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  • 8th December 2017

Sir Richard Branson — Losing My Virginity {Book Review}

Since this is a personal development you might have guessed that I am interested in Success. But what is Success?  When do you think of the word successful what Person comes first to mind? And why.
For me, success means that you live an extraordinarily adventurous life. A life on your terms. That you have successfully monetized your passion and that you add massive value to others while doing so. That you work with fun and amazing people and solve together big problems for the world.
To me, nobody else personifies these ideals more than Sir Richard Branson

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Who Is Sir Richard Branson?

Sir Richard Branson is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world today.  He is the founder of the Virgin Group, and with he has a net worth of over 5 billion dollars!  Damn, that is a lot of money, right?! I am usually reluctant when it comes to equating net worth with success.  Think of bankers, for example, who are only in their office for their entire life.  Words like boring or clockwork come to mind.

Boring is a word you would never associate with Richard.  And, he is not your typical billionaire (if there is anything as such).

Sir Richard Branson was born in 1950, and he had a very happy childhood.  In his book, he describes how his parents always challenged him.

Richard’s parents were in the upper-middle class, so he was not born super-rich.

In school, Richard was everything else other than outstanding.  He was dyslexic, and he hopelessly failed in math and other sciences.  However, even there, there seemed to be an aura around him.

When Richard graduated, the school’s headmaster said to him: “You will either go to prison or become a millionaire.”  Little did he know that he was right with both.

Branson’s first entrepreneurial endeavour was to create a student magazine that included interviewing Mick Jagger and John Lemmon, among many others.  One of the things that fascinated me with this magazine was that the goal was not primarily to make money, but to have fun.

Branson’s gang of friends were obsessed with music, and they decided to sell records via mail.  This project later became the Virgin Music business.

The first singer Virgin signed was a young musician called Mike Oldfield.  This was an odd choice because Virgin Music was a rock music label, and Mike Oldfield had no vocals in his album, Tubular Bells.

This song was one of the biggest selling albums of the 1970s.  Later, they collaborated with big bands like the Sex Pistols, Phil Collins, Human League, and many other stars.  They became huge and were floating in cash.

What surprised me was that he went from the music business into founding an airline.  He was always a big-time investor, and eventually, through some weird circumstances, he received a proposal to establish a new airline that would compete with British Airways.

So, Richard negotiated to rent a Boeing 747 for a year.  This, to me, was crazy that he would try something this big on a whim without being afraid, just to see if it worked.

So why did I choose to do a book review about losing my virginity?

Being a millionaire at 22? Flying over the Atlantic in a balloon?  Being knighted by the Queen?  Buying your own Island?  Trying to make Wi-Fi free for the entire world?  Writing a bestseller when you are dyslexic?  Founding “Virgin Interplanetary” to make space travel possible for everyone?  These are all crosses on his Richard’s bucket list.

For me, doing a book review about losing my virginity was a must.  He personifies the perfect case study for success, in my opinion.  The sheer amount of impact that he had on the world, the brave business endeavours that he started, and the adventurous expeditions that he undertook are just mindboggling.

And, it deeply inspired me and showed me what is possible inside one life on this planet.
As humans, we have a beautiful ability that is unique to our species; we can read a story and relive the adventures and experiences in our head like we were the protagonist.
I think to soak in Richard’s life journey is a must for every hungry men or woman. And to me, it was super fascinating to see how different he thinks towards business, travelling, and trying new things.

One of the cornerstones of my philosophy is that when you start to think like people with extreme results, it will eventually rub off on you and you will get better.  Emulating the thinking patterns, habits, tools, and life hacks from highly successful people is one of the focal points of my work right now.

3 Take-Aways From Richard Branson’s Autobiography

Problems Are Gold Nuggets

In his autobiography, you can see that Richard thinks uniquely.  For him, problems are gold nuggets.  He searches for markets that need a shakeup.  Is there a better way to do it, or cooler, or more customer orientated?

This was the idea behind Virgin Airways.  He did not like the way British Airways were exploiting their monopoly position.  The prices were going up for customers, and the quality and comfort was going down, and Richard saw this problem as a business opportunity.  I believe we all should think this way.

What does the world need?  Where does a shakeup need to happen?  In which market do people deserve better?  Where is my expertise needed the most?

Ask yourself before starting a business if this endeavour is scratching your niche only, or if you are actually are adding value and creating something new for other people.  Fusing a problem with your own talents will bring out the best in you, in my opinion, because you are driven by more than your personal needs.  You think that the thing that you are building has to exist.  And, that people deserve better and that if you do not do it, nobody else will, so you almost have no choice but to create this start-up, company, or product.

Follow Your Dreams

As cheesy as this sounds, one of my major takeaways was that you need an exciting vision for your future.  A dream.  Something that you never get tired of talking about.  A vision that keeps you up late at night and wakes you up early.

To become successful, let alone a billionaire, you need to excel in your field of expertise.  You will not get there if you do not feel fun and excitement for the thing that you do.  If your dream is as big as becoming a billionaire, you got to eat it, sleep it, breathe it, and develop a total obsession that you love it.

I believe that what is rewarded is repeated.  And, if you associate sacrifice and stress and discomfort with your work, you will not be able to put in the extra hours.  On the other side, if you love what you do, then why should you stop after 8 hours?  This enables you to work longer and harder than someone who just has to do it.

I believe that having a dream is a necessity for humans to be happy.  A compelling dream that gives us a goal, and that requires the absolute best version of yourself.  I found through my investigation of unhappiness that people who have depression, for example, do not see a future for themselves at all.  They think that they are going to stay in this painful place forever.  This, of course, makes the situation worse.

Having a compelling future and a dream gives us the impression that even though we may have a shitty day, our life will not always be shitty.  This gives us the courage to move on and take the next challenge because our dream is worth not giving up.  Furthermore, a dream stops us from sabotaging ourselves, in my opinion.  If you want to become prominent in any niche, it is much harder, in my opinion, to get shit faced every weekend because you are directly sabotaging your dream.

So, find something that deserves the absolute best version of yourself.

What job would you want to have if you did not need a job?

Do Not Give Up!

Again, this sounds cheesy, but one of my personal takeaways from Richards book and other super-high achievers was that they share one habit in particular: the habit of Perseverance.

We all seem fucking batshit crazy when it comes to giving up.  There is something infectious about just going through hardships in business or life.  The ability to push through no matter what the odds are and no matter how unrealistic their dream is.

To me, it seems that super-high achievers seem to live in their own world sometimes.  And, that they can march forward even if they are laughed at or ridiculed.  They do not give up, and this enables them to inspire others to march with them.

I believe that the combination of kindness and sheer strength is something that is important to people when they choose their leader, and Richard personifies both traits.  I do not think it is a coincidence that amazing people are around guys like him.  Richard Branson is so outspoken about what he wants to do that people get caught up in his dream as well, and they start to collaborate and make things happen.  Big things.

Do Not Give A Fuck!

Richard seems to have the ability to be less stressed than others, even in the face of extreme pressure or uncertainty.  So there seems to be something crazy involved in the way he perceives things.  To keep your cool, even in the face of extreme situations, is really a skill in itself.  Being threatened by entire countries because he accidentally flew with his balloon over a war zone, or being sued for millions by British Airways, or founding an airline, or trying to make space travel affordable for everybody are just projects normal people would never attack.  Richard, however, simply just does not seem to give a fuck about what is normal or not.

To have this playfulness when it comes to thinking big, and actually going out and trying new things that are not in his expertise is, in my opinion, one of the reasons why he is successful.  Sometimes in life, you just need to throw things against the wall and see what sticks.  I think one of the best ways to live a boring unhappy life is to always stay in your comfort zone.  By continually trying big things, you fail a lot, yes, but failing also brings opportunity with it, after all, without trying, you never realize what you are capable of.

So, I would encourage you to be delusional and unrealistic sometimes and shoot for the stars, and try adventures or business endeavours that might 100x your life, even though you might fail hard.

On every adventure I have been on — whether setting up a business, flying around the world in a balloon, or racing across the ocean in a boat — there have been moments when the easy thing to do would be to give up,”

My Personal Take-Away from the Book

I was fascinated with Richard Branson’s personal journey.  Starting at age 17 with a student Magazine, and 6 years later being a millionaire, and 20 years later a billionaire.  And, that he had a shit ton of fun in doing so along the way!  I loved the fusion of business and adventure that Richard embodies.

My biggest take away from the book was that I needed to think bigger.  Like a lot bigger.  Most of my dreams were centred around me.  Things I wanted to have.  Milestones I wanted to achieve

Richard thinks of problems in the world as potential business opportunities.  And that you should choose a market that is fun and brings you joy, and that is compatible with your skills.  He believes that you get rich by solving people’s problems, and the more problems you solve, the richer you get.

So, I asked myself :

What major problems do we have in society?

Are there any big problems that I could help solve?

My expertise lies in clinical and behavioural psychology, meaning that I help people to form new behaviours and get rid of the undesired behaviours.  A psychologist works typically with one person at a time.  So, being inspired by Richard’s habit of thinking big, I thought of ways how to help more people.

So, I did two things after reading this book:

  1. I multiplied the number of people that I wanted to help by 100.  I asked myself, how can I help 100 people at a time instead of only 1?  So, I thought about scaleable ways in creating behaviour-changing products like books, masterclasses, and writing articles, creating podcasts, and generally helping people at scale.
  2. The realisation that if I wanted to contribute to attacking big problems, such as depression and addiction, I needed to become an expert in those fields first.  Otherwise, I would not be adding value.  This was a big part of deciding that I wanted to become a nomadic psychologist and professional learner.  The idea of travelling the world and interviewing outstanding scientists, spiritual leaders, biohackers, and successful entrepreneurs to find habits, patterns, behaviours, tools, and hacks that make other people better, became a necessity for me.  Also, I needed to create a system around myself, where I am always forced to stay in learning mode.  I believe that the more I learn, the more value I can give.

If people aren’t calling you crazy, you aren’t thinking big enough — Richard Branson

Call to Action

Here is some homework for you.

Grab a sheet of paper and write down:

  1. If failure were not an option, where would you be in 3 years?
  2. What amount of money do you want to make then?
  3. Now Multiply your dream and your dream income by 10!
  4. What would you have to do if you wanted to achieve that 10xed dream and income in 6 months? Write down ten answers.
  5. What can you do today to make your 6-month plan a reality?
  6. If you died tomorrow, what would be the things that you would regret the most? What ideas would die with you?

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