Thursday, October 7, 2010

6 Reasons Why an MBA is Good for You (Part 1)

1. The guy who's telling you you don't need it is trying to sell you something else.

Yeah, I'm talking about Josh Kaufman. I mean, how can anyone take this guy seriously? He's telling you to skip an MBA education while he's trying to sell you his book and "coaching program" at the same time. And he justifies this foolishness by comparing the cost of an MBA (from a school like Harvard, $350,000 plus foregone earnings) to the cost of his "12-week online crash course" (around $1,000), and by implying that one is worth just about the same as the other.

Who is he kidding? Sit two persons, one with an MBA from any reputable (read: "not fly-by-night") school and one who has had "training" from this douche AND who has read his book, with both persons having the same IQ, background, college GPA, and communication skills, in front of any employer: guess who the employer hires?

I can't stress this enough: never trust the opinion of anyone who's trying to sell you something.

2. Unless you have a Will Hunting-level comprehension, all those business books will eat you alive.

This Kaufman guy is really something. So it seems, one time he finds himself in a situation at work with MBA-types just as he doesn't know jack-shit about MBA stuff. So he does what any self-respecting guy does: catch up on his reading list. The Fortune article cites three books--a generic accounting text, Porter's "Competitive Strategy," and Drucker's "The Effective Executive"--that Kaufman read and which had enabled him to--this is just TOO funny, it's almost believable--"walk into a boardroom and hold my own with people who had graduated from Stanford and Wharton." Three books--one in accounting, one in strategy, and one in leadership--makes someone at par with an MBA-holder? Seriously, this guy has gotta be the biggest hack alive today, and to complete the coup, he's being promoted by "reputable" media like Fortune, for goodness sake. What is the world coming to?

But seriously, it takes way more than those three books to even barely cover the breadth (we're not even talking about depth, here) of an MBA education (and these self-help books are not the answer, either). There are five recognized functional areas of business: finance (how to raise needed capital), operations (how to make stuff), marketing (how to sell stuff), strategy (how to win), and accounting (how to make sure all your finances are in order), on top of support topics like human resources, economics, and information technology and innovation. Let's say one book adequately covers each topic (although believe me, that's more than a bit of a stretch), do you think you have what it takes to go through and understand a masters' level textbook without any help? MBA math isn't really calculus-level, but people have been known to have a hard time with finance math and even accounting arithmetic.

3. MBA professors provide milestones and feedback to your learning process.

Learning doesn't end with just reading the chapters of your textbook: you have to solve end-of-chapter questions and problems to find out if you really understood the material. Let's say you're brave enough to answer one or two problems, you check the answers at the back of the book, and you find out that one of your answers is wrong. Maybe you missed something, or you interpreted something incorrectly, you don't know. Which is precisely the point, how are you going to find out what went wrong? How are you even going to find the correct solution on your own? Remember why it's good to have teachers, and even classmates, when you're trying to learn something: to find out how far you've gone, how successfully (or unsuccessfully) you've understood the subject matter, and to be provided with objectives and milestones that will guide you through the learning process.

Click here for Part 2.
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