The Personal MBA

A few years ago, marooned in the departure lounge of a big international airport, I fell to perusing the books in the (huge) ‘business and management’ section of the airport bookshop and wondered whether it would be possible to mimic an MBA ‘education’ from a combination of booklists and air-miles. It turns out that Josh Kaufman had a similar idea, but has done something useful and interesting with it — the Personal MBA Manifesto.

Business schools don’t have a monopoly on worldly wisdom. If you’re serious about learning advanced business principles, the Personal MBA can help. The Personal MBA recommended reading list is the tangible result of hundreds of hours of reading and research, and features only the very best books the business press has to offer. So skip the fancy diploma and $150,000 loan – you can get a world-class business education simply by reading these books.

I’ve scanned the complete list of the 69-volume ‘canon’ he proposes and am ashamed to say that I’ve only read two and hadn’t heard of most. He’s done an interesting deal with who will sell you the ‘PMBA Motherlode’ for $1267 — or “about 1.26% of the cost of a $100,000 business school education”. Neat, eh?

BusinessWeek ran a feature on the PMBA a while back.

Later: The basic flaw in this approach is in its implicit assumption that ‘content is king’. Just reading the same stuff as students at HBS or the Wharton School or the Judge Business School doesn’t provide the same educational experience as being at these institutions. Why? Because it’s always been the case that students learn at least as much from one another as they do from their professors.