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Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Small Business Owners [Kindle Edition]

Michael Mazzeo , Paul Oyer , Scott Schaefer
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $27.00
Kindle Price: $11.04
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Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

While playing hooky from a conference in Boston a few years back, three former colleagues from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management hopped in a car and headed on a road trip. They pulled into a shoe store in Maine and noticed that the sales help was unusually pushy. After a few questions, they discovered the store had a "secret shopper" program, in which employees would be marked down if they were not sufficiently aggressive with customers. A lightbulb went off.

Instead of teaching the tried-and-true case studies involving GE and Microsoft, these three wise men decided to pull their heads out of their ivory towers and go in search of insights about product differentiation, pricing, brand management, building a team, and a host of other topics. Why take your cues on employee compensation from Wall Street when you can learn from a Main Street company like Couer D'Alene's best crime-scene cleaner? Want to learn about scaling a business? Come meet Dr. Burris, the flying orthodontist, who operates multiple, profitable practices in rural Arkansas.

The book isn't all egghead; the chapters are spiced with the type of vehicular mishaps and Maalox moments that are common on any road trip.

Editorial Reviews


"An excellent primer on dealing with problems that keep managers...awake at night." - Financial Times

"A great new book that combines two quintessentially American things: the road trip and small businesses." - Jack Covert Selects

"Refreshingly different from your typical high-toned business books....Timeless lessons for every executive, entrepreneur, and business student." - Bloomberg BusinessWeek

"A reminder of everything that makes business vital, fascinating -- even fun." - Inc. Magazine

About the Author

Michael Mazzeo is an Associate Professor of Management & Strategy at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management where he teaches the school's core MBA class in Business Strategy. Mike has a PhD in Economics from Stanford University, and lives in Chicago with his eight-year old son and many, many Legos.

Paul Oyer is the Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. Paul has a PhD in Economics from Princeton University, and lives in Stanford, California with his two children.

Scott Schaefer holds the Kendall D. Garff Chair in Business Administration and is Professor of Finance at the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business. He has a PhD in business economics from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and lives in Salt Lake City with his two children.

Product Details

  • File Size: 714 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (June 10, 2014)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,681 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Road Trip with a Purpose July 16, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I was an English major, not an Econ major, so I was surprised that I found this book so fascinating. To illustrate their points, the authors use case studies that are more anecdotal than scientific, and that certainly appealed to me. The personalities of the three economist-authors shine through as brightly as the dozens of small business owners they profile, but this book is first and foremost about the challenges and rewards of operating a small business. This should be required reading for anyone considering a step in that direction, and highly recommended for everyone else.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good examples, except from computer tech August 6, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed the book, though the examples from the one industry I know well were terrible.

One was a professional social network that competes directly with LinkedIn, seemingly without much success. This fact is never mentioned. The other was a company making "iOS games" with no games to be found on the iOS store, as of book publication.

I'm not implying that the whole book is like this. The restaurant, retail & specialized manufacturing companies are clearly successful.

But just as clear is that the authors are too willing to take the company owner's word for what's happening, and why the company is successful.

When a little bit of cross-checking with Google would have given a more honest view.

But the good stories are great, and very enjoyable. A nice road trip book. Just wish I could have trusted the stories a bit more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Many authors of business books invoke an extended metaphor, "the journey," and that is what Michael Mazzeo, Paul Oyer, and Scott Schaefer do in this book. In fact, I think their approach three-dimensional: what they characterize as the physical "voyage" of discovery, their cognitive voyage of discovery, and the voyage of discovery that each reader experiences while reading this book. Actually, they describe and discuss six voyages:

1. Memphis to Omaha
2. Denver to Oklahoma City
3. Charlotte to Atlanta
4. Missoula to Portland, OR)
5. Chicago to Cincinnati
6. Atlanta to New Orleans

As they explain, "Planning a Roadside MBA trip is a group activity. We confer four or five months in advance to find a week when we're all free of various obligations. Then we negotiate over a good route, with each of us making proposals until a consensus winner emerges [and] we decided early on to stay (mostly) out of the big cities. So a good proposal involves two airports with four small cities or big towns in between."

What was their strategic objective? In their words, to "peek" into the workings of as many small business establishments as possible, in as many different geographic locations as possible. Why? To explore their hunch that "the strategic challenges that small businesses face are just as rich and compelling as anything being discussed inside Six Sigma redoubts like General Electric." With regard to strategic questions, here is the first of Mazzeo's ten laws:

"The answer to every strategic question is 'It depends.'
Corollary 1: The trick is knowing what it depends on.
Corollary 2: If the answer to a question isn't 'It depends,' then it's not a strategic question.
Corollary 3: Strategy is never a solved problem.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book was disappointing. I am a small business ... August 14, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was disappointing. I am a small business owner and it was not helpful. It discussed larger businesses and
companies that manufacture products which did not pertain to us at all. I read the entire book but took very little away from
it that I could use.
The current president of our company read it also and agreed with me. It was my idea to buy and read it from the review,
but I could have skipped it completely as it was not helpful to us.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Case Studies Beyond The Fortune 500 June 19, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My economics and business students routinely punctuate my lectures with, “That’s a nice theory, professor, but how does it work in the real world?” The Roadside MBA provides the answers through a series of fascinating anecdotes distilled by three smart (but cool!) professors from their interviews with dozens of owners and managers at the small businesses they visited while road-tripping across the U.S. This is the perfect summer book for anyone looking to learn the most important ideas from business and economics in a fun, easy-to-read format.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very interesting read and a unique approach to understanding small business. I loved the interplay between the three friends and former Kellogg School of Management colleagues and I was left wanting more at the conclusion of a very interesting journey. Peter Smith, Author, Hiring Squirrels
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Fun book, some interesting stories about how small businesses tackled certain problems. I found a couple stories were applicable to my business. I would suggest the book as a good primer on business ideas.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good strategy book December 5, 2014
By Gerald
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good strategy book. You learn the strategy issue by seeing it in a real case. It does not go deep into the strategic point, but summarizes the issue with the strategic decision taken by the business.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enjoyable read. Interesting to see business school concepts applied to small business settings.
Published 1 month ago by Sandra A. Cochrane
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Kindle
The was a Kindle on my iPad purchase. As always it was executed by Amazon flawlessly.
Published 2 months ago by DR Carr
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Wonderful easy to read book about small businesses.
Published 2 months ago by Niklas Lundin
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, interesting journey across America
Good read, interesting journey across America. I liked the variety of different companies visited and how the strategy "depends" on the unique business evironment each one... Read more
Published 2 months ago by paml
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the book and loved the way the authors used ...
I enjoyed the book and loved the way the authors used the cases drawn from ordinary businesses to illustrate economic principles.
Published 3 months ago by Linda Abraham
3.0 out of 5 stars just ok. not really condusive to a larger retail ...
just ok. not really condusive to a larger retail establishment.
Published 3 months ago by kathy j wright
4.0 out of 5 stars Some times you find the best at the side of the road
The book is chocked full of ideas that any business, big or small, can use and shows that sometimes, the best ideas don't always reside in the mega-corporations. Read more
Published 4 months ago by tom
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, entertaining and to the point.
Good job guys! I recommend this business strategy book as an entertaining entry level reading for the general MBA or entrepreneurial curriculum. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stephen R. Elliott
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