The Virgin Way

The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead is a 2014 book by Richard Branson in which he dispenses advice.

Some of it reads like a Toastmasters manual. He encourages readers to make notes constantly, and develop their listening skills. Cndense your message down to be short and to the point. Twitter is a great format for this. Keep emails short. Make a pitch document one A4 sheet at the most. Do the same thing with presentations.

Avoid “that said” as it destroys any argument you have just built up. Avoid “no comment” either as it just annoys people.

Be your own customer. He often goes around the Virgin businesses both to talk to his staff but also to play at being a customer and often to make phoney complaints to see how they are handled.

I disagree with him on some things. He is not a big fan of mission statements. I like them because they keep you on purpose. Also, I think the mission statement they came up with for Virgin Mega Stores was nonsense. He said keep it real but theirs was actually full of jargon.

He also cited Kodak as a case of when they were not forward thinking enough because they did not embrace digital. This is probably true. As Steve Jobs pointed out if you do not cannibalise your own market, someone else will. However, Kodak was really killed by the rise of camera phones, something it was difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to predict in advance.

Luck is also a tricky subject. I agree with the phrase “the harder I practice the luckier I get”. However, as Branson himself admitted it is difficult to know where the luck ends and the skill begins. Capital breeds capital so once you have been lucky one, it is a lot easier to be lucky again. That is not to say it doesn’t involve hard work as well though – it is probably both.

He discusses Netflix’s policy of not tracking holiday. I am not sure I would like this as an employee as it kind of admits there is no work life balance outside of the office and forces you to strike an awkward balance between getting your fair share and not taking too much. However, I could definitely be sold on the idea.

The core of The Virgin Way is people-centred. Put your staff first, be fun and develop a great culture in which people are empowered to take a lead. Have lots of staff parties.

Stay nimble and small. Collaboration tails off after you get more than 20 people in a team, so try nd keep projects down to that. Whatever you do, do it with passion.

The Virgin Way



Don't have time to check my blog? Get a weekly email with all the new posts. This is my personal blog, so obviously it is 100% spam free.


Tags: , , , ,

This entry was posted on Saturday, September 5th, 2015 at 10:44 am and is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.