Losing My Virginity details Richard Branson’s meteoric rise to success and digs into what made him the adventurous, fun-loving, daring entrepreneur he is today and what lessons you can learn about business from him.
I was startled when I just found out that this book was originally published in 1998. I never would’ve thought that even Sir Richard Branson had done THIS much by age 48. Magazines, record stores, labels, signing artists, airlines, balloon races, islands, the list goes on and on. It’s tougher to find something the man hasn’t done than what he’s already been through.
Today, at age 65, his sense of adventure and his love for life itself keep him as young and vibrant as ever. Most recently he’s pledged $3 billion to fight climate change. Needless to say, there’s a lesson or two to learn from this man.
Since the blinks and book mostly detail specific adventures, I thought I’d take one step back and look at which general lessons you can learn about entrepreneurship and life from the way he does things.
Here are 3 lessons to keep in mind when losing your business virginity:
- Don’t feel bad if you haven’t been born and bred as an entrepreneur.
- Always look out for the next thing, but take it one adventure at a time.
- The number one skill you should practice is creativity.
Ready for some adventures in the world of business? Screw it, let’s do it!
Lesson 1: Don’t feel bad if you haven’t been born and bred as an entrepreneur.
With the way Richard Branson was raised, there’s no way he could’ve been anything else than an entrepreneur. Reading about some of the challenges his parents gave him (on purpose) as a kid, you can instantly see where he got his relaxed attitude towards taking risks from and how that made it easy for him to bet thousands, even millions of £ on a single event.
For example, when he was just 11 years old, his mum sent him to visit his grandparents, who lived 50 miles away – on a bike and without directions. Without really knowing how, he gloriously returned to his home the next day, feeling like a champ, only to be told that some logs of wood were waiting to be chopped.
There are stories like this about many well-known entrepreneurs, like Gary Vaynerchuk, Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sam Walton. The bigger lesson here is: Don’t let yourself get discouraged if your parents didn’t instill a sense of entrepreneurship in you.
Thanks to the internet, even people like you and me, who just exhibit entrepreneurial tendencies, and are not pure-bred entrepreneurs, who completely sucked in school and couldn’t bear to work for someone else, can have their own, thriving business. The road might be a little different and maybe longer, but it doesn’t disqualify you from the race.
Lesson 2: Always be on the lookout for what’s next, but keep things one adventure at a time.
As I read through the blinks, I noticed something. Richard Branson is one of the most adventurous entrepreneurs out there and many of his now successful companies began with challenges that were completely outside of the scope of business, like his airline, Virgin Atlantic.
When visiting Necker Island as part of a ruse to impress his future wife (he snatched an all expenses paid for trip by claiming to be interested in buying the island, which he had no money to do so), his return flight to Puerto Rico was cancelled. After chartering a plane for $2,000 and selling out all seats on it for $39 a piece, he not only had his flight home free of charge, but also booked out the very first flight he’d ever offered.
Oh and after being thrown off the island for making a low-ball offer of £150,000 for what should cost £3 million, he ended up getting that island a year later for £180,000, because the seller needed money.
Many of his adventures first seem unrelated and thus you might feel he just has his hands in everything, all the time, and that’s why he’s so successful. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Branson is always on the lookout for the next opportunity, but when he seizes one, he seizes it with all he’s got. Only when his magazine business was a success did he start the mail order business. Only when that took off did he start opening record stores. And so on.
So keep your eyes open, but don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking you can do many things at once. One adventure at a time, that’s how you build an empire.
Lesson 3: Practice being creative every single day.
The only reason so many of Richard Branson’s businesses work out is that he sees profits where most people don’t even see business. He turns his own quagmire into cash, and the only way you can do that is by being incredibly creative.
The truth is most people could not have thought of renting a plane and selling the seats when they were stuck on that remote island, because they wouldn’t have been creative enough by the time they were in the situation.
You can’t make up stuff like this on the spot, unless you’ve practiced the creativity you need way before even getting there.
Therefore, if there’s one thing you should take away from Richard Branson, it’s practicing your creative muscles, every single day. Social media makes this really easy, and being creative on there every day could even make you rich. James Altucher’s practice of writing down 10 ideas a day is a great start.
My personal take-aways
I could go and on. Reading about Richard Branson’s life is too much fun. The focus is on the story and tell many great stories. It’s a very long summary too, so this is really well worth the time spent reading, and many of the examples stick, because they’re so catchy. If you don’t know the first thing about him, this is the place to start learning.
The book is a whopping 600+ pages, so the summary gives you an easy in before diving deeper.