The Silicon Valley Voice

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Naked Success

Did you see the photo? It’s all over the Internet — a snapshot of billionaire CEO Richard Branson, in board shorts, in the Caribbean, kiteboarding with a naked woman on his back.

If you ask me, that’s the kind of person you want to give you advice.

I mean, there are lots of billionaires out there, but how many of them have naked women on their backs? No more than a handful, I imagine. That’s why I was so excited to find “Richard Branson’s top 10 tips for success” on the BBC News Entertainment & Arts website. (No, I wasn’t on the website looking for gossip on “Downton Abbey,” but I do have to admit — I’d like the show a whole lot better if the Earl of Grantham marched into the drawing room with a naked woman on his back.)


According to the article’s author, Alison Feeney-Hart, Mr. Branson is “one of the most successful businessmen in the UK and an icon of entrepreneurship.” Not satisfied with starting Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic airline, he is currently developing Virgin Galactic, “which he hopes will one day become a space tourism company.”

Tip No. 1 is “Follow your dream and just do it.” “I think lots of people have great ideas,” Branson graciously says, “but very few people actually go out and put them into practice.” I disagree and can certainly point to you as a prime example. After all, your dream is to get paid for doing nothing, and look how well you’ve succeeded.

“Believe in your ideas and be the best” is Tip No. 3. Another score for you, since no one can beat you when it comes to sloth. Alas, you can rest on the job, but you really can’t rest on your laurels. “You’ve got to make sure that every aspect of what you do is better than the competition,” Branson warns, and, in this case, he’s 100 percent right. Just remember that with people like me out there, working hard to hardly work, your reign as the best at doing the least demands that you focus on every aspect of what you don’t do. Without constant vigilance, a sliver of productivity or a glimmer of responsibility might slip through.

“People are not unlike flowers,” Branson reveals in Tip No. 4. “Have fun and look after your team.” As he further explains, “If a flower is watered it flourishes and if a flower is not watered in dries up and dies.” True that! It doesn’t matter that management considers you a weed that must be whacked at every occasion. You are a fragile flower and should be constantly cared for with raises, bonuses and perks. Too bad that most of what you get from management is fertilizer.

For Tip No. 6, billionaire Branson advises you to “make lots of lists.” I agree. Making lists is an excellent way to spend the endless hours you spend at your desk pretending to work. Make a new list every morning, I say. How about a list of the 100 reasons we think Khloe is the best Kardashian, or the 50 best movies made by Nicolas Cage — this year. When you finish your morning’s list, make a list of all your lists, and if there’s still time before lunch, make a list of your lists of lists to review in the afternoon. As Branson so rightly says, without lists, “there’s a danger that as time slips by, you don’t achieve a lot.” To which I add — with enough lists, you don’t achieve anything at all, and time slips by even faster.

Tip No. 7 is “Spend time with your family and learn to delegate.” What Mr. Branson is suggesting here is that if you learn to delegate, you can free yourself to spend more time with your family, which is “very important.” Of course, it’s easier to spend time with your family if you live in a castle so large you don’t see your evil spawn more than once a year. But no matter how large your personal castle, when you do run across your children, make sure that you continue to delegate. Let the little vipers know who’s boss! At least, until Mr. Branson can climb off his kiteboard and get to work, making a reality of space tourism with Virgin Galactic.

In fact, I’m ready to book a seat to Pluto right now, just as long as I don’t have to sit in a middle seat and don’t have to fly naked.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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