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The DIY MBA: Testing the waters

September 25 2008 – 10:56am

I want to learn more about business. Many people, in this situation, would decide to go to business school. Some people suggest “just start a business. Do it! And learn that way.” I do try that, but without some way of building cognizance, how the hell are you to know what to do?

I have a habit of teaching myself things. Yes, I did get a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design, but that didn’t teach me how to use the software, program for the web, and many other things that I know how to do today. If it taught me anything, it taught me how to think, and gave me an opportunity to learn how to think for myself. I even supplemented my education by locking myself in my apartment for the final semester of my education, and checking out every typography book I could find. I learned through that experience that a good portion of the faculty at my University didn’t know a fraction of what they claimed to about the subject. I wouldn’t trade the experience of organized higher education, but it’s not one that I’m eager to repeat.

So why don’t I go to business school? 1) I feel like the teacher-to-student format of most schools is outdated. And I’m not alone on this. 2) I don’t see much value in titles, or words that summarize the complexity of an individual’s experiences in an easily-digestible format (i.e. “I went to Harvard Business School”) 3) I don’t want to pay the actual dollar costs, and opportunity costs, just to be able to say those words (not that I believe I could get into HBS). Going to business school just isn’t my style.

I could just read a bunch of books. Josh Kaufman had put together a nice list of 77 books you can read to get a “Personal MBA.” It’s a nice list. But simply reading all of those books isn’t quite right because 1) It would take me ages to motivate myself through all of it 2) I would be learning in a vacuum, no insight from other minds, and 3) I would miss out on the most valuable aspect of getting an MBA – the people whom you meet.

So what am I to do? I want to get a group of people together to read the books on this list (and/or some that aren’t on this list), and 1) motivate each other to actually read the books 2) discuss the books, so that we aren’t learning in a vacuum, and 3) teach each other through sharing our related experiences in our actual business lives.

I’d probably organize it through Meetup or a Ning page. If there’s enough people, there could be different “tracks,” like the “Design & Production” track – smaller groups of people who read a specific set of books together. The individuals in the groups could present and summarize the books to one another, or present to groups who are in other tracks.

Actual business students and professionals in related fields could come to speak, or participate in discussions. Events and “meetups” would take place in Chicago, but there could be discussion and interaction on the web, as well.

This can be whatever the founding members make it to be, but ultimately, it should be a nimble, efficient, and scalable peer-learning experience. Are you in? Do you have ideas or thoughts? Comment now! And pass this on to others whom this may interest. Wherever they may be.

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This post is filed under Books, Business, Creative Productivity, Ideas, Society.