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The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business Paperback – August 28, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 481 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kaufman, a former middle manager at Proctor & Gamble and founder of personalmba.com, 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 According to the author, much of what is taught in business schools is outdated; you're better off saving the expense and finding other ways to learn about these core principles--which Kaufman synthesizes--in such areas as value creation,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)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"A masterpiece. This is the 'START HERE' book I recommend to everyone interested in business. An amazing overview of everything you need to know. Covers all of the basics, minus buzz-words and fluff. One of the most inspiring things I've read in years." 
- Derek Sivers, founder of CDbaby.com and sivers.org


"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 of Wired and author of What Technology Wants

"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

"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

"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 Safavi, executive director of international sales and distribution, The Walt Disney Company

"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, sivers.org

"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, Lifehacker.com, and author of Upgrade Your Life
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Product Details

  • Series: the personal MBA master art of business
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591845572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591845577
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (481 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
The following is just my synthesized version of the first chapter.

Why?
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As someone who is opposed to higher education for the same reasons the author is against it, I was very excited to pick up The Personal MBA to feed my own opinion as well as learn from someone much more informed than me. After coming across the author's blog I wanted to shout "hallelujah amen!" and shake his hand as he went on about the questionable economic sense of an MBA. When I was finally able to pick this book up and dedicate some time to it, I was very excited as I read through chapter one "Why read this book?". However, I was greatly disappointed when I got about a quarter of the way into it and fully realized how shallow/limited of a view we were taking of each topic.

In chapter one the author writes "The Personal MBA 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." Unfortunately, I would take issue with the author's claim that after reading this you will have a firm foundation in the topics covered. I felt that the book read more like a Spark Notes encyclopedia or dictionary and did not make me equipped to adequately think or apply any of the topics to my own professional life. It was as if there was a machine gun firing off all of these quick topics that followed the outline of casual story or comment and then one paragraph of depth. When I purchased this book, I was looking forward to more detail than the author presented and I think the first chapter does not adequately set the stage for what the author's goal is.

More examples could be given buy my intent here is not to berate the author.
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