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The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership

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While building the Virgin Group over forty years, Richard Branson has never shied away from seemingly outlandish challenges that others (including his own colleagues on several occasions) considered sheer lunacy. He has taken on giants like British Airways and won, and monsters like Coca-Cola and lost. Now Branson gives an inside look at his strikingly different swashbuckli While building the Virgin Group over forty years, Richard Branson has never shied away from seemingly outlandish challenges that others (including his own colleagues on several occasions) considered sheer lunacy. He has taken on giants like British Airways and won, and monsters like Coca-Cola and lost. Now Branson gives an inside look at his strikingly different swashbuckling style of leadership. Learn how fun, family, passion, and the dying art of listening are key components to what his extended family of employees around the world have always dubbed (with a wink) the “Virgin Way.” This unique perspective comes from a man who dropped out of school at sixteen, suffers from dyslexia, and has never worked for anyone but himself. He may be famous for thinking outside the box—an expression he despises—but Branson asserts that “you’ll never have to think outside the box if you refuse to let anyone build one around you.” This is a unique book on leadership from someone who readily admits he has never read a book on leadership in his life. So expect the unexpected.


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While building the Virgin Group over forty years, Richard Branson has never shied away from seemingly outlandish challenges that others (including his own colleagues on several occasions) considered sheer lunacy. He has taken on giants like British Airways and won, and monsters like Coca-Cola and lost. Now Branson gives an inside look at his strikingly different swashbuckli While building the Virgin Group over forty years, Richard Branson has never shied away from seemingly outlandish challenges that others (including his own colleagues on several occasions) considered sheer lunacy. He has taken on giants like British Airways and won, and monsters like Coca-Cola and lost. Now Branson gives an inside look at his strikingly different swashbuckling style of leadership. Learn how fun, family, passion, and the dying art of listening are key components to what his extended family of employees around the world have always dubbed (with a wink) the “Virgin Way.” This unique perspective comes from a man who dropped out of school at sixteen, suffers from dyslexia, and has never worked for anyone but himself. He may be famous for thinking outside the box—an expression he despises—but Branson asserts that “you’ll never have to think outside the box if you refuse to let anyone build one around you.” This is a unique book on leadership from someone who readily admits he has never read a book on leadership in his life. So expect the unexpected.

30 review for The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vaishali

    Surprising tales from the renegade icon : his 400+ companies, 50 million+ customers, and his legendary April Fool's pranks ... including one Steve Jobs revealed to be the birth of iTunes. Quotes, followed by "The Guide" excepts: ------------------- "I read somewhere once that 10,000 Cokes are consumed around the world every second of every day." "See yourself as the competition sees you." "A little shake, rattle, and roll never did anybody any harm." "My favorite question with internal applicants has Surprising tales from the renegade icon : his 400+ companies, 50 million+ customers, and his legendary April Fool's pranks ... including one Steve Jobs revealed to be the birth of iTunes. Quotes, followed by "The Guide" excepts: ------------------- "I read somewhere once that 10,000 Cokes are consumed around the world every second of every day." "See yourself as the competition sees you." "A little shake, rattle, and roll never did anybody any harm." "My favorite question with internal applicants has always been : 'So if you get the job, what are the first things you're going to change around here, and why?' " "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it." - Winston Churchill (paraphrased) "These days, too much is for sale... Nothing stands for anything anymore. Everything is everywhere. Convenience has no soul. It's time to take retail back... If the world is about ubiquity, then we're about scarcity and intimacy." "Leadership is the ability to hide your panic from others." - Lao Tzu, 6th century "When all else is equal, then the big guys will usually find a way to outmuscle any pesky upstart. So that is why the newcomer has got to make sure that the playing field is anything but level. In fact, you don't want to step onto their playing field. It confuses them even more when you sprint..." "It was a standing joke with the Virgin Mobile marketing team that AT&T would spend more on advertising during one episode of American Idol than we would spend in a whole year." "We have always relied on smart, cutting edge creativity and scads of often self-deprecating humor to get ourselves noticed. It's called getting a much bigger bang for a much smaller buck." "Did you know that, according to all the laws of aerodynamics, the humble bumblebee should not be capable of flight? The inescapable - if frustrating for scientists - fact is that whatever innovative technique the bumblebee is employing, it works." "Identifying Great People" : *** "Youthful joie de vivre" *** "People skills" *** "Relentless focus on great service" *** "Succeed at each and every task" *** "Sense of humor" "I have always found working from my home, as I have done all my life, reduces the stress levels I know I'd suffer if I were working from an office." "Southwest's fleet of around 600 airplanes consists of just a single aircraft type : the workhorse Boeing 737. This makes every employee's job simpler. Every pilot can fly every aircraft in the fleet, and every engineer knows where every part goes." "Wear laurels, don't rest on them." "Happiness actually fuels success, not the other way around." "Indecision is not an option." The Guide ---------- "A smorgasbord of bite-size, easy-to-digest, and very pragmatic mini-mission statements that also act as calls to action." THOU SHALT : - Be genuine - Be yourself - Give your full attention - Find common ground - Try to remember faces - Be empathetic and remember everyone's different - Share what you know - Notice how you're coming across - Build relationships - Have fun THOU SHALT NOT : - Force the fun - Act unnaturally or talk like its scripted - Interrupt - Be elitist - Be too busy - Take it personally if people don't want to chat .

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amit Mishra

    A very inspirational book especially for the young entrepreneurs. Richard's story is motivating and captivating. A very inspirational book especially for the young entrepreneurs. Richard's story is motivating and captivating.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Clearly Mr. Branson is an amazing person and exceptional entrepreneur, which is evident by his success. However, a ridiculous portion of this book is really just a Virgin “puff piece”, which I found exceptionally hard to plow through. There is some sage advice and a few interesting internal Virgin stories but they are hopeless intertwined with the over the top praise of Virgin and its people. This is how I would break down the books content: - 40% a Virgin advertisement and promotion, including Clearly Mr. Branson is an amazing person and exceptional entrepreneur, which is evident by his success. However, a ridiculous portion of this book is really just a Virgin “puff piece”, which I found exceptionally hard to plow through. There is some sage advice and a few interesting internal Virgin stories but they are hopeless intertwined with the over the top praise of Virgin and its people. This is how I would break down the books content: - 40% a Virgin advertisement and promotion, including high praise of their “amazing management” who are continuously mentioned by name and are only seconded in their incredible abilities by Mr. Branson (at times I felt he was really writing this book for his management’s egos); - 15% recycling well known business stories (many of which Mr. Branson had no involvement in); - 5% clichés (there are really far too many in the book); - 20% Virgin war stories (some very interesting); - 20% management concepts and business ideas. He is clearly passionate about some very basic concepts which I found interesting and helpful to understand. However, the concepts are very basic and including things like: listen carefully, taking notes, look after your employees, be a good steward of the environment, have fun, … ). The best part of this book was learning a bit more about the story of Virgin and a little about what makes Mr. Branson tick. However, if the Virgin marketing had been replaced by more stories about things that happened inside Virgin (the good and bad), then this might have been an ok book (but sadly that was not the case).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Leiva

    I read this because my husband wanted me to read more serious books and especially business-type books. Well, this was my introduction into those type of books (although I don't know if it REALLY qualifies as "serious.") I actually really enjoyed this one. I thought that overall Richard Branson had some excellent points about leadership, and he portrayed them in an interesting way with lots of stories and examples, both from his companies and other famous companies. I could see that it could com I read this because my husband wanted me to read more serious books and especially business-type books. Well, this was my introduction into those type of books (although I don't know if it REALLY qualifies as "serious.") I actually really enjoyed this one. I thought that overall Richard Branson had some excellent points about leadership, and he portrayed them in an interesting way with lots of stories and examples, both from his companies and other famous companies. I could see that it could come across that he was just trying to make his companies look great, but since he believes his companies portray the qualities he wants, it makes sense that he would use them as examples. Many of the stories were humorous as well which kept my attention and helped me remember the leadership points better. I did start to lose focus toward the end of the book, but overall I felt like this was a positive read. Now how long until my next business book?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brad Feld

    Everyone knows that Richard Branson is cool, and iconoclast, a massive risk taker, and amazing successful. But he’s also extremely introspective and articulate. I’ve never met him or been to Necker Island, but plenty of my colleagues have. When I started reading this one, I felt like I was doing something obligatory to read the autobiography of one of our contemporary business legends, but I really enjoyed it and by the end was glad Branson had put the energy into writing this.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Denys

    I didn't like this book. I was expecting to read more about Virgin and its inner kitchen. Instead, it was more like "I know this amazing person, she's amazing, you should be like her." I didn't like this book. I was expecting to read more about Virgin and its inner kitchen. Instead, it was more like "I know this amazing person, she's amazing, you should be like her."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Finally finished! Took me forever to read this book lol All in all it was good. Richard Branson is such a funny trouble maker lol I like how he likes to have to workplace be a fun and creative place to work. He's alllllll about HR, making sure everyone is happy and loves their jobs, and he throws fun parties and boasts that Virgin is the best place to work at. He talks about having mentors, learning from others, collaboration is very important and the skill of listening. He strongly believes in Finally finished! Took me forever to read this book lol All in all it was good. Richard Branson is such a funny trouble maker lol I like how he likes to have to workplace be a fun and creative place to work. He's alllllll about HR, making sure everyone is happy and loves their jobs, and he throws fun parties and boasts that Virgin is the best place to work at. He talks about having mentors, learning from others, collaboration is very important and the skill of listening. He strongly believes in youth entrepreneurship which I liked, and he's always looking at ways to help youth grow their businesses.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Femina Ernest

    "The Virgin Way" - an ardent & an interesting book. On his narration of his journey with Virgin Group, every nook and corner pave the way to understand THE REAL business, Marketing & Advertising, Customer & Employee preferences, leadership, qualities which help us to attain success, what could let leap you down. Richard's writing induced my brain's frontal lobe to think, to follow few good things like "First Listen", "taking down Notes", "collaboration is good", "Taking Risks", "Whatever happens "The Virgin Way" - an ardent & an interesting book. On his narration of his journey with Virgin Group, every nook and corner pave the way to understand THE REAL business, Marketing & Advertising, Customer & Employee preferences, leadership, qualities which help us to attain success, what could let leap you down. Richard's writing induced my brain's frontal lobe to think, to follow few good things like "First Listen", "taking down Notes", "collaboration is good", "Taking Risks", "Whatever happens, Be Cool and Funny". By the way, I love his "Screw it, let's do it" attitude! ;)

  9. 5 out of 5

    AliceinWonderland

    - I respect Sir Richard Branson immensely as a successful business person, leader and entrepreneur, but he should really get a ghost writer or biographer. Just because you can run a billion dollar business, doesn't mean you have the skills to write a book. - Most of it was *painful* to read. Though there are some interesting concepts, the writing is very poor and not compelling in anyway. All in all, quite disappointing. My suggestion is just to skip to the end of the book and read his top ten ti - I respect Sir Richard Branson immensely as a successful business person, leader and entrepreneur, but he should really get a ghost writer or biographer. Just because you can run a billion dollar business, doesn't mean you have the skills to write a book. - Most of it was *painful* to read. Though there are some interesting concepts, the writing is very poor and not compelling in anyway. All in all, quite disappointing. My suggestion is just to skip to the end of the book and read his top ten tips. It summarizes all he has to say without reading through 300+ pages of drivel. Sorry.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Deeply disappointing. This could have been a great book, but was "phoned in". Essentially generic business book filler, with a few glimpses of Virgin/Branson flavor. The worst thing is this book essentially means there won't be a good version of this same book, which I would gladly read -- Branson and the Virgin companies are amazing and I'm sure there are insights, or even just interesting anecdotes, which he could share if he wanted to. The one thing I learned from this book is how amazing Sir Deeply disappointing. This could have been a great book, but was "phoned in". Essentially generic business book filler, with a few glimpses of Virgin/Branson flavor. The worst thing is this book essentially means there won't be a good version of this same book, which I would gladly read -- Branson and the Virgin companies are amazing and I'm sure there are insights, or even just interesting anecdotes, which he could share if he wanted to. The one thing I learned from this book is how amazing Sir Freddie Laker of Laker Airways was -- I'd like to find a good biography of him and his company.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Great quote: "You can take the person out of the cage, but you can't necessarily take the cage out of the person." This was an interesting look at Richard Branson's business experiences, guiding principles, and innovative ideas. I really enjoyed it and am intrigued by the "no vacation days" concept (along with many others). Brilliant! Great quote: "You can take the person out of the cage, but you can't necessarily take the cage out of the person." This was an interesting look at Richard Branson's business experiences, guiding principles, and innovative ideas. I really enjoyed it and am intrigued by the "no vacation days" concept (along with many others). Brilliant!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Martti

    I'm starting the year off by scratching off one from my business to-read list. Branson is dyslexic, but that hasn't stopped him from writing 10 books - which is a bit weird, but in a fun way. I have never used any Virgin service or product, so I couldn't relate much, but the stories were fun and he had some good points in there. You just need to look past the fact it's 50% a Virgin ad and repetition. Here are some ideas he points at: + Make a positive difference and do some good. + Do what you love a I'm starting the year off by scratching off one from my business to-read list. Branson is dyslexic, but that hasn't stopped him from writing 10 books - which is a bit weird, but in a fun way. I have never used any Virgin service or product, so I couldn't relate much, but the stories were fun and he had some good points in there. You just need to look past the fact it's 50% a Virgin ad and repetition. Here are some ideas he points at: + Make a positive difference and do some good. + Do what you love and have a couch in the kitchen. + Listen, take lots of notes and keep setting new challenges. + Communicate, collaborate and communicate some more. + Have fun and look after your team. + Delegate and spend more time with your family. + Turn off that laptop and iPhone and get your derrière out there + Follow your dreams and just do it. + Believe in your ideas and be the best. + Don’t give up.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sergiu Strat

    i hope someday i will meet him in person ^_^

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aaqif

    A fascinating book written by a phenomenal individual. Richard Branson is a role model for any aspiring and current entrepreneurs with big dreams about brining forth change through design and creativity. What separates Branson from someone like Steve Jobs is their style of leadership. Branson is much more of a "friendly" guy, who places high value in having a great time. He emphasises the importance of great leaders being excellent listeners. According to Richard, saying less can contribute more A fascinating book written by a phenomenal individual. Richard Branson is a role model for any aspiring and current entrepreneurs with big dreams about brining forth change through design and creativity. What separates Branson from someone like Steve Jobs is their style of leadership. Branson is much more of a "friendly" guy, who places high value in having a great time. He emphasises the importance of great leaders being excellent listeners. According to Richard, saying less can contribute more. No one has ever learned anything from hearing themselves speak. So aim to ask great questions and take great notes. He does not consider rationality to be of significant importance in business ventures. Most of his companies have come about from highly irrational and unconventional ideas that no one thought was a good idea. The culture that Branson has brought about in all his Virgin companies is admirable. His cultural model is worth studying for any company out there. According to him, sense of humour is a critical component of long term success in a company. One of the best takeaways from this book was the idea of simplicity. Richard truly takes the principle of Occam's Razor to heart. Make the idea as simple as possible, but not any simpler. I have personally tried to take use this method in all my communication channels. The list of Branson's accomplishments are astonishing and who knows how much more he may accomplish over the coming years. My respect and admiration for all Virgin companies have increased significantly since reading this book. tl;dr Overall, the book is filled with quirky tips and tricks about problem solving and starting companies while having a blast at the same time. It's fun to read and would strongly recommend to any individual interested in leadership and business.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Skyler Jokiel

    This book talks more about how Virgin got started. The thing I found so powerful was that Richard Branson has been pushing the modern company before tech startups started even considering their long list of perks. He's the person you're happy to give your life and career too because he want's to be successful but not at the expense of people or the world. He's really a man before his time when it comes to running a company and leadership. No one has driven a better culture at this scale. This book talks more about how Virgin got started. The thing I found so powerful was that Richard Branson has been pushing the modern company before tech startups started even considering their long list of perks. He's the person you're happy to give your life and career too because he want's to be successful but not at the expense of people or the world. He's really a man before his time when it comes to running a company and leadership. No one has driven a better culture at this scale.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Yelena

    Such an inspirational read on all levels of business and life! A lot of learning for those who want to become leaders and do not only a job but create experiences for themselves and others that will bring joy, happiness and will transform the life of others for better! Valuable read for everyone regardless of profession

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Meh. Not much more to say. I imagine a Richard Branson biography would be interesting, but his business anecdotes are less exciting. He does seem to have a freer way with leading business than many others that I've read. Meh. Not much more to say. I imagine a Richard Branson biography would be interesting, but his business anecdotes are less exciting. He does seem to have a freer way with leading business than many others that I've read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Henry

    The Virgin Way is a great book that covers a broad range of topics from speaking to business leading styles to startups. A recommended read for anyone and not just entrepreneurs. It definitely sparked some motivation to follow my passions. An easy 400 page read that has some great insights into how Richard Branson built his empire and how he fosters the best in his staff.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ray Hawkins

    "Listen - takes lots of notes and keep setting new challenges" "Listen - takes lots of notes and keep setting new challenges"

  20. 5 out of 5

    Igor

    I have given up reading. It is not bad, but I was expecting something different. Anyway, for those looking for books about management style, it will be probably interesting.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nabil

    Interesting take on leadership from a previous generation. Virgin it seems is like the ‘Google’ or the 80s and 90s. Very progressive and fun place to work.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bieke

    Fun to read while also providing great tips on how to be a great leader in the workplace (and in life)!

  23. 4 out of 5

    ✿✿✿May

    It's an interesting read (audiobook). Richard Branson is definitely a character...never finished high school, but went on to be one of the most successful billionaires. It's an interesting read (audiobook). Richard Branson is definitely a character...never finished high school, but went on to be one of the most successful billionaires.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeyhun Alizada

    It is amazing book where author shared his own experience and raises and falls and some good lesson learns to think about. I got a confirmation of several aspects that was in a bit question in my mind before i read this book

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Branson is flamboyant, full of life and himself. He also has some good leadership lessons around listening more than talking, taking extensive notes at all times and a passion for delighting customers and exceeding their expectations. But also too much self promotion. As expected.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bob Wallner

    The Virgin Way is not really an autobiography, but you learn a bit about Branson’s trials and tribulations. It’s not a book on how to start and run a company as Branson’s form of Entrepreneurship is radically different than say Peter Drucker’s 1985 classic “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. And it’s not really a leadership book as, what worked for him, might get you arrested or maybe even deported. What the Virgin Way is…100% entertaining perspective on how a people loving entrepreneur broke mos The Virgin Way is not really an autobiography, but you learn a bit about Branson’s trials and tribulations. It’s not a book on how to start and run a company as Branson’s form of Entrepreneurship is radically different than say Peter Drucker’s 1985 classic “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. And it’s not really a leadership book as, what worked for him, might get you arrested or maybe even deported. What the Virgin Way is…100% entertaining perspective on how a people loving entrepreneur broke most of the rules to create a gigantic customer centric empire. Branson uses his unique sense of humor to share his perspective on how a company should be run and how people should be treated, both customers and employees. He calls people out by name including a cleaning subcontractor who was observed going above and beyond for the customer even though it “wasn’t her job”. He talks about how some of his best senior managers were overlooked at other companies because their views didn’t mesh, but how they meshed perfectly with the Virgin methods. He talks at length about how social need (in the 1980’s) led to the creation of a cheaper condom almost named “The Virgin Condom”. I have been lucky enough in my lifetime to work for a boss who, either knowingly or unknowingly, lived many of the lessons that Branson outlined in his book. In turn, I was very loyal to both him and the company. We joked and played, but when it was time to get to work we were very productive. When he choose to leave the company, so did the culture and soon it was just another “corporate machine”. Branson jokes and laughs a lot in his book. But the reader truly gets a feeling that he believes people first will make your company a huge success.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Warda

    You can feel author teaching you lessons with kindness and lifting your perception about looking at life.we never know the powers we have until some books like these point them out to us. with every chapter you dwell more in your self analysis on how you've dealt with things in past and how better you could've done.Richard speaks the langauage of kindness and humility and thats what makes him who he is.One of the best motivational books I've ever read.Its more about the title it holds.Its deeply You can feel author teaching you lessons with kindness and lifting your perception about looking at life.we never know the powers we have until some books like these point them out to us. with every chapter you dwell more in your self analysis on how you've dealt with things in past and how better you could've done.Richard speaks the langauage of kindness and humility and thats what makes him who he is.One of the best motivational books I've ever read.Its more about the title it holds.Its deeply fascinating, lovingly written and the careful choice of words have a deep impact on the reader. Psychologically well conceived, catered to the needs of intellectuals and the ones who are planning for their startups.It tells you, you are the boss and you can do it! it transforms the insecurities of any possible startup into secure outcomes.I would say It addressed people psychologically. would highly recommend for the ones who are looking for motivation. Loved it all along!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    I've read biographies on Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet and Richard Branson. It is amazing how they all create World Class products and/or services, but do it differently than a MBA program would suggest. They all have a lot of Swagger, Vision and Entrepreneurial spirit. I rate this a 5... not because it was a life changing how-to road map, but because it opened my eyes at how much customer service means to the Virgin brand. It is a lesson that is oftentimes forgotten by many companies. I I've read biographies on Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet and Richard Branson. It is amazing how they all create World Class products and/or services, but do it differently than a MBA program would suggest. They all have a lot of Swagger, Vision and Entrepreneurial spirit. I rate this a 5... not because it was a life changing how-to road map, but because it opened my eyes at how much customer service means to the Virgin brand. It is a lesson that is oftentimes forgotten by many companies. I definitely have several takeaways from this book and put Richard Branson in my top 5 businessmen role models.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    This is an enjoyable book for anyone in a leadership or entrepreneur role who is looking for ideas that are a bit different from your normal business reading. There is so much to learn from the success of Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group. Love the philosophy of focusing on fun and the commitment to the happiness of their employees and customers. This book is filled with lots of cool stories from the growth of Virgin over the years. I only wish that the audiobook version that I listened h This is an enjoyable book for anyone in a leadership or entrepreneur role who is looking for ideas that are a bit different from your normal business reading. There is so much to learn from the success of Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group. Love the philosophy of focusing on fun and the commitment to the happiness of their employees and customers. This book is filled with lots of cool stories from the growth of Virgin over the years. I only wish that the audiobook version that I listened had been narrated by Branson himself.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zora

    I’ve always liked and admired Richard Branson. I even heard him speak at an event a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, this book was a disappointment and 3 stars is generous. Honestly, the book irritated me. It was almost like an advertisement for Virgin and how awesome they are and how no one else is as good as Virgin and how they’re more innovative than anyone else... and I didn’t gain anything noteworthy from reading it. 2.5 stars. Still generous.

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