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How to Get a Do-It-Yourself MBA

How to Get a Do-It-Yourself MBA

    At some point in their lives, a lot of people will ask themselves whether they should get an MBA. The reason for this may be any of the following:

    • They may be working for a small company or a large corporation and they’re looking for ways to become a greater asset for their employer and increase their chances of getting promoted.
    • They have a business idea and they want to strike out on their own, but their lack of business knowledge is holding them back.
    • They have a lot of technical experience and they want to know more about the business aspects of their work.

    If you’re in any of these situations, you should be aware that going the traditional MBA route is not your only option. According to Josh Kaufman, owner of the blog, “The Personal MBA”, and author of the bestselling book of the same name, you can get a do-it-yourself MBA. Josh explains in The Personal MBA Manifesto that the process consists of the following:

    • Read the best business books out there.
    • Learn as much as you can from these books.
    • Discuss what you learn with others.
    • Go out into the real world and make great things happen.

    There’s much more on getting a do-it-yourself MBA below.

    Weighing the Pros and Cons of Getting An MBA

    Should you start looking into the GMAT and send away for business school brochures? Or should you embark on a self-study course of action? The first step in deciding whether or not to get an MBA is to brainstorm a list of pros, as well as a list of cons.

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    Here are some of the things in favor of getting an MBA:

    • An MBA from a good business school is a status symbol.
    • If you’re in a top 15 MBA program you’ll have access to recruiters from Fortune 50 companies, consulting firms, and investment banks.
    • In this competitive market place, having an MBA could differentiate you from other candidates who don’t have one.
    • In an MBA program you get to network with the potential future leaders of the business world.
    • Many argue that the real value of an MBA is the discussion in the classroom: that is, learning from your classmates.
    • If you’re in an MBA program you’ll have access to the school’s alumni association, which can mean job leads and other business opportunities.
    • Some people consider that, today, not having an advanced degree is the equivalent of what not having a college degree was a decade ago.

    Some of the reasons not to get an MBA are the following:

    • MBAs are very expensive–upwards of $80,000 in tuition–and a lot of people pay for an MBA with debt. This means that it will take you several years just to break even.
    • You’re taking two years off from work. This means you won’t be earning a salary, and you may be missing out on valuable work experience.
    • While you’re paying back your tuition debt you’re basically an indentured servant: you can’t leave your job, even if you hate it and the hours are ridiculous, because you have loans to pay.
    • Although having an MBA may give you a leg up in the job market, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a high-paying job.
    • There’s the opportunity cost of all the other things you could have been doing with your time instead of sitting in a classroom gorging on case studies and listening to lectures.
    • A lot of the things that you learn in an MBA program are outdated.
    • While one of the best ways to learn is by doing, an MBA program is mostly just learning theory.

    It’s up to each individual to weigh the pros and cons for themselves and apply the results to their own situation. But, in general, if all you want is to learn the stuff that you’ll need in order to do well in business, you’ll probably be better off by getting a library card and embarking on a self-study program.

    How to Get a Do-It-Yourself MBA

    If you decide to get a do-it-yourself MBA, or at least look further into the possibility, you should do the following:

    1. Read Kaufman’s book, “The Personal MBA”, in order to master the fundamental principles of sound business practice. Kaufman calls these principles, mental models, and he lays out 226 of these mental models in his book. With “The Personal MBA” you’re going to acquire a solid core of principles to work from, and then, later, you’re going to refer to other books in order to build upon that knowledge.

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    “The Personal MBA” covers the following three areas:

    • How Businesses Work: You’ll learn about the five business processes which are at the core of any business. These are value creation, marketing, sales, value delivery, and finance.
    • How People Work: A business is created by people to service people. It’s therefore important to understand how people make decisions and communicate with others.
    • How Systems Work: Businesses are complex systems with many moving parts, and you should understand how complex systems work.

    This book won’t give you all the answers. What it will do is give you the knowledge that you need in order to ask the right questions. Then, by asking the right questions, you can gather more information.

    2. If there’s a particular topic that you want to know more about, refer to the books that Kaufman recommends in “The Personal MBA”, as well as the recommended reading list which is posted on his blog (The 99 Best Business Books). Choose 2 or 3 of these books in order to learn more about the particular area or skill that you’re interested in.

    3. Look through the speed reading books and courses that are available (I recommend PhotoReading), and choose one that appeals to you. Obviously, this is so that you can get through the material quickly. Also, get the classic “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler, which will show you how to read analytically and syntopically.

    4. Create a mind map and/or summary of everything that you read as part of your personal MBA program. Make sure that you include your own opinions, interpretations, and conclusions in your summary. Come up with a plan of action based on what you’ve read.

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    5. Discuss your conclusions with others.

    6. Apply your newly acquired knowledge in the real world. Anything that you do will have an effect; that is, it will generate feedback. By acting you’ll either have more information on what works, or you’ll have more information on what doesn’t work.

    7. Once you’ve acted and received feedback, you need to analyze the results that you got. Ask yourself questions such as the following:

    • What worked?
    • What didn’t work?
    • What could be improved?
    • What needs to be done differently?

    8. Based on your analysis of the feedback, decide how you need to modify your approach.

    9. Act once again.

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    10. Keep going through this cycle–plan, act, analyze the feedback, and modify your approach–until you’ve reached the desired outcome, or until you’re happy with the results.

    11. Then, move on to the next topic that interests you, and do the same thing all over again.

    Conclusion

    Kaufman uses quotes throughout his book to help illustrate the different points that he makes. One of the quotes he uses is the following by Jack Welch, the former Chairman and CEO of General Electric: “People always overestimate how complex business is. This isn’t rocket science–we’ve chosen one of the world’s most simple professions.”

    A lot of people who have never been to business school are intimidated by business. However, as Welch points out, business is not rocket science. Go ahead and give it a shot: embark on the journey toward getting your own personal MBA.

    (The Personal MBA is courtesy of Bego).

     

    More by this author

    Marelisa Fabrega

    Marelisa is a lawyer and entrepreneur who blogs about creativity, productivity, and getting the most out of life.

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2020

    Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

    Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

    Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that avoiding failure eclipses the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.

    Fear is part of human nature. As an entrepreneur, I faced this same fear. My ego and identity became intertwined with my work, and when things didn’t go as planned, I completely shut down. I overcame this unhealthy relationship with fear, and I believe that you can, too.

    Together we’ll examine how you can use failure to your advantage instead of letting it run your life. We’ll also look at how to overcome fear of failure so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

    What Is Fear of Failure?

    If you are afraid of failure, it will cause you to avoid potentially harmful situations.

    Fear of failure keeps you from trying, creates self-doubt, stalls progress, and may lead you to go against your morals.

    What causes a fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failing exists:

    Patterns From Childhood

    Hyper-critical adults cause children to internalize damaging mindsets.[1] They establish ultimatums and fear-based rules. This causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. They carry this need for validation into adulthood.

    Perfectionism

    Perfectionism is often at the root of a fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.

    Over-Personalization

    The ego may lead us to over-identify with failures. It’s hard to look beyond failure at things like the quality of the effort, extenuating circumstances, or growth opportunities.[3]

    False Self-Confidence

    People with true confidence know they won’t always succeed. A person with fragile self-confidence avoids risks. They’d rather play it safe than try something new.[4]

    How the Fear of Failure Holds You Back

    Unhealthy Organization Culture

    Too many organizations today have cultures of perfection: a set of organizational beliefs that any failure is unacceptable. Only pure, untainted success will do.

    Imagine the stress and terror in an organization like that. The constant covering up of the smallest blemishes. The wild finger-pointing as everyone tries to shift the blame for the inevitable messes onto someone else. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

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    Miss out on Valuable Opportunities

    If some people fail to reach a complete answer because of the lure of some early success, many more fail because of their ego-driven commitment to what worked in the past. You often see this with senior people, especially those who made their names by introducing some critical change years ago.

    They shy away from further innovation, afraid that this time they might fail, diminishing the luster they try to keep around their names from past triumph.

    Besides, they reason, the success of something new might even prove that those achievements they made in the past weren’t so great after all. Why take the risk when you can hang on to your reputation by doing nothing?

    Such people are so deeply invested in their egos and the glories of their past that they prefer to set aside opportunities for future glory rather than risk even the possibility of failure.

    High Achievers Become Losers

    Every talent contains an opposite that sometimes turns it into a problem. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure that it ruins their lives. When a positive trait, like achievement, becomes too strong in someone’s life, it’s on the way to becoming a major obstacle.

    Achievement is a powerful value for many successful people. They’ve built their lives on it. They achieve at everything they do: school, college, sports, the arts, hobbies, work. Each fresh achievement adds to the power of the value in their lives.

    Gradually, failure becomes unthinkable. Maybe they’ve never failed yet in anything that they’ve done, so they have no experience of rising above it. Failure becomes the supreme nightmare: a frightful horror they must avoid at any cost.

    The simplest way to do this is never to take a risk, stick rigidly to what you know you can do, protect yourself, work the longest hours, double and triple check everything, and be the most conscientious and conservative person in the universe.

    If constant hard work, diligence, brutal working schedules and harrying subordinates won’t ward off the possibility of failing, use every other possible means to to keep it away. Falsify numbers, hide anything negative, conceal errors, avoid customer feedback, constantly shift the blame for errors onto anyone too weak to fight back.

    Loss of Creativity

    Over-achievers destroy their own peace of mind and the lives of those who work for them. People too attached to “goodness” and morality become self-righteous bigots. Those whose values for building close relationships become unbalanced slide into smothering their friends and family with constant expressions of affection and demands for love in return.

    Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant, when you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the most creative solution.

    The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity, too.

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    Balance counts more than you think. Some tartness must season the sweetest dish. A little selfishness is valuable even in the most caring person. And a little failure is essential to preserve everyone’s perspective on success.

    We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work, and in life.

    How to Overcome Fear of Failure (Step-by-Step)

    1. Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

    Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[5] When you look at the four main causes for a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you?

    Write down where you think the fear comes from, and try to understand it as an outsider.

    If it helps, imagine you’re trying to help one of your best friends. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood, or a deep-seated insecurity.

    Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.

    2. Reframe Beliefs About Your Goal

    Having an all or nothing mentality leaves you with nothing sometimes. Have a clear vision for what you’d like to accomplish but include learning something new in your goal.

    If you always aim for improvement and learning, you are much less likely to fail.[6]

    At Pixar, people are actually encouraged to “fail early and fail fast.”[7] They encourage experimentation and innovation so that they can stay on the cutting edge. That mindset involves failure, but as long as they achieve their vision of telling great stories, all the stumbling blocks are just opportunities to grow.

    3. Learn to Think Positive

    In many cases, you believe what you tell yourself. Your internal dialogue affects how you react and behave.

    Our society is obsessed with success, but it’s important to recognize that even the most successful people encounter failure.

    Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper because they thought he lacked creativity. He went on to found an animation studio that failed. He never gave up, and now Disney is a household name.

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    Steve Jobs was also once fired from Apple before returning as the face of the company for many years. [8]

    If Disney and Jobs had believed the negative feedback, they wouldn’t have made it.

    It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers[9]. Replace negative thoughts with positive facts about yourself and the situation. You’ll be able to create a new mental scripts that you can reach for when you feel negativity creeping in. The voice inside your head has a great effect on what you do.

    How To Be A Positive Thinker: Positivity Exercises, Affirmations, & Quotes

      4. Visualize all Potential Outcomes

      Uncertainty about what will happen next is terrifying. Take time to visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. Think about the best and worst-case scenarios. You’ll feel better if you’ve already had a chance to mentally prepare for what could happen.

      Fear of the unknown might keep you from taking a new job. Weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. Knowing how things could turn out might help you get unstuck.

      5. Look at the Worst-Case Scenario

      There are times when the worst case could be absolutely devastating. In many cases, if something bad happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

      It’s important to define how bad the worst case scenario is in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, we give situations more power than they deserve. In most cases, a failure is not permanent.

      For example, when you start a new business, it’s bound to be a learning experience. You’ll make decisions that don’t pan out, but often that discomfort is temporary. You can change your strategy and rebound. Even in the worst case scenario, if the perceived failure led to the end of that business, it might be the launching point for something new.

      6. Have a Backup Plan

      It never hurts to have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a solution when the worst has happened. The old adage is solid wisdom:

      “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

      Having a backup plan gives you more confidence to move forward and take calculated risks.

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      Perhaps you’ve applied for a grant to fund an initiative at work. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t get the grant, are there other ways you could get the funds?

      There are usually multiple ways to tackle a problem, so having a backup is a great way to reduce anxiety about possible failure.

      7. Learn From Whatever Happens

      Things may not go the way you planned, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Learn from whatever arises.[10] Even a less than ideal situation can be a great opportunity to make changes and grow.

      “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

      Dig deep enough, and you’re bound to find the silver lining. When you’ve learned that “failure” is an opportunity for growth instead of a death sentence, you conquer the fear of failure.

      For more tips on how to overcome fear of failure, check out the video below:

      Final Thoughts

      To overcome fear of failure, we can start by figuring out where it comes from and reframing the way we feel about failure. When failure is a chance for growth, and you’ve looked at all possible outcomes, it’s easier to overcome fear.

      Stay positive, have a backup plan, and learn from whatever happens. Your failures will be sources of education and inspiration rather than humiliation.

      “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison

      Failures can be blessings in disguise. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams and long-term goals.

      More Tips for Conquering Fear

      Featured photo credit: Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

      Reference

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