the young blood. Instead, one is left with a deep feeling of admiration and a constant mulling over his adventures. If you ever want to know how much a single guy can achieve with "talent, initiative and good ideas", read this book. It comes as close to providing the real experience as any book can, and for this reason alone it should be coveted.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2007
This book is fantastic. It's written by a man, who has achieved so much more than we, the readers, have achieved. He leads the Virgin empire with a lot of honesty, integrity, and fun. His life is truly inspirational and very educational.
In a nutshell, one can become a peer of Richard Branson's when one:
1. Never accepts "no" for an answer
2. Tries everything at least once
3. Lives life to the fullest one day at a time
4. Challenges the status quo
5. Loves his family and friends more than everything else
6. Embraces competition
7. Works, works, works
8. Grows, grows, grows
9. Has fun
If we all do these 10 things, the world would be a paradise. Richard Branson has clearly created his own paradise with Virgin. God bless him.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2005
"Losing my virginity" is an entertaining page-turner all the way from the beginning to the end. It is fascinating to read about what a mildly dyslexic man with no college education could create for himself.
Richard Branson is a man with a zest for life and all its challenges. Fun lies at the core of everything he does. The best part is he makes money doing what he does. His social circle includes a wide variety of people that include his small-town neighbours, Peter Gabriel, Queen Noor and Rod Stewart. The book includes the birth of Virgin records, Branson's daredevil ballooning adventures, his legal battle with British Airways, and experiences that I truly wish were personal experiences.
It will leave you hooked all the way until the end. Every guy that reads this will wish that this is the life he could lead - definitely the European dream.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
If you are familiar with Richard Branson's story, you may know how one of his teachers famously said that he would either "be in jail or be a millionaire" by the age of 25. It has taken me a while to be able to articulate my thoughts towards this, but having recently read the rather excellent Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Talem I think I can now put my finger on it. If you read this book you will learn a few things about how to treat employees well, how to build a consistent brand that retains its essence across wildly divergent industries, and how to live an exciting life. It just didn't live up to the really high expectations friends set for me.
Branson is undoubtedly a talented entrepreneur, and one can't help but admire how he has dedicated the latter part of his life to social issues. One thing I love about him is his naivety when it comes to doing good. As the saying goes, when you don't know something is impossible it all of the sudden becomes a lot less daunting and achievable. I think he has, or in the process of proving many "experts" wrong when it comes to things as far ranging as saving endangered species and creating a commercial space tourism company (which in the long-term, along with Space X, will do much to benefit human kind).
Despite this, there are several points in Branson's story where I can't help but think that if one of the many possible alternatives were to have taken place, he would have been wiped out in a manner that would have been difficult to recover from. Whether in reference to his ballooning adventures, or how some Virgin companies were saddled with very heavy debt, one can't help but wonder how much his success (and current good health) are owed to luck. If there were 100 alternative versions of reality, Branson may very well have ended up in jail or broke in dozens of them. However, knowing him he would probably be okay with that.
If you are a fan of business biographies, two others I preferred are Peak by Chip Conley, and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. If you want to learn about entrepreneurship, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is one of the best books out there on the subject.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2007
This is one very good book for young people who are searching for the entrepreneur in themselves. He explains and describes in detail what he was going through and how his mind worked in his early years when he was building his businesses. And also, how he enjoyed his life while doing all these things. He illustrates few unique qualities... having fun while working, taking risks like a maniac... and most importantly, fearlessness.
I assume the story here is genuine and there are so many things that the reader will learn. Basically, this book changed my life.
One limiting thing in this book is that there is not enough details about his recent achievements and businesses. They are all explained in a hurry. The people who want to know every thing up to the point of the writing this book will be little disappointed. Thats why I've given one star less.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
‘Losing My Virginity’ by Richard Branson is an autobiography of this prominent businessman who thanks to his unique philosophy succeeded in everything he touched turn into a successful business, even managing to enter into the Guinness Book of World Records due to his passionate love for ballooning.
When Richard Branson together with his friends decided to start his first business, they agreed that since they are complete virgins at doing business, they should call themselves like that. Lot of time passed since then, and in meantime inside his business empire called Virgin Group more than 400 companies are incorporated dealing with all possible kinds of business ventures such as publishing, record business, transport companies, health care, telecommunications, tourism, food and beverages.
Since his beginnings Branson had a different philosophy and views on business management - he wanted to be globally present, and yet not to be a slave to rigid forms of business, avoiding the bureaucracy, hierarchy, centralization, and encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and ideas that seemed difficult or impossible to achieve.
In his book, that is quite extensive and filled with many interesting stories, just like his life, ordered in a chronological order, reader enjoys from the beginning to the end, while even those readers who may not be familiar with his life or conglomerate which he established will become interested for his story at very beginning of the book.
During the reading you’ll realize in many ways that Branson is British, rather than coming from another culture, he reveals his honesty, courage and passion for business, but still he is unobtrusive, not blatant and doesn’t put himself in the center, although anyone who listened or watched him can see him as synonym for the new age of entrepreneurship, that is unfortunately still not so common.
The book was written in entertaining style, full of humor that makes it easy to read and interesting even for the people that are not interested in the business part of the story at all; therefore reader should not need to be scared by book thickness because due to the interesting topics from the past that Branson vividly evokes the pages literally go one after another. I read somewhere funny comment about the book – It’s heavy but impossible to put down – and I fully agree with that.
As a great add-on that makes this book even more recommended is more than 100 photos that can be found on the pages of the book, both black and white and in color, which nicely complement to the topics of the author’s story.
The end of story is really a great conclusion when Branson having done everything that could be done on Earth, wants to go a step further and help mankind to travel into space.
‘Losing My Virginity’ is a book that everyone young in age or business experience should read because of plenty of ideas offered on its pages, but primarily interesting are the author’s reflections which are invaluable and provide a lot to think about. Therefore this inspiring and interesting autobiography of Richard Branson adventures can certainly be recommended.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2008
lovely in-flight reading. makes you aware of the possibilities in life and encourages/convinces you to take the entrepreneurial route. i wanted to rate it 4 or 5 stars but amazon doesnt allow me to change it. However, amazon "does" allow me to change the text of the review. weird.
A very detailed account of an average-intelligence, highly successful entrepreneur who did not go to college. Not like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg who dropped out. Branson skipped it entirely!
Proves the point that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to make a significant positive impact on the world. Plus its more fun to read than Michael Dell's biography.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2005
It was a great inspiration to me as an entrepneur, abeit not so successful. Nevetheless, I enjoyed it so much I have suggested to many friends and employees that they read this one! His life has been a great adventure, a great inspiration to experience life to the fullest. Let every moment count.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Sex, drugs, and rock n' roll. Normally, you associate those words with a rock star or movie star, but a businessman? In "Losing My Virginity", which is Sir Richard Branson's (auto)biography, Richard Branson tells the (true) story of his life from early adolescence to (almost) present day. Along the way, he tells stories of several affairs with women, hilarious and sad moments, brash and daring moves/acts, witnessing the rise of several, popular British rock bands, name-dropping (hey, if you were there in his position with famous people/celebrities/rock stars, you'd do the same, so don't knock it)., etc. To put it simply, but complexly, this book reads like a Hollywood movie/script and reminded me of the movies "Catch me if you can" and "The wolf of wall street".
I must admit, the beginning of this book starts off with Richard Branson travelling (I won't give it away) that made me think "This guy's a wasteful vagabond who doesn't deserve the luck, fame, and fortune he has", but after the initial, questionable chapter/introduction, this book became very interesting and, I must admit again, I did not want to stop reading (it was addictive, much like the drugs mentioned in this book). If you're looking for a review and advice on the subject of this book and whether or not you should buy this book, the answer is "Yes". Although this book does not give step-by-step advice on how to start a business, what licenses to obtain, etc., it does give (quick) tidbits of information (but not deep, detailed information) on how Richard Branson started his Virgin businesses. If you're looking to start a business and want step-by-step advice, you're better off taking a business class in college/university or reading a "how to start a business" book. Anyway, if one word could sum up this book it would be (to borrow from the show "How I met your mother") "Awesome!".
Some people hate Richard Branson. Some people love, respect, and admire Richard Branson. Whatever the case may be, this book is an inspiring book/story of one of the greatest (if not the greatest) modern-day entrepreneurs ever to live on this planet and belongs on the list of the top 20 most influential and important books in history (some of the other books/tomes include: The Bible, Tuesdays with Morrie, 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, Candide, etc.).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2013
Truly one of the most courageous businessmen of our time. The book is filled with inspirational screw-it-lets-do-it stories of going with your gut. Trying to fly around the world with a hot air balloon or renting a jumbo to form a new airline on a shoestring are just some of the exciting ventures Branson describes.
I hoped a bit more insight for the business side of things. There was some crumbs of Branson-way-of-business such as:
- employees first - customers second and the profits will come.
- Use the brand to venture widely and hedge against market fluctuations instead of the norm of trying to be the global leader at one thing.
- Small units keep the motivation when people can see the results of their work
of course this was not even supposed to be a business book...
The biggest downside of the book was the "auto" in autobiography. Branson says he is really avoiding confrontation in his human relations - this seems to include himself. It would have been nice to get a glimpse of the dark side of things as well.