Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School

Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School

With 302 ratings

By: Richard Branson

Purchased At: $41

It’s business school, the Branson way.

Whether you’re interested in starting your own business, improving your leadership skills, or simply looking for inspiration from one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, Richard Branson has the answers.

Like a Virgin brings together some of his best advice, distilling the experiences and insights that have made him one of the world’s most recognized and respected business leaders.

In his trademark thoughtful and encouraging voice, Branson shares his knowledge like a close friend. He’ll teach you how to be more innovative, how to lead by listening, how to enjoy your work, and much more.

In hindsight, Branson is thankful he never went to business school. Had he conformed to the conventional dos and don’ts of starting a business, would there have been a Virgin Records? A Virgin Atlantic? So many of Branson’s achievements are due to his unyielding deter­mination to break the rules and rewrite them himself. Here’s how he does it.

Who says a business book can't be entertaining? Whether you are an entrepreneur trying to get your business off the ground, an executive in a business that needs a boost or a worker bee looking to make work more fun, this book is for you.

Richard Branson is the Leonardo da Vinci of business. His unquenchable curiosity combined with contagious extroversion is the alchemy behind the 400+ successful businesses he has created. This book, consisting of 76 short essays and articles, documents the lessons he has learned. Numerous examples, most drawn from real-life experiences with people at his Virgin Group companies, are a roadmap for others in business to turbocharge their own success.

Branson's "Like a Virgin" reveals just what a huge gap exists in modern business school curriculum. Do they teach these things like this?

- A CEO needs "a certain generosity of spirit."
- "You have to protect your people."
- "You must be fearless."
- "Business favors people who, when they see a problem or injustice, try to do something about it."
- "Leaders have empathy ... for people who are affected by the business's operations."
- Show generous praise for employees caught doing something right: amp it up!
- Think big. Build small.
- "The sky is no longer the limit."
- Be very tolerant of mistakes. Move on. Give employees second chances (he did so even with a thief!)

Business should be fun. Employees are co-entrepreneurs and enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Challenge. Celebrate. Keep splitting the company into smaller businesses as it grows to avoid bureaucracy and empower employees.

There is no identifiable progression of thought to the sequence of these articles. Although each is excellent in its own right, it is difficult to identify the article's subject from the table of contents. The articles are not numbered making it a bit troublesome to reference any particlar one or to build a concordance (cross-reference) to include in, say, an Amazon review. If it were possible to deduct a half-star from the rating, this would be the reason to do so.

Some articles are thoughtful essays and others are extended responses to questions he has received from people via email and social media. Topics include how to plan a startup to maximize chances for success; how to write a compelling business plan; perfecting your pitch; raising money; dealing with customer complaints; motivating employees; dealing with partners; failure; the art of delegation; when to step aside; environmental stewardship; the war on drugs; earning customer trust; and marketing, sales and advertising.

Branson's writing style is conversational, succinct, personal and tempered by real world situations involving employees, partners, vendors and customers. His charisma seeps out of the page. His advice is very practical and for the most part consists of ideas that anyone can immediately put into practice with some modification for circumstances.

Imagine, a business book that is a "page turner." Enjoy! Five stars!

PS. Read the Foreword to the book to better understand the title of this review :)

- zander_nguyen

There is a chapter in the book: "Strike Up The Brand - Living The Values..." Here Branson tries and fails to answer his question that was supposed to be the inspiration of the whole book. "A lot of people ask me about the Virgin brand- what's our secret? What's the enduring magic formula?"

The book is filled with commonsense; there are no "secrets" here at all. If there is anything one can get out of this is that Virgin appears to be the early prototype of the now fashionable trend, the disruptors. His company targets old established businesses and attempts to introduce new ways of serving the customer; sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. He was revolutionary with his exceptional service and experience-oriented approach ("fun-factor" as a bonus), but the new disruptors went beyond by marrying this with their technological breakthroughs like Uber or Apple. Service and quality, even culture could be copied, but technology is different, as Branson alludes to this with the discussion of the failure of Virgin Pulse. In the end, Branson is unable to explain his success beside platitudes and cliches.

I saw it somewhere that Brian Tracy has a metric: his books have the highest number of useful information per page compared to others. This record is one Branson is not getting close to surpassing any time soon.

- abel_rivera

I read all the other Richard Branson books and this I think is the weakest of his books. I had high hopes for this book, but when I started reading it just did not live up to my expectations. It feels very light from a content perspective and is too high level (not sure about the best term to describe it) - in that regards the book title is very misleading. The book does not have a good flow and so it is more difficult (and less relaxing) to read.

If you have read his other books, this one is the one to skip. While the advice in this book is solid, it's repetitive after having read the other books. And while the other books had a great connection and good flow, these "short stories" do not.

Richard Branson seems like a really nice guy and his approach to business and life are simply awesome. So, buy his other books and skip this one. It is much more fun to enjoy his stories that way.

- dallas_kim

A good read with a different layout than a book you just read right through from cover to cover. You can pick and choose what you read, go through it like a reference book, etc. It is written to use as you see fit and chapters do not really build upon one another.

There are a lot of good nuggets of information and insights from Richard that really made me think.

- arely_torres

This book should be read and taught in MBA and business schools around the world. Richard is a very brillant man who has overcome many difficulties and bad situations, and nonetheless he had fun. That is the lesson.

- annabella_ortiz

This is not so much the 'life of' or the 'how did I' but more along the lines of 'these are my thoughts and philosophy' on a number of important questions that Richard Branson has been asked over a period of times. It allows a more personal and informal grasp of how he sees things and how it's applied within the Virgin companies. Great read for me, at least.

- lawrence_myers

I was recommended this book by a self made millionnaire. Well, I already had the book before he recommended it, but nevertheless, I dug my teeth in and it was brilliant.

He gives you his billion dollar blueprint that has enable him to be serially successful at rebranding companies and offering real value by his principles of management and service.

- jenny_myers

This is an easy read that gets to the core of the issues quickly. It's never boring but illuminating: it shows Richard being a great people's person who understands his employees from the top man to the person on the shop floor. I like his style of management and reasoning: democratic, fair and principled, but enormously fun! I would love to work for him! Read the book as you won't be disappointed. He says that the most important asset for any company is PEOPLE. He is indeed right, and in treating them well to get the best out of them. Again, he is right. Spot on, Richard! No wonder you are so well liked and respected.

- maximiliano_sanders

I am very much enjoying this, I have nearly finished it. I worked in an office for 19yrs and I always thought that the way that the owner treated his staff and clients was awful. I was always thinking, I wouldn't have spoke to the staff like that, I wouldn't have treated the client like that! Now, I work for myself and I can run the business and treat the clients how I like, and it is a pleasure to read a book in which I (pretty much) agree with everything it says.

- gracelyn_hill

I have operated my own online business for close to 12 months so always looking for helpful tips and advice. Who better than this man!
Easy to read as it's broken down into chapter of just a few pages, sort of like mini-stories.
Admittedly not everything is of benefit, but a lot of content is beneficial on both a business and personal level. A few suggestions I have now implemented into my business.

Well worth a read.

- dante_moore

This book could really have been boiled down to half-a-dozen pages; Mr Branson rambles on about much the same things in various different essays. The take-home message is 'look after your customers and do something a little bit different, and you'll make money'. The writing is also slightly irritating due to Branson's attachment to the David Brent school of humour. Still worth reading, but probably not worth the money.

- lyric_green

I got this as a present for my brother who has just started a new business, he hasn't put the book down he is engrossed and he doesn't normally read books, he said this has really helped him he's still reading it but after hearing him talk about it I might lend it from him to read it myself.

- eden_hill

I enjoyed reading this book. What we think is common sense isn't always the case. However Richard is full of great tips and tricks for the entrepreneur of today!

- marlon_price

When I touched this for the very first time, I couldn't put it down.

- elisabeth_howard

I am having a lot of fun reading this book. It is very entertaining. It has small stories which are good for a quick read. It makes me feel very good every time I read this book. It literally feels like your talking directly to Richard.

- corbin_edwards

A good read and offers a great insight on the Virgin business. Some useful tips throughout but mainly a casual read.

- jett_smith

There is a reason this man is rated far above people like Alan Sugar - He just gets it. He thinks outside the box and encourages others to do so.

This book says exactly what it does - it teaches you business and life lessons that you won't learn at University!

- grady_kelly

For those aspiring to be great entrepreneurs, this is a must read

- deandre_chavez

Excellent book; worthy of being text for student of management degree courses. The writing style of the author is exemplary. Sir Richard may like also to give Keynote Lectures based on this postgraduate engineering students. We as a nation have lost the place we had once on the engineering stage; now that is a history. The nation is crying for help from people of Sir Richard's calibre; please respond to the call.

- knox_young

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