Losing My Virginity – Sir Richard Branson.
All life is a leap of adventure. A life well lived consists of many such adventures that drive the individual out of his comforts and gives him the excitement of living to the fullest. One must make delibrate attempts at living such a life filled with excitement and fulfilment. This book is a candid account to such a life lived to the fullest by Sir Richard Branson, the man behind the Virgin group. All readers should read biographies. Isn’t it such an excitement to read the story of sucessful individuals, unfolded over tens of years, compressed into a book that can be read and understood in a few days? I find such a deal too irresistible. If you want to live your life to the fullest, something worthy of being written about, then you should read and study the stories of sucessful people. Losing My Virginity by Sir Richard Branson is such a book, which satiates such an excitement.
Sir Richard Branson is a mischeivious kid born to loving parents in the UK. His family is supportive; they instil a rebellious streak in him. He learns the art of doing real world business, while at home, doing small businesses on the fly. His first practical business journey starts with a magazine called the Student. It talks about the people interviewed, the logistics of running a magazine, selling advertising space and all the fun they have in running this magazine out of a basement. It is an enjoyable read when one understands that business is about creating something that is original, stands out from the crowd and something that one can be proud of. One should have fun along the way without losing focus on profitability.
He sets up Virgin Records – the mail order record company that sells music records. He later goes on to start his own record label – Virgin Music which produces and sells music. It acts as a platform for new musicians to make and sell their music. He explains the challenges he faced, the obstacles, the run-away successes amoungst other things which is a story worth reading. One song – Tubular Bells recorded by Mike Oldfield, makes him enough money to buy the Necker island in the Birtish Virgin islands. The book then goes on to talk about the romance he had with his girlfriend – Kristen and then his wife – Joan. It also talks about his personal life, the house boat he lived in before buying Necker, his social life. It makes for an engaging read.
Things get interesting when he considers starting an airline company – Virgin Atlantic. His decision making process and his ability to negotiate with bankers gets him to set up his airline, with just four aircraft, leased from Boeing. The book explains the bitter rivalry he has with British Airways in the airline business. It outlines the corporate greed of British Airways and gives an account of the law suits, ugly tatics and unethical practises that British Airways used, to try and put Virgin Atlantic out of business. It is vividly descriptive and provides insight about how one can effectively handle nasty competition.
The book gets very exciting to read when he talks about his fearless adventures. Sir Richard Branson is determined to win the Blue Riband back to Britain. The blue riband is a prize given by the state of Britain, to the sailer who is the fastest to cross the Atlantic Ocean. His first attempt at achieving this feat failes miserably, with his boat – the Challenger 1 going down to the bottom of the ocean, the Navy then comes to his rescue and pulls him out of the water. However, undeterred by his failure, he builds another boat, the Challenger 2 and then wins the coveted blue ribband for Britain by crossing the Atlantic in record time. The next two adventures he talks about can certainly get the reader to the edge of his seat. He talks about crossing the Atlantic Ocean and then the Pacific Ocean in a hot air ballon – a feat of risk, science and extreme adventure. And then his attempt of going around the world in a hot air ballon. He gives an exhilarating account of the events in his flight that can keep the reader hooked to the book and keep on flipping the pages. Adventures such as these – crossing the oceans in record time, crossing the oceans in a hot air ballon, or going around the world in a hot air ballon are very rare to happen in one’s life, but if just the experince of reading about such adventures is so exhilarating, one can imagine how it would be, to actually be in that capsule below that large ballon. One’s imagination would be blown apart when he reads about many such adventures detailed in the book.
The book then goes on to illustrate the diversity of businesses that the Virgin group is involved in and the story of setting up some of them. Virgin Mobile, Virgin Books and then the outragious Virgin Galactic company. The Virgin Galactic company is aimed at being one of the very few space tourism companies that would make commercial tourism to outer space practical and affordable. The book then talks about his philantropic initiatives. It goes into detail about his social interests such as solving health problems such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and other such lethal diseases in Africa. He supports and funds a research initiative to develop biofules as an alternative to the conventional fossil fuels used in airlines. He has practical concerns for the global problem of climate change and global warming and does his bit in mitigating these global issues. He then also talks about wildlife conservation, preserving the beauty of our planet for future generations and about his efforts to achieve world peace.
A life of adventure is a life worth writing about. Sir Richard Branson has had such a life and has been kind enough to pen down his life in a book that we all can read and enjoy. I would recommed this book to anyone who is fired up with the spirt of adventure and the spirit of enterprise. One should have outrageous aspirations in one’s life and strive each day in getting closer to such aspirations. If you belong to that rare type of people, who think big, do big, show a high degree of resilince and adventure, then please pick up this book and read. I am sure it will keep you hooked and give you goosebumps.
Happy Reading !
27th January 2019