4 Lessons I Learned from Richard Branson

Blog post taken from Inside Mariana's Brain follow the link to read similar posts! 

Although I mainly read non-fiction books, I was surprise to realize that I do not read many autobiographies. I have read biographies such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk’s biography, between others. But there is something in autobiographies that just makes stories more interesting. This was the case with Richard Branson’s Finding my Virginity. The combination of adventure, business and good story telling, made this book so enjoyable to read.

What will I take from the book?

What I learned can be described from my top 4 favorite quotes found in the book.
Taking (calculated) risks and failing is okay. “If your life is one long success story it won’t make for a good read. What’s more, you’re most likely a liar. We all have ups and downs, trials and tribulations, failures and triumphs: we just hope to come out stronger on the other side.” Throughout the book Branson talks about the importance of taking risks, but not stupid risks, he highlights calculated risks. This is mentioned in chapter 12 The Rebel Billionaire. A story about the time he had his own show and he made the contestants jump from a waterfall. Everything was set to hold the contestants back in case they decided to jump but the main lesson Branson wanted to share was the power to say no to non-calculated risks.
Question everything. “Whenever you come across absurd rules, take advantage of them.” In this sense I truly enjoyed his humor. Whenever he faced absurd rules he would always find a way of showing how absurd they actually were. He also mentioned the importance of not taking ourselves too seriously.
Business is passion. “When it comes to deals like this, or any negotiations really, the key is to display passion, know-how and determination. Get to the point quickly, be persistent and consistent, and don’t rely too heavily on prompts. I went into the meeting with my notebook in my back pocket, armed with beautiful space ship pictures, a lot of enthusiasm and belief in the project.”
Story-telling “Humans communicate through stories; it is how we make sense of our surroundings, ourselves and our place in the world.” Story-telling can be found throughout the book. Branson understands the importance that communication has in business. How to get your customers to understand your brand? What I find different is that he puts his actions where his mouth is (Original quote in the book said “He puts his money where his mouth is”). This resonated with me, especially because this year I read Building a Story Brand (follow the link to read the post), and the importance of sharing your brand in a story.

Final thoughts

What inspired me about Richard Branson was that he sticks to his values. From his sense of humor to the way he runs Virgin. His leadership style is very interesting. One of the things I liked the most about his stories was how much he cares about Virgin Brand, his employees and customers. As I mentioned before he seems to be true to his values. In many occasions he had to take risks to save his business, employees, customers and he always did it according to his believes.

Another thing I want to mention is that throughout the book we find 3 key indicators that have contributed to the growth of Virgin’s brand and I strongly thing they are an important part of Branson’s personality. Taking calculated risks; as mentioned before, if you don’t try, you will never know what could have happened. Finding the right people; In many occasions when Branson was struggling he had to get out there and look for the right people that could help him solve the problem. Thirst for creation; he does not sets limits to his creativity and imagination, but the important part is that he establishes actions out of his ideas.

Overall the book was filled with facts, great story telling and many lessons. Let’s not forget that this is an autobiography. That means that this is someone’s point of view, this is just one narrative of a bigger story. Therefore, the stories might not be 100% real, but that does not take away from Branson’s personal lessons and thoughts. Taking a look inside Branson’s brain for a few hours a day is the most valuable part of this book.