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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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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."
“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.”
“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.”
“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
Top customer reviews
This is a journey about a man who has taken his power and wealth to give back to the communities. He also teaches his employees how to think outside the box, to lead and survive on their own. Most employers try to keep their staff "trained".
Highly recommended book!
He talks about his hot air balloon adventure around the world, his boat race across the Atlantic etc.
I was fascinated by how he would look for solutions to challenges in one area and see opportunities through that for significant change or at times even a completely new venture. As an example; he couldn't raise the finance to upgrade the seat-back entertainment systems for the handful of planes of his airline at the time, so he called the CEO of Boeing to talk about it and ended up ordering 16 new planes. It was easier to finance that expansion than the simple upgrade, so Virgin found itself with the newest planes of any other airline at the time. Talk about leaps of faith!
In the latter pages he describes his growing awareness of the precarious state of our world, and realises his unique position to take tangible, constructive action. In particular, he assembled a significant group of 'Global Elders' (including Nelson Mandela and other world-changing names) to address some of these world problems and find viable solutions. I was hooked here because I have written about this extensively myself in my non-fiction book FutureQuest. Branson puts the rubber to the road himself by ensuring that all his business enterprises aim for highest possible sustainability with smallest possible ecological footprint.
I thoroughly enjoyed the read and learned valuable lessons in the process. I realised early that I needed to give this book priority time, to get the most out of it. Highly recommended.