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Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
"Oh, screw it, let's do it."
That's the philosophy that has allowed Richard Branson, in slightly more than twenty-five years, to spawn so many successful ventures. From the airline business (Virgin Atlantic Airways), to music (Virgin Records and V2), to cola (Virgin Cola), to retail (Virgin Megastores), and nearly a hundred others, ranging from financial services to bridal wear, Branson has a track record second to none.
Losing My Virginity is the unusual, frequently outrageous autobiography of one of the great business geniuses of our time. When Richard Branson started his first business, he and his friends decided that "since we're complete virgins at business, let's call it just that: Virgin." Since then, Branson has written his own "rules" for success, creating a group of companies with a global presence, but no central headquarters, no management hierarchy, and minimal bureaucracy.
Many of Richard Branson's companies--airlines, retailing, and cola are good examples--were started in the face of entrenched competition. The experts said, "Don't do it." But Branson found golden opportunities in markets in which customers have been ripped off or underserved, where confusion reigns, and the competition is complacent.
And in this stressed-out, overworked age, Richard Branson gives us a new model: a dynamic, hardworking, successful entrepreneur who lives life to the fullest. Family, friends, fun, and adventure are equally important as business in Branson's life. Losing My Virginity is a portrait of a productive, sane, balanced life, filled with rich and colorful stories:
Crash-landing his hot-air balloon in the Algerian desert, yet remaining determined to have another go at being the first to circle the globe
Signing the Sex Pistols, Janet Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Boy George, and Phil Collins
Fighting back when British Airways took on Virgin Atlantic and successfully suing this pillar of the British business establishment
Swimming two miles to safety during a violent storm off the coast of Mexico
Selling Virgin Records to save Virgin Atlantic
Staging a rescue flight into Baghdad before the start of the Gulf War . . .
And much more. Losing My Virginity is the ultimate tale of personal and business survival from a man who combines the business prowess of Bill Gates and the promotional instincts of P. T. Barnum.
Also available in the UK from Virgin Publishing, and in Canada from General Publishing,
From the Hardcover edition.
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¡ªand 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