Screw business as usual

• By Richard Branson
• Virgin/Random House
• RRP $36.99
For anyone who five years ago read Richard Branson’s book Screw it, let’s do it, his latest book is both more hefty in the physical sense and carries more weighty ideas.
Screw business as usual expands on Branson’s belief that life must carry more meaning for both businesses and individuals.
Branson shares his increasing conviction that people bounce out of bed in the morning not just to earn dollars but to do some good. He’s tapping into, and driving, force that looks to turn capitalism upside down, focusing away from profit for profit’s sake and towards caring for people, planet and communities.
At Virgin Unite, they call it Capitalism 24902, reflecting the idea that each individual is part of global village that spans the 24,902 miles of the earth’s circumference.
At its simplest, this book is, at times, rambling account of who Branson has met and what everyone said. It reads like who’s who of people he feels he must somehow acknowledge. And while that doesn’t aid the book’s readability, it does underscore the depth of his passion for generously crediting where credit is due.
At heart, Branson sees his mission as bringing people together around brilliant ideas. Over the years he’s done this to an astonishing degree, opening up his homes for the kind of wild all-night talk-fests that most people used to abandon when they left college and were told by their parents to get ‘real’ job.
And that’s Branson’s point, really. ‘Real’ jobs must carry meaning. Branson quotes Ben Cohen – of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream fame – who, when asked how he felt about his company being bought out by Unilever, said he could see opportunities to act as “virus for good” within the larger organisation.
Branson himself has gone so wildly viral that he’s the touchpoint for schemes too numerous to mention. They span green electricity schemes in Texas, right through to the sport and lifestyle PUMAVision paradigm of corporate, social and environmental sustainability that spreads its tentacles right across the globe.
He supports HIV and AIDS initiatives in South Africa, and he spoke out when then South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang made the astounding proclamation that beetroot, garlic, lemons and African potatoes were an effective cure for HIV.
Together with Nelson Mandela and human rights activist (and former Genesis frontman) Peter Gabriel, he helped birth the creation of The Elders, group of senior statespeople whose status can bring focus to seemingly intractable problems such as climate change, poverty and armed conflict.
And he co-founded the Carbon War Room which harnesses entrepreneurs to market-driven solutions to climate change. Oh, to be fly on his wall.

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