This is the first official post in my “Those Who Can’t Do…” category. Against the advice of counsel, I am going to tell you a story of failure. I don’t think it is a failure but to some, I guess, it could be perceived that way. About three years ago, I decided to go back to Cal State Fullerton to get an MBA. I had done my undergrad degree in accounting and finance there and taken about two years after graduation to get my CPA license and miscellaneous insurance and securities licenses (oh, and get a job and stuff too…). I figured the MBA was the next thing in line and I should go get it. The first couple classes I took were electives, which were very helpful. But after that, I was forced to take almost an entire load of “core” classes. Which were effectively the exact same thing as the upper-division classes I took for my bachelors degree.
That’s right, for those of you that DON’T know. If you already did a Bachelor’s degree in business, an MBA is about 85% the same damn thing. Haven’t we business majors fooled YOU GUYS! I actually finished all but two of the classes (with much kicking and screaming along the way) I had to take to get my MBA when I was taking a mid-term for “Operations Management” (that is the class where they teach you Japanese words). The entire test was a recitation of the chapters we had read in the book. No thought, no application, just straight memory recall. I got so pissed at how pointless this was I got up and walked out.
For me, the Cost/Benefit to finishing just wasn’t there. They wanted two more classes, (which equates to about 150 hours of my time) plus several thousand dollars. What did they offer in return for this? A piece of paper with the words “Masters of Business Administration”. Now, I understand that for some people, this might mean something or be valuable. But for me, someone who was already running a small company, I knew what it was worth. Almost nothing. I was not going to learn a damn thing I didn’t already know. I wasn’t going to “open” any doors that my CPA license wouldn’t have already opened. I wasn’t going to get a raise; it literally would do nothing for me.
This got me thinking about why I started this whole process in the first place. It started with a very simple plan:
I wanted to be better than I was. I wanted to improve myself and my skill set.
So it seems natural that, with this in mind, back to school I went! Turns out, the university system has utterly failed the business community. They simply cannot keep up or be dynamic enough to provide anything of value to the small fast moving companies that, I believe, are becoming the driving force of the economy. Sure, if you want to be one of the guys that crunches numbers for Proctor & Gamble, an MBA might be a good investment. But most of us (especially those reading THIS blog!) will never be working for a Fortune 500 company. It was around this time, I stumbled across Josh Kaufman’s book, The Personal MBA and this quote, from Isaac Asimov:
Self-Education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.
I was so inspired! There were guys smarter than me that realized the same thing that I had! I began to feel foolish for having stuck with the MBA program so long and began creating my “Business Guru” reading list. It started as being based off the Personal MBA reading list, but as I dug deeper into the world of business books, I found other sources or “best of” reading lists. This list (which, coincidentally, was also the inspiration for this blog) was going to be my attempt to do what Josh Kaufman did, but with a small business twist. Josh’s book (which is EXCELLENT and I will be reviewing in detail later) is designed to sum up all the MBA type topics. I wanted to create a reading list for my clients. They need some MBA stuff, but also some things more, and less, advance than MBA level. It was also meant to be my “dream” list of books. The list that, if I ever finished reading it, I could say to myself: “I am a Business Guru”.
So here it is. In this section of the blog you are going to follow me on my journey through self education. As I create and read the books on my list, I am going to review and summarize them here. At some point, I hope to be smart enough to figure out how to put the actual list on the blog, so you all can see how the list grows and evolves. But I am not smart enough to do that yet (maybe there is a book for that…).