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The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business Hardcover – December 30, 2010

156 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kaufman, a former middle manager at Proctor & Gamble and founder of, argues that those interested in business would be better served by skipping the M.B.A. and focusing on the critically important concepts that really make or break a business. According to the author, much of what is taught in business schools is outdated; you're better off saving the expense and finding other ways to learn about these core principles--which Kaufman synthesizes--in such areas as value creation, marketing, sales, and finance. He also explores the psychological side of business and examines how consumers take in information, make decisions, and decide what to do or not to do. Acknowledging the panoramic overview his approach necessitates, he includes a fairly lengthy list of sources to seek out if more information is needed. While Kaufman's rallying call will not eradicate the need or desire for M.B.A. degrees, he does provide a surprisingly solid alternative full of information that even those already in the workplace will respond to. (Dec.) (c)
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"I've run across few people who conceptually 'grok' how to get things done better than Josh Kaufman."
-David Allen, author of Getting Things Done

"File this book under NO EXCUSES. After you've read it, you won't be open to people telling you that you're not smart enough, not insightful enough, or not learned enough to do work that matters. Josh takes you on a worthwhile tour of the key ideas in business."
-Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

"No matter what they tell you, an MBA is not essential. If you combine reading this book with actually trying stuff, you'll be far ahead in the business game."
-Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor, Wired, and author of What Technology Wants

"A creative, breakthrough approach to business education. I have an MBA from a top business school, and this book helped me understand business in a whole new way."
-Ali Safa vi, executive director of international sales and distribution, The Walt Disney Company

"An absolutely amazing book! I'm highly recommending this to all creative types, for the best overview of the modern business mind-set they need."
-Derek Sivers, founder, CD Baby,

"Josh has synthesized the most important topics in business into a book that truly lives up to its title. It's rare to find complicated concepts explained with such clarity. Highly recommended."
-Ben Casnocha, author of My Start-Up Life

"An enterprising and thrifty way to hack business school. This is a fantastic resource for motivated autodidacts looking to get into business."
-Gina Trapani, founding editor,, and author of Upgrade Your Life

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (December 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591843529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591843528
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Related Media

More About the Author

Josh Kaufman is the author of the #1 international bestseller "The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business," as well as the upcoming book "The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything... Fast!" Josh specializes in teaching professionals in all industries and disciplines how to master practical business knowledge and skills.

Josh's unique, multidisciplinary approach to business mastery has helped millions of readers around the world learn essential business concepts on their own terms. Josh's work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Time, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, and The widely-acclaimed Personal MBA manifesto and recommended reading list has been downloaded over 1.28 million times from hosts over 50,000 readers every month, and has been visited by over 2 million readers since its founding in 2005. Josh's work has directly saved prospective business students millions of dollars in unnecessary tuition, fees, and interest by providing an effective, affordable, and debt-free method of learning fundamental business principles.

Josh's current projects involve ongoing research in the fields of business, education, and skill acquisition.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 179 people found the following review helpful By Drasko Raicevic on December 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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183 of 202 people found the following review helpful By Aram on January 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 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.
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79 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Brooks G. Tish on January 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Erik Gfesser VINE VOICE on May 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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