This is the first book by Richard Branson that I read, and I cannot wait to read more of his work.
This book is about Branson’s philosophy and how he applied them to his adventurous life and business life.
He is a billionaire who owns the Virgin conglomerate.
How Does It Hold Up…?
Never giving up is one of Branson’s core values, since it can help you achieve your goals headfirst. It also involves a lot of motivation to be self-reliant. I did not take kindly to the Millennial-shaming that is too common in society. Millennials are a diverse age demographic in terms of ethnicity and beliefs, and such a broad, overarching statement of “wanting everything handed to them” does not apply. That statement applies to the alt-right perfectly, but that’s a whole article in itself.
Branson is known for his multidisciplinary business portfolio, having a record label, an airline, and other ventures. The path towards these ventures had the quality of headstrongness and ardent resolve. Even the very book itself was published by a Virgin brand! Of course, while his business brand is multidisciplinary, he had to give it serious thought whether he wanted to pursue a degree in history at the age of 40.
Obviously, his eccentricity is a major component of Branson’s character. One of which involves flying a hot-air ballon across the Atlantic Ocean and buying a private island. He set out to prove how important these decisions were.
Death is a major theme in this book, for Branson gets into detail about the risks that people will take for their own creations and ambitions. It is also a prime motivator, since Branson argues that you only have “one go,” and cites his grandmother as an example.
The concept of failure provides a key point in the book, which is to never be dissuaded by failure. This happened early in his ventures of Christmas trees, since he had to learn how to recognize patterns leading to failure in order to adapt. Indeed, there were moments when he did need to make cuts, such as when he was paying a loan and having to cut personal expenses. There was also the need to sell Virgin Records to keep Virgin Airlines operational.
He talks a lot about the Gulf War and how that impacted his philosophy of doing good. I was very much surprised to see Richard Branson act as a dignitary of sorts, communicating back-and-forth between the Jordanian crown and a former British head of government.
I find it interesting how Branson wrote this book with each chapter having their own chronological order. He compares his own childhood to his life as a billionaire. He provides description of how he endured potential death during his balloon rides. Overall, the writing style can be understandable.
Branson makes differentiations when describing his philosophy on life. He splits dreams from goals, since goals are more practical and foreseeable than dreams. He also writes the difference between taking risks and gambling, since gambling, just like dreams, are unforeseeable and are beyond any planning, while risk-taking involves detailing a plan, relying on the cautionary testimony of others in the field, and setting up a contingency plan.
The creativity of Branson’s thinking that led to the Virgin conglomerate can provide a very robust theme for a starting business plan. Indeed, he did state that anyone can start a business from scratch, and the internet has made the process easier. He further writes the examples of several well-known businesses also started small, with IKEA starting from a garden shed.
I will say that a great business idea stems from a handful of precepts to live by, when it comes to the product and the consumer base. From there, everything else branches out. Branson would argue that they branch out naturally, as he himself dove headlong into risky ventures.
What I found interesting was Branson noting the unique position that wealthy people have. They prefer connections and communication if it is out of good will. This was seen when Branson was communicating with politicians and heads of state when it came to the Gulf War refugees.
This Book Adds…
…To Worldbuilding Knowledge
I can clearly envision a character like this arriving in any worldbuilding project, for he could easily bring to life any legendarium.
…To My Own
I will say that personality-wise, I have more common with his shy friend than Branson himself. Nonetheless, I can respect Branson as a man who prioritizes fun over money.
I find this book to be a good way to introduce myself more to Richard Branson. I hope to read more of his books in the near future.
- Branson, Richard. “Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons In Life.” Virgin Books. 2011.