What does Richard Branson — one of the most intriguing, eccentric and successful businessmen of the modern era — do when he is looking to expand his horizons?
Apparently, he reads. And, thankfully for the rest of us, he shares the books he finds interesting with the wider world.
New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms is the latest book to grab the attention of Branson, who wrote about it in an article on the Virgin website.
“The world has changed a lot in the 50 years I’ve been in business, and power has definitely shifted,” Branson said.
“Technology has advanced and our behaviour is changing too. It affects us all in many different ways, but I’m very optimistic that the power shift can help create a stronger society for us all. It can amplify movements and help drive positive change,” he said.
Branson believes the shift in power is described well in New Power.
“It’s a useful lens to use when thinking about how business has changed, how to spread ideas or start a movement, or create change,” Branson said.
Branson elaborated further by touching on how the book describes “old power” and “new power”.
“[The authors] see ‘old power’ as something that works like a currency and is held by a few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven,” Branson wrote.
“They say ‘new power’ operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes,” he said.
Notions of how leadership is changing in a “new power” world had Branson “especially intrigued”, and made him think of his daughter Holly Branson’s role at Virgin, “where she is part of a team tasked with driving forward our strategy of business”.
New Power is the latest addition to Richard Branson’s list of “must-read” books, which is full of children’s literature, autobiographies and profiles of contemporary businesses.