Book Review: Like a Virgin by Richard Branson

I’ve got mixed feelings on Like a Virgin by Richard Branson. On one hand I like it because it’s an easy read. It’s broken into lots of short chapters and it therefore covers a good range of topics – there are definitely some gems in there.

But on the other hand it wasn’t particularly exciting to read and I found myself kinda soldiering through it. Maybe my expectations had been set high from reading the very, very awesome ‘Losing my Virginity’ book a few years back.

Some of the notes I made aswell as two key personal takeaways are below:

Be a mentor – there are lots of people out there creating start-ups or working through challenges in their careers, which you may be in a great position to help with. Looks for ways to help others – this could be through organised mentor programmes or simply seeing an opportunity to help someone you know.

Get a mentor – as above, everyone can benefit from receiving guidance and a steer from a mentor. There is such a wealth of knowledge and experience out there and highly successful people have never been easier to reach directly. In the past I have actually been quite surprised just how positively people respond to a request for advice / help.

Goals and Focus – I’m very passionate about goals and focus and have written quite a lot about them here, so it’s always nice to see it being talked about by others. The importance of having clear goals / strategy, quarterly meetings to review progress and re-plan, an intense weekly focus and resisting the temptation to take on too many things is covered.

Work / Life Balance – this is a constant theme throughout the book. Taking the time to have great moments with family and friends, prioritising health and enjoying time away from the office to re-charge and in general pursuing hobbies and passions is really emphasised. The quote ‘no one on their death bed has ever said I wish I had of spent more time in the office’ says it all.

Clarity of Roles – define people’s roles and accountability really clearly and then step right back out of the way – don’t micro-manage.

Mistakes – having a culture that allows people to take risks and at times this will mean making mistakes is incredibly important. Taking the time to review and learn from mistakes is also very valuable, however don’t let the process linger on too long – aim to put them behind you as quickly as possible and move on.

Celebrate Successes – it’s really important to celebrate successes regularly. Make the time to regularly think about what you have been successful in and then highlight and celebrate these with your team. Remember, success breed’s success and there is no better way to create serious momentum than regularly celebrating successes.

Personal Takeaways:

Two things that particularly resonated with me that I am going to take action on:

Firstly to prioritise my health – there is really nothing more important in life than to be in good health. Working a ton of hours combined with no exercise and crappy food only points one way and that’s being over-weight and having poor health (I’m sort of on that road right now). I’m determined to prioritise and make time for exercise and to improve my eating habits – it’s simply a matter of willpower and being organised.

Secondly, I need to push the issue of getting myself into some type of COO / CEO group and /or starting to work with a mentor. I work with a lot of very smart people every single day and am always learning new things, however for me to continue making progress on my own personal development I need to get amongst more people who have been a successful COO / CEO for many years. Being able to draw upon their knowledge and expertise and to have a sounding board for my own ideas / challenges would be very advantageous.

Grab the book – it’s definitely worth a read – and if any of these points resonate with you or you’ve read the book and have an opinion, let me know in the comments.

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