Friday 16 May 2014

Book review: Losing My Virginity (The Autobiography), by Richard Branson

[Post published by Liviu, on Liviu's [Personal] Blog]

During November 2010 (plus a couple of days from late October and early December) I read Losing My Virginity - The Autobiography (ISBN 0753506483), by Richard Branson [en.wikipedia: Sir Richard Branson]. It's been quite a long time, I know, but only now have I had the time to move the review from draft (which has been started in Nov 2010) to published state.

So, the founder of the Virgin Group and all Virgin-branded ventures talks about Virginity - a nice metaphor, is it not?

First things first: The story of buying the book - a rather funny one...

While being in England during September 2004, I kept looking for this book - I admired what Branson had achieved until then and was curious to read his autobiography.

However, I seemed not to find it, so in order to make myself clear to shop assistants I used sometimes to say ... you know the famous American entrepreneur? :)) I did not understand their strange faces at first, but only some 1 year later I've discovered that he was in fact British - how on Earth could have I (been so ignorant and) missed that all that time? So, I must have somewhat offended the pride of some people... it is fully understandable if some of them thought of me as some idiot tourist - they were right, weren't they? :)

Anyway, eventually chance played on my side and I found it (probably in a Virgin book store?) on Manchester Airport just when I was leaving. Hooray!

Indeed, since then it has quietly stayed on a shelf in my book case, waiting patiently for its turn to be read, which happened eventually in Nov 2010...

My review of the book

The first quarter of the book, roughly, is kind of boring & sad:
  1. unhappy & crappy childhood in my opinion
  2. stupid educational system
  3. his dyslexia made things even worse
  4. he lives a disorganized personal life as a teenager and/or young adult - there were those hippie times back then, you know... free-everything attitude
Then things take off and Branson turns into the character I've previously heard & read of. Yeah, screw it, let's do it! :))

Funny & entertaining indeed.

Branson proves himself as a skilled entrepreneur in the sense he has always had the flair to choose the people to empower and/or risk money (money which he many times had to borrow :p so to invest).

Throughout the book, he offers great insights on how:
  1. the banking/financing world works
  2. corporations work with banks in order to get more loans, increase their overdraft limit etc.
Hey, no wonder that when the crisis strikes everything collapses.
As a side note, his insights should be regarded as beginner level :) compared to seeing the financing world from inside a real finance vehicle (e.g. insurance company, investment bank etc.)

If you ask me, starting Virgin Atlantic was a rather bad choice since it drained both money & energy from him. Indeed, it turned out ok eventually, but I consider he could have spent both resources more effectively. On the other hand, this helped establish his world wide fame.

Sir Branson...

He has been knighted in 1999 [en.wikipedia: Honors], therefore we can call him Sir now. He doesn't explicitly mention this in the book I've read, although that edition has been first published in 2002 and reprinted in 2003 and 2004 (according to the info before the Contents page) and the last chapter, i.e. 29th, Virgin territory covers the 1993+ years, therefore he should have mentioned it there, shouldn't he? Maybe he doesn't want to brag with it? There is a subtle mention in the book, though - after page 470, on the 4th page from the cluster of pictures, the bottom half page picture shows him with his children holding his Knight Bachelor insignia [en.wikipedia: Knight Bachelor] with the caption A family day out at the Buckingham Palace! Very subtle, indeed :)

Although I've started following his Google+ page [Richard Branson g+] from early stage, I must admit I'm not reading his posts too often, because I'm not interested in his day-to-day activities, but in his big scale & long term & successfull projects and in the lessons has learned throughout life, all of which best fit in a book :)

Damn, he's old now.

Thanks for sharing, Sir Branson. Thanks for the inspiration.

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