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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 October 15, 2019

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

    Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

    Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

    Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination:

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    1. Make a list of your goal destinations

    Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

    So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

    Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

    If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

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    2. Think about the time frame to have the goal accomplished

    This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

    Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

    3. Write down your goals clearly

    Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

    For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

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    4. Write down what you need to do for each goal

    Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

    These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

    5. Write down your timeframe with specific and realistic dates

    Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

    For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

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    Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

    6. Schedule your to-dos

    Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

    Write these action points on a schedule so that you have definite dates on which to do things.

    7. Review your progress

    At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

    Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

    Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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