When do you think of the word successful what Person comes first to mind?
For me, success means that you live an extraordinarily adventurous life. A life on your terms. That you have successfully monetized your passion and that you add massive value to others while doing so. You work with fun and amazing people and solve together big problems for the world.
To me, nobody else personifies these ideas more than Sir Richard Branson.
The last book I reviewed was vagabonding, by rolf potts. A guide that shows you that traveling is affordable for everybody if you are willing to make some lifestyle sacrifices and rely on minimalism. The book motivated me to write the article “my broke a*s Road Trip” an experiment where I traveled through Germany with almost no money.
After returning from my adventure, it turned out however that although minimalism is liberating, the world I live in currently is pretty expensive. So I thought I need to start to hack my finances and attack my financial issues head-on. As I write this article I currently make zero $ with my blog. So I thought I need to start to learn how people think who actually make money with what they love.
I learn best through case studies. Real life examples. So Why not learn from somebody who conquered the problems I am having right now. This is why I decided to investigate the brain of Sir Richard Branson and steal some mental habits from him. Since to this point he has not agreed to talk to me in person, I decided to investigate the very best next thing: his first autobiography.
Who is Richard Branson?
Richard Branson is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world today. He is the founder of the Virgin Group and with he has a net worth of over 5 billion dollars! Damn, that is a lot of money right?! Normally I am reluctant when It comes to equating networth with success. I Think of bankers who are only in their office their entire life. Words like boring or clockwork come to mind.
Boring is a word you would never associate with Richard Branson. And he is not your typical billionaire(if there is anything as such).
Richard Branson was born in 1950 and he had a very happy childhood. In his book, he describes how his parents always challenged him. Giving him tasks out of his comfort zone, teaching him early that failing is a sign of strength. His mother pushed him out in a field at a very early age, telling him to find the way home by himself. Richard Branson jokingly said that the things her mother did to prepare him for the world would be illegal today.
Richard Branson Parents were in the upper middle class, so he was not born super rich.
In school, Richard Branson was everything else than outstanding. He was dyslexic and failed hopelessly in math and other sciences. However even there seemed to be an aura around him. People naturally gathered around him. And from a very early age, he had his own mind.
When Richard Branson graduated the school’s headmaster said to him: “You will either go to prison or become a millionaire.” Little did he know that he was right with both.
Branson’s first entrepreneurial endeavor was to create a student magazine that included interviewing Mick Jagger and John Lemmon among many others. One of the things that fascinated me with this magazine was that the goal was not primarily to make money but to have fun. A mantra that Richard Branson took with him into his next business endeavors.
Branson gang of friends was obsessed with music and they decided to sell records via mail. This project later became Virgin music business.
The first singer Virgin signed was a young musician called Mike Oldfield. This was an odd choice because the Virgin music was a rock music label, and Mike Oldfield had no vocals in his album Tubular Bells.
This song was one of the biggest- selling albums of the 1970s. Later they collaborated with big bands like the Sex Pistols, Phil Collins, Human League and many other stars. They became big and were floating in cash.
What surprised me was that he went form the music business into founding an airline. He was always a big-time investor and eventually through some weird circumstances, he received a proposal to establish a new airline that would compete with British Airways. He was upset with the way British airways were exploiting their monopoly. They were raising prices, and passenger comfort was going down. And he frankly believed that he could do better.
So Richard Branson negotiated to rent a boing 747 for a year. This to me was crazy that he would try something this big on a whim without being afraid just to see if it works. This stuck with me. To just rent a freaking airplane and see where it goes. This motivated me to 10x all my dreams and start to think big.
So Why Did I Choose To Make a Book Review About Losing My Virginity?
Being a millionaire with 22? Flying over the Atlantic in a balloon? Being knighted by the Queen? Buying your own Island? Trying to make free wifi a thing for the entire world? Writing a bestseller when you are dyslexic? Founding “Virgin Interplanetary” in order to make space travel possible for everyone? Those are all crosses on his Richard Branson’s bucket list. There are many big things in life. Nothing as big as the cajones of this mfer.
For me doing a book review about losing my virginity was a must. He personifies the perfect case study for success in my opinion. The sheer amount of impact that he had on the world, the brave business endeavors that he started, the adventurous expeditions that he undertook are just mindboggling.
It is crazy what is possible inside of one life on this planet. I hope that one day I get a personal interview with this guy.
As humans we have a beautiful ability that is unique to our species: We can read a story and relive the adventures and experiences in our head like we are the protagonist.
I think to soak in Richard Branson life journey is a must for every hungry men or woman. It was super fascinating to see how different he thinks towards business, traveling and trying new things.
One of the cornerstones of my philosophy is that when you start to think like people with extreme results it will eventually rub of on you and you yourself will get better. Or in my case, I was hoping to suck a little less.
Emulating the thinking patterns, habits, tools, and life hacks from highly successful people is one of the focal points of my work right now. So what did I learn from studying Sir Richard Branson?
4 Takeaways from Richards Branson’s Autobiography
- You Make Money by Solving Problems
In his autobiography, you can see that Richard Branson thinks in a unique way. For him, problems are gold nuggets. He searches for markets that need a shakeup. Is there a way to do it better or cooler or more customer orientated?
This was the Idea behind virgin Airways. He did not like the way British Airways were exploiting their monopoly position. The prizes were going up for the customers and the quality and comfort was going down. Richard Branson saw this problem as a business opportunity. I believe we all should think this way. Instead of just scratching our own niche we should ask ourselves :
What does the world need? Where does a shakeup need to happen? In which market do people deserve better? Where is my expertise needed the most? What is a problem that I can attack better than everybody else?
Ask yourself bevor starting a business if this endeavor is only serving yourself, or if you are actually are adding value and creating something new for other people. I am blessed to be surrounded in my inner circle by great people, and a lot of founders. Some more successful than others. The startups that survived were the ones that were actually solving problems. They were making people lives better, even a little bit. All the marketing in the world is not enough if your product just plain su*ks. How you make your money is just as important as that you make money.
Fusing a problem with your own talents will bring out the best in you because you are driven by more than your personal needs. You think that the thing that you are building has to exist. And that people deserve better and that if you don’t do it nobody else will, so you almost have no choice but to create this startup, company or product or write your book.
- Follow Your Dreams.
As cheesy as this sounds, one of my major takeaways was that you need an exciting vision for your future. A dream. Do you have that one topic that you never get tired of talking about? Go all balls to the wall on that.
In order to become successful, you need to excel in your field of expertise. Be so good that they ignore you. I really internalized this principle of the last years. I talk very openly about my latest financial struggles recently. But I am all in of becoming world class in my niche. I believe that there is no other way around it. Make yourself so valuable that you are starting to become an asset for others.
And prepare yourself for a rough sailing. A sentence that I never heard from a successful founder was ” this was easy”.
If your dream is as big you gotta eat it, sleep it, breathe it become obsessed with it. Be that guy who can never shut up about your dream. If you are not at least annoying your friends a little bit with your vision, you are doing it wrong.
I believe having a dream is a necessity. A dream motivates us to hold ourselves to a higher standard. To hold ourselves accountable. Something that most people don’t realize is that there is always competing behavior. Meaning there is a duality of things. When you decide on something, you at the same time decide against something else. Getting Shi*t faced on Friday at the same time is a decision against a productive and happy Saturday. Your dream is your happy place. And you want to get there as fast as possible. And procrastination, lethargy, alcoholism, and distraction will become less and less attractive for you.
One of the goals of my blog is to start to deconstruct unhappiness as well. Depression in particular. And in my investigation of people in a psychiatric facility, it was a pattern that people did not have a great vision for their future. People who have depression, in particular, don’t see a future for themselves at all. I believe that humans need a dream as much as we need food or water or sex. To have an internal confidence and trust, that eventually the puzzle pieces will fall into place for you. That although you are going through a rough stretch, things will not stay bad always.
All the people I worked with who later were severely suicidal had a pattern in common that they internalized that things are never going to get better. That life is never going to turn around. In that case, it is almost logical to put an end to it, because you are protecting yourself from a lot of incoming pain.
Case studies like Richard Branson were fascinating to me because their mental patterns are really like day and night. And I learned that there are thought patterns to stay away from, and mental habits to emulate.
So find I urge you to find you why, a task or a dream that you will only be able to conquer at your absolute best. In my case, this very much saved my life.
- Have fun
Some advice from a behavior psychology geek: Loving what you do is a necessity. Without going all nerd nation on you guys, psychologist knows for quite some time now that we repeat what we reward.
We learn things by pairing neutral stuff with positive emotions. Emotions create habits guys. If you link joy and fun to a behavior, your brain will start to crave the very thing you are doing. If you link pain to something, your brain will do everything in its power to avoid this behavior.
If you associate sacrifice and stress and discomfort to your work you won’t be able to put in the extra hours. Richard Branson is a working machine. I wondered for some time how successful entrepreneurs were able to sacrifice their 20s and thirties. How they mentally made peace with working so much. The only plausible answer that I can come up with is that they love it. It does not work for them.
This is important guys. Pain and pleasure are the two parts of your driving wheel that put you in a place to decide what person you want to become.
If you love what you do then why should you stop after 8 hours? This enables you to work longer and harder than someone who does it because he has to do it. Falling in love with your hussle will enable you to crush it in the long game. Otherwise, no chance guys.
- Don’t give up
Everything that sounds cliche has some truth to it. One of my personal takeaways from Richards Branson’s Book and from other high achievers I interviewed personally was that they share one habit in particular: The habit of Perseverance.
They all seem fcking batshiit crazy when it comes to giving up. In order to go through hardships in business or Life, you need to be a little bit insane and delusional even.
To me, it seems that high achievers seem to live in their own world sometimes. And that they have the ability to march forward even if they are laughed at or ridiculed. They don’t give up, and they don’t give an f and this enables them to inspire others to march with them. I believe that the combination of kindness and sheer strength is resonating with people.
Branson personifies both traits. I don’t think it is a coincidence that amazing people gather around guys like him.
- Crush your Comfort Zone
Richard Branson seems to have the ability to stress out less than others even in the face of extreme pressure or uncertainty. This seems to be a pattern with successful leaders. To stay chill, even in the face of crisis. In my podcast with Tian Yao, she told me that the antidote for stress is more stress. I think I know understand where she is coming from.
To keep your cool even in the face of extreme situations is really a skill for itself. Richard Branson, however, is a different kind of animal. On his many adventures, his life was at jeopardy multiple times. One example is that while trying to fly his balloon around the world he was threatened by multiple nations because he accidentally flew over war zones.
It must take a lot of guts, to leave something as successful as the record business and tackle other ridiculous projects like creating free wifi for the world or trying to make space travel affordable just shows a huge willingness to operate outside of this comfort zone.
Sometimes in life, you just need to throw things against the wall and see what sticks. I think one of the best ways to live a boring unhappy life is to stay always in your comfort zone. If you are reading this right ask yourself, what is the most outrageous thing that you could do today that could end up changing your life?
What is a job that you in your wildest dreams would never apply to? Is there a girl or a boy who you wanted to ask out for a long time but didn’t have the guts to do so? Maybe you write a mail to your role model and ask for a mentorship?.
This book encouraged me to fail more, and fail harder. Otherwise, we never will know what we are truly capable of. So get yourself into uncomfortable situations, in situations where you have to figure it out, where you have to adapt, where you have to learn.
Some time ago, I took this challenge. I thought that if I wanted to become a world-class psychologist someday myself, I first needed to find the world expert in my niche, and learn from him. I applied for an unpaid apprenticeship for Standford psychologist named Bj Fogg. To this day the most ballsy academical move I ever made. For me, this is pretty much the equivalent of asking tiger woods for golf lessons. What happens everytime you make such actions is that you crush your old standard and create a new one for yourself.
So I urge you to fail. To fail daily. After all, if we are not growing, we are slowly dying inside.
On every adventure I have been on — whether setting up a business, flying around the world in a balloon or racing across the ocean in a boat — there have been moments when the easy thing to do would be to give up,” Richard Branson
What I will Change in my life
My biggest Take away from the book was that I needed to think bigger. Like a lot bigger. Most of my dreams were centered around me. Things I wanted to have. Milestones I wanted to achieve.
Richard Branson thinks of Problems in the world as potential business opportunities. That we should choose a market that is fun and brings you joy and that is compatible with your skills. He believes that you get rich by solving peoples problems. And the more problems you solve the richer you get.
So I asked myself :
What major Problems do we have in society?
Are there some big problems that I could help solve?
My expertise lies in clinical psychology and behavioral psychology. I help people to form new habits and get rid of undesired behaviors. The classical business model of a psychologist is to work with one person at a time. So being inspired by Richard Branson habit of thinking big I thought of ways how to help more persons. How to solve more problems.
So did two things after reading this book:
1. Multiply the numbers of people I want to help.
I multiplied the number of people that I wanted to help by 100. I asked myself how can I help 100 persons at a time instead of only 1? So thought about scaleable ways to create behavior-changing products. How can I add value to guys on scale level? For me, I decided to create products that aim at changing peoples behavior for the better, ebooks, masterclasses. Something that I need to double down on. I urge you that you do the same.
What is your moonshot? How can you multiply the number of problems that you are solving? What is the one thing that you might become better at than everybody else on this planet?
I believe that there is no happiness to be found in life by playing it small. So although I am at the start of my journey, I promise my self to go all out. Even if this means to freak fail at the lot and get mocked by others.
2.Think of problems as gold nuggets
I asked my self after reading this book :
What is a problem that I can solve better than others?
For me, it was my personal experience with depression and mental health.
So my moonshot problem is that I want to contribute on attacking big problems such as depression and raise awareness for mental health and personal transformation. Furthermore, I realized that I needed to become an expert in those fields first. A world expert.
Otherwise, I would not be adding value. Since I still see myself in the role of the learner, I, for now, will put my efforts on 2 things
- Finding successful people and pick their brains on my podcast. It is my dream to gather there a collection of particularly extraordinary case studies that you and I can learn from.
- Becoming a nomad psychologist
The Idea of traveling the world and interviewing outstanding scientists, spiritual leaders, biohackers, successful entrepreneurs in order to find habits, patterns, behaviors, tools, and hacks that make other people better became a necessity for me. I need to learn, and I need to learn fast. I do not want to be the guy who is success blogger who is living in his mom’s basement. Since now thousands of people read my stuff I don’t short sell you guys by creating shitty art. So will continue to do reviews, until I finish the 1000 book challenge. After all, the more we learn, the more value we are able to give.
If people arent calling you crazy, you arent thinking big enough — Richard Branson
Call to action
Grab a sheet of paper and write downc
- If failure were not an option where would you be in 3 years?
- What is your dream income?
- Now Multiply your dream and your dreamed income by 10 x!
- What would you have to do if you want to achieve that 10xed dream and income in 6 months? Write down 10 answers
- What can you do today to make your 6-month plan a reality?
- If you die tomorrow what would be things that you would regret the most? What Ideas would die with you?