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Losing My Virginity: The Autobiography - Sir Richard Branson

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  • Not fully believable.
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      17.06.2012 15:28
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      A brilliantly written autobiography of an unconventional entrepreneur

      This book wonderfully encapsulates the life of Richard Branson from when he was a little boy to present day and also gives you an idea of his personality and how it came to be.
      You can never really judge someone from reading newspapers, magazine excerpts, watching a few interviews, etc without reading their autobiography as it is their chance to try tell you their story of their life and hope that what you gain from it is an understanding of how they work and why they do the things they do on life.

      This autobiography is an interesting read as I've always been familiar with the Virgin brand (you see it everywhere) but have never realised what kind of man Sir Richard Branson is and how involved and personal he was within the brand he created.

      The book isn't split up into proper defining phases because everything happens in an overlap but I will try outline the main phases in each paragraph.

      His childhood: where he starts by describing his family background and history (because you know, smart brains ARE inherited) and how he was taught and disciplined by his parents to always challenge himself. You could tell that from an early age he was a challenger and risk taker and tried hard to defy odds that were stacked against him and from there on developed into an ambitious man who lived for the moment by going ahead and setting up a business and learning in the process the wrongs and rights in business. He seems like the type of person who really places trust in his friendships and colleagues and know how to pick the best people in this team.
      Throughout this stage he details his love for women (he seems a real charmer with women) and the two women he fell in love with but which one he found he REALLY loved in the end.

      His struggle to make Virgin Music a success and build a brand from it so he could take it worldwide. He starts showing interest in other businesses apart from in the music industry and does deals internationally too. The struggle to make Virgin Music a recognised label puts it on the brink of going bust because of the dilemma that the company was surviving so close to the edge in terms of loans from the bank that needed repaying but they couldn't repay because they needed the cash to reinvest to build extra capital.
      But finally their hard work and effort pays off and Virgin Music eventually becomes a competitor alongside EMI.

      His ballooning adventures happened in the midst of trying to run a company that had its ups and downs and describes how he got hooked into the adrenaline of ballooning in order to break world records. This part is a real eye opener as it in detail how dangerous it was and all the technical expertise that was put into the process. I didn't even know that balloons could go so far up into the jet stream!

      Then comes the part where he sets up Virgin Atlantic and goes head to head against BA. Up until then BA was a monopoly in the industry and it tries to squeeze Virgin Atlantic out of business. BA takes up all sorts of unethical tactics to do so. Reading this part at first made it really unbelievable as the years in which this happened, I was only a young child so I wasn't really aware of the news world. I couldn't believe that such a big company would adopt such lowly tactics to push their competitor out! But he backs up his claims with actual names and stories of the public to support his claims of BA trying to personally snatch customers from Virgin Atlantic.
      At this point VM is on the brink of collapse and it forces him to sell Virgin Records to help him support VA financially.
      In the end he ends up suing BA and ultimately wins out.

      After this long battle and having lots of money in the bank now to retire and live a good life, he instead chooses to do other business ventures. It seems his idea of fun in life lies in doing business and that is what makes him truly a business man and entrpreneur. To love what he does and to see what he does as something to love!
      The book goes on throughout the next chapters to describe what he does to the present day and summarises his way of doing business, his way of thinking very well. He is always never in one place and constantly looks for business opportunities no matter how big or small and goes for it.

      Overall I really recommend this book for people who don't really know who Richard Branson is (I didn't prior to reading this, I just knew he was the guy behind the Virgin brand) and wonders why he's so famous and also to those who have a genuine interest in business as it will surely give a few tips of wisdom, inspiration and also fun read along the way.

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      20.11.2010 16:33
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      Diary of a madly ambitious man

      Sir Richard Branson is one of those people who polarises opinion. You either see him a perfect example of an entrepreneur in a free market economy or a massive show off.

      This book gives a wonderful example of both those polemic views and allows you to make your own mind up. Obviously the Virginity in the title refers to his Virgin empire rather than anything else (Although he does narrate a few of his awkward teenage adventures that are both amusing and quite sweet).

      The book follows Branson from his childhood to his current position as head of a global empire, detailing his signing of high level musical artists, his battles with British Airways and many other issues that he has had to overcome through hard work or lateral vision. The book is a really good read and well worth checking out, whether you like the guy or not.

      The book, is detailed and flows through a number of eras, I wouldn't be surprised if at some stage it were made into a drama as it is exciting, has loads of famous names, has cutthroat business, romance and lots of loose ends, as well as adventure.

      The book really fits into three sections, the early life and how Mr Branson came to be an entrepreneur, the second stage is building Virgin from scratch and the up's and down's of this, finally we have the present day and some of the death defying stunts he tries to achieve new goals.

      The book is interesting, inspiring and very good fun, i'd recommend it to anyone with ambition or desire to be more than they are. Well worth a read.

      Its available for 1p on Amazon Marketplace so it really is worth checking out.

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      19.06.2010 18:01
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      A great read - like him or loathe him!

      There are those who think that Richard Branson (or should I say Sir Richard Branson) can do no wrong. I personally do not fall into this category of person. However as a person who admires (okay envies) those who have made a lot of money, this was a book I felt I had to read.

      The book starts off with Richard Branson as a young boy. It follows his early adventures, and gives a background to his parents. I must say for a 'self made' Billionaire, he did have a bit of a bump up, in early life.

      His parents were quite well off, and his father was a Barrister. His family were rich enough to send Richard to a private boarding school. To me this just confirmed how the Richard Branson story, was far from 'Rags to Riches'.

      I would guess there aren't too many people who had such a great start, who fell off the path to riches. Maybe not as rich, as Branson, but certainly in the wealthy elite.

      His Mother was even there to offer her house as security, when he was arrested and charged for tax evasion in the early seventies. It was only an out of court settlement for £60,000 that stopped him from being tried in court, and escaping a jail sentence. I think you'll agree 60k at that time was a huge amount of cash!

      The book itself goes into a lot of detail of his early life. How he would struggle starting up new businesses. One thing that did shine through, is how much fun he had whilst he was doing it. Even his closest friends and business colleagues said what a great time they had.

      His determination also came through in abundance, and he was also very good at spotting great opportunities. This was helped make him a brilliant entrepreneur.

      Most of early business years were spent on building the virgin record stores. The book goes into a great deal of detail on how he made vast sums of money. So much so, he could buy his own country retreat, and start his own record label. It then covers the bands he signed up, and how he made this label, into a highly profitable business.

      Another interesting part of the book I found, was building his own Airline. The risks involved were immense, and could have literally brought his companies to their knees. Fortunately for him, all worked out okay in the end. However the ups and downs were written, for all to read.

      As well as touching on his business life, it also touches on his personal life. Richard had a charming personality, and this is something he was happy to put forward, when ladies were around. His personal life was in no way boring, and he was certainly not short of offers from the opposite sex.

      Another very interesting part of the book, was how Branson would do almost anything to create publicity for himself and his companies. Not only would he be adventurous and have Virgin plastered all over his hobby of flying (and trying to break records) in a hot air balloon, he would be keen to court publicity in any way possible.

      His publicity driven ego would stop at nothing. In 1977 when he had the Sex Pistols on his record label, and they brought out a song 'God Save the Queen', it was banned on airwaves throughout the UK. Branson was not to let this stop him 'He hit on the idea of hiring a boat down the Thames, performing their songs as they passed the Houses of Parliament and sailed under the bridges of London' The whole boat trip was prematurely ended when the boat was stormed by Police.

      Most of this book covered his earlier life, upto about 40, and it was a really interesting read. I understand the recent releases have been updated, so will probably cover his last 15 years or so. However Branson has been more quiet in recent years, and I have no doubt, they have not been as entertaining as his earlier ones.

      For those with a desire, to find out more about Branson, and his business ventures. His successes and failures (yes he had failures). Then this is a must read. Quite a long one too, at circa 500 pages.

      Copyright stebiz 2010 - also on ciao.co.uk

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        12.01.2010 14:08
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        Possibly the most inspiring autobiography I have read thus far

        Having met Mr Branson in 2003, I became interested in how he'd got where he is today. This autobiography tells a very interesting story of a very clever, well brought up and entrepenurial genius. He discloses his upbringing, how he started out his empire by writing and selling a student magazine within his school. He started, as a side buisness to this, Virgin Music, in his unique buisness style he built it all up with everything he made. The biography tells about many a challenge he has carried out, including his record breaking journeys round the world on ballons and other crafts. Whilst telling a unique story of his life, he also teaches the reader many a valuable lesson, not just aimed at potential entrapeneurs, but also aimed at people to aid them in life in general. Whether you like him or loathe him, you can't help but admire the story this man has to tell, and all he has achieved from nothing basically. In fact, his very words to me when I met him were "never give up on anything, and never be scared to try anything, I started off as a penniless 19 year old"

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        09.09.2009 11:54
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        Fascinating, well-written and very candid this is an exceptionally good read

        Whether you love him or you hate him, there's no arguing with the fact that Sir Richard Branson is a very gifted entrepreneur. I had no real opinion on him as a person before I read this book, but I was fascinated by just how he has managed to become so sucessful.

        This book tells the story of Sir Richard Branson's life right through from his childhood. Everything is covered in it from the early days of Virgin Music to his exploits in hot air balloons and boats. I read the original 1998 edition which disappointingly finished in 1993. However an updated edition was published in 2007 which covers, amongst other things, September 11th, the Iraq War, the flotation of Virgin Mobile and the creation of the new space travel venture Virgin Galactic.

        I found this to be an absolutely fascinating book and was hooked all the way through. I was not expecting this book to be so interesting but instead found that there was not a boring sentence in it; it grabs your attention at the beginning and keeps you interested throughout.

        Losing My Virginity is written very candidly although perhaps too candidly at times. The phrase, 'too much information' springs to mind at certain points of the book (the title of the book should give you a clue to one of these!)

        However, the book does not reveal many secrets about building up a successful company. The Virgin group seemed to grow very quickly from a tiny business just starting out to the diverse range of businesses it is today. Its reputation grew quickly and I was left wondering exactly how Richard Branson became so successful because the book really did not give me any clues. I was left wanting more information on his business dealings although the chapters on his other exploits such as ballooning and sailing, were amazing. The chapters dealing with the lawsuit against British Airways were especially compelling because you are given an inside (albeit one-sided) perspective on events that made headline news.

        Since this book was published, Sir Richard Branson has written two further books, 'Screw It Let's Do It: Lessons in Life' first published in 2006 and 'Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur' first published in 2008. As far as I can tell without reading them, the first is a sort of motivational book with examples from the Virgin businesses as case studies. The second is currently in my pile of books to read so hopefully that will provide me with what I felt I was missing out on in this book.

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          02.06.2005 13:31
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          • "Not fully believable."

          Like a virgin, told for the very first time,
          But it’s verging, on a white wash, not quite the truth.

          If you think that is a bastardisation of a Madonna song, then wait until you read this book and see a fabricated “fluffy” look at a person’s lifestyle.

          Yes, yes, yes! I know he can not tell all on grounds of self-incrimination no doubt, but come on Richard, all that is missing is Alice and the White Rabbit!

          Okay, this book is well written if I am honest with you, but by that I mean well formatted and easy to read. It covers the life of Richard Branson from his childhood through to his many achievements in life, but mainly focussing on his Virgin records days. Some interesting stories come up. None more than the Tubular Bells formation and implementation from concept to reclusive artist and, well lots more, but the I am not in the habit of spoiling books, so I wont be revealing much about the content.

          What I enjoyed about this book was how simple and easy the reading was. Flying from London to Orlando, I found it hard to put this book down even with the 6 movie choices available to me for the flight. Some biographies tend to be a bit nonchalant and focus on what the author wants rather than the reader, but this one is quite intriguing in the fact it is geared. I mean that you start of in first gear, casually reading the lines, then it kicks up to second gear and you start visualising the story, and it’s not long before the book is in top gear and has you mesmerised, but not quite for all the right reasons.

          Although Richard is truthful about what he did in his past life, mainly the emotional side and his personal life, I hind of got the notion he swept a lot under the rug and fluffed up the pillows a bit. He has at times referred to himself as a loveable rogue, and I am sure that there are some people out there reading his work who would love to add their version of events.

          This book is quite long and takes a fair amount of time to read, not quite a fit inside your top pocket paperback, but most definitely a book to take on a long journey.

          To summarise, a good, if slightly touched up read which becomes an adventure rather than factual material, yet enjoyable and a must for anyone wanting a bit of insight into Britain’s best entrepreneur.

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            15.12.2001 06:02
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            So, another rags to riches tale....but what a tale! This book is very gripping and I completley admire 'Sir' Richard for his honesty. Many times I have read biographies where the person in question makes himself/herself out to be the victim, but Richard Branson has not glorified anything in this book, just told it how it was. There is also a lot of humour in it too, I found the story about his girlfriend having an asthma attack while they were making love very very funny (he thought she was wheezing from pleasure)! The way it is written makes you truly belive you were there, he desribes things with just enough detail, but too much so you get bored! I was very shocked with a lot of it, especially the whole British Airways saga. I doubt very much I would fly BA again, not just because of Richard Branson, but because I would'nt feel comfortable flying with such a company that could sink so low because they had a little competition in the air. When Richard Branson talks about money, he's very frank, facts and figures all written down, and how he was in debt. Conclusion: a fantastic read, definitley reccomend it to anyone - I couldn't put it down!

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              26.05.2001 00:16
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              You may love him, you may hate him, but read this book and learn what makes this extraordinary man tick. It's a bit embarrassing to admit, but I found it quite inspiring. Branson is no respector of reputations and refuses to submit to anyone. Half the reason he launched Virgin Cola is because the accepted wisdom was that Pepsi and Coca Cola were unshakable. Read the frenetic narrative, believe you too can do anything, then go and try to conquer the world. This book does funny things to you, promise.

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                12.09.2000 02:44
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                Here really is an unmissable read. The astouding life of an exciting person, with a lifestyle so many of us envy. Every page of this is enticing and incredible. You must read every bit, think about every adventure and discover what you could do to be so famous and rich. This book has tought me so much about careers, ambition and reality. Is worth every penny, you'll love it and you'll wish you could be Richard Branson.

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                  09.09.2000 00:31
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                  This auto-biography by Sir Richard Branson follows his life from his early boarding school years to his present life in the boardroom.It includes the ups and downs of his life and the events that made him what he is today.It is very well written with events that make you want to both laugh and cry. It's critics would call it biased but as an auto-biography this is hard to avoid.However if you bear in mind that all the events portrayed are from his perspective then you should comoensate for this bias. A good read that I would recommend to anyone with a casual eniterest in either Richard Branson or the Virgin Empire.

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