Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The Personal MBA : Mastering Business Without Spending a Fortune by Josh Kaufman Business schools don’t have a monopoly on worldly wisdom. If you care more about increasing your effectiveness at work than a diploma and a few lines on your resume, the Personal MBA is for you.
What is the Personal MBA?“
You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for a buck fifty in late charges at thepublic library.” — Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon), Good Will Hunting
The Personal MBA (PMBA) is an experiment in educational entrepreneurism. This manifesto will show you how to substantially increase your knowledge of business on your own time and with little cost, all without setting foot inside a classroom.
The PMBA is more flexible than a traditional MBA program, doesn’t involve going into massive debt, and won’t interrupt your income stream for two years. Just set aside some dedicated reading time, pick up a good book, learn as much as you can, and go out and make great things happen.
It’s all about the books
“ If I read a book that cost me $20 and I get one good idea, I’ve gotten one of the greatestbargains of all time.” — Tom Peters
“ The difference between where you are today and where you’ll be five years from now will be found in the quality of books you’ve read.” — Jim Rohn
At the core of the PMBA is a list of 42 books and periodicals. By investing time and effort inusing these resources, you will progressively develop a greater understanding of businessand increase your effectiveness at work. Even if you only read a few, you’ll get a substantialreturn on your investment.
thoughts on traditional mb a programs
“ Whatever be the qualifications of your tutors, your improvement must chiefly depend onyourselves. They cannot think or labor for you, they can only put you in the best way ofthinking and laboring for yourselves. If therefore you get knowledge you must acquire itby your own industry. You must form all conclusions and all maxims for yourselves, frompremises and data collected and considered by yourself. And it is the great object of [oureducational institutions] to remove every bias the mind may be under, and to give thegreatest scope for true freedom of thinking.”— Joseph Priestly, Dedication of New College, London, 1794.
The debate concerning the value of traditional MBA programs is long and involved, and thismanifesto won’t close the issue.a For the sake of brevity, here’s a short Q&A on the pros andcons of business school:
‡ Can a traditional MBA program help you? Yes. You’ll meet a lot of great people and getacquainted with a few professors and corporate HR recruiters who can help you land a new job.You will also sink very deep into debt. If you decide to enroll in a full-time program, the opportunity cost of lost wages and future investable savings is huge.
‡ Will a traditional MBA teach you anything you can’t learn by yourself? Probably
not.Classroom discussion can be beneficial, but there’s nothing presented that you can’t learn bystudying a good book on the subject.
‡ Is a traditional MBA worth the time and money? Sorry — there’s no universal answer. Ifyou’re looking to go into advanced corporate accounting, finance, quantitative analysis,commercial real estate, consulting, venture capital, or investment banking, an MBA or MS in abusiness-related field may be expected or required. In those cases, caveat emptor: once youdecide to attend, the only certainty is that your bank account will be significantly smaller.
If you decide not to go to business school, the Personal MBA is a low cost way to educateyourself about business. (Even business school graduates can benefit greatly from readingthese books.)
Before we get to the list, however, allow me to set a few reasonable expectationsabout the PMBA.
the personal mba is not:‡ A stand-alone venture. You can’t learn about business solely from books — you have tobe willing to go out and learn by doing. Whether you’re working full-time for a company orbuilding your own business, a full 2/3 of your learning will be a direct result of your day-todaywork experiences, which provide the necessary context for understanding what you read.
‡ A mindless replica of a traditional MBA program. The PMBA was created to expose youto a core set of advanced business concepts quickly and effectively. By design, it does not include anything and everything you might come across in business school. If you’re looking for a detailed analysis of the Black-Scholes option pricing model and its relationship to the volatility surfaces of certain financial derivatives, you’re going to be very disappointed.
‡ An impersonal curriculum. You’ll find more material about learning who you are, what you’re good at, and how you can work more effectively with other people in the PMBA than you will in a standard business school curriculum. There’s a reason why these topics are included here: they are skills that will really help you in your life and work.
‡ An infallible educational revelation. It’s perfectly okay if you disagree with one of the selections or think that a critical book has been overlooked. Feel free to make substitutions as you deem necessary. If you’re skeptical about the value of a title you haven’t read yet, I encourage you to borrow the book from your local library and give it a try. If you’re of the same opinion after reading a few chapters, put it down and read something else! (Life is short.)
‡ Easy. Working your way through this list will take time, energy, and persistence. There is nosubstitute for hard work and dedication.
The Selection criteriaThere is no shortage of good books about business, which made this list very difficult tocompile. Here are the five criteria used to select the resources featured in this manifesto:
>> Valuable Content. Does the book contain a lot of useful, practical information about howbusiness works, how you can add value, and why the material in the book is important?
>> Acceptable Time Commitment. Is the book a good educational value for the amount of timeinvested? Can you get the key points of each book in a few hours?
>> Self-Learning Friendly. Is this book designed to keep the reader’s mind engaged? Does theauthor present the material effectively and make the learning process enjoyable?
>> Reference Value. Will this book be a valuable resource to turn to when you need informationon a specific topic? How does the book re-read? Is it a book worth keeping for many years?
>> Comprehensive Set of Resources. Does this list cover a broad range of advanced businessconcepts effectively and efficiently? Is completing the list a realistic goal?
FIND OUT , MORE AT www.personalmba.com