A while ago, Seth Godin stated one can receive same knowledge as MBA course and able to better use of time and money than actual experience combined with a dedicated reading of 30 or 40 books. This statement would be correct if we take out the following aspects/advantages of attending MBA courses:

  • Networking
  • Discussions during the class
  • Assignments on writing analysis on applying theories into case study or your experiences

If we omit (or don’t care) the advantages of those aspects in MBA classes and you are self-motivated enough to set aside time per day to self-study on books, you can definitely receive the same knowledge from books than attending MBA course.

Recently, Josh Kaufman extended Seth’s idea and developed a book list that able to substitute MBA. It is a very good book list.

For me, I am studying Master in Business, majoring Human Resource Management and I am seeking to closing this course with just a Graduate Certificate and move on to MBA. I have been looking into MBA course for a while now. Because I am seeking for options – for instance gaining knowledge without having to pay expensive fee to attend MBA, I looked into Josh’s book list and compared topics of the book and the subjects that MBA offers.

I categorized the core subjects of a MBA course structure. Combining the subject list with the list on categories on minors/concentration, I also categorized the book to topics which Josh Kaufman recommended and see if they cover similar knowledge areas in MBA.

An example on university MBA course structure:
Core subjects:

  • Managing in the Global Business Environment – [General Management, Global]
  • Understanding Data – [Statistics, Analysis]
  • Financial Statements Analysis 1 – [Financial, Analysis]
  • Strategic Management – [Strategy]
  • Human Resource Management Issues – [HRM (Human Resources Management)]
  • Business Communication – [Communication]
  • Fundamentals of Marketing Management – [Marketing]
  • Organisational Behaviour 1 – [HRM]
  • Entrepreneurship – [Entrepreneurship]
  • Business Law 1 – [General Law]
  • Financial Management 1 – [Financial]
  • Understanding Leadership – [Leadership]
  • Creative Problem Solving – [Creative thinking, Problem solving]
  • Managing Technological Innovation – [ICT (Information and communication technologies)]
  • Economics in Business 1 – [Economic]
  • Business Plans 1 – [Strategy]
  • Corporate Accountability and Governance – [Corporate Law]

Concentrations/Minors categories:

  • Accounting
  • Arts & Cultural Management
  • Business Communication
  • Corporate Governance
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Health Services Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information Technology Management
  • International Business
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies
  • Strategy

Josh Kaufman’s recommended book list for personal MBA:

  1. Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fullfillment by George Leonard – [Learning]
  2. Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton – [Motivation - Strength]
  3. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen – [Self-help - Time Management]
  4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – [Self-help - Productivity]
  5. What the CEO Wants You to Know : How Your Company Really Works by Ram Charan – [Business - Focus]
  6. Profitable Growth Is Everyone’s Business : 10 Tools You Can Use Monday Morning by Ram Charan – [Business - Growth]
  7. Michael E. Porter on Competition by Michael Porter – [Economic]
  8. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne – [Strategy]
  9. Seeing What’s Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change by Clayton M. Christensen, Erik A. Roth, Scott D. Anthony – [Strategy]
  10. The Essential Drucker: Management, the Individual and Society by Peter Drucker – [Management]
  11. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman – [Management]
  12. The One Thing You Need to Know : About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success by Marcus Buckingham – [Management, Leadership]
  13. The Essays of Warren Buffett : Lessons for Corporate America by Warren Buffett & Lawrence Cunningham – [General Business]
  14. Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger by Charlie Munger – [General Business]
  15. The McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Course in Finance for Nonfinancial Managers by Robert A. Cooke – [Finance]
  16. Essentials of Accounting by Robert Newton Anthony and Leslie K. Pearlman – [Accounting]
  17. The Goal : A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt & Jeff Cox – [Process, Decision-Making]
  18. Lean Thinking : Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated by James Womack & Daniel Jones – [Management, Process]
  19. The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, & Consciousness by Virginia Postrel – [Economic]
  20. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman – [Creative thinking, Design]
  21. Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt – [Economic]
  22. The Marketing Playbook: Five Battle-Tested Plays for Capturing and Keeping the Lead in Any Market by John Zagula & Richard Tong – [Marketing]
  23. The Art of the Start : The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki – [Entrepreneurship]
  24. The Bootstrapper’s Bible: How to Start and Build a Business With a Great Idea and (Almost) No Money by Seth Godin – [Entrepreneurship]
  25. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler – [Communication]
  26. On Writing Well, 25th Anniversary : The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser – [Communication, Writing]
  27. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie – [Communication]
  28. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini – [Communication]
  29. The Little Red Book of Selling : 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer – [Sales]
  30. The Flawless Consulting Fieldbook and Companion : A Guide Understanding Your Expertise by Peter Block – [Consulting]
  31. Real Estate Principles for the New Economy by Norman Miller & David Geltner – [Economic, Real Estate]
  32. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Fisher, Ury, and Patton – [Communication]
  33. Principles of Statistics by M.G. Bulmer [Statistic]
  34. A Primer on Business Ethics by Tibor Machan & James Chesher – [Ethic]
  35. Brand New : How Entrepreneurs Earned Consumers’ Trust from Wedgwood to Dell by Nancy F. Koehn – [Entrepreneurship]
  36. American Business, 1920-2000: How It Worked (The American History Series) by Thomas K. McCraw, John H. Franklin, and A. S. Eisenstadt – [General Business]
  37. The Little Book of Business Wisdom: Rules of Success from More than 50 Business Legends by Peter Krass (Editor) – [Management, Leadership]
  38. Re-imagine! by Tom Peters – [General Business]
  39. The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun – [Project Management]
  40. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch – [Self-Help - Time Management]

In my opinion, couple of points on my end:

  • From comparing the general category of the books, Law and Financial Analysis would be the two areas which are missing from the list.
  • A specialized book on Global and International Business would be nice to have too.
  • I am not quite sure why Real Estate Principles for the New Economy by Norman Miller & David Geltner is on the list. Is it essiental to understand the economic in real estate point of view?
  • I see the importances of self-help ( as this is the main theme of this site), and it does help development and maximize your productivity on your job – however does it fall into MBA course and topics?
  • Most of the books on the list are hands-on style. I love practial books and I am all for it. A seperate list of theory books for MBA that similar to what MBA course use would be a good for reference too.

What are your views on Josh’s book suggestions for MBA?

The Josh Kaufman “Personal MBA” Program

Love this article?