Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
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"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.
Branson.’ ‘Yes, sir. I mean, no, sir.’ I was trouble – and always in trouble. Aged eight I still couldn’t read. In fact, I was dyslexic and short-sighted. Despite sitting at the front of the class, I couldn’t read the blackboard. Only after a couple of terms did anyone think to have my eyes tested. Even when I could see, the letters and numbers made no sense at all. Dyslexia wasn’t deemed a problem in those days, or, put more accurately, it was only a problem if you were dyslexic yourself.
commitment to Virgin Music would damage the value of my shareholding. His heart wasn’t in the business any more, and he seemed more interested in his own personal projects. Virgin Atlantic was having an extremely hard time competing with British Airways. Our engineering teams were now driving three or four times a day between Heathrow and Gatwick to service each flight, and if a flight was delayed at one airport it had a knock-on effect in the other. Will had heard that Lord King was going
Chris Hutchins had come to Holland Park to see me on Sunday evening, 27 October 1991, and I sensed that he was caught in a dilemma. The following day he was due to have lunch at the Savoy with Brian Basham. I wanted him to go to the lunch with a hidden microphone to record whatever Brian Basham had to say. This would be vital proof. I also wanted Chris to give me a transcript of the telephone conversation he’d had with Brian Basham on Thursday. He was reluctant on both counts. ‘Look at what BA
they are now ready to become part of the wider world. For whatever reason, we were extremely grateful. They were the last political headache we had to face before heading home. We now had ‘only’ the biggest ocean in the world to cross – 5,200 miles of the Pacific, America, and then the Atlantic Ocean. After everything that had happened, in the first five days we had only travelled a third of the way around the world. The Pacific has claimed many other hot-air balloonists who have attempted a
to use the new form of transport, aeroplanes, and everyone forgot about the Hales Trophy. In 1980 a powerboat builder called Ted Toleman decided to resurrect the Blue Riband competition and attempt to win the Hales Trophy back for Britain. In order to do so, he would have to build a boat that could cross the Atlantic in less than 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes. The SS United States was a truly impressive ship: she weighed 52,000 tons and needed 240,000 horsepower to shift her. The speed record