Book Review: “Screw Business as Usual” – How to Make a Difference in the World!

You have to hand it to Richard Branson for coming up with a title and a book on unorthodox business practices, leadership, innovation and creativity, that is as unconventional as he is! Richard Branson is one of the most fascinating business leaders and individuals to me, in recent years. He is an author, business entrepreneur, humanitarian, adventurer, and all around celebrity, who is anything but ordinary!!!

For those living under a rock or in a cave the last decade or so, Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin brand of organizations.  Among some of his more well known companies have been Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Galactic, and recently Virgin Unite. He is also the author of the books “Losing My Virginity“, “Screw It, Let’s Do It“, “Business Stripped Bare” and now “Screw Business as Usual“.

Screw Business as Usual” was a fascinating look into the mind of a man who enjoys challenging the status quo, and believes whole-heartedly in social entrepreneurship and combining the power of businesses in raising money, providing jobs, raising people’s standards of living, and providing rewards to their founders; with doing good for the betterment of man and the environment. As a self-made billionaire, in multiple industries, Branson has not only drawn a great deal of attention to himself via a wide variety of publicity stunts for his various Virgin brands, he has also lent his name and financial resources to a variety of social causes that he believes in!

Branson discusses in the book the founding of the organization Virgin Unite in 2004, whose purpose was to be a foundation which would combine business entrepreneurs with worthy social causes. Several of the causes which obviously are close to his heart and are mentioned throughout the book include healthcare, HIV/AIDS, global warming, and poverty. Branson discusses his philosophy of “Capitalism 24902” which refers to the 24,902 mile circumference of the Earth, and the impact business has on the entire planet. Read the first chapter titled “Capitalism 24902” of the book here.

One of the key ideas throughout the book that I applaud Richard Branson for is the idea that to best help people you should not necessarily just throw money at a problem! People need, want, and should, work to help themselves. Many of the initiatives that are discussed in the book and are the focus of Virgin Unite are not just charity, but providing resources to help people pull themselves up and better their lives. Among some of the programs discussed in the book are the following:

  • The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in both South Africa and now the Caribbean, which provides funds to budding business owners , as well as business skills training to individuals to help them better themselves and their communities.
  • The Elders, a philanthropic organization which includes as its founding members and board of advisors, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former South African President Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Their purpose is to serve as an advisory organization in humanitarian work, and world issues.
  • Virgin Unite, which is the not-for-profit arm of the Virgin conglomerate, and which provides funds to aspiring entrepreneurs, and organizations to provide solutions in the areas of business, healthcare initiatives, environmental causes, homelessness, poverty and unemployment.
  • Support for WildAid which is calling for a ban on shark fin soup to prevent the needless slaughter of millions of sharks strictly for their fins! Check out the film “Sharkwater” for more information.
  • The Peace Parks Foundation in Africa which supports the protection and free roaming of endangered animals such as elephants and rhinos across country borders.
  • The Carbon War Room which was co-founded by Richard Branson to harness the power of entrepreneurs to find market-driven solutions to climate change. Their initial focus has been on improving energy efficiency and reducing CO2 output in the commercial shipping, biofuels, building energy, and industrial emissions areas.

Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist, is quoted as saying the following, which is the underlying message of Branson’s book:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

In fact, through many examples, Richard Branson describes how small groups of people, and even individuals, have made significant impacts on the world in meaningful ways. They’ve inspired entire organizations to change business practices, they’ve inspired nations to change cultural practices, and they’ve inspired entire changes in philosphy on a world-wide level! That is a significant achievement to say, and just goes to show, that people can still make a difference in this world, whether on a micro or macro level.

I found myself highly inspired by this book! While I’m trying to find a sense of myself, and a purpose going forward, I feel works like this are inspirational, serving as excellent examples via the case studies, of how to combine business and social philanthropy. In fact, I would encourage readers of this article to purchase a copy of the book, whether through this site, your local bookstore, or some other means. Richard Branson and Virgin Unite are donating 100% of the proceeds from the book to Virgin Unite’s various causes. Here’s a chance to do some good while educating yourself and learning about some very valuable business skills and entrepreneurial mavericks via the dozens of case studies!!!

Check out more information about Screw Business as Usual via social media and this video presented at TEDxOxbridge.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/VirginUnite

Twitter: @virginunite #sbau

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