on January 15, 2012
I picked up this book more out of curiosity than a planned event or intent. Besides all the MBA programs that exist in business schools across the continent, there is also a rising trend in executive education programs, where people in middle management (or line management) can enrol in a course, typically lasting forty hours to learn about what is advertised as "MBA Essentials". That is, getting managers up to speed on all the pertinent essentials in a typical MBA program.
Josh Kaufman has challenged the status quo by suggesting that you don't have to go to a very expensive business school (and rack up huge debts) to effectively learn the principles of business. I am sure he will have numerous challengers to that premise. That being said, Josh has done an excellent job putting this work together in almost 400 pages. As the publisher puts it, this is "A World-Class Business Education in a Single Volume". As a reader, you will definitely come away with a clear and concise knowledge of the five fundamentals of every business. He will stretch your mind on how to effectively work with yourself, in teams and with systems. Although the book is nearly 400 pages, it is an easy read as he divides this into easily manageable chapters. Finally, the Personal MBA "Recommended Reading List" is a treasure trove of business knowledge. This will remain as an ongoing reference on my book shelf.
on January 18, 2011
Here's a book that takes out all the fear, doubts and worry out of the business world. As someone who has been owndering how to create value for the world, you sometime come to wonder how to read a wide audience. This book has given me the basics ( and so much more) about how the industry of fufilling needs and wants work. There's something incredibly fun about reading a well organized, concise and precise book like this one. If you never read anything about this field, this is a great book to begin with. Not only will you learn, but you'll understand and be able to actually do it!
On top of it, Josh put the 49 questions articles and the 100 books to read at the end as a reference. Pretty cool.
on October 1, 2011
'You dropped 150 grand on an education you could have gotten for $1.50 in late charges at the public library.' Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting
In The Personal MBA Josh Kaufman makes a very compelling case (as does Will Hunting) that for people considering an MBA, the economics aren't that great. For many graduate students (not just Business majors), it feels like a Casino: everyone takes the tests, and gets primed, then takes out a huge loan from the bank (often a six-figure amount) hoping that when they come out the other side, there will be an awesome, high-paying job waiting for them. It's a financial transaction, not really an educational one. In fact, much of the education gleaned from an Master in Business Administration is theoretical and marginally updated from the projects and Case Studies done in Bachelor of Business and Economics programs; after all, how can you possibly sit in a classroom and 'learn' how to be a Manager, or an Executive? Of course you can't. But the schools are more than willing to let you try, as long as the cheques clear.
Provided those cheques do clear (in many states in the US, the juice, as they say, is running the day you take your first class, not after you graduate), students can expect a marginally better income (in this economy? yuck) awaiting them on the other side; it turns out they're getting a crash course in finance after all! Ouch.
In the beginning of The Personal MBA, Kaufman reveals something striking: research shows there is little evidence that getting an MBA has any correlation with long term success in Business. Top tier Business programs make sure that they only accept brilliant students, which is why many go on to greatness. Business schools make it their business to take credit for other people's work'namely, your undergraduate degree, and your having studied for the GMAT. In a perfect world, you'd be better off, studying for the GMAT, applying to Harvard Business, getting accepted, and then refusing to attend (and pay the exorbitant tuition, and 2 years of your life), then bragging on your CV that you were accepted at Harvard, and applying for a plum job with a Fortune 500 company, ready to put you through the Management training program.
Why doesn't anybody do that? Because the MBA itself acts as a signal to help simplify the recruiter's job: he or she doesn't want to read 5,000 CVs. Reading 50 is a lot faster. It's that simple. Which 50 get the job doesn't really matter. When the eventual 20-something is hired, he or she will proceed to the actual training program, and begin to be molded into the perfect Hewlett Packard / Cisco/ Apple/ GE/ Nike/Starbucks Manager. That's right: real companies don't hire college grads and just plop them in a management or executive role. They have training programs. They have quarterly reviews. They promote you based on progress, not based on your GPA.
Where else did you think you would learn how to be a Manager?
Unfortunately there's no way around it. Since MBA students are required to pass the GMAT first, a fundamental understanding of business and finance is required before you set foot on a real campus. If the Personal MBA (book, and accompanying website) is going to attempt to replace an actual MBA, they must put the reader through the paces of very fundamental Business Concepts.
Business and Finance majors (like myself) will find much of this familiar, but that shouldn't take away from Kaufman's impressive achievement here. He's taken 2 years of Education and compressed it into a fantastic 400 page reference material. Kaufman will hold up the six-figure MBA and declare that by buying this book you're effectively saving $99,982, but of course, you're not getting a piece of paper either.
So for anyone who didn't graduate in Economics of Business,this book is a great summary of the definitions and concepts that took us about 4 years to get through. And it's pretty much the same material (minus countless case studies and Powerpoint presentations) you'd get from top-tier business programs.
So what do I suggest for young career-minded readers?
The point of an MBA, traditionally, was not for a 19 or 20 year old to 'train' to be a manager (whatever that means) but for a middle-manager to train to be a leader in his current company. An ideal situation would be to get a job (any job) with a great company and work your way up, and eventually have your boss pay for your education. The company will consider the investment in human capital worth it if they see potential in you, and will also have you promise to stay with the company for at least a few years upon graduation, so they can benefit from their investment.
Education is great. If I didn't believe that, I sure wouldn't have started a blog about it. But so is avoiding foolish six-figure debt. Consult your boss, and consult this book before proceeding.
(PS. Yes, I've graduated from a post-secondary International Business program. That one came with a five-figure student loan, not six.)
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on February 18, 2012
As a business student in unviersity, I can personally confirm that the education you can give yourself through Josh Kaufman's Personal MBA program is far supperior in terms of content than what is taught in the classroms of business school. This book is absolutely the best place to start if you want to gain business knowledge that works in the real world. After finishing this book, the Personal MBA reading list material will give you all the information you need to give yourself a fantastic business education. Consider this book the foundation to build your business education on. If you've already gotten a business degree, be sure to pick up this book to learn what you weren't taught in the classroom.
I'd just like to reinforce a point that Josh makes. Simply reading this material will not be enough to turn you into a business genius. The real magic happens when you start applying the material and seeing how it works in real life. Personally, I chose to do this by taking a part time job at a start up company. Josh provides all the knowledge you will need to be successful in business, but ultimately, you need to take the initiative and make that knowledge work for you.
If anyone has any doubts that you can give yourself an education better than the one you'd pay tens of thousands of dollars for in university, here's a concrete example of the effectiveness of the Personal MBA. My university recently put on a business competiton to encourage entrepreneurs. It is the biggest annual competition in the school, and awards $5000 to the winner. Dispite being the youngest student competing, with the fewest completed credit hours, I was able to win the competition using only the material I learned from the Personal MBA program.
I am very excited to be launching my business in the upcoming months. The fact that I've already been able to get preorders makes me even more excited. Most of all, I can't wait to continue to learn how to apply the material from the Personal MBA program to my business. I read the Personal MBA last year and can honestly say that without it, I would simply be another business student sitting in the classroom, no different from the hundreds of thousands graduating around the world every year. Don't commoditize yourself like that. Take the initiative, educate yourself, and give yourself the tools you need to differentiate yourself. And there is no better starting point to do that than this book.