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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).

     

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    20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a daily plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a time limit to each task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    Google Calendar is great – I use it. It’s even better if you can sync it to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are.

    Here’s more tips about how to use calendar for better time management: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    Check out these Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools and pick the ones that fit your needs.

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    5. Know your deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to be early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time box your activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a clock visibly placed before you

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set reminders 15 minutes before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    Find out more here about how reminders help you remember everything.

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track your time spent

    Egg Timer is a simple online countdown timer. You key in the amount of time you want it to track (example: “30 minutes”, “1 hour”) and it’ll count down in the background. When the time is up,the timer will beep. Great way to be aware of your time spent.

    But besides Egg Timer, you can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that fits yourself the best.

    14. Don’t fuss about unimportant details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch similar tasks together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate your time wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off when you need to

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave buffer time in-between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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