“Business Stripped Bare” best business book of the year

I read Richard Branson’s new book Business Stripped Bare over the weekend. My family (all women) went to a women’s retreat so I was all alone this weekend. Except for a friend Ed who came over to watch the last James Bond movie, can’t wait for the new one to come out. So I had a lot of time to read Business Stripped Bare.

First off, excellent book, really excellent.  What I love about the book is that the stories are positive and negative and from someone that actually goes business.  It’s amazing how many business books are written by authors, professional authors who do not run a business.  It’s hard to take any advice from someone that has never run a business.  Richard Branson talks about that in the beginning of his book.  He sees the business books in the airport newstands and find most of them are rubbish.  I’ve noticed that too.  So a book from an actually entrepreneur is refreshing. And Richard Branson I believe is the ultimate entrepreneur.

I learned a lot from his stories of his failures.  How many times do people write about their failures?  Not much if at all.  So Richard’s stories about “Northern Rock” bank in the UK and his unsuccessful bid to buy it was enlightening.  You can learn so much from failure but people don’t want to admit their have ever failed.  I have in the past and it has been so helpful.  Strange but so true.

One of the big points that is sticking with me from the book is what Richard thinks should be written into every business plan.  It’s so important that it should be required by all businesses.  I know when I started reading that I was thinking “Wow, I wonder what is so important?”  And then he says celebrating your wins.  And proceeds to tell a story about the launch of Virgin Direct a UK insurance company.  Richard shows up at the office and see everyone working making sure the launch goes smoothly.  He gets up on the nearest desk with champagne and pops it open yelling and celebrating and getting everyone in the party mood.  Of course he proceeds to short out four of the computers in the process but he gets the celebration started.  The launch parties are so important as it gives the team a chance to stop and see what they have accomplished.  They get recognitionfor their good work.  They also get to see The Richard Branson.  When the big guy is partying with you, you are bound to feel good about the company you work for.  Nobody wants a grumpy boss.  And Richard Branson is definitely not grumpy.

I got a big kick out of that idea that I will implement on my next launch.

His definition of success I think is wonderful and I’m going to end on that.

I think that the more you’re actively and practically engaged, the more successful you will feel.  Actually, that might even be my definition of success.  Right now, I find myself doing more and more to safeguard our future on this planet.  Does that make me successful?  It certainly makes me happy

Success for me is whether you have created something that you can be really proud of.  Profits are necessary to invest in the next project – and pay the bills, repay investors and reward all the hard work – but that’s all.  Nobody should be remembered for how much money they have made in life.  Whether you die with a billion dollars in your bank account or $20 under your pillow is actually not that interesting.  That’s not what you’re achieved in life.  What matters is whether you’re created something special – and whether you’ve made a real difference to other people’s lives.