“If you live every day like it’s your last, someday you’ll almost certainly be right.” Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, picks-up pace in his book by quoting Steve Jobs during the commencement speech Jobs made at Stanford University in 2005. Of all the commendable quotes Mr. Branson references in his book, I found this particular one to be the most fitting to start my paper with. The words “live every day like it’s your last” perfectly capture Mr. Branson’s belief that success in leadership lives in fostering the development of the overall morale and identity of any company. Mr. Branson also frequently mentions the importance of ‘listening’ as opposed to just hearing what is being said. His philosophy is that ‘Listening makes you sound smarter’ and, in order to be a good listener, you must develop a habit of effective note taking, which is a complementary skill to the practice of listening.
What makes this book great?
The stories Mr. Branson shares through his personal, lifelong experiences, coupled with the genuine importance of the content, make this book an incredible must read for all business enthusiasts. This book would not have the same effect on readers if it were a step-by-step playbook of what others should do to follow in Mr. Branson’s footsteps. By reading about a successful person’s first-hand experiences, this book sparks inspiration in others to strive to achieve similar success. This is not just one rosy tale after the other describing ‘How [he] made it big’, but rather, an honest account of all of the seemingly insurmountable challenges, near misses, and failures, which are every bit as valuable as the success stories themselves. The experiences shared by Mr. Branson are not only through concepts that may be difficult to fathom for the inexperienced, but rather through the telling of the adversity he faced in his journey to get to where he is now.
Why is this book important to you?
I want to be a leader - a good one! I’m finding out that to lead others, you must first develop the skills necessary to lead yourself. Mr. Branson addresses the significance of leading by being in the front line. Just as it is important for your customers to see you, it is as equally important for your employees to watch you lead by example by facing the daily challenges that arise in a work environment every day.
Why should others read this book?
Do you want to be a better leader? Sure, we all do – but how? Well, as Colin Powell is quoted in the book, ‘great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, and debate and doubt to offer a solution everyone can understand’. Wow. So, in order to simplify situations we should simplify the root of the problems? Yes, exactly. But to do this you have to K-I-S-S, as in, ‘Keep it Simple Stupid’! Unfortunately, this principle of keeping things simple and to the point is something that many business leaders do not abide by. When I first saw the K-I-S-S acronym on page 80 in the book, it took me by no surprise, as I like to do things the same way. I believe that people today have such a short attention span, not to mention, a limited amount of time. Thus, in order to effectively get a message across, you must keep it simple. Without giving away too much of the book, if you are looking for more ideas, concepts, and methodical approaches to different business situations that we have reviewed in class, this book will fulfill your desire to continue your journey. It all starts from good mentorship and this book gives you the tools required to race against the competitors.