To MBA Or Not To MBA – The Personal MBA

As I progress in my career, and expand my business understanding I’ve often thought about working towards an MBA.  So I spent several weeks investigating school, and programs.  I read about courses and found that much of what courses offered – I knew.

Yes, there are some gaps – areas such as statistics, economics and some finance (yes, I can read a balance sheet and understand what the numbers mean and what the ratios are trying to present) and so I thought, what is the MBA going to get me besides something to add behind my name? 

While I don’t say an MBA is not a worthwhile endeavour, I think that it is particularly useful to someone coming out of University that would like to eventually go into management but has no background or experience on the business side.  It may also be useful to someone that has worked in junior roles that is looking to enhance their understanding of business.

I already know, for example that before I can hire for my team I need to be able to justify the added expense — and it’s not only the expense of their salary but benefits.  I understand the need to generate revenue from resources or equipment; I have an idea of how to calculate how much revenue a particular piece of equipment is generating.

Yes – this is very simplistic, but there are individuals that don’t understand this.  I get into discussions with family members who insist that paying $5.95 for a burger is too much when the patty costs $6 for a box of 12 and the bun is $1.99 for 24.  There is more to the cost of an item than the value of the raw materials that are used to make the item — something called profit and the MORE profit you can make, the better especially in cyclical industries.

You also need to look at what the market will bear, regardless of the industry.  In Internet Marketing (always a HOT niche since everyone wants to learn how to make more money) most products are priced low enough that those selling it know that there will be very few returns – they also know that most people will buy and store.  These same marketers also sell products costing thousands of dollars and continue to sell out for the same reasons.

So back to my main point – as I read course descriptions I found that I already do much of what they will teach in my day-to-day activities so rather than spend the minimum of $25,000 to as much as $150,000 on an MBA why not read about the areas I want to strengthen and apply what I’ve learned?  In applying that knowledge I am gaining significant understanding of the concepts and processes.  This in turn helps me further develop myself and my team, achieve (hopefully) measurable results on projects that I undertake thereby being able to tell potential employers that I do understand what their needs are and I can deliver.

Mind you there are designations that are a must for people in different fields, in accounting if you want to get anywhere you need to be a CA, CMA or CGA.  You can’t practice in certain fields without specific education – however in business, what is needed is a good understanding of various concepts and the ability to get things done – on time and on budget (or under budget).

Had I continued in the IT field and in Project Management, I would have to work towards my PMI certification as more and more companies are looking for this in their Project Managers.

So what’s an alternative to a MBA?  Well a PMBA or Personal MBA.

What is a PMBA?  “Business schools don’t have a monopoly on worldly wisdom. If you’re serious about learning advanced business principles, the Personal MBA can help you master business without the baggage of b-school.” – from the PMBA website.

The PMBA includes a list of 77 must-read books that will enhance your business knowledge in key areas:

  • Productivity & Effectiveness
  • Psychology & Communication
  • Design & Production
  • Marketing, Sales, & Negotiation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Management & Leadership
  • Strategy & Innovation
  • Finance & Analysis
  • Personal Finance

I’ve started my reading in the area of Management & Leadership with three books:

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman expose the fallacies of standard management thinking in First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. In seven chapters, the two consultants for the Gallup Organization debunk some dearly held notions about management, such as “treat people as you like to be treated”; “people are capable of almost anything”; and “a manager’s role is diminishing in today’s economy.” “Great managers are revolutionaries,” the authors write. “This book will take you inside the minds of these managers to explain why they have toppled conventional wisdom and reveal the new truths they have forged in its place.”

The authors have culled their observations from more than 80,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during the past 25 years. Quoting leaders such as basketball coach Phil Jackson, Buckingham and Coffman outline “four keys” to becoming an excellent manager: Finding the right fit for employees, focusing on strengths of employees, defining the right results, and selecting staff for talent–not just knowledge and skills. First, Break All the Rules offers specific techniques for helping people perform better on the job. For instance, the authors show ways to structure a trial period for a new worker and how to create a pay plan that rewards people for their expertise instead of how fast they climb the company ladder. “The point is to focus people toward performance,” they write. “The manager is, and should be, totally responsible for this.” Written in plain English and well organized, this book tells you exactly how to improve as a supervisor. –Dan Ring

First, Break All The Rules: What The Worlds Greatest Managers Do Differently

12: The Elements of Great Managing is the long-awaited sequel to the 1999 runaway bestseller First, Break All the Rules. Grounded in Gallup’s 10 million employee and manager interviews spanning 114 countries, 12 follows great managers as they harness employee engagement to turn around a failing call center, save a struggling hotel, improve patient care in a hospital, maintain production through power outages, and successfully face a host of other challenges in settings around the world.
Authors Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter weave the latest Gallup insights with recent discoveries in the fields of neuroscience, game theory, psychology, sociology, and economics. Written for managers and employees of companies large and small, 12 explains what every company needs to know about creating and sustaining employee engagement.

12: The Elements of Great Managing

From Publishers Weekly
Goldsmith, an executive coach to the corporate elite, pinpoints 20 bad habits that stifle already successful careers as well as personal goals like succeeding in marriage or as a parent. Most are common behavioral problems, such as speaking when angry, which even the author is prone to do when dealing with a teenage daughter’s belly ring. Though Goldsmith deals with touchy-feely material more typical of a self-help book—such as learning to listen or letting go of the past—his approach to curing self-destructive behavior is much harder-edged. For instance, he does not suggest sensitivity training for those prone to voicing morale-deflating sarcasm. His advice is to stop doing it. To stimulate behavior change, he suggests imposing fines (e.g., $10 for each infraction), asserting that monetary penalties can yield results by lunchtime. While Goldsmith’s advice applies to everyone, the highly successful audience he targets may be the least likely to seek out his book without a direct order from someone higher up. As he points out, they are apt to attribute their success to their bad behavior. Still, that may allow the less successful to gain ground by improving their people skills first. (Jan. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

 What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

The other area that I want to read (I hope to eventually read all the books that comprise the reading list of the PMBA) will be in Psychology & Communication, Entrepreneurship and Strategy & Innovation.

Here is a list of some of the books that make up the PMBA:

Visit back often for more business, internet marketing and related information!

About Rob 'n Mo

I'm a man of mystery. I like anonymity, but on the WWW there is not much of it...
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