By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Branson might be the original celebrity entrepreneur, one of the first CEOs to blend his company brand with his personal brand. Branson goes where buttoned-up CEOs won’t, from leading ridiculous stunts promoting new product launches to calling out his competitors in “cheeky” ways (as the Brits like to say). The undercurrent of it all: make it fun.
His baby, The Virgin Group, has the same swashbuckling reputation. When the company enters a market, it makes a splash, offering a unique twist on often tired product and service categories, usually with a dose of humor. While the Virgin name hasn’t always guaranteed success in a new industry, its reputation for fun and freshness usually motivates potential customers to give it a try. From music to airlines to mobile services, the Virgin name has had an amazingly varied string of successes over the years.
In 1998, Branson offered up an autobiography/manifesto called Losing My Virginity, an inspiring take on how he went from a high school kid forming a student magazine to a billionaire entrepreneur with his hands in almost every industry imaginable. Almost twenty years later, as sort of an elder statesman in a much more entrepreneurial culture, Branson chronicles his past two decades in a new book, Finding My Virginity.
Where Losing My Virginity was a perfect read for the budding entrepreneur overflowing with ideas and chutzpah, Finding My Virginity offers a tale about continuing to reinvent yourself and using your success for a greater good.
Branson’s Virgin Group hasn’t stopped breaking into new industries in need of a refresh, but it is also reaching higher, spending gobs of money on unproven projects such as space travel (Virgin Galactic). In his personal life, Branson has sought to have a bigger impact on issues such as climate change, and he spearheaded The Elders, a sort of global mastermind group for peace and human rights. While these specific efforts are bigger than the average business owner might tackle, the idea of finding more meaning in work and life is universal.
Lest you think Finding My Virginity is just the older, more sober companion to Branson’s earlier autobiography, you should know there are plenty of simply great stories here as well. Branson’s interactions with Donald Trump might be worth the price of the book alone.
Younger upstarts like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have stolen some of Branson’s entrepreneurial thunder in recent years, but Finding My Virginity is a good reminder of his part in creating a “screw it, let’s do it” culture that encourages people to pursue their business & personal passions. And he reminds us that there should always be a place for fun in successful businesses and successful lives.