Ryan is a twenty something attending graduate school in Texas. He fancies himself an entrepreneur and writes about relationship marketing, eCommerce, and other elements of business as it relates to Generation Y, on his blog, Ryan Stephens Marketing.
Most of the MBA students I know think they are absolutely brilliant. Because of the piece of paper they get when the graduate they will probably get to start out at about $100K a year. Evidently this notion, coupled with their narcissism, entitles them to think they are better than you and me. And that is okay with me because I am confident I can attain that status (provided I want to) in the amount of time they spent in the â€˜real worldâ€™ and coming back to get their MBA.
The rest of this post outlines 3 reasons why you should skip obtaining your MBA or online MBA.
Reason #1: Itâ€™s about PEOPLE — not rules, theorems, and formulas.
Being a great business person, or a great marketer is about connecting with people; itâ€™s about building and solidifying relationships, and it is about making your brand a Lovemark. Managerial Cost Accounting doesnâ€™t help you do that. I do not want to spend my life tucked away in a cubicle (or an office), but out on the streets interacting with and learning from consumers. What do they really want? How can I facilitate our relationship by providing them with the solution they are looking for?
What theorem teaches me how to do that? When you start seeing your business as a business of margins you are in danger of becoming a commodity. You can learn all the strategies in the world to get attention for your business, but what do you do when you get it? Is it sustainable? Learning about the people, your consumers and what they want enables you to thrive and consistently answer these questions. A piece of paper that dictates how well you ran regressions does not.
Reason #2: Iâ€™d rather build my network via Happy Hour and other events.
One of the reasons people decide to get an MBA is because it is a great opportunity to meet other ambitious people, and when one of them gets wealthy, they might hire you one day. But seriously, most good programs ensure that you get to hear some great speakers, work in groups with some talented peers, etc. and this is a valuable experience.
All I am saying is that I would rather do it at happy hour. Chances are you are working with some brilliant people right now. Maybe they fill stifled by their career, maybe underneath their rule-following, drone-like performances in the office they have brilliant business ideas that just need a little social lubricant to come to the forefront. I have had some great conversations with some really intelligent people at Happy Hour. I suspect it is because we do not feel confined by the rules of corporate America, but free to dream big, and showcase our passion for unique business approaches.
Aside from all of that, there are a lot of great people who will communicate with you if you make the effort. Is the CEO of Proctor and Gamble going to have lunch with you? No, the odds are not likely. However, if you contact someone in a company and tell them you respect the work they do (provided you have done your research and know what that is), and would like their advice concerning that particular field, job, etc. you would be surprised how many people would accommodate you.
Most people are nice people. Most people like helping other people. Build your network from the ground up. Just because a CEO comes and talks to your class does not mean heâ€™s going to answer your email that you sent the next day. Take networking into your own hands.
Reason #3: Iâ€™m in too much of a hurry to waste time getting an MBA, when I could read some great books in one summer and get a very similar education.
For most MBA programs you need a few years work experience so by the time you work, then come back, then get the MBA, thatâ€™s approximately 5 years you could have been in the workforce, unleashing your ideas on the world (or at least trying to). And thatâ€™s my vantage point. I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur anxious to get out into the real world and to start making things happen.
Give me Keith Ferrazziâ€™s Never Eat Alone and Iâ€™ll learn about relationship marketing. Give me Kevin Robertsâ€™ Lovemarks and Iâ€™ll learn about the future of branding. The point is a couple of good professors, business people, or bloggers could provide me with a list of great books I need to read. I could read one every other day or so and get a lot of the same education I would get in an MBA program.
Perhaps I do not get the actual experiences in terms of practicing presentations, but what better way to practice than to be giving presentations for my own company or whomever I am working with. Grades honestly do not matter that much to me anymore (I know, I know â€“ you freak out if you donâ€™t maintain that 4.0) but aside from obtaining higher education or that first job, when do they really matter ever again?
My aim is not to discredit or to diminish the idea of an MBA degree. I will freely admit that they can potentially accelerate your career path and provide you with a great opportunity to meet some phenomenal people and obtain some phenomenal opportunities in the process. All I am saying is that they are not the necessity that so many people believe them to be.
You can save all the money and invest your time emotionally connecting with people. You can build great relationships and hash out lucrative business ideas over a drink (or other social event), and you can obtain a solid education by reading best-selling business books by brilliant authors that probably know a lot more about that particular subject than your professor. I would say that is three pretty good reasons to skip getting your MBA.