Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
The second book I read this year was Losing My Virginity. I started it months earlier but finished it in January because I was determined to get through it. Branson tells dozens of interesting stories but I never perceived many insights to keep me going so I finished it because I value finishing books that I start. I was not always that way but I think Bill Gates gives good advice on that as it makes me more selective about what I start.
Two themes stand out to me. First, like so many entrepreneurial journeys, Branson was dogged in his pursuit of good outcomes in all of his endeavors. He faced numerous near-death experiences, figuratively and literally, and he persevered even when it was illogical to do so. This is a really common observation of successful entrepreneurs as they exhibit determination, savvy decisions, and repeated lucky breaks to at least offset the unlucky ones.
Second, the perennial villains of the book are commercial bankers. He has run-ins with others, and particularly British Airways, but bankers are lambasted over and over for their conservatism and lack of vision. I think he is unfair and I am not typically a defender of bankers. I too learned that there is pain when taking people’s money since inevitably interests are not well-aligned. I do not think it means that the counterparties are bad people but the culture of their company, profession, regulatory constraints, and incentives matter a lot, and we should expect them to act accordingly. The tone of the story changes when he finally and definitively secures his freedom from bankers but I will not spoil the surprise for those who decide to read the book.
If you are looking for an engaging autobiography of an interesting person, I think there are better ones to read since this one is quite long for what it delivers. If you are a Branson fanatic, I am not addressing you since I presume you already read it or will read it no matter what I say, which is fair enough. As a business book, I see limited value.
Originally published at https://patrickbosworth.blog on February 10, 2021.