January 3, 2018

Book Reflection: The Virgin Way by Richard Branson

My first time to borrow a book at the Toronto Public Library and I chose this book by Richard Branson. Mr Branson is definitely one of the more iconic business leaders of his generation and I knew very little about him so I thought it would be interesting to read his thoughts on leadership.

The Virgin Way by Richard Branson
The Virgin Way by Richard Branson

There were a few things that stood out to me about "The Virgin Way".

Listening is more important than speaking

This is something that I am a believer in and I always thought this was a more Eastern philosophy than a Western one. So it was great to hear one of the great Western business leaders say that this was one of his core philosophies. 

Being quiet and taking down notes is one of the things that many people will not associate with a strong leader who are often portrayed in mass media as outspoken and intimidating. But I completely agree that listening intently and having a few well placed questions will have more impact than interrupting with a hollow comment.

People and culture are important to success

One thing I knew about Mr Branson and his companies is that there is a "Virgin" image that cuts across all his brands and products. One could argue that this was all marketing hype but reading the book made me realize that this image is deeply rooted in the people and the culture of Virgin.

Mr Branson went to great lengths to make sure that the company walked the talk and gave his teams not only a fun working environment but a venue to grow and learn. He also empowered them to make sure that their customers got the best service no matter the cost. This resulted in customers who loved the brand and became loyal.

Without the front liners buying into and living and breathing The Virgin Way, the different Virgin brand would not be where it is today: one of the most loved and trusted brands in the world. This allowed Mr Branson to branch off into different industries that are light years away from where he originally started - music. 

It's true that the Virgin brand was the foundation of many of his successful ventures, but it was the people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes that built the brand and culture.

Don't be afraid to look outside for help

Mr Branson spoke about many examples where he was clueless about a new industry he wanted to enter and he was never afraid to ask for help from others.

This may seem basic but a lot of times, our pride gets in the way of us asking for help. Let us not forget that rarely do people achieve success by themselves. Whether it's asking a family member for their opinion or asking an acquaintance to make an introduction, at some point we will need to ask for help. So be humble and be open to helping someone else in need too!

As someone who is in the advertising industry, we often talk about brands that stand for something and Virgin is often an example that comes to minds because of how successful they have been in having a diversified catalog of products and services that all follow The Virgin Way.

The book is a great inside peek at the guy himself who used this philosophy into everything that he built. You can say that everything that Mr Branson did was both done with a purpose but also at times done with nothing more than a gut feel that it would work out. This rogue/rebel attitude ties all of Virgin together and The Virgin Way is so well entrenched that the business continues to grow, thrive and push the boundaries.