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Personal MBA?

Is self-guided continuing education (like the PMBA) a good thing?

  • As good as (or better than) going to grad school.

    Votes: 17 94.4%
  • No, you should really go back to school.

    Votes: 1 5.6%

  • Total voters
    18

PEERless

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Jan 23, 2008
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I brought up the "Personal MBA" in the College for Entrepreneurship thread. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the program as it relates to traditional continuing education and entrepreneurship.

It seems to me that slow-laners should seek credentials and suffixes, but fast-laners can skip that and pursue knowledge. No need for titles on traditional résumés...
 

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MJ DeMarco

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Re: Pmba

This is very interesting ... I'm changing the title so folks can get a grip on the thread.
 

australianinvestor

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Aug 4, 2007
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I finished an MBA from an awesome school last year. I don't know much about the PMBA, but I found numerous benefits in the standard grad school approach:

- Excellent networking. I know a billionaire, a soon-to-be quadra-billionaire (is that a word?), and plenty of other great people. I could raise capital for a start-up within a month, and fit out a board with some high quality people, if needed.
- Should the worst case ever happen and I need a job, I can earn more and be back on track faster
- Knowledge from smart people, distilled into a couple of years, which would otherwise take a lifetime of trial and error to acquire.
- Learning how to think critically. It helps in every situation. My thinking is razor-sharp compared to before the MBA.


As for the fastlane/slowlane relationship: I now have great business knowledge, a recognised qualification (good for opening doors and other things), and a network of fastlaners to learn from and do business with.

If I went the self-education only way, I think it would be much slower. I'd have to learn by trial and error in a lot of cases, wasting time and money. This way,

I'm a bit biased, but I like the normal MBA combined with on-going, self-directed learning.
 
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PEERless

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Jan 23, 2008
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I'm a bit biased...
I can understand that, but I'll be the first to admit that I could have spent four years and $130K better than I did on my BA.

The MBA is too expensive (in money and in time) to be worthwhile for me now. I'll be interested to see what others have to say after perusing the PMBA reading list.
 

AroundTheWorld

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- Excellent networking. I know a billionaire, a soon-to-be quadra-billionaire (is that a word?), and plenty of other great people. I could raise capital for a start-up within a month, and fit out a board with some high quality people, if needed.
- Should the worst case ever happen and I need a job, I can earn more and be back on track faster
- Knowledge from smart people, distilled into a couple of years, which would otherwise take a lifetime of trial and error to acquire.
- Learning how to think critically. It helps in every situation. My thinking is razor-sharp compared to before the MBA.
What are other possible sources for these benefits listed? An MBA - or BA for that matter, does not have the patent on this....
 

australianinvestor

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What are other possible sources for these benefits listed? An MBA - or BA for that matter, does not have the patent on this....
Excellent question. I am glad you posted it, and I've added some rep points for the quality of your thinking! They certainly don't have a patent on them, but they do have a good machine set up to equip you with these things.

Plus, there's the instant credibility power, warranted or unwarranted, of being able to drop this phrase when needed: "I have an MBA from XYZ". It's ok to have a good track record, but if you're going into a deal with people who don't know you, a track record and that phrase certainly helps grease the wheels.

Now you have me thinking on how to get those benefits elsewhere.

:)

Daniel.
 
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PEERless

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Jan 23, 2008
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Now you have me thinking on how to get those benefits elsewhere.
Like the PMBA?
It seems to me that this program or something like it has the potential to radically change the way we perceive education, knowledge, and wisdom.

Who wrote the rules that say I must bow down to those who spent the time and money to pursue traditional education? Couldn't I read the same books at my library and meet the same people and have the same discussions online? Or better books, more people, and deeper conversations?

I don't think any degree is a waste of time or money. But how much return can I get for less time and less money?
 

australianinvestor

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Who wrote the rules that say I must bow down to those who spent the time and money to pursue traditional education? Couldn't I read the same books at my library and meet the same people and have the same discussions online? Or better books, more people, and deeper conversations?
I think it's something handed down from the industrial age when grades and education meant future financial success. We are still a long way off killing that old way of thinking, but I think that's why it's still so prevalent.

Yes, there's absolutely no reason why you couldn't read the same books, meet the same people and have the same discussions, but I think the major disadvantage would be in the effort / time needed to find the right information, find the right people, and even stuff like asking questions in a class. Asking questions and getting an answer you know has a good chance of being a correct one is much easier and faster than finding it yourself.

With that said, there's no university I've seen which actively prevents people walking in off the street and sitting in their classes. Maybe go and sample a class or three :)


If anyone is designing their own personal MBA, I'd look into mentoring. It's a fast track way of learning all about a niche, instead of spending years learning lots of stuff you might never use, and weeks with your head in a book with no practical experience to match it. A mentor can show you the ropes very effectively at little cost.

Daniel
 

australianinvestor

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The MBA is too expensive (in money and in time) ...
It's a great point you bring up about time. If you do it even without working, it will cost you at least a couple of years. It may be right for one person, but not another. It's like an investment. It might be a home run for one person, and a burden for another.

The money is also very important. My MBA cost about a quarter of a million US dollars including lost income. That does NOT include any portion of my undergraduate studies. Remember that opportunity costs also play a major part. If studying, it's hard to make the same amount of money you did before, and it's even harder to focus on doing business.

Daniel.
 

AroundTheWorld

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Who wrote the rules that say I must bow down to those who spent the time and money to pursue traditional education? Couldn't I read the same books at my library and meet the same people and have the same discussions online? Or better books, more people, and deeper conversations?


Ah, and this does not just apply to higher education!! This applies to learning that happens at all ages. :smxB::smxB::smxB:
 

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PEERless

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Very thoughtful answers and some of you will pick up speed for them.

I wonder when that paradigm will shift. One day, someone will wake up and say "Suffixes and titles don't matter. Let's see what you've learned."

Believe me, I'd love to replace the BA at the end of my name with an MBA, PHD, or HRH, but the OPPORTUNITY COST is too large for me right now.
 

LAMBO-N-IT

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I just ordered the quick start books to the pmba. thanks for introducing it to me! even if it isn't as good as a regular mba I'm sure reading all those books won't harm me :)

:fastlane:
 

kimberland

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Not everyone learns the same way.

My hubby, for example, doesn't do a lot of reading.
He's a verbal learner.
Courses are helpful for him
because he can sit there, listen and ask questions.

There is also the forced focus of a traditional MBA.
That learning is usually a priority.
Everything else is a distraction.

That said, I opted for an accounting designation
rather than an MBA.
Why?
It does the same thing (the instant recognition)
yet it was less expensive, shorter, and I could achieve it while working
(as work experience is a component).

A whole other discussion is what to do AFTER achieving an MBA or PMBA.
Getting one lump of education is all fine and good
but you have to keep on learning.
 

lightning

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For me, grad school was a personal choice. My twin sister and I had promised our parents that we would finish college before getting married, having kids, etc., so it was always something I had strived to finish. Looking back though, I would say that I probably wouldnt have gone through with it had my job not paid for 100% of it. I was in a very fortunate position, and I didnt want to pass up a situational opportunity that many people would have loved to be in.

As another poster said, I was able to network and grow professionally during those two years, and I am damn proud to have that title after my name now. I definitely understand the concept of opportunity costs though, and for someone with a true Entreprenurial mindset having to take out thousands of dollars in loans, it could definitely set you back a little.

An MBA does give you the comfort though that if *$#! ever really hit the fan, youd have a much easier time finding a job to cover the bills for awhile. ;) (ie: safety net).
 
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PEERless

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I have come to learn (from this forum) that sicking initials behind your name will impress no one besides a hiring manager. That's cool, but don't we all want to avoid ever having to get hired again? Choosing the continuing ed. program that works for your own learning style makes the most sense. Congrats, Lambo-n-it!
 

LAMBO-N-IT

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Just a quick update if anyone is interested.

The personality code (chapter2)

tech. analysis for dummies (chapter2)

10 days to faster reading. (chapter3)


I think 10 days to faster reading will be my favorite out of these 3. I've always wanted to learn tech. analysis so I will read that too. Just finished the little book that beats the market (I wouldn't recommend buying it) The personality code seems pretty damn boring so far. Then again they are still talking about the "history" of personality.

Peerless since your doin the pmba as well would be nice to hear where abouts you are. I try to read 1 chapters. I have a few houses that I built that aren't selling so I have some free time to read :smxF:
 
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PEERless

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Actually, the PMBA is on hold for me, as I am plowing through the self-improvement section of my local library's audio section. The content is fast and thick, and it adds value to my commute time. I will update you when I continue the PMBA.
 

SaraK

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Thanks PEERless for the link to the recommended reading (personal MBA), I will add those to my list. I have been listening to audio books during my commute and reading during my lunch time for the past two years, most of which I've gotten from the library. If a book is really good then I buy my own copy to re-read and make notes in. I jokingly say that I have my MBA from the Phoenix Public Library. :)

Although I think that self-education can be as valuable as formal education, as someone currently looking for a better, higher-paying job I can tell you that not having the MBA after your name does make it a lot harder to prove to hiring managers that you have what it takes to be in an important position, if you haven't had a similar position somewhere else. A degree could be a good way to not have to spend as much time starting at entry level and spending years working your way up. But everyone's situation is different.
 
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PEERless

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True. Out in the world of the "E-type" person, acronyms and initials behind your name will always win the day.
 

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joshkaufman

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Great discussion you have going here... I'm actually the creator / editor of the Personal MBA, and I found this site through my website statistics. This forum is a great resource!

FYI - I'm publishing the 2008 update of the recommended reading list very soon, so you might consider subscribing to the blog or e-mail newsletter to be notified when it goes live.

In the meantime, I'm happy to answer any questions or help you in any way that I can.
 

andviv

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Welcome aboard Josh.
I'd love to hear about your experience as business creator/owner of your site. How did the idea happen? how did you execute it? how much time it took from conception to execution? how has this changed your life?
 

mtnman

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Great discussion you have going here... I'm actually the creator / editor of the Personal MBA, and I found this site through my website statistics. This forum is a great resource!

FYI - I'm publishing the 2008 update of the recommended reading list very soon, so you might consider subscribing to the blog or e-mail newsletter to be notified when it goes live.

In the meantime, I'm happy to answer any questions or help you in any way that I can.
Welcome Josh. Check your amazon motherload link, it's inactive. It works here or direct type in, but not from your site.
 

hakrjak

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I can understand that, but I'll be the first to admit that I could have spent four years and $130K better than I did on my BA.
Yikes -- Where did you go, freaking HARVARD? LOL

After working in my industry for 10+ yrs and doing the hiring, the advice I give young people is to get your BA or BS, but don't pay too much for it. Nobody cares how much you paid for your degree... We just care that you got it. And if you move away from your home area (Which most people end up doing at some point) -- Nobody in your new state will have any idea the reputation of the schools back where you came from.

Example: I attended California State @ Sacramento, for about $25k total for my BA. In Northern California, a lot of folks refer to this school as Sac State, or it's lesser name "Slack State" because it has a reputation for being pretty damn easy. When I moved to Colorado, I told people I attended Cal State, and they were in freaking AWE.... One of the guys who works under me is constantly complaining that he and his wife are $150k in debt because of their 2 BA's they got at some special private Christian College.... Boy what a smart move that was right? haha I also have a guy who has zero college, and his Mom & Dad work with me -- and they vouched for him... So it also goes to show that sometimes it's more about WHO you know, than what you know.

- Hakrjak
 

joshkaufman

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andviv - thanks for the welcome! I've been working on the Personal MBA for over three years now - it's been a remarkably rewarding project, both in terms of the number of people it's helped and the people I've met around the world.

My undergrad was in business (information systems + real estate), and I was trying to decide whether or not to pursue an MBA after I graduated. I had already secured a position in a Fortune 50 company (one of the positions people go through the Harvard MBA program to secure) via my university's co-op program, so the opportunity cost was way too high. Instead, I put together my own curriculum and published it on my blog. Word spread quickly, and as people found the project, they'd recommend new books for me to check out. That lead to the original PMBA recommended reading list, which was published in 2005 after three months of dedicated effort. That ultimately lead to an article in BusinessWeek, which put the project on the map and resulted in a massive influx of new readers.

Since then, I've spent hundreds of hours (possibly over 1000 by now) reading new books and making the official recommended list the best I can. The goal is to continue my research and publish updated recommendations every year.

From a business standpoint, the PMBA is great - I get a % of book revenue through Amazon's Associates program, which is a pretty reliable stream of passive income. After requests from a few readers, I also started working with clients on a coaching and consulting basis to develop personalized learning plans, create business plans, setup websites, etc. The coaching business is growing quickly, with high levels of client satisfaction and retention. I'm also using the experience gained through coaching to publish a series of guides on a wide variety of practical business topics, like business planning and analysis.

After the 2008 update is published, I'm creating a course called Business Mental Models, which will integrate and systematize all of the most important concepts I've learned through the Personal MBA. I anticipate that Business Mental Models and PMBA Coaching will provide the majority of ongoing revenue, with book sales a low-maintenance bonus.

From a life standpoint, the PMBA has been absolutely life-changing. It's one of those rare projects where my strengths as a person have intersected directly with a very real market need. I've worked with entrepreneurs, managers, and C-level executives from six continents, learned a lot about my strengths and goals, and have developed a unique multi-disciplinary approach to business that has resulted in both promotion in my current full-time job as well as more entrepreneurial possibilities than I can possibly handle at once. Not bad at all for what started as a simple blog post! :)
 

joshkaufman

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Welcome Josh. Check your amazon motherload link, it's inactive. It works here or direct type in, but not from your site.
Thanks for the heads-up! There's a known techinical issue with the current PMBA Motherlode link and Internet Explorer... IE won't handle the number of parameters that the Motherlode link passes to Amazon. I'm working on a fix / workaround for the 2008 edition.
 

LAMBO-N-IT

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you should set something up for amazon canada as well. I couldn't use your link to order my books :eek:
 

Peter2

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I have a personal MBA. A Mega Bank Account. :smxB:
 
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PEERless

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Jan 23, 2008
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Yikes -- Where did you go, freaking HARVARD? LOL...
Not at all. I went to a small, very challenging private school. I learned too late that what's prestigious in one state is unknown in another. >sigh<

...Not bad at all for what started as a simple blog post! :)
Not bad at all. Great program. Clever company.

I have a personal MBA. A Mega Bank Account. :smxB:
That was a bit crass...
 

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