D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Book Review: Screw It, Let’s Do It

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 7:48 AM

Last month at the Microsoft WPC I had the opportunity to see Richard Branson do a live Q&A during one of the morning keynotes. I honestly knew very little about Branson, other than he headed up Virgin – which was, what, a music, mobile phone, and airline company that was also looking into space travel? My education into all things Branson was about to begin.

You can see the entire video of the Q&A from the WPC site here, but what was really awesome was the initial intro video that gave a whirlwind tour of where Virgin, and Branson, started, evolved, and where its going. The final frame is Branson saying “Screw it, let’s do it!”, a catchphrase, a motto, and also the name of one of his books.

Screw It, Let's Do It (Quick Reads)The subtitle is “Lessons in Life”, and what an incredible life Branson has lived! While the book highlights his business ventures, it also details his many personal achievements which include flying a balloon across the ocean, flying another balloon across the ocean and having it crash land in the far north of Canada, racing boats, almost dying when testing a prototype flying machine (the inventor actually died a short time later testing it out himself), and (I kid you not) using his contacts with King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan to help negotiate the freeing of British hostages during the Iraq/Kuwait war.

Richard had amazing parents, although his mom seemed a tad nuts (she would do things like drop him off miles from home and tell him to find his own way – as a lesson in being independent). Still, he credits his parents with instilling the virtues and beliefs that make him who he is today.

Also refreshing is reading about how things didn’t come easy. Amidst stories of buying an island, having a home in Africa, and other billionaire-type-stuff were stories of needing to downsize Virgin Records due to lack of sales, an expensive exercise in taking Virgin public and then having to purchase shares back to make it private again, having to be creative in securing funds from banks and family, and (while touched on very briefly) having a failed marriage.

But the mood and tempo is always upbeat, even when you’re reading about how he’s trapped in a balloon shooting up to over 40,000 feet where his “eyes and lungs would be sucked out of his body”. The scenes shift from a basement where his first magazine Student was being run out of to the upper edges of the atmosphere – its a wild ride, and a fun one.

There is no good reason not to buy this book. For one, its short. I read the “Quick Reads” version, a Kindle e-book from Amazon, which clocks in at 111 pages. There’s also an expanded edition in print that’s 240 pages. The Kindle version is under $4.00. That’s pocket change well spent!

The only downside to this book is that its a gateway drug to the other Branson books. I’m planning on picking up Losing My Virginity next.

A solid 5/5.

Links

Amazon.com Kindle Edition (Quick Read version, 111 pages)

Amazon.com Paper Expanded Edition

Amazon.ca Paper Extended Edition

Chapters.ca Paper Extended Edition




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