Losing My Virginity | Richard Branson

Summary of: Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
By: Richard Branson

Introduction

In the riveting autobiography ‘Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way,’ Richard Branson shares his incredible journey from a dyslexic student to the founder of the internationally acclaimed Virgin Group. The book takes you through his relentless pursuit of adventure and his penchant for defying conventional thinking. Branson’s roller-coaster life story is brimming with anecdotes about enthusiastic risk-taking, survival instincts, and, most importantly, his unwavering passion for business.

Richard Branson’s Early Adventures

Richard Branson is known for his daring and unconventional style, but where did it all start? As a child, Branson was constantly challenged by his family to overcome obstacles and push himself to explore his limits. From biking over fifty miles without directions at eleven years old to jumping into a river to win a bet, Branson’s early adventures set the stage for a life of daring and entrepreneurship.

Creating a Magazine Empire

Richard Branson, along with his fellow student Jonny Gems, founded Student magazine as an outlet for criticisms of their school, but it became a celebration of pop student culture and contemporary issues. However, the biggest challenge was finding the money to publish the magazine, which led Branson to use a successful strategy of hooking in advertisers. Despite his dyslexia, Branson dedicated more time and effort to editing and writing for the magazine than his coursework. The magazine gained attention for its coverage of international events and music scene, including exclusive interviews with famous musicians.

Revolutionizing Record Distribution

Branson, with his insight into the music scene, saw the potential of a mail-order system for records at a lower price than WH Smiths. With the help of his childhood friend, he began Virgin Mail Order and advertised in the Student magazine. The company received upfront payments and built up a large balance which allowed them to purchase records directly from a local shop at a discounted price. Virgin Mail Order flourished throughout the 1970s, despite a potential disaster when the Post Office went on strike in 1971, preventing customers from sending checks and receiving records.

Virgin’s Rise to Success

In 1971, Virgin started as a mail-order record business during a postal strike. Once the strike ended, Virgin opened their first brick and mortar store in an empty room above a shoe store. They were allowed to use this space for free due to the influx of potential customers. The store’s welcoming atmosphere led to rapid expansion, but Virgin struggled to keep their balance between profitability and maintaining their desired atmosphere. They ultimately found success by changing store layouts and emphasizing their status as a shop rather than a hangout spot. Through their innovative business strategies, Virgin grew from a small mail-order business to a chain of 14 successful record stores in England.

Branson’s Virgin Music Empire

Richard Branson’s path to success with Virgin Records and his unconventional approach to recording studios is detailed in this summary.

Richard Branson had already found success through his mail-order record business, but soon discovered that there was even greater potential in owning a recording studio and record label. He noticed that most studios were too formal for the wild and spirited pop and rock culture that had begun in the 1960s. So, at just 21 years old, Branson set out to buy a country house that he could convert into a recording studio.

After weeks of searching, he found the perfect location – a beautiful, seventeenth-century manor – but the asking price was far more than he had. Undeterred, Branson investigated the sales figures of his other ventures and was able to secure a mortgage from the British bank Coutts and a loan from his aunt.

With the location secured, Branson founded Virgin Records, his own music label. The integration with the Virgin group allowed them to sign their own artists, offer them a place to record, publish and release their records, and promote and sell their records through their own chain of music shops. Their first artist was Mike Oldfield, who recorded Tubular Bells at the Virgin Manor, selling over thirteen million copies and catapulting Branson’s company to success beyond his wildest dreams.

Branson’s unconventional approach to recording studios, with a focus on creating a conducive and attractive environment for bands to come and record, paid off. By taking a chance on his passion for the music industry, Branson was able to build an empire that would change the face of the music industry.

Saving the Sex Pistols

In 1976, Virgin Records was in financial trouble, except for Mike Oldfield, none of the label’s acts were making any money. To revive their label, they needed an act that would raise their profile. In May 1977, Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols, signed the band to Virgin. McLaren was hoping to be dropped from the contract due to their indecent behavior, but Virgin did not have any shareholders to protest their actions and hence, McLaren’s hopes were dashed. The release of their album, “Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols” resulted in legal issues with the police threatening to enjoin the album. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Records, brought in a linguist, James Kinsley, as a witness to the court case. Kinsley argued that the word “bollocks” was a nickname for “priests” and not “testicles”. He further argued that the title of the album had no offense to the church. Ironically, Kinsley was also a reverend and the case was eventually dismissed. This incident saved the Sex Pistols’ album and made Branson and Virgin Records famous.

Branson’s Island Adventure

Richard Branson’s journey to owning Necker Island and starting Virgin Airways

Richard Branson’s journey to becoming a billionaire entrepreneur was full of interesting twists and turns. One of his most notable experiences was in 1978 when he visited the Virgin Islands to be close to his future wife, Joan. Branson heard that expressing interest in purchasing an island would provide an opportunity for a helicopter tour of the area. Taking the opportunity, he contacted an estate agent to inquire about properties on the Virgin Islands that Virgin Music could offer to artists as a place to record and relax.

The couple was shown the beautiful and remote Necker Island. Initially uninterested in buying it, Branson inquired about the price anyway and was shocked to learn it was a staggering £3 million. He made an offer of £150,000 but was thrown out of the villa. After returning to London, he learned the owner needed to make a quick sale and upped his offer to £175,000, eventually settling on £180,000.

Not only did Branson acquire his own island, but his experience on the Virgin Islands also led to the creation of Virgin Airways. When his flight back to Puerto Rico was canceled, he chartered a plane for $2,000 and wrote “Virgin Airways: $39 Single Flight to Puerto Rico” on a blackboard. Thus, he inadvertently advertised the launch of a new airline.

Branson’s island adventure was a significant moment in his career and an example of the risks he was willing to take to achieve success.

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