Book Review: Screw Business As Usual by Richard Branson

avatar of @joshman
2 min read

I enjoy reading the biographies of highly successful people from time to time. When I picked it up in the thrift store, I really thought this was going to be an autobiography. While it had autobiographical elements, it was something quite a bit different. The book was basically a continuous boast of the accomplishments of Branson, Virgin Unite, and his buddies. It was very self-indulgent. If his boasting wasn't enough, you got name drop after name drop.

  • Nelson Mandela
  • Al Gore
  • Bill Gates (Gates foundation)
  • The Clintons (and their foundations)
  • George Soros
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Barack Obama

While they all deserve credit where credit is due, I am not a huge fan of any of these people. I am quite the opposite in some cases.

This book was written in 2011, but I imagine if the concepts of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) and stakeholder capitalism were prominent at the time, I'm pretty confident our author would be all over them. He eludes to large corporations having a responsibility to work closely with governments-- very corporatist vibes. He was also hyper-focused on climate change throughout the book

Throughout the entire book he nauseatingly repeated the following phrases:

  • Capitalism 24902 (the number is the circumference of the earth-- quite clever and collectivist)
  • Screw business as usual (the title of the book of course)

Both are euphemisms for corporatism if you ask me. I don't want more corporatism, sorry Richard.

There were a few cool anecdotes from Branson's life at the beginning, and some examples of unique ways corporations can be 'more socially responsible'. Beyond the first couple of chapters it got harder and harder to read. While this book had some interesting elements, I don't think it has earned an enduring spot on my bookshelf. It didn't quite reach the 'I'd like my time back please' realm, but it was close enough.

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