The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business eBook: Josh Kaufman: Kindle Store
A world-class business education in a single volume.
Getting an MBA is an expensive choice-one almost impossible to justify regardless of the state of the economy. Even the elite schools like Harvard and Wharton offer outdated, assembly-line programs that teach you more about PowerPoint presentations and unnecessary financial models than what it takes to run a real business. You can get better results (and save hundreds of thousands of dollars) by skipping B-school altogether.
Josh Kaufman founded PersonalMBA.com as an alternative to the business school boondoggle. His blog has introduced hundreds of thousands of readers to the best business books and most powerful business concepts of all time. Now, he shares the essentials of entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, negotiation, operations, productivity, systems design, and much more, in one comprehensive volume. The Personal MBA distills the most valuable business lessons into simple, memorable mental models that can be applied to real-world challenges.
The Personal MBA explains concepts such as:
*The Iron Law of the Market: Why every business is limited by the size and quality of the market it attempts to serve-and how to find large, hungry markets.
*The 12 Forms of Value: Products and services are only two of the twelve ways you can create value for your customers.
*The Pricing Uncertainty Principle: All prices are malleable. Raising your prices is the best way to dramatically increase profitability-if you know how to support the price you're asking.
*4 Methods to Increase Revenue: There are only four ways a business can bring in more money. Do you know what they are?
True leaders aren't made by business schools-they make themselves, seeking out the knowledge, skills, and experience they need to succeed. Read this book and you will learn the principles it takes most business professionals a lifetime of trial and error to master.
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 721 KB
- Publisher: Portfolio (December 30, 2010)
- Sold by: Penguin Publishing
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0046ECJ8M
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
Why read this book?
The following is just my synthesized version of the first chapter.
So you know just what you need to know, gain confidence that business fundamentals are master-able and can be self-taught.
Improve and acquire new mental models to help you understand how businesses work (see Charles T. Munger)
Because the author spent a lot of time synthesizing material from a wide range of sources (there’s a lot of junk out there)
Because Seth Godin and Lifehacker.com approve (and you read about it on reddit and digg)
Because a real business degree is usually a bad investment (there’s a study that says so)
Because the material taught in most MBA schools is outdated and impractical (think “How to be an Industrial Age Captain of Industry”)
Sometimes they even teach you the wrong stuff – see “direct incentives” and the book Drive by Dan Pink
Also, you don’t have to build a behemoth to build a viable business
And number-crunching skills are not business-running skills. Create value, flam fraud.
And because small businesses are the new big business, holmes. Small, agile and lean companies are going to make your lunch and eat it.
But don’t expect business schools to change until they feel the burn of mass rejection.
The one thing business schools can do is get you an interview
Cue Admiral Ackbar “It’s a trap!” anti-college debt rant
Strum that familiar refrain: If you’re smart enough to get into business school, you’re smart enough not to need it.
What’ll you’ll learn (p. 32)
– how businesses work (ch 2-6)
– how people work (ch 7-9)
– how systems work (ch 10-12
You won’t learn much about managing people (see chapter 9)
You won’t learn much about managing money (read Accounting Made Simple and Essentials of Accounting, the McGraw-Hill 36 Hour Course in Finance for Nonfinancial Managers and How to Read a Financial Report)
You won’t learn much about crunching numbers (read Principles of Statistics and Turning Numbers into Knowledge)
That’s it. You’re welcome.
Skip the business education and buy this book!
Having graduated from a top business school in Canada, I can safety say that I could have thrown out all my textbooks and used the money I spent on tuition to actually START a business, and used this book as a replacement to my business education.
What makes this book warrant such a strong statement is the fact that it’s a comprehensive synthesis of all of the concepts you need to know to understand business inside and out. There are no complex models to learn or outdated theories to memorize just to get marks or pass tests. What you get is a comprehensive set of “mental models” or heuristics on all of the sub parts of creating, operating and working within a business. Why is this important? Because a mental model is like a rule of thumb for any possible scenario you might encounter in running a business – from value creation to delivery to marketing to finance. It helps you look at the world through the lens of what’s most important (and thus no fluff to distract you) which ultimately helps you to ask the right questions and ultimately helps guide you to make the right decisions about maneuvering in business. These principles are universal and applicable for small business start ups to Fortune 50 CEOs because they’re based on business fundamentals (the mental models) and not just tactics found in most other books.
In addition to a sound business knowledge what this book has is a very extensive section on working with yourself and with others. Achieving great strides in business is sometimes less about knowing the business aspect but more about conquering yourself – either with productivity, with working with people or with overcoming doubts and fears – all things I’m finding out as I work on my own venture. After having read dozens of psychology and self help books I can also say without a doubt that the section on working with yourself trumps them all. Josh delivers a well researched practical guide to understanding how you brain works and how to work with it rather than against it, so you can actually go ahead and apply the concepts in the rest of the book.
Highly recommended if you wish to know more about business, are thinking of starting your own business, or are thinking about joining an MBA program to climb the corporate ladder. Buying this book could end up saving a mortgage worth of student debt, so what have you really got to lose?
Today and tomorrow, not yesterday.
Unfortunately, the title may limit the market to “business” people. But we are all in the business of managing and selling ourselves no matter what our occupation.
The president of a major food chain told me, “We hire English Majors. They know how to speak and write. We can teach them all they need to know about our business in six months. The business schools are five years behind what is happening in our marketplace.”
Josh Kaufman has produced more than the brightest, shiniest new thing. His book deals with today and the future. Targeted and concise but not too abreviated.
The collection of quotes used to start each section is worth the price of the book.
Find a section you want to share? Each section has a link for forwarding. Some sections offer more detail by logging on to the link given.
Good Jumping Off Point. . .
I was not familiar with the formal movement of “The Personal MBA”, but I was curious when I saw this book advertised. I finished my MBA in 2007 and had the good fortune of having my company reimburse me for the costs. This was an experience and process I feel will serve me well. As my MBA education lasted me two years, I finished knowing I did not know everything about business and all of its core elements (I still had a lot to learn).
Since I have finished I have followed the philosophy of personal learning and trying to improve key skills related to the art of business. This book is a good starting point and has some good references and passages I found interesting. I did not find the chapters on Finance, marketing, sales, or the Human Mind overly helpful (probably in this order) as they operate at the highest level and cover the most basic elements of each core competency.
The areas I found most helpful were Value Creation, Value Delivery, Working with Yourself, Analyzing Systems, and Improving Systems. The last passage from B.C Forbes and Appendix B are great. Each short, but I found these to be the most thought provoking parts of the book.
The reading list is good, but some really important books are missing that may help further one’s “business education”. Think about what you need to learn and create your own list of 100 books (some from Josh’s list would certainly be included).
As people have noted this will never replace the value of a formal business education, but will be a value reference for people who need business skills to complement their hard skills and don’t need to go through 2-3 years of rigorous training, plus the potential expense and opportunity costs.
I would have liked to see core areas like project management and quality discussed further along with IT and related subjects. Maybe tie together business and IT as the book had this potential, but fell a little short (but in truth, this was not the author’s objective).
All in all, the cost of the book was minimal and provided a lot of food for thought and directions to follow and explore. This may even be a recommended read for those entering business school and those who just finished.
Master of Business Awareness
Of the many reviews I have written here, writing a review for this text was among the most difficult because “The Personal MBA” has a large target market consisting of a wide variety of potential readers, and the vast majority of reviews here are very positive. Because of this situation, I fall back on my review philosophy, which is to write as objectively as possible, taking into account the claims of the author in terms of their goals, as well as comparing to other materials in the marketplace. What is not necessarily fair is to write solely based on my knowledge or experience, which often times does not match the backgrounds of the target audience.
Admittedly, this text is very well written. The writing style and organization of Kaufman contributes greatly to readability, and I enjoyed this aspect of this book. Many business works have a lot of fluff, and in general most of this text provides substance that will be appreciated by many readers. In addition, the history behind this book is interesting in that it came about as a natural step after the author created a heavily visited blog listing books and resources he had found valuable in his studies, so readers can be assured that this text was not written from an ivory tower perspective but resulted directly from reader interest.
The author writes at length in his first chapter as to why this book should be read. It is not easy summarizing this chapter in a few short sentences, but Kaufman mentions that what he provides here is “a set of foundational business concepts that you can use to get things done. Reading this book will give you a firm foundation of business knowledge you can use to make things happen. Once you master the fundamentals, you can accomplish even the most challenging business goals with surprising ease.” Later, the author calls this text “a self-directed crash course in business”, and provides an extensive discourse as to why the traditional MBA does not provide significant value.
Neither the author nor myself has an MBA, although we have both gone to business school (and I also have a graduate degree). While I cannot speak for the author, in my opinion there is substantial material in this text to provide to the business neophyte. However, I was unfortunately not overly impressed with the material Kaufman provides after chapter 6, which is midway through the book. The author makes up on this aspect to some extent by providing an appendix entitled “How to Continue Your Business Studies” that lists dozens of texts in a variety of business topics, although this list serves as a reminder that, as communicated in the introduction, what the author provides here is an introductory text.
If you do not have time to read this whole text, I recommend reading chapter 2, entitled “Value Creation” on creating value for customers. The summary that the author provides on the “Twelve Standard Forms of Value” (product, service, shared resource, subscription, resale, lease, agency, audience aggregation, loan, option, insurance, capital), for example, is very well done. The “Ten Ways to Evaluate a Market” is also especially well done. The author obviously summarizes and synthesizes material from disparate sources very well, but the reader needs to be aware that much of the content provided is just that, a CliffsNotes-styled survey of what the author has determined is fundamental to studying business.
From the perspective of a consultant, be aware however that this material is sometimes overly summarized and synthesized. For example, in his 3-chapter presentation on understanding systems, analyzing systems, and improving systems, many important topics are glossed over, and unless the reader understands the substance that is waiting for them within the reading lists the author provides, they may minimize the importance or complexity of the topics. For example, the definition that the author provides for “Return on Investment (ROI)” is limited to “simply dividing the amount of money you collect by the amount of money you spent, then subtracting by 1.00.”
However, there would be no need for texts such as “The Consultant’s Scorecard: Tracking Results and Bottom-Line Impact of Consulting Projects”, by Jack Phillips (see my review), where several ROI calculations are detailed at length, if this calculation were so simple. Fortunately, Kaufman points the reader in the right direction, and presents in an entertaining manner, and so this book is recommended to anyone new to business topics, especially aspiring entrepreneurs. One of the best features of this text are the many quotes from other sources that introduce each of the subtopics in the 12 chapters provided here, and for this reason alone this book is worth a read.
This book is gold!
This is the first review I have ever written for any product on Amazon. I’m almost half way through the book, and I am amazed at how much I have already gotten out of it. I’ve always wanted to start my own company and currently have an idea I’m thinking about pursuing. Josh gives you a way to evaluate your ideas to see if they are even good enough to pursue. If they are, he provides you with incredible tips that help you make sure your launch is a success; techniques that you can use to minimize your risks. He also gets into marketing and shows you some small things you can do to make sure your customers are not just happy, but impressed with your business. Everything he covers in this book applies to the real world. If you have an idea you’re not sure is a good one, or one you are getting ready to start working on, you need to read Josh’s book.
One of my favorite things about this book is that Josh provides recipes, not just vague information. You can bookmark so many sections in the book, and go back to them once you are ready to apply the techniques.
I was actually very close to applying for an MBA. I doubt I would have learned as much as I have learned from reading half this book. My plan now is to read some of the other books Josh recommends on his website. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I feel confident that I will defeat any competitor who has not read Josh’s book.
Not just for business owners
First of all, let me say this, I do not generally review books publicly, partly because I am not that much of a cheerleader type person and secondly, there are not that many books that I come across that have me jumping out of my seat because it gave me a huge “a-ha moment”.
I bought this book because I had come across the author’s recommended reading list on the web. I wanted to enhance my knowledge base of business means and methods, what I did not realize when I bought the Kindle version was how much information about everyday life I would also be gaining! I have read some disparaging comments regarding how the information is presented or how much is being charged for the electronic version as compared to the hard cover, obviously these individuals are more concerned more with what they have to give up than what they are receiving.
Two reasons I can see for the brevity of the topic chapters, Josh gets right to the point on a particular topic; what it is, why it is important and how best to utilize it. Keeping it short so that we can move on to the next topic of information, he is utilizing the novelty principle to keep the reader engaged. Secondly, with the wealth of information that the author is sharing, if he wasted words to fluff up each chapter, we, the readers would be burdened down by trying to digest and understand a 1200-1600 page encyclopedia tome (I had to look up that the paper book is 416 pages).
This book is one of those great books that you will go back to over and over again using it as a resource to continually streamline and upgrade your personal and business systems. You might even want to flowchart or mind map the book to allow yourself to have a tool that will help you address and deal with any challenge or issue that you may face in the future.
I do not even know how many times I have text, tweeted, told and email my friends and family about this book, it is that good. Just the sections on “Working with Yourself” and “Working with Others” makes it an invaluable tool to smooth out our day to day interactions and head-scratching missteps.
Buy this book, read it and USE it, you won’t be sorry.
Best "non-businessy" business book I’ve read
Reading “The Personal MBA” was one of the most helpful and relieving things I’ve done while running my online venture. Having come from a non-business background, Kaufman’s holistic approach and method of breaking down business concepts is easy to understand and insightful, and I often find myself remembering key principles as I make the daily decisions of my business. It’s the fundamental business that you need to survive as an entrepreneur, not any of the fluff and platitudes that most business books give you. Each chapter has concepts and quotes to help you remember the business lessons and I particularly enjoyed the “Working with yourself” section, which shows Kaufman’s sound experience and insight on what it means to work in business and run your own gig. The fact that Kaufman can see the whole picture, including the barriers of working with your own habits as a businessperson, makes this book that much more valuable beyond the core information he provides.
I wish I would have read this when I started my venture a year ago, and I highly recommend it to anyone who feels they need to understand business a bit better or if they’re contemplating going to business school or starting your own company. It’s well worth it and will save you the angst that comes from not knowing if you’re doing it “right!” Kaufman shows you that you are and that you can, with this book.
The Gold-Standard in business books. Page for page, best business read. Period.
As a voracious reader of business books and cheap skate, I go to torrent sites to look for e-books. So I came across the Personal MBA manifesto pdf. Read it, made sense and didn’t contradict other great business sources. So I went to the website. Saw the reading list… every book on the list that I read (many of them), were top-notch definitely could tell time was put into the list, not just thrown together.
If you’re thinking about going into business or going to business school to get a MBA, please do yourself a HUGE FAVOR and start your journey with this this book! You will save yourself a lot of money, time, and frustration. The book has the distilled knowledge (hard gained experience) from over a hundred amazing books, that you would would need to cull through thousands to find! So pretty much, Josh and his contributors are giving you a thousand-book head start, thank them for providing that value by buying this book! I bought this with my barnes and noble gift card for double what it is going for on Amazon and it is worth every penny!
If you like this review, please select that it was helpful. Thanks, Luke.