“Do It Yourself Business Education:The Personal MBA”


The Personal MBA (PMBA) is a project designed to help you educate yourself about advanced business concepts.

The core of the Personal MBA is a list of the very best business books available. Some books will give you tools: processes or actions you can apply immediately to improve your life and work. Others will give you ideas: help in envisioning what you and your business are capable of becoming. All of them will give you mental models: useful ways of thinking about the world that you can use to your advantage in a wide variety of situations.

The Personal MBA is Not:

* A credential. If you read these books, you won’t have corporate recruiters beating down your door, and you won’t have a pretty certificate to hang on your wall when you’re done. You will, however, have an understanding of business that’s comparable to completing a traditional business school curriculum, along with the pleasures of not having to mortgage your life for that understanding. You do not need a certificate to be able to understand, use, and hold an intelligent conversation about advanced business topics. (Employers do, however, respond well to portfolios. If you build a portfolio of notes to capture what you learn through the Personal MBA, you’ll have a tangible asset to prove your hard work and dedication during the interview process.)
* A stand-alone venture. You can’t learn about business solely from books (or sitting in a classroom); you have to be willing to go out and learn by doing. Whether you’re working full-time for a company or building your own business, a great deal of your knowledge will develop as a direct result of your day-to-day work experiences, which provide the necessary context for understanding what you read. Reading books is not enough; application of what you read is essential.
* A mindless replica of a traditional MBA program. The PMBA was created to expose you to a core set of advanced business concepts quickly and effectively. By design, it does not include everything you might come across in business school. If you’re looking for a detailed analysis of the Black-Scholes option pricing model and its relationship to the volatility surfaces of certain financial derivatives, you’re going to be very disappointed. The PMBA focuses on knowledge that you’ll find useful in the real world, not what an academic professor personally finds interesting.
* An impersonal curriculum. You’ll find more material about learning who you are, what you’re good at, and how to work more effectively with other people in the PMBA than you will in a standard business school curriculum. There’s a reason why these topics are included here: these “soft skills” are often more practical and important than theoretical knowledge, and will help you tremendously in your everyday life and work.
* An infallible educational revelation. It’s perfectly okay if you disagree with one of the selections or think that a critical book has been overlooked. Feel free to make substitutions as you deem necessary. If you’re skeptical about the value of a title you haven’t read yet, I encourage you to borrow the book from your local library and give it a try. If you’re of the same opinion after reading a few chapters, put it down and read something else.
* Easy. Working your way through this list will take time, energy, and persistence. There is no substitute for hard work and dedication. I’ve structured this program to be as easy as possible to use, but it’s up to you to put in the time and energy necessary to learn.

Reading List Selection Criteria

There are thousands of great books about business on the market, which made this list very difficult to compile. Here are the five criteria used to select the books featured by the Personal MBA:

* Valuable, Action-Oriented Content. Does the book contain a lot of useful, practical information about how business works, how you can add value, and why the material in the book is important? Is the book based on scientific research or direct personal experience? Does it contain tools, ideas, and concepts that can be put to use immediately in the real world?
* Acceptable Time Commitment. Is the book a good educational value for the amount of time invested? Can you get the key points of each book quickly?
* Self-Learning Friendly. Is this book designed to keep the reader’s mind engaged? Does the author present the material effectively and make the learning process enjoyable?
* Reference Value. Will this book be a valuable resource to turn to when you need information on a specific topic? How does the book re-read? Is it a book worth keeping for many years?
* Comprehensive Set of Resources. For any business-related question, does at least one of these books provide useful guidance and insight?

Each recommendation is selected from a pool of hundreds of potential candidates, based on thousands of hours of research and evaluation as well as the suggestions and recommendations of a large and diverse group of volunteers.