Otis Chandler's Reviews > Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
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Jul 26, 12

bookshelves: nonfiction, autobiography, biography, business
Recommended to Otis by: Darius
Read from July 01 to 22, 2012

I learned two major things from this book: the power of branding, and the fact that Richard Branson has balls of solid steel.

Branson is one of the great entrepreneurs of our era, and it was truly inspiring to hear his story in his own words. A kid who skipped college and dove straight into business, and time and time again proved he can succeed with a lot of will, determination, and his maverick ability to take big bets and win. Bransons' success is nothing short of inspirational.

I had no idea until reading this how powerful the Virgin brand is, or how many businesses they have gone into. They effectively function like a VC, except they also lend their brand (and perhaps some infrastructure too). Each business is a subsidiary, given its leaders the freedom to move fast and achieve their goals without being slown down by needing permission from the mother ship. This is brilliant. Many of the businesses also complement each other in profitable ways - such as how Virgin Travel and Virgin Atlantic complemented each other.

Branson is a risk-taker. When Virgin Records was about to run out of cash, instead of scraping what he had left to limp on, he scraped it together to make a big bet. It's kind of like going all-in in poker when your chips are getting low - better than losing slowly!

"I have always believed that the only way to cope with a cash crisis is not to contract but to try to expand out of it."

But the difference with Branson is that he didn't take the risks blindly. When he started the airlines he spent considerable effort leasing the airline for 1 year and limiting his downside.

It is only by being bold that you get anywhere. If you are a risk-taker, then the art is to protect the downside."

One thing I loved about Branson, is he was not afraid to bluff. This was first illustrated early in the book when, learning about a plot to force him out of Student, he acted pre-emptively and told the leader that he had already switched the teams mind - when instead he had no idea how far along the plot actually was. We see this time and time again - Branson is able to divine where things are going, and negotiate on points he isn't even wholly sure about.

Branson detailed a lot of his crazy ballooning adventures, which I wasn't so into. I wanted to hear how he built Virgin. Although I did appreciate that his passion for ballooning did lead to several advances in airplane technology.

The end of the book went into a lot of detail of how Branson is giving back to the world - which I respect a lot - any billionaire worth their salt should do that, but it was great to see him embrace the challenges with the same zeal he embrace business. From climate change to Virgin Fuel to Virgin Galactic, Branson is thinking hard about our planet and where its going and how to get us there. And of course, if Virgin Fuel does well it will only help his airline business - so not a bad bet.


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Quotes Otis Liked

Richard Branson
“There have been times when I could have succumbed to some form of bribe, or could have had my way by offering one. But ever since that night in Dover prison I have never been tempted to break my vow.. My Parents always drummed into me that all you have life is your reputation: you may be very rich, but if you lose your good name you'll never be happy.”
Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

Richard Branson
“It is only by being bold that you get anywhere. If you are a risk-taker, then the art is to protect the downside.”
Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
tags: risk

Richard Branson
“I have always believed that the only way to cope with a cash crisis is not to contract but to try to expand out of it.”
Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

Richard Branson
“In the same way that I tend to make up my mind about people within thirty seconds of meeting them, I also make up my mind about whether a business proposal excites me within about thirty seconds of looking at it. I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.”
Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

Richard Branson
“Throughout my business life I have always tried to keep on top of costs and protect the downside risk as much possible. The Virgin Group has survived only because we have always kept tight control of our cash. But, likewise, I also know that sometimes it is essential to break these rules and spend lavishly.”
Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

Richard Branson
“Fun is at the core of the way I like to do business and it has been key to everything I've done from the outset. More than any other element, fun is the secret of Virgin's success. I am aware that the ideas of business as being fun and creative goes right against the grain of convention, and it's certainly not how the they teach it at some of those business schools, where business means hard grind and lots of 'discounted cash flows' and net' present values'.”
Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

Richard Branson
“What we are trying to do at Virgin is not to have one enormous company in one sector under one banner, but to have two hundred or even three hundred separate companies. Each company can stand on its own feet and, in that way, although we've got a brand that links them, if we were to have another tragedy such as that of 11 September - which hurt the airline industry - it would not bring the whole group crashing down.”
Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way


Reading Progress

07/11/2012 page 396
95.0%
07/25/2012 page 416
100.0% "Curious if these Elders still are around..."

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Gergana (new) - added it

Gergana Georgieva Great review of the book! It seems that i have to read it!


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