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Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School Paperback – September 25, 2012
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About the Author
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Richard Branson is the Leonardo da Vinci of business. His unquenchable curiosity combined with contagious extroversion is the alchemy behind the 400+ successful businesses he has created. This book, consisting of 76 short essays and articles, documents the lessons he has learned. Numerous examples, most drawn from real-life experiences with people at his Virgin Group companies, are a roadmap for others in business to turbocharge their own success.
Branson's "Like a Virgin" reveals just what a huge gap exists in modern business school curriculum. Do they teach these things like this?
- A CEO needs "a certain generosity of spirit."
- "You have to protect your people."
- "You must be fearless."
- "Business favors people who, when they see a problem or injustice, try to do something about it."
- "Leaders have empathy ... for people who are affected by the business's operations."
- Show generous praise for employees caught doing something right: amp it up!
- Think big. Build small.
- "The sky is no longer the limit."
- Be very tolerant of mistakes. Move on. Give employees second chances (he did so even with a thief!)
Business should be fun. Employees are co-entrepreneurs and enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Challenge. Celebrate. Keep splitting the company into smaller businesses as it grows to avoid bureaucracy and empower employees.
There is no identifiable progression of thought to the sequence of these articles. Although each is excellent in its own right, it is difficult to identify the article's subject from the table of contents. The articles are not numbered making it a bit troublesome to reference any particlar one or to build a concordance (cross-reference) to include in, say, an Amazon review. If it were possible to deduct a half-star from the rating, this would be the reason to do so.
Some articles are thoughtful essays and others are extended responses to questions he has received from people via email and social media. Topics include how to plan a startup to maximize chances for success; how to write a compelling business plan; perfecting your pitch; raising money; dealing with customer complaints; motivating employees; dealing with partners; failure; the art of delegation; when to step aside; environmental stewardship; the war on drugs; earning customer trust; and marketing, sales and advertising.
Branson's writing style is conversational, succinct, personal and tempered by real world situations involving employees, partners, vendors and customers. His charisma seeps out of the page. His advice is very practical and for the most part consists of ideas that anyone can immediately put into practice with some modification for circumstances.
Imagine, a business book that is a "page turner." Enjoy! Five stars!
PS. Read the Foreword to the book to better understand the title of this review :)
The book is filled with commonsense; there are no "secrets" here at all. If there is anything one can get out of this is that Virgin appears to be the early prototype of the now fashionable trend, the disruptors. His company targets old established businesses and attempts to introduce new ways of serving the customer; sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. He was revolutionary with his exceptional service and experience-oriented approach ("fun-factor" as a bonus), but the new disruptors went beyond by marrying this with their technological breakthroughs like Uber or Apple. Service and quality, even culture could be copied, but technology is different, as Branson alludes to this with the discussion of the failure of Virgin Pulse. In the end, Branson is unable to explain his success beside platitudes and cliches.
I saw it somewhere that Brian Tracy has a metric: his books have the highest number of useful information per page compared to others. This record is one Branson is not getting close to surpassing any time soon.
If you have read his other books, this one is the one to skip. While the advice in this book is solid, it's repetitive after having read the other books. And while the other books had a great connection and good flow, these "short stories" do not.
Richard Branson seems like a really nice guy and his approach to business and life are simply awesome. So, buy his other books and skip this one. It is much more fun to enjoy his stories that way.
There are a lot of good nuggets of information and insights from Richard that really made me think.
Top international reviews
He gives you his billion dollar blueprint that has enable him to be serially successful at rebranding companies and offering real value by his principles of management and service.
Easy to read as it's broken down into chapter of just a few pages, sort of like mini-stories.
Admittedly not everything is of benefit, but a lot of content is beneficial on both a business and personal level. A few suggestions I have now implemented into my business.
Well worth a read.
This book says exactly what it does - it teaches you business and life lessons that you won't learn at University!