Most of the business reading I do is in the entrepreneurial field. Three of the topic’s writers I pay the most attention to are Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and Fred Wilson. All three say that earning an MBA is irrelevant at best, detrimental at worst.
Naturally, all three have an MBA; from Stanford, UCLA, and Wharton, respectively.
Each has had so much success beyond earning an advanced degree, I can’t help but think they’ve forgotten how far it got them.
Edit: I should be clearer. It’s not that they are being disingenuous, but rather that it is difficult to disentangle their success (or anyone’s success) from their pasts.
This has always bothered me, so I was excited when my brother passed along a book recounting a Harvard MBA’s two years at the school.
I devoured Ahead of the Curve in almost one sitting.
This book is a commentary and critique of the industry of business education and even capitalism itself.
My favorite moment comes in an anecdote about an MBA candidate who, not getting his way, complains to an administrator, “I’m the customer! Why are you treating me so badly?”
To which the administrator responds, “you’re not the customer. You’re the product.”
This, I believe, is the entrepreneur’s complaint about the MBA: it is a brand, not an education. The brand matters if you want to be an investment banker, consultant, or Fortune 500 CEO, but for the entrepreneur who needs to Get Stuff Done, why bother?
The author, Philip Delves Broughton, falls somewhere in the middle of this argument. He clearly takes issue with the bizarre world that is the Masters of Business Administration (not to mention Cambridge’s culture), but he is also close enough to graduating (class of 2006) to see how quickly his life changed because of the experience.
The book touches on much of the course material, and is therefore an interesting read for anyone involved in business. It also examines what constitutes “success”, and is therefore an interesting read for everybody else, too.
I recommend this book.
And just incase Seth, Guy, or Fred reads this post, let me throw them a bone: