Easily one of the best biographies i have read, Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson is an easy read. Not too complicated by the jargons of business, Branson writes in his own easy way about how he built a multi billion pound business after having started off life as a dyslexic child.
Yup, its tough to believe that a man who lives such a colourful life, flies over the pacific and atlantic oceans in a balloon, jumps off planes, does all kinds of wierd stunts to keep his business in news was dyslexic as a kid. He had trouble reading, was one of the worst student in class. But started off his life running a music store, which moved on to record label (Virgin music), music business to one of the most loved airlines in the world (Virgin Atlantic) to running a telecom company (Virgin telecom) to tens of other business.
The book starts off with his exploits on trying to cross the Atlantic in a balloon where he cheats death to his childhood life and then to his music business where his label published such world class music groups like the Rolling Stones, Phil Collins, Janet Jackson etc.
The dirty tricks that British Airways use to discredit, defame and try to kill the small and fledging Virgin Atlantic is also described in vivid detail. The end of which Branson sues the whole top brass of British Airways and gets not only monetary compensation, but also an unreserved apology from the British Ariways brass.
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
Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
Author – Richard Branson
Pages – 416
Publisher – Crown Business