Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

by Richard Branson

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Overview

The unusual, frequently outrageous autobiography of one of the great business geniuses of our time, Richard Branson.

In little more than twenty-five years, Richard Branson spawned nearly a hundred successful ventures. From the airline business (Virgin Atlantic Airways), to music (Virgin Records and V2), to cola (Virgin Cola), and others ranging from financial services to bridal wear, Branson has a track record second to none. Many of his companies were started in the face of entrenched competition. The experts said, "Don't do it." But Branson found golden opportunities in markets in which customers have been ripped off or underserved, where confusion reigns, and the competition is complacent.

In this stressed-out, overworked age, Richard Branson gives us a new model: a dynamic, hardworking, successful entrepreneur who lives life to the fullest. Branson has written his own "rules" for success, creating a group of companies with a global presence, but no central headquarters, no management hierarchy, and minimal bureaucracy. Family, friends, fun, and adventure are equally important as business in his life. Losing My Virginity is a portrait of a productive, sane, balanced life, filled with rich and colorful stories, including:

- Crash-landing his hot-air balloon in the Algerian desert, yet remaining determined to have another go at being the first to circle the globe

- Signing the Sex Pistols, Janet Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Boy George, and Phil Collins

- Fighting back when British Airways took on Virgin Atlantic and successfully suing this pillar of the British business establishment

- Swimming two miles to safety during a violent storm off the coast of Mexico

- Staging a rescue flight into Baghdad before the start of the Gulf War

And much more. Losing My Virginity is the ultimate tale of personal and business survival from a man who combines the business prowess of Bill Gates and the promotional instincts of P. T. Barnum.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307481672
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/2010
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 201,154
File size: 49 MB
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About the Author

Richard Branson, the founder and chairman of the Virgin Group of Companies, was born in 1950 and started his first business, a magazine called Student, when he was sixteen. Virgin began in 1970 as a mail-order record company and has since expanded into over a hundred businesses in areas as diverse as travel, entertainment, retailing, media, financial services, and publishing. He lives in London and Oxfordshire with his wife, Joan, and their children, Holly and Sam.

Read an Excerpt

"Oh, screw it, let's do it."

January 1997
Tuesday, 7 January 1997, Morocco


5:30 a.m. — I woke before Joan and sat up in bed. From across Marrakech I heard the wavering cry of the muezzins calling people to prayer over the loudspeakers. I still hadn't written to Holly and Sam, so I tore a page out of my notebook and wrote them a letter in case I didn't return.

Dear Holly and Sam,
Life can seem rather unreal at times. Alive and well and loving one day. No longer there the next. As you both know I always had an urge to live life to its full. That meant I was lucky enough to live the life of many people during my 46 years. I loved every minute of it and I especially loved every second of my time with both of you and Mum.

I know that many people thought us foolish for embarking on this latest adventure. I was convinced they were wrong. I felt that everything we had learned from our Atlantic and Pacific adventures would mean that we'd have a safe flight. I thought that the risks were acceptable. Obviously I've been proved wrong.

However, I regret nothing about my life except not being with Joan to finally help you grow up. By the ages of 12 and 15 your characters have already developed. We're both so proud of you. Joan and I couldn't have had two more delightful kids. You are both kind, considerate, full of life (even witty!). What more could we both want.

Be strong. I know it won't be easy. But we've had a wonderful life together and you'll never forget all the good times we've had.

Live life to its full yourselves. Enjoy every minute of it. Love and look after Mum as if she's both of us.

I love you,
Dad

* * *

I folded the letter into a small square and put it in my pocket. Fully clothed and ready, I lay down beside Joan and hugged her. While I felt wide awake and nervous, she felt warm and sleepy in my arms. Holly and Sam came into our room and cuddled into bed between us. Then Sam slipped off with his cousins to go to the launch site and see the balloon in which I hoped shortly to fly around the world. Joan and Holly stayed with me while I got dressed and spoke to Martin, the meteorologist. The flight, he said, was definitely on; we had the best weather conditions we'd had for five years. I then called Tim Evans, our doctor. He had just been with Rory McCarthy, our third pilot, and had bad news: Rory couldn't fly. He had mild pneumonia, and if he was in a capsule for three weeks, it could get much worse. I immediately called up Rory and commiserated with him.

"See you in the dining room," I said. "Let's have breakfast."

6:20 a.m. —By the time Rory and I met in the hotel dining room, it was deserted. The journalists who had been following the preparations for the launch over the previous twenty-four hours had already left for the launch site.

Rory and I met and hugged each other. We both cried. As well as becoming a close friend as our third pilot on the balloon flight, Rory had been joining forces with me recently on a number of business deals. Just before we had come to Morocco, he had bought a share in our new record label, V2, and had invested in Virgin clothes and Virgin Vie, our new cosmetics company.

"I can't believe I'm letting you down," Rory said. "I'm never ill-never, ever."

"Don't worry," I assured him. "It happens. We've got Alex, who weighs half your weight. We'll fly far further with him on board."

"Seriously, if you don't come back," Rory said, "I'll carry on where you left off."

"Well, thanks," I said, laughing nervously.

Alex Ritchie was already out at the launch site, supervising the mad dash to get the capsule ready with Per Lindstrand, the veteran hot-air balloonist who had introduced me to the sport. Alex was the brilliant engineer who had designed the capsule and the pressurizing system. Until then, no one had succeeded in building a system that could sustain balloon flights at jet-stream levels. Although he had built both our Atlantic and Pacific capsules, I didn't know him, and it was too late to find out much about him now. Despite having no flight training, Alex had bravely made the decision to come with us. If all went well with the flight, we'd have about three weeks to get to know one another-about as intimately as any of us would want.

Unlike our crossings of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by hot-air balloon, on this trip we would not heat air until we needed to; the balloon had an inner core of helium, which would take us up. Per's plan was to heat the air around that core during the night; this in turn would heat the helium, which would otherwise contract and grow heavy and sink.

Joan, Holly, and I held hands and the three of us embraced. It was time to go.

8:30 a.m. — We all saw it at the same time. As we drove along the dirt road out to the Moroccan air base, it looked as if a new mosque had sprouted overnight. Above the bending, dusty palm trees, a stunning white orb rose like a mother-of-pearl dome. It was the balloon. Men on horseback galloped along the side of the road, guns slung over their shoulders, heading for the air base. Everyone was drawn to this huge, gleaming white balloon hanging in the air, tall and slender

9:15 a.m. — The balloon was cordoned off, and around the perimeter railing was an amazing collection of people. The entire complement of the air base stood off to one side in serried ranks, dressed in smart navy-blue uniforms; in front of them was the traditional Moroccan collection of dancing women, wearing white shawls, hollering, wailing, and whooping. Then a group of horsemen dressed in Berber costume and brandishing antique muskets galloped into view and lined up in front of the balloon. For an awful moment, I thought they would fire a celebratory salvo and puncture the balloon. Per, Alex, and I gathered in the capsule and completed a final check of all the systems. The sun was rising rapidly, and the helium was beginning to expand.

10:15 a.m. — We had done all the checks and were ready to go. I hugged Joan and Holly and Sam one last time. I was amazed at Joan's strength. Holly had been by my side for the last four days, and she too appeared to be totally in control of the situation. I thought that Sam was as well, but then he burst into tears and pulled me toward him, refusing to let go. I almost started crying too. I will never forget the anguished strength of his hug. Then he kissed me and let go and hugged Joan. I ran across to kiss Mum and Dad good-bye. Mum pressed a letter into my hand. "Open it after six days," she said. I silently hoped that we would last that long.

10:50 a.m. — There was nothing left to do except to climb up the steel steps into the capsule. For a second I hesitated and wondered when and where I would put my feet back on solid ground-or water. There was no time to think ahead. I stepped in through the hatch. Per was by the main controls; I sat by the camera equipment; and Alex sat in the seat by the trapdoor.

11:19 a.m. — 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5—Per counted down and I concentrated on working the cameras. My hand kept darting down to check my parachute buckle. I tried not to think about the huge balloon above us, and the six vast fuel tanks strapped around our capsule—4, 3, 2, 1 . . . and Per threw the lever that fired the bolts that severed the anchor cables, and we lifted silently and swiftly into the sky. There was no roar of the burners; our ascent was like that of an enormous party helium balloon. We just rose up, up, and away, and then as we caught the morning breeze we headed over Marrakech.

The emergency door was still open as we soared up, and we waved at the by then little people below. Every detail of Marrakech—its square pink walls, the large town square, the green courtyards and fountains hidden behind high walls—was laid out beneath us. By 10,000 feet it became cold and the air grew thin. We shut the trapdoor. From then on we were on our own. We were pressurized, and the pressure would mount.

Our first fax came through the machine just after midday.

"Oh God!" Per handed it over. "Look at this."

"Please be aware that the connectors on the fuel tanks are locked on."

This was our first mistake. The connectors should have been locked off so that if we got into trouble and started falling, then we could jettison a one-ton fuel tank by way of ballast.

"If that's our only mistake, we're not doing badly," I said, trying to cheer Per up.

"We need to get down to five thousand feet, and then I'll climb out and unlock them," Alex said. "It's not a problem."

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Losing My Virginity 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous 8 months ago
If+there+is+ever+a+book+the+defines+what+%22You+got+one+life+to+live.%22+means%2C+this+would+be+it%0A
Jozzer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book by a great guy. A good laugh a lot of times, a heroic story at others. Branson is my example for doing business: having fun, being creative, earning money, changing the world and staying honest and true to yourself at all times.
rohetherington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Educational & entertaining read - chuckled every 10 pages. Full of learnings about business and about how to live life to the full. Couldn't put it down.
Dangraham on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An amazing story! Branson has nearly died more times than I can remember after reading this book -- all the while building an empire.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
adamallen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Branson is a man worthy of admiration. His love of life inspires awe and gives one motivation to "make a go of it". Richard has been a hero of mine since I was a teenager - for no apparent reason. I knew little of him personally aside from his business, the basics of his beginnings (dropout and magazine) and his public theatrics.From this book I have learned so much more and have a true reason to respect and emulate his attitude. he would be my first choice of men to spend a day chatting.This is a new classic in my personal library.
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iapplegeek More than 1 year ago
I really did not know about Richard Branson other than his affiliation with Virigin music but was interested in him after visiting the British Virgin Islands. House on Necker Island. After reading the book, the reader is not only informed about his amazing business career but his interest in humanity through Virgin Unity. Not only that, he is an adrenaline junkie - definitely a man you can respect, admire and appreciate. Very insightful!
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mom2maddie More than 1 year ago
What an "out of the box" thinker! This book is great if you're interested in business strategies, life strategies or just creativity! Through this book, Richard Branson has given me re-newed motivation to go out and live life to the fullest! I'm making my list of goals and considering innovative ways to accomplish them...while having fun!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm an OSU Comp Student 2009 and I read this book for an assignment but I loved every minute of it. From beginning to end Branson grabs your attention and never let's go. The stories of his life and business adventures are a combination of entrancing, hysterical, dramatic, and definitely memorable. You will find yourself lost in his wild life, whether it be flying across the Atlantic Ocean in a hot air balloon or starting a world renounced record company. Branson has started a family, started an uncountable amount of business, broke several world records, and all of this is worked masterfully into his book, leaving you with a piece of literature you will definitely not want to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
thanking you richard you really inspired me. i never felt this much confident before. you lived a idol life. now it will be good to see you a movie about your life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
inspiring autobiography of a truly remarkable man. hilarious, poignant, gripping - you won't be able to put down this book and then you'll want more. makes a great gift.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a young entrepreneur myself, I am often looking for inspiration and motivation. This book gives both, plus more. I still can't beleive how quickly I finished this book, but when your so involved with it's contents you just can't put it down. What an amazing man, breathtaking achievements. The best thing about this book is that it is an autobiography. So it doesn't feel like a proffesional writer trying to polish his version by using unnecessary grammer, because Richard is telling you the story as if he is sitting with you at lunch. This book just goes to show that anyone can do anything. 'Losing my Virginity' goes with my life motto- Just get off your arse and give it a go! I feel quite saddened that I will have to wait another forty years for part two of this book. But it will certainly be worth it. To anyone in business, young entrepreneurs procastinating with their start-up, read this book and you feel 100% different, and pumped up ready to go for it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Branson is the epitome of the entrepreneur: brash & adventurous. After reading all those dry business books college and now in the world of commerce, Losing My Virginity is refreshing and funny and should be a bible for the entrepreneur. Branson shows the sometimes itimidating (being a billion dollars in debt), but almost always exciting life of an entrepreneur. Branson takes the reader on a journey of his business path: from his early days as a school magazine publisher to his battles with the elder business establishments such as British Airways. His tales of fellow business leaders including Sir Freddie Laker of Laker Airways are enlightening. If you want some humorous and invaluable insight to entrepreneurship, it's a must-read. And it might just get you interested in taking up trans Atlantic speed boating or ballooning!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A colorful account of one of the world's few admirable rebels. Fighting bureaucracy, red tape gov't favouritism and convention virtually since birth, this autobio inspires those who hunger for success yet can't believe that they'd be able to achieve without being deep pocketed or born with the right bloodline. A must read for anyone seeking inspiration and filled with fun anecdotal real life accounts of his journey.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't usually read books, but this one took a strangle hold of me from the first page to the last. I hope that later in life, he writes a sequel to all the business activities he has been doing since the book came out. This is a must read for wannabe millionaires and aspiring businessmen.