Get The Equivalent Of An MBA From Reading One Book

ISBN: 1591845572

Well that’s what the author of The Personal MBA insinuates with his book. It’s the distillation of his extensive business reading that focuses more of what he’s learned than applied.

The most helpful chapter for most will be the one on value, where the author describes how successful businesses give people what they want. He reviews the following:

  • The 5 human drives
  • 10 steps to evaluating a market before you start a business
  • 12 forms of economic value that businesses can provide

The ideas put forth in the value chapter should be enough for you to apply the skills and talents you’ve accumulated in life to create a product or service that other people want to pay for. If reading this part of the book doesn’t get you excited about starting a business, then I suggest you put the book down and get to entrenching yourself further in your corporate gig to at least climb the ladder.

The best businesses in the world are the ones that create the most value for other people. Some businesses thrive by providing a little value to many, and others focus on providing a lot of value to only a few people.

The format of the book is essentially a blog, with dozens of topics delivered in bite-size chunks. So many concepts are thrown at you that it’s unlikely you’ll retain most of it, especially since meaningful examples aren’t often used. While this format may be great for those with short attention spans, topics are rarely connected, which leads to a lack of flow. It’s laziness on the author’s part to throw a hundred concepts at you in seemingly random order.

The second half turns into a psychology book and then eventually into a full-blown self help guide about setting goals and finding the root desires behind those goals. Is that what they learn in MBA programs? The psychology content was mostly review for me.

If you really want the equivalent of an MBA, you’ll have to dig deeper, as short sections here can be an entire book or course on their own. A real MBA would laugh at you if this book was your sole business education, especially since it used absolutely no math.

I reluctantly recommend this book if you want to start a business, mostly due to the strong value chapter. I think the book succeeded in its goal on educating readers about the universal fundamentals of business, but you’ll probably need a bit more in applying them.

Read More: “The Personal MBA” on Amazon

15 thoughts on “Get The Equivalent Of An MBA From Reading One Book”

  1. When you say that the book doesn’t do much for covering all the aspects of business, what you don’t know is that the book may very well cover all there is to business school. I have a bachelor’s in business and can tell you that not only is it a waste of time but there is not much to the whole subject. Essentially everything in the subject is obvious if you think about it for a minute. Such as: if you go to a different country try and understand their culture before you go so that you do not insult them, etc.
    I haven’t read the book, but don’t blame the book for a lack of depth when it is the subject that is lacking in depth.
    Avoid MBA programs like the plague. Use common sense and logic and you’ll be better off than you would be after the taking program.

    1. MBA and business programs are to prepare you for an entry level job at Encorpera, where you will be competing with Tiffany and Jennifer, who have nicer cleavage than you and don’t show up to work with a hangover.

  2. Tonight I started one of my final classes at university. I am wrapping up my bachelor’s in accounting; however, strategic management is the capstone for all college of business majors.
    Our teacher handed each of us a packet when we walked into class. He gave us forty-five minutes to read it over and that it would be followed with an in-depth discussion.
    I forget the title but it was essentially an expose on how one’s academic performance and/or/along with formal management training had zero correlation with how good a manager was (in terms of producing numbers, motivating employees, etc.).
    This research was conduct on Harvard MBA grads in the 70’s but according to our professor- the same data could be applied to education and management today, respectively.
    Long story short, formal education, as well as management “training courses” do not teach a manager how to:
    1)Deal with human emotions effectively – Most all of the example are case studies which produce a rational problem with a rational answer… How often is this ever the case? Rarely.
    2)They teach managers to be problem solvers; not problem finders. This would seem counter intuitive, but it is more efficient to spot and correct an issue than to let it manifest and surface at a later date.
    3)Formal management training places emphasis on the attributes that the “perfect manager” should possess, as well as how he/she should act. It strips and discourages individuality among managers and promotes a universal leadership style. Think about the best “leaders” in history- most of them differed greatly in style, but weren’t they all effective in one manner or another? Could you compare Ghandi and Steve Jobs in terms of leadership? Barely. But were they both great leaders? Absolutely.
    Real world experience trumps textbook theory all day every day. It is this way in the corporate world, the entreprenuerial world, and game in general.
    Only so much can be taught out of a textbook.
    Get after it gentlemen.

    1. I agree with those statements in general but they kind of gloss over some of the nuances. Mainly, since in theory the program is decent but in practice the admissions committee fucks it up pretty bad. They tend to select the same boring business people who we know and hate. I can tell you first hand these people where that way before they finished bschool.
      1) the case studies are meant to solve a business problems. The human elements tend to come from managing your teams and the drama that takes place within them. Even then, I say the main reasons you go to bschool are: school rep, networking with big shots, and then learning; in that order. The people you see who are emotionally retarded are: 1) spoiled kids or, 2) asperger nerds.
      2) bschool teaches both how to solve and find problems. For example, the operations management literature is full of problem finding methods/tools. But I do agree most managers coming out of bschool are not really creative people and just assume if there is no problem to solve, they will think there are none. Again a people issue.
      3) The leadership literature, which is shit to begin with, argues that the leader has to fit the: task, team and organization. But I agree with you that bschools tend to put forth the perfect leader BS since both the schools and the students are prestige whores who dick ride so hard on any famous person or business.
      This leads into why i hate 99% of the business articles since they just take a topic and then talk about Goldman Saches, Apple, Google, etc. Or how great it is to be a manager who works as a corporate slave. It’s quite a beta academic area in general.
      Read Peter Drucker (legit business author), skim Michael Porter, and skip everything else. There’s a reason all the other disciplines laugh at business school academics.

  3. Derek Sivers on his blog really dissected this book and went over the most useful points in great detail(a few pages in fact). Actually, a whole section of his blog is devoted to just book reviews! Worth a read or even a download…..

  4. The whole point of a MBA program is to network with your fellow future plutocrats. If you don’t get into a top-8 program, don’t bother. Forget about “learning.”

  5. What smb said. If you are going to get value out of a top notch MBA program, it’s through the connections you make with fellow robots.
    I’ve read this book and have a business degree and a finance professional credential.
    This book wasn’t meant to be read like a novel. It’s material meant to be used for taking notes and studying. The author makes that clear in the beginning and states parts should be skimmed, others re-read, back and forth…wasn’t mean to flow. That said, reading anything like this (along with other material) is better than sucking yourself in the debt trap for a degree I don’t believe many even need.

  6. The website lumps finance and accounting together. It has no economics category, no “real” statistics, no quantitative material, manufacturing, or supply chain management. It ignores 90% of a real M.B.A. curriculum! Instead it has “Sales”, “Marketing”, “Management”, “Leadership”, “Project Management”, “The Human Mind” and “Personal Growth”. Good luck getting a top investment banking or consulting job with that motivational fluff.

  7. I’ll repeat what’s a;lready been pointed out. The value in an MBA only exists at elite, top 1% programs, where you interact and network with existing and future executives, hedge fund managers, etc. Those schools are also where the big banks and megacorps recruit. An MBA at any school that’s not top 10, maybe to 20, is a waste of money IMHO. If you want an alternative, consider a designation like CFA or FSA (actuary). Or realize that tech is the new finance and learn how to program, start up a tech company, and forget school

  8. While some people consider an MBA a waste, I can tell you that it depends how much you pay for your MBA. I go to a state universities MBA program that will cost me 15K for one year. I can get this investment back very quickly. So even though it’s not a top 20 school and I won’t be working on Wall Street anytime soon, it’s still a worthwhile investment.
    The bit about not having math is spot on. calling a book the equivalent of an MBA without math is pure hyperbole.

  9. calling a book the equivalent of an MBA without math is pure hyperbole.
    Coming soon, the “Personal M.D.” book that omits germ theory and “Personal Biologist” without genetics.

  10. MBA degrees are cool if you can learn how to build econometric models in order to test and validate your research hypotheses.
    Doing business succesfully is another story. You do not need MBAs for that. Only the ability to play power games, build/destroy reputations and divide and conquer your subordinates and suppliers/customers.
    Cha cha

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