Richard Branson’s New Book Explains Why “Doing Good” Can Mean “Doing Well.”

In his new book, Screw Business As Usual, billionaire, entrepreneur, and knight bachelor Richard Branson makes a case for operating with a social conscience. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it.

He argues that a business’s social conscience—its effort to improve the world in which it operates—translates into more motivated employees, fewer resources, higher profits, and greater personal satisfaction than even the material wealth it creates.

While no stranger to “crazy ideas” (he holds a number of world records, though most of his attempts have failed), his brash, go-for-it approach—and willingness to appear outrageous—has worked well for him. In particular, building a single airline into what is now the 400+ company Virgin Group, spanning music, aerospace, finance, retail, and numerous other industries, making Branson the 4th wealthiest person in the UK.

What lessons can building product marketers take from his latest book?

  1. Employees Are Motivated By A Social Mission
    Branson says “it’s important to be seen as “more than just a money-making machine.” In a Fast Company interview, he argues that his own employees are “proud of…saying that they work for Virgin.” That pride creates a deeper employee connection to the organization and that means a willingness to proactively work harder and make sacrifices. Plus, many employees (especially young ones) put a high priority on social impact and volunteer opportunities in their job searches, so long-term retention can increase as well.
  2. Reducing Resources Just Makes Sense
    From recycling to reducing carbon footprints, minimizing your organization’s environmental impact means long-term savings. Branson talks about the investment to covert his airline fleet to 100% clean-burning fuels by 2020, doing his part to change one of the dirtiest industries into one of the cleanest. When people feel good about what you’re doing, they feel good about doing business with you—and in the long term, that can make even more difference to brand loyalty than pricing or promotions.
  3. Doing Right Is The Right Thing To Do
    Branson admits that being raised in the 1960s, a time when making a difference was emphasized, was instrumental in his values, but that any leader can choose to focus on doing some good. “I think most successful people in life do not start with the money-motive whatsoever,” he told Fast Company, noting companies such as Google, which he says started out to “make a difference in people’s lives”.


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  6. Andy Crichton on May 15, 2012 at 1:38 am

    Having a social conscience in business is a great sentiment, and there is plenty of opportunity in this day and age to stand out from the crowd by doing the right thing! It has always been that way.

    • branddepthfinder on May 16, 2012 at 9:16 am

      We agree completely Andy – thanks for reading and commenting!

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