The Virgin Way Book Summary, by Richard Branson

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1-Page Summary of The Virgin Way

Zuhören und mitschreiben

As a leader, you should always listen to people. A good listener is an important quality in life and in business. It’s even considered a weakness if you talk more than others do. However, it will make your audience appreciate you when they’re able to tell their story. Even though memory isn’t always reliable, writing down what you hear is valuable because it allows for future reflection on the information that was gathered during the listening process. You can use this technique whether it’s interesting ideas or spontaneous thoughts or meeting notes: Richard Branson writes things down all the time and many of his employees follow suit as well.

It’s important to spend time with your employees. They want a leader who is approachable and not holed up in a scary corner office—Richard Branson never had one. Only through listening will you learn what really goes on in your organization. If you’re unsure about something, speak up and ask for input from your team members. Try to communicate clearly at every level of the company. Keep emails short; long ones are a waste of time. In an age where “please” and “thank you” are becoming less common, handwritten thank-you notes stand out all the more prominently because they’re so rare.”

Nehmen Sie die Außenperspektive ein

It’s important to take the customer perspective into account and never forget it, even as your company grows. Ask yourself: how do customers view your business and its products? What do friends and family members say about your ideas? Talk to people outside of the company often. Many bad ideas come out on the market because they were developed in a firm-internal bubble without taking external viewpoints into account. In further developing Virgin Hotels, the company relies on feedback from loyal customers instead of focus groups, while Virgin Airlines used to rely on employees’ travel experiences rather than surveys for their development process. Nowadays, Branson is known for calling flight passengers after their arrival in London personally and asking them about their experience with his airline. To maintain an external viewpoint, you should also hire professionals from other companies for key leadership positions at times – which is what happened when Branson hired managers from competing airlines in Australia and America who brought along insights gained from their own industry knowledge as well as that of competitors’.

Mottos statt Leitbilder

Most company philosophies and mission statements have no influence on what goes on in the company. Many are downright ridiculous—long, full of platitudes. The motto of the Royal Air Force is “Per ardua ad astra”—”Through struggle to the stars.” It’s short and believable. Many companies fail because their texts are interchangeable with those of their competitors; they’re boring or clichéd. Steve Branson’s fitness chain Virgin Active tried to do better with its mission statement: “We want to be the world’s first customer-focused, brand-owned wellness and fitness facility accessible to a broad cross section of society at prices consumers can afford and want to pay.” This concrete set of ambitious goals was then turned into a simple list for employees consisting of dos (try hard) and don’ts (don’t forget customers’ faces). These are actions that will affect people every day more than any philosophy sitting on a shelf somewhere.”

Delegieren statt relegieren

The only important information on your business card is your name and address. Titles and roles provide no good indication of how much respect you deserve or whether you’re capable of leading others. Spread the responsibility in your company as wide as possible – steep hierarchies lead to envy and hinder new ideas. Good leadership can manifest itself in many forms, but bad leadership usually has some commonalities. For instance, many poor leaders tend to “relegate” rather than delegate tasks. Delegating means giving authority and accountability for a task to someone else; re-delegating means pushing problems off onto someone else (e.g., by blaming them). Poor leaders push their own responsibilities onto other people (i..e., they blame everyone except themselves when something goes wrong). Richard Branson became a successful multi-businessman over time, but he doesn’t run any of the Virgin companies directly anymore; instead, he oversees from afar while bringing his expertise into play by pointing out blind spots or new opportunities whenever necessary.

Glück? Risikobereitschaft!

Many people believe that luck plays a big role in success. They claim that they are just lucky to have succeeded, and they don’t know what the secret is to their success. However, if you look at successful companies more closely, you will find that most of them took risks and were bold enough to try new things. Virgin Atlantic Airways was not only cheaper than its competitors but also had an Upper Class with better service than all other airlines’ First Class sections while still being priced lower than Business Class seats on competing airlines.

Virgin Group has had many first experiences that helped them improve their customer service. For example, they started the free shuttle service for customers to and from airports. They also gave away high-quality headsets as gifts while other airlines were still handing out cheap earphones—they found that giving away a gift was cheaper than cleaning and recycling those headphones. The later Virgin Megastores, huge music markets, grew out of a small record shop that served coffee for free and tried to be an area where people would enjoy hanging around in. And especially in marketing departments, smaller companies can compete with big brands by being creative when it comes to advertising budgets via social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter which are more accessible now than ever before!

Königsaufgabe Recruiting

It’s not a good idea to hire new people. That’s because they’ll be taking on important roles in the company later on. Just like at Google, the final decision about all high-level leadership positions lies with the CEO himself. It’s more important to judge whether or not a candidate has character than his/her intelligence. So when you’re interviewing candidates, focus mainly on finding out if he/she fits into your company culture and values. Ask some of your employees who would work with him/her to participate in part of the interview process as well; let them ask their own questions and watch how they interact with each other for a while.

Think outside the box. No one is overqualified for a job if they seem like they really want it. An impression of lack of qualification can also be deceiving: One time, at Virgin Trains, a manager suggested hiring an external cleaning company to clean trains because their employee seemed very enthusiastic in dealing with passengers. Although she failed several times through interviews, when the manager saw her on patrol and heard her story, he changed the test criteria and hired her as station master. She proved herself to be excellent at this role and was promoted to head of stations at Virgin Trains. The point is that you should hire based on your gut feeling rather than formal qualifications alone—internal candidates are often better than external ones anyway (especially if you’re not sure about what qualities you need). Even more important is promoting from within: Internal promotions send signals that people can succeed in your organization; furthermore, internal candidates have already proven themselves by fitting into your team culture.”

Urlaub und Work-Life-Balance

Following Netflix’s example, the Virgin Group has eliminated vacation rules. Employees don’t have to account for how many days they’re not in the office each year anymore. They can take as much time off as they want—as long as their co-workers are informed and business doesn’t suffer. That’s not a gift to employees; it’s an acknowledgment of changes in society that make it more acceptable for people who are always accessible to actually work more than 40 hours per week. Most workers already do, so there should be no strict vacation rules punishing them for working hard when most worked fewer hours at one point anyway. Work-life balance is challenging enough without those archaic policies from a less connected era anyway. There is no easy solution, but compromises will probably play a big part of any resolution or compromise between employers and employees on this issue.”

Kultur vor Strategie

The Virgin Group is a conglomerate of companies that share the same values. All of these companies focus on customer service, fun, and innovation. However, contrary to popular business thought that recommends focusing on one’s core competency, The Virgin Way encourages diversity among its businesses. Each company in the group was not created with an overarching strategy; rather they were brought together by their shared culture which is based upon having fun at work and doing things differently than everyone else. Richard Branson has been known for his April Fool’s jokes since he first started his company and over time it became a tradition for all employees to have some sort of party or celebration whenever there was something important happening within the organization.

Branson uses sustainable thinking in his businesses. If everyone is focused on short-term profits and the leaders are driven by incentives to set ever more ambitious goals, a healthy company culture gets lost. It cannot be regained just by downsizing employees and replacing CEOs. Branson learned from his parents that after failed endeavors it’s best to move forward again with new ideas. Everyone deserves a second chance, and there are advantages to an accommodating leadership style as well. Even if people make serious mistakes they aren’t instantly fired at Virgin. And inspired by an Australian initiative, Branson makes sure that former convicts get hired at Virgin companies around the world too.

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Richtig entscheiden

When it comes to making decisions, there are three types of people. There are the procrastinators who put off making a decision until they’re forced into doing so. Then there’s the type that makes snap decisions, like Richard Branson himself does. And finally, there’s the most rational way: weighing your options and carefully considering whether you have enough time to make an informed decision or if you should just go with your gut instinct right away even though you might regret it later on down the line. Even if something seems like a great idea at first glance, consider all its pros and cons before deciding on it in order to prevent yourself from regretting your choice later on down the road. Also keep in mind that some things take precedence over others when choosing what path to take (for example work versus family). Finally, secure yourself against any risks or failures by planning ahead as much as possible for unforeseen circumstances such as those which may occur during production of Virgin Atlantic Airways’ first 747 airliner (which was given a one-year return option in case anything went wrong).

Richard Branson only invests in ideas that he thinks will do good. It’s important to teach youth entrepreneurship, not making them conformists who do what they’re told. He also supports social businesses that help people have a better life and make the world a better place. If they really work, these companies are not just helping those people—they’re also helping his business.

Full Summary of The Virgin Way


Richard Branson is a multi-billionaire who owns hundreds of successful businesses. He has learned a lot about leadership, and he shares some lessons in his new book. The key to being an effective leader is listening well, having fun, and giving back to others.

Richard Branson is a successful entrepreneur. He started his career as a high school dropout and opened the first Virgin Records store. Learn about his formative experiences, including some of his most famous brands.

In this article, you’ll find out what Branson learned from his father about leadership and how he turned procrastination into an advantage. You’ll also find out why innovators get told no a lot.

Big Idea #1: Branson’s upbringing made him a compassionate leader.

Parents give their children many things, including their genes and attitudes. Richard Branson believes that his leadership style comes from the way he was raised by his parents. As a child, Branson often stole money from his parents’ room to buy candy bars at the local shop. When the store owner told this information to Branson’s father Ted, he expected punishment for stealing money but instead got something much worse—family therapy!

However, his father did not react as he had expected. He merely ignored the misbehavior and refused to take any action against it. Moreover, Branson’s father also gave him the cold shoulder for the rest of that day. Although he didn’t face punishment from his parents, Branson never stole money from them again because he knew that they were disappointed in him-his father’s silence communicated this fact clearly enough.

As an adult and a business owner, Branson has tried to live up to his father’s example of leniency. For example, when he was running Virgin Records, he found out that one of his employees was stealing records from the company and selling them on the side. Instead of firing him for this offense, Branson remembered how kind his own father had been after he’d stolen something as a kid.

Richard Branson is a big believer in second chances. When he caught one of his employees stealing money, he decided to give the employee another chance. The result? This employee never stole anything again and became an asset to the company. Unfortunately, Richard Branson’s approach to business doesn’t reflect some other successful entrepreneurs such as Donald Trump who fired people on TV for entertainment purposes and made them look bad publicly.

Virgin doesn’t follow that trend.

Big Idea #2: The ability to truly listen is the unsung secret of business success.

Most people focus on the speaking skills of leaders, instead of listening. However, there are many great speakers who fail to lead their organizations and achieve success. Two examples are Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy. They were both excellent speakers but had different leadership styles that led them to different levels of success in life.

Even though Churchill and Kennedy were great orators, they must have been good listeners as well. Branson thinks listening is a skill that’s often overlooked by leaders who are more concerned with what they’re going to say next.

For over four decades, Branson has been listening to others and writing down their interesting remarks. When he was a teenager, he interviewed John Le Carre for his magazine, Student. Although he usually brought a tape recorder with him to the interview, it didn’t work well that day so he began jotting down what Le Carre said instead. Nowadays, Branson keeps hundreds of notebooks filled with reflections from himself and others.

Richard Branson has been successful in his business thanks to being a good listener and note taker. He gives speeches around the world, and one young man stood out during a Q&A session because he was an excellent questioner, listened intently, asked follow-up questions, and took notes on what Branson said.

Sir Stelios Ioannou is the founder of EasyJet, a successful airline. He was originally just a wealthy shipping magnate’s son but he went on to be very successful. Richard Branson believes that this is because Sir Stelios was an avid listener and took good notes about what people told him.

Big Idea #3: A successful company is also a fun one.

If you ask someone about their company culture, they might not be able to tell you. This is because many people don’t understand what their company’s culture is like. However, Richard Branson thinks that the way a company acts and treats its employees can have a big impact on how successful it will be in the future. In fact, he agrees with Peter Drucker who said “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

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What does a company culture look like? It’s apparent that Branson believes it to be something fun and enjoyable. He states that when Virgin started, they were all just friends hanging out in the record store. This was because everyone enjoyed what they did and loved their job.

Virgin is a successful company because it has fun. The employees work hard, but they also have fun. Branson saw this in another company: Southwest Airlines, a low-cost airline based out of Texas that was founded 40 years ago by Herb Kelleher.

Herb Kelleher has always tried to inject fun into his business. When another airline was about to sue Southwest for stealing their slogan, Herb persuaded the CEO of that company to settle by arm-wrestling! Their customers also enjoy a sense of humor at Southwest, as evidenced by one time when passengers boarded only to find no flight attendants on board. It turned out they were hiding in the overhead bins and jumped out shouting “Surprise!”

Southwest Airlines has an amazing culture. It’s a great place to work, and it’s the only airline company that has been profitable for forty years!

Big Idea #4: Luck favors the brave and the well-prepared.

How can you make your own luck? In other words, when opportunity knocks, you better be prepared to open the door. Let’s take a look at an example from Branson’s life that illustrates this point. The first album that Branson released was Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. Unfortunately, though it was popular in the UK, he had difficulty selling it to Atlantic Records for American audiences because they thought it wouldn’t sell well.

After many phone calls from Richard Branson, Ahmet Ertegun finally listened to Tubular Bells. He decided it would be the perfect soundtrack for a film by William Friedkin. The movie was The Exorcist, which became famous and led to sales of the album.

Of course, it was lucky that Friedkin walked in during the recording session. However, if Branson hadn’t pressured Ertegun to listen to the album again, he probably wouldn’t have been there.

Luck is very important in life. It can bring us opportunities that we would not have otherwise had. People who are courageous enough to take chances and make decisions based on their gut instinct tend to be luckier than others. A good example of this is Richard Branson, who has been described as the “luckiest man in business,” due to his many successes despite taking risks, such as starting an airline company at age 22 with just $600 (which eventually became Virgin Atlantic).

One day, a stranger asked Antonio to go for coffee. The stranger showed him his company’s research and explained that it had the potential to be something big. However, he was too technical for Antonio to understand. Nevertheless, he gave up $10,000 in savings because of this idea and bought 1 percent of the company (which is now known as Google). This was a risky move but turned out well in the end.

Big Idea #5: Procrastinate your way to a great decision.

Great decisions are made by great leaders. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, knows that there is no secret formula for making the perfect decision every time. It’s better to take your time and make a good decision than rush into one with harmful consequences.

Richard Branson used to be very impulsive when it came to decision-making, but now he’s more cautious.

For example, when the Virgin Group entered the aviation business, Richard Branson didn’t conduct a lot of research. Instead, he made an instinctual decision and quickly launched Virgin Atlantic Airlines. This was successful because it was in line with his gut feeling. However, some of Branson’s decisions have been less successful in the past; for instance, he decided to enter the soda industry with Virgin Cola and then later into bridal wear design with Virgin Brides. Unfortunately these were not profitable ventures.

Branson is a seasoned entrepreneur who has had decades of both success and failure. He believes that we should take as much time as possible to make decisions, because it’s the best way to ensure our success.

Several years ago, Richard Branson was offered an opportunity to invest in a little-known financial commodity. His team of Virgin Money employees recommended he invest immediately, but he wanted to investigate the investment further and make sure it wasn’t too risky. After doing his own research and getting pressure from Goldman Sachs, Branson declined the offer.

Goldman Sachs was a financial company that got involved in the subprime mortgage business. This turned out to be a bad decision, because it led to the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. Goldman Sachs also had some legal problems related to their misleading information practices during that time period.

Big Idea #6: Conventional wisdom is often the enemy of innovation.

As an innovator, your biggest challenge is persuading naysayers that your idea will work. This was the problem facing Sultan Bayazid II in the sixteenth century when he wanted to build a bridge across Istanbul’s River Bosphorus. However, engineers of that time weren’t able to figure out how to do it. Eventually, he asked Leonardo da Vinci for help and was given a design which allowed him to complete his project successfully.

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Leonardo da Vinci produced a beautiful rendering of a bridge design, but the rest of the engineering world told him his vision was too fantastical to succeed. The Sultan never built the bridge. Today’s innovators are still being told no by their short-sighted contemporaries, but luckily Richard Branson has not let naysayers hold him back. For instance, when he opened up his first Virgin Megastore in New York City, many people thought it would fail because Times Square wasn’t considered safe at that time.

The people who said that the new store would not be successful were wrong. The store began making over a million dollars per week, and its success led to redevelopment in Times Square.

Richard Branson is often criticized for his ideas. However, he has proven his critics wrong many times. For example, when Virgin Atlantic was launched, it was said that 40 percent of passengers’ time on the flight was wasted in the departure lounge. To make this experience more enjoyable and luxurious like the actual flight itself, Branson decided to improve the airport experience as well.

While other airlines were neglecting their passengers, Virgin Atlantic launched clubs for departing passengers. They offered sit-down meals, business centers and haircuts in the clubs. The club memberships were included in the price of the flight, which was believed to be uneconomical by critics. However, once again Branson proved them wrong with his innovative thinking that led to success.

Virgin Atlantic’s perks were so desirable that even customers of other airlines began flying with them. Their competitors started adding swanky departure lounges to their own offerings, but it was too late. Virgin had already won the hearts and minds of its target market. Don’t let conventional wisdom get in your way if you have a great idea; pursue it!

Big Idea #7: The leaders of tomorrow need to be guided toward entrepreneurship.

Richard Branson is proud of the Virgin Group’s approach to helping young people become entrepreneurs. He believes that schools need to change their curriculum and teach students how to be successful in business. As a school dropout, he was taught these skills by his parents, which allowed him to start multiple businesses when he was 16 years old. If you talk with teenagers today, you’ll notice they have the qualities needed for entrepreneurship: They’re willing to take risks and challenge convention.

Many schools believe that free-thinking students should be discouraged from having their own opinions. Instead, they are encouraged to conform and do what everyone else does. For example, if the teacher suggests a certain career path for them, then they should follow it.

The author’s approach is to teach children outdated curriculum, including algebra and calculus. The author believes that a better way would be to get real-life entrepreneurs in the classroom talking about their work with young people. The author still remembers with frustration that his teachers didn’t talk about anything else but teaching! In order for educators to open up students’ eyes to different possibilities, they need to engage with those who have chosen different paths themselves.

Moreover, if you’re an entrepreneur talking to young people, don’t be afraid of failure. It’s a valuable part of the learning process and can teach them important lessons.

The Virgin Way Book Summary, by Richard Branson

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