Screw it. Let’s Do it. (Lessons in Life) - Richard Branson
Produced as part of the RaW ‘Quick Reads’ series.

Screw ItIn the UK the BBC are running an initiative called RaW, (Reading and Writing) which aims to improve the levels of literacy and encourage everyone to read and write more. This is one of a series of 24 ‘Quick Read’ books that have been produced to support the initiative.

The books are designed to be accessible, they’re in paperback format, fairly short and don’t look too intimidating. This is of course important for those whose reading is not a strength or for whom perhaps English is not their first language. However even for those whose reading is good, many a book purchased with good intent, languishes on the shelf unread as we never quite find the time needed to read it.

Richard Branson is well known not simply for his success in business as head of Virgin, but for the manner in which he has achieved it. In this short book he sets out the key lessons that he has learned and which guide his approach to life and business. He manages to cram a lot of ideas into the nine short chapters, and reveals insights into his childhood, the development of his business and the personal challenges he as undertaken as driver of record breaking power boats or as a pioneering balloon pilot.

The book is full of insights which weave lessons learned in childhood, with their application to his life. The role of luck, serendipity or synchronicity, as well as hard work and following your instinct are all brought to life. When we look at someone like Richard there’s a temptation to think that he had something special, something denied to the rest of us. That’s not how he sees it. A key message is that we can all achieve, as he says, ‘I’m a believer in people, and what they can become.’

It is clear that Richard’s success has more than an element of good fortune to it, but this is not something handed out only to a few. Opportunities are all around us if we are able to become receptive to them, and willing to take the risk of succeeding. Once you do there’s no knowing where it may lead.

This is a great little book packed with good ideas and advice, as well as some glimpses into Richard’s life, including the fear and danger that have been part of some of his more public adventures.

The first challenge for any book, however good, is to be taken down from the shelf and read. Tom Peters estimated that of 5 million copies sold of ‘In Search of Excellence’, 2-3 million were never opened, and of the 100,000 that were read from cover to cover, only 5,000 people took serious notes.

Once bought the format and fun style of this book will encourage you to read it, and its messages will prove worthwhile.

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
Mark Twain

Steve Unwin
December 5 2006.