3 Reasons To Skip Getting Your MBA

MBA
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 ‘real world’ and coming back to get their MBA.

The rest of this post outlines 3 reasons why you should skip obtaining your MBA or .

Reason #1: It’s about PEOPLE — not rules, theorems, and formulas.

Being a great business person, or a great marketer is about connecting with people; it’s about building and solidifying relationships, and it is about making your brand a Lovemark. Managerial Cost Accounting doesn’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: I’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 he’s going to answer your email that you sent the next day. Take networking into your own hands.

Reason #3: I’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, that’s approximately 5 years you could have been in the workforce, unleashing your ideas on the world (or at least trying to). And that’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 Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone and I’ll learn about relationship marketing. Give me Kevin Roberts’ Lovemarks and I’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 – you freak out if you don’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.

  • http://www.BurnerSports.com Steve

    Pretty good article there! I enjoyed the read a lot. I too believe that life is what you make it, although I believe a great education will take you far in life, I do not believe it is necessary to achieve the same sort of success as someone with a higher education.

    Anyways, enjoyed the write up… keep it coming!

  • http://www.BurnerSports.com Steve

    Pretty good article there! I enjoyed the read a lot. I too believe that life is what you make it, although I believe a great education will take you far in life, I do not believe it is necessary to achieve the same sort of success as someone with a higher education.

    Anyways, enjoyed the write up… keep it coming!

  • Gio

    Mmmmm…I don’t buy it! I wish Ryan would have gone through an MBA program himself before criticizing it.

    I’m a software engineer. In my 15+ years in the business I’ve seen tens of geeks/programmers that are in the job without having a degree in computer science. Can they code? Yes. Can they deliver on what they are tasked with? Yes. Does their code look clean? Is their code manageable? Do they make the right long-term choices when coding? In most cases no, no and no.

    It is true that there are several great, rich people that are where they are without finishing their education (Bill Gates, Google’s founders, George Lucas to name a few). They are the exception, not the rule.

    While reading the article I also have the impression that Ryan believes MBA equate to marketing school. I have to disagree on that as well. An MBA is alot more than that.
    I recently worked with a terrific marketer; he could sell sand in the desert. Could he run the company, though? Unfortunately he couldn’t.

    I personally made the choice NOT to get an MBA after the my BS . I’m happy with my decision but I’m not ready to discredit the MBA programs out there just because I didn’t go for it.

  • Gio

    Mmmmm…I don’t buy it! I wish Ryan would have gone through an MBA program himself before criticizing it.

    I’m a software engineer. In my 15+ years in the business I’ve seen tens of geeks/programmers that are in the job without having a degree in computer science. Can they code? Yes. Can they deliver on what they are tasked with? Yes. Does their code look clean? Is their code manageable? Do they make the right long-term choices when coding? In most cases no, no and no.

    It is true that there are several great, rich people that are where they are without finishing their education (Bill Gates, Google’s founders, George Lucas to name a few). They are the exception, not the rule.

    While reading the article I also have the impression that Ryan believes MBA equate to marketing school. I have to disagree on that as well. An MBA is alot more than that.
    I recently worked with a terrific marketer; he could sell sand in the desert. Could he run the company, though? Unfortunately he couldn’t.

    I personally made the choice NOT to get an MBA after the my BS . I’m happy with my decision but I’m not ready to discredit the MBA programs out there just because I didn’t go for it.

  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ Ryan Stephens

    @ Steve — Thanks for the sentiment with respect to the article. You’re right life is what you make it, but it also seems that you’re equating an advanced degree with life long success. I would argue that it -certainly- helps provided you know how to use it, but it’s not a free ride either.

    @ Gio — The intent of the article was not to bash or diminish MBA programs in any way. Some are better than others. I am currently getting my MS in Marketing, and I utilized my electives to take MBA equivalent courses in Management.

    From my experiences an MBA essentially enables you to obtain a Masters equivalent in a number of different fields. That said, you get that broader range, but you don’t get to specialize in say… marketing. An MBA might take ONE marketing class, or ONE finance class, etc.

    The point of the article was that you can be JUST AS SUCCESSFUL without the MBA, and that there are alternatives to that route (and the time and the money that accompanies it). You can still succeed in corporate america without the MBA. Seth Godin wrote an article, for Fast Company in 2000, that discussed the notion that an MBA curriculum actually does not prepare them to manage in the “real world.” This was after teaching an MBA-level class at NYU and interacting with the students.

    He cites the following as things they should learn and don’t:
    “1. Finding, hiring, and managing supergreat people

    2. Embracing change and moving quickly

    3. Understanding and excelling at business development and at making deals with other companies

    4. Prioritizing tasks in a job that changes every day

    5. Selling — to people, to companies, and to markets

    There are other skills that might show up on the list — for example, balancing a life for the long term, working with venture capitalists and other sources of funds, being creative, and understanding the impact of new technologies — but this is a good starting place.”

    –http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/38/sgodin.html?page=0%2C0

    Does this do anything to validate my post? Absolutely not. More than anything I just wanted to incite a conversation concerning an alternative approach to getting an MBA.

    Thank you for your comment and forcing me to re-evaluate my positioning with respect to the article. Though I must admit, I still like where I am standing.

  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ Ryan Stephens

    @ Steve — Thanks for the sentiment with respect to the article. You’re right life is what you make it, but it also seems that you’re equating an advanced degree with life long success. I would argue that it -certainly- helps provided you know how to use it, but it’s not a free ride either.

    @ Gio — The intent of the article was not to bash or diminish MBA programs in any way. Some are better than others. I am currently getting my MS in Marketing, and I utilized my electives to take MBA equivalent courses in Management.

    From my experiences an MBA essentially enables you to obtain a Masters equivalent in a number of different fields. That said, you get that broader range, but you don’t get to specialize in say… marketing. An MBA might take ONE marketing class, or ONE finance class, etc.

    The point of the article was that you can be JUST AS SUCCESSFUL without the MBA, and that there are alternatives to that route (and the time and the money that accompanies it). You can still succeed in corporate america without the MBA. Seth Godin wrote an article, for Fast Company in 2000, that discussed the notion that an MBA curriculum actually does not prepare them to manage in the “real world.” This was after teaching an MBA-level class at NYU and interacting with the students.

    He cites the following as things they should learn and don’t:
    “1. Finding, hiring, and managing supergreat people

    2. Embracing change and moving quickly

    3. Understanding and excelling at business development and at making deals with other companies

    4. Prioritizing tasks in a job that changes every day

    5. Selling — to people, to companies, and to markets

    There are other skills that might show up on the list — for example, balancing a life for the long term, working with venture capitalists and other sources of funds, being creative, and understanding the impact of new technologies — but this is a good starting place.”

    –http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/38/sgodin.html?page=0%2C0

    Does this do anything to validate my post? Absolutely not. More than anything I just wanted to incite a conversation concerning an alternative approach to getting an MBA.

    Thank you for your comment and forcing me to re-evaluate my positioning with respect to the article. Though I must admit, I still like where I am standing.

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  • http://twentyset.com Monica O’Brien

    Ryan, this is an interesting article. Many Gen Y’ers have written about this MBA stuff before, so you’re not the first with these opinions.

    As someone who is getting an MBA, and as someone who has been called both smart and a narcissist :), I would have to say you’re pretty off-base with your arguments though.

    Like someone pointed out earlier, if you haven’t gotten an MBA you are not such a great candidate to discuss the pros and cons of getting one. And as smart and hard-working as you are, I can guarantee that if someone just as smart and hard-working comes along, but that person also has an MBA, they will beat you for the job, every time. In the new job market where everyone is a well-rounded, over-educated, overachiever, the people who want to be stars should be doing whatever it takes to get an edge.

    I always tell people who diss MBAs that they should try it themselves. The fact that anyone has energy to write about Why Not to Get an MBA is proof that they have considered getting one. In most cases, they have the wrong information to make a good decision about it.

    So the good news is most programs allow you to sit in on a class or two, or even go as a student-at-large for a couple classes before committing to the program. Give it a chance. You might be surprised at how much you learn, and how exciting it is to be in a classroom again with other brilliant minds.

    And also, welcome to YGG. I’m on the BOA here :).

  • http://twentyset.com Monica O’Brien

    Ryan, this is an interesting article. Many Gen Y’ers have written about this MBA stuff before, so you’re not the first with these opinions.

    As someone who is getting an MBA, and as someone who has been called both smart and a narcissist :), I would have to say you’re pretty off-base with your arguments though.

    Like someone pointed out earlier, if you haven’t gotten an MBA you are not such a great candidate to discuss the pros and cons of getting one. And as smart and hard-working as you are, I can guarantee that if someone just as smart and hard-working comes along, but that person also has an MBA, they will beat you for the job, every time. In the new job market where everyone is a well-rounded, over-educated, overachiever, the people who want to be stars should be doing whatever it takes to get an edge.

    I always tell people who diss MBAs that they should try it themselves. The fact that anyone has energy to write about Why Not to Get an MBA is proof that they have considered getting one. In most cases, they have the wrong information to make a good decision about it.

    So the good news is most programs allow you to sit in on a class or two, or even go as a student-at-large for a couple classes before committing to the program. Give it a chance. You might be surprised at how much you learn, and how exciting it is to be in a classroom again with other brilliant minds.

    And also, welcome to YGG. I’m on the BOA here :).

  • Joe Hoyt

    Hey Ryan – interesting article. As an entrepreneurial, arrogant MBA student (Babson), I guess I have a little different perspective.

    I’ll give you this: you do not need an MBA to be successful as an entrepreneur. You do not necessarily need an advanced degree of any sort to be successful in business.

    My opinion is that an MBA gives you more options. If you decide to work for someone, it can give you a competitive advantage and open doors that would be closed otherwise. The most important thing I’ve learned so far is how to put different management and leadership situations into frameworks so that I can make the best business decisions (well that and learning how to balance work and family). I think most of what is taught in MBA programs can be learned elsewhere, but it’s more difficult unless you grew up in the right environment.

    It’s kind of like the swings of baseball players (the good ones at least). Their approaches are sometimes different – some hold the bats high in the air and others wiggle it around – but when they swing through the zone, the swing is pretty much the same. If you can learn how to be a business leader without getting an MBA, more power to you.

    I could nit pick a little bit, but we’ll just leave it at that. I will say this though: getting an MBA was the right decision for me and my family, and even though the opportunity costs were pretty big, I think my family will reap the benefits of this decision for years to come.

    Besides, if we’re going to be running million dollar companies in the next few years anyways, the lost opportunities won’t seem like much in the long run. For me, this past year has been a great period of self reflection and evaluation – plus I’ve had some really good business ideas and worked with potential business partners. I wouldn’t change anything – but like I wrote earlier, everyone’s approach is different.

  • Joe Hoyt

    Hey Ryan – interesting article. As an entrepreneurial, arrogant MBA student (Babson), I guess I have a little different perspective.

    I’ll give you this: you do not need an MBA to be successful as an entrepreneur. You do not necessarily need an advanced degree of any sort to be successful in business.

    My opinion is that an MBA gives you more options. If you decide to work for someone, it can give you a competitive advantage and open doors that would be closed otherwise. The most important thing I’ve learned so far is how to put different management and leadership situations into frameworks so that I can make the best business decisions (well that and learning how to balance work and family). I think most of what is taught in MBA programs can be learned elsewhere, but it’s more difficult unless you grew up in the right environment.

    It’s kind of like the swings of baseball players (the good ones at least). Their approaches are sometimes different – some hold the bats high in the air and others wiggle it around – but when they swing through the zone, the swing is pretty much the same. If you can learn how to be a business leader without getting an MBA, more power to you.

    I could nit pick a little bit, but we’ll just leave it at that. I will say this though: getting an MBA was the right decision for me and my family, and even though the opportunity costs were pretty big, I think my family will reap the benefits of this decision for years to come.

    Besides, if we’re going to be running million dollar companies in the next few years anyways, the lost opportunities won’t seem like much in the long run. For me, this past year has been a great period of self reflection and evaluation – plus I’ve had some really good business ideas and worked with potential business partners. I wouldn’t change anything – but like I wrote earlier, everyone’s approach is different.

  • http://www.BurnerSports.com Steve

    @ Joe Hoyt – Congrats on the MBA… you only went to the BEST entrepreneurial school in the nation! I thought about going there, but the price tag is a little too high for me, although I am sure the benefits are amazing. A really good friend of mine is on the board that gives money to new ventures coming out of Babson… it’s an incredible program.

  • http://www.BurnerSports.com Steve

    @ Joe Hoyt – Congrats on the MBA… you only went to the BEST entrepreneurial school in the nation! I thought about going there, but the price tag is a little too high for me, although I am sure the benefits are amazing. A really good friend of mine is on the board that gives money to new ventures coming out of Babson… it’s an incredible program.

  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ Ryan Stephens

    @ Monica – First let me say that I have enjoyed getting acquainted with your writing at YGG, Twenty Set, etc., and I look forward to working with you in some capacity at Brazeen Careerist.

    In the meantime, let me try and respond to your comments, which are very warranted. There’s definitely something to be said about not having gone through an MBA program. I definitely think that it would be a beneficial experience; it’s just that I don’t think it’s the -only- experience. Was there some intent in trying to create a discussion between entrepreneurial-minded Gen Yers and business professionals that have received or will be receiving their MBAs? The thought crossed my mind before I typed the first word.

    I chose an advanced degree specifically focussed on marketing, and I have had the chance to take some MBA courses. One was a phenomenal class on services marketing; the other was a complete waste of my time on Managing for Creativity and Innovation. And I suspect that could be said for many of the courses we take. The point being I am not completely in the dark and have actually taken two MBA classes prior to drawing any conclusions.

    Also, while that first paragraph might lead you to believe otherwise, I have had very few bad encounters with MBA students; though there is a stigma that they think they’re better than the rest of the graduate business programs at my university. Our marketing class has also been told we’re significantly more personable and better presenters so for the time being I’ll relish that tiny victory.

    While I agree that a large percentage of the time the MBA is going to have the edge over someone who doesn’t have it (provided they aren’t looking for someone who focussed specifically on one just one aspect of business) I would argue that it’s not always the case. Would Ben Casnocha and his resume not have an advantage over someone with an MBA? Prior to even finishing his undergrad I’m not convinced he wouldn’t be hired over a LARGE percentage of MBAs, particularly if you took the start up route (which you had a great post about by the way).

    Again, I am still in the classroom, finishing up my Masters, and I have peers thinking of taking the MBA route. The point of my article was to alter an alternative with an emphasis on passion and people instead of theories and formulas. And more importantly to incite conversation with respect to that decision and those kinds of marketing.

    Thanks again for you comments.

  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ Ryan Stephens

    @ Monica – First let me say that I have enjoyed getting acquainted with your writing at YGG, Twenty Set, etc., and I look forward to working with you in some capacity at Brazeen Careerist.

    In the meantime, let me try and respond to your comments, which are very warranted. There’s definitely something to be said about not having gone through an MBA program. I definitely think that it would be a beneficial experience; it’s just that I don’t think it’s the -only- experience. Was there some intent in trying to create a discussion between entrepreneurial-minded Gen Yers and business professionals that have received or will be receiving their MBAs? The thought crossed my mind before I typed the first word.

    I chose an advanced degree specifically focussed on marketing, and I have had the chance to take some MBA courses. One was a phenomenal class on services marketing; the other was a complete waste of my time on Managing for Creativity and Innovation. And I suspect that could be said for many of the courses we take. The point being I am not completely in the dark and have actually taken two MBA classes prior to drawing any conclusions.

    Also, while that first paragraph might lead you to believe otherwise, I have had very few bad encounters with MBA students; though there is a stigma that they think they’re better than the rest of the graduate business programs at my university. Our marketing class has also been told we’re significantly more personable and better presenters so for the time being I’ll relish that tiny victory.

    While I agree that a large percentage of the time the MBA is going to have the edge over someone who doesn’t have it (provided they aren’t looking for someone who focussed specifically on one just one aspect of business) I would argue that it’s not always the case. Would Ben Casnocha and his resume not have an advantage over someone with an MBA? Prior to even finishing his undergrad I’m not convinced he wouldn’t be hired over a LARGE percentage of MBAs, particularly if you took the start up route (which you had a great post about by the way).

    Again, I am still in the classroom, finishing up my Masters, and I have peers thinking of taking the MBA route. The point of my article was to alter an alternative with an emphasis on passion and people instead of theories and formulas. And more importantly to incite conversation with respect to that decision and those kinds of marketing.

    Thanks again for you comments.

  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ Ryan Stephens

    @ Joe – Considering where I suspect your opinion lies, you offered a very candid and a very thoughtful response. I appreciate that.

    Not only that, you couldn’t have hit the nail more squarely on the head with the baseball analogy, particularly when addressing a former collegiate baseball player. I tell parents all the time when instructing their kids. I don’t care how they stand, where they start their hands, or even how they swing provided that everything gets to where it is supposed to be right before, and at the point of contact.

    To take it one step further I liken getting an MBA to having a knowledgeable batting coach helping you out for a couple of years after you have already learned the nuances of the game, and likely your own swing. They can guide you in the right direction and help you utilize the tools that fit your swing and your style the best. Good MBA professors are (or should be like that) in that they help each respective person determine what the best methods are for themselves and the situations they’re in.

    A coach that teaches everyone the exact same swing might be making everyone a little bit better, but he’s not helping the more talented players reach their full potential. For those that take an alternative route and learn their swing all their own chances are they will not be as successful. BUT, if there’s a really talented player who is really savvy and carefully watches, analyzes, maybe even watches film on great hitters and then spends hours honing his swing in the batting cage then perhaps he can reach the same level as the players with the good hitting coach.

    The advantage still may be for the MBA because he still has that hitting coach to verify that he’s good and to endorse him to someone else whereas that player that did it on his own doesn’t. So I understand the up hill climb without getting the MBA, but that second hitter isn’t out any money for those hitting lessons either. I think that I might’ve just used your baseball analogy approach to really put things in perspective for both myself and hopefully anyone reading this… (maybe that should be a part II to the original?).

    Thanks again Joe, and I’d love to hear more about Babson’s MBA program if you get a chance!

  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ Ryan Stephens

    @ Joe – Considering where I suspect your opinion lies, you offered a very candid and a very thoughtful response. I appreciate that.

    Not only that, you couldn’t have hit the nail more squarely on the head with the baseball analogy, particularly when addressing a former collegiate baseball player. I tell parents all the time when instructing their kids. I don’t care how they stand, where they start their hands, or even how they swing provided that everything gets to where it is supposed to be right before, and at the point of contact.

    To take it one step further I liken getting an MBA to having a knowledgeable batting coach helping you out for a couple of years after you have already learned the nuances of the game, and likely your own swing. They can guide you in the right direction and help you utilize the tools that fit your swing and your style the best. Good MBA professors are (or should be like that) in that they help each respective person determine what the best methods are for themselves and the situations they’re in.

    A coach that teaches everyone the exact same swing might be making everyone a little bit better, but he’s not helping the more talented players reach their full potential. For those that take an alternative route and learn their swing all their own chances are they will not be as successful. BUT, if there’s a really talented player who is really savvy and carefully watches, analyzes, maybe even watches film on great hitters and then spends hours honing his swing in the batting cage then perhaps he can reach the same level as the players with the good hitting coach.

    The advantage still may be for the MBA because he still has that hitting coach to verify that he’s good and to endorse him to someone else whereas that player that did it on his own doesn’t. So I understand the up hill climb without getting the MBA, but that second hitter isn’t out any money for those hitting lessons either. I think that I might’ve just used your baseball analogy approach to really put things in perspective for both myself and hopefully anyone reading this… (maybe that should be a part II to the original?).

    Thanks again Joe, and I’d love to hear more about Babson’s MBA program if you get a chance!

  • Joe Hoyt

    Ryan/Steve or anyone else for that matter – feel free to shoot me an email if you want to hear about the Babson MBA program:

    shoyt1@babson.edu

    Babson is REALLY expensive, but there are ways around that. I told the admissions people that I needed a fellowship/scholarship, and they told me exactly what I needed to do to get those. Plus if you’ve started a successful company already, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get one of the Blank Center scholarships (I think the award is a full ride, but I’m not sure). Most of my expenses are living expenses.

    If I had to do things over again, I would have gone to Babson for my undergrad degree. Those kids are just amazing. They have this dorm called e-tower where 21 kids live in the same area and push each other, and the dorm acts as a business hatechery. One of these kids is running a $100M business while going to school. Another kid started this ping pong ball advertising company with his class freshman year (it’s part of the program), and he’s continuing with that. There’s a lot of power in having the right kind of advisors when you are younger and have less to lose.

    @Ryan – just mention Babson when you write part II =)

  • Joe Hoyt

    Ryan/Steve or anyone else for that matter – feel free to shoot me an email if you want to hear about the Babson MBA program:

    shoyt1@babson.edu

    Babson is REALLY expensive, but there are ways around that. I told the admissions people that I needed a fellowship/scholarship, and they told me exactly what I needed to do to get those. Plus if you’ve started a successful company already, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get one of the Blank Center scholarships (I think the award is a full ride, but I’m not sure). Most of my expenses are living expenses.

    If I had to do things over again, I would have gone to Babson for my undergrad degree. Those kids are just amazing. They have this dorm called e-tower where 21 kids live in the same area and push each other, and the dorm acts as a business hatechery. One of these kids is running a $100M business while going to school. Another kid started this ping pong ball advertising company with his class freshman year (it’s part of the program), and he’s continuing with that. There’s a lot of power in having the right kind of advisors when you are younger and have less to lose.

    @Ryan – just mention Babson when you write part II =)

  • http://twentyset.com Monica O’Brien

    Hey Ryan,

    I didn’t know you were getting a master’s degree. My bad. So really, I think you probably have a good idea of what you want and have chosen the best degree for your career path.

    I guess I assumed you were out of undergrad saying “I don’t need further education to be successful.” Which you’d be right in saying, btw. But it irritates me when people say this and then say that MBAs (or any other graduate level degrees) are worthless. My point is that they aren’t, and most people with this attitude don’t really know what they are talking about.

    So my assumptions were completely wrong. But I think I will write something about how to decide if an MBA is right for you. The time seems right to dust off this topic again.

  • http://twentyset.com Monica O’Brien

    Hey Ryan,

    I didn’t know you were getting a master’s degree. My bad. So really, I think you probably have a good idea of what you want and have chosen the best degree for your career path.

    I guess I assumed you were out of undergrad saying “I don’t need further education to be successful.” Which you’d be right in saying, btw. But it irritates me when people say this and then say that MBAs (or any other graduate level degrees) are worthless. My point is that they aren’t, and most people with this attitude don’t really know what they are talking about.

    So my assumptions were completely wrong. But I think I will write something about how to decide if an MBA is right for you. The time seems right to dust off this topic again.

  • http://www.younggogetter.com Justin Nowak

    Great article, and awesome comment discussion following it.

    I have been thinking about going back to school recently and this discussion has shed some light on it for me. The thing is I am pretty successful for a guy that has yet to go to university, but I believe that coupled with my experience would be a pretty damn good asset.

    So the debate in my mind continues.

  • http://www.younggogetter.com Justin Nowak

    Great article, and awesome comment discussion following it.

    I have been thinking about going back to school recently and this discussion has shed some light on it for me. The thing is I am pretty successful for a guy that has yet to go to university, but I believe that coupled with my experience would be a pretty damn good asset.

    So the debate in my mind continues.

  • http://911-forum.com Lawrence

    Well, everything being equal…if your ambitions are to be an employee and climb the corporate ranks of America…then yes, of course an MBA will help your cause – so Get it.

    but if you plan on starting and running and growing a co. then all you really need is an AS degree in Business Management, basically. the rest is real-world experience and implementation. and experimentation -

  • http://911-forum.com Lawrence

    Well, everything being equal…if your ambitions are to be an employee and climb the corporate ranks of America…then yes, of course an MBA will help your cause – so Get it.

    but if you plan on starting and running and growing a co. then all you really need is an AS degree in Business Management, basically. the rest is real-world experience and implementation. and experimentation -

  • Pingback: Read A Book And Get An MBA? | Business Opportunities And Ideas

  • http://fireignblog.com Steven Clough

    I love it! I’ve heard most entrepreneurs start 10 ventures before finding success. If you’ve tried 10 ventures and still can’t figure it out, and can get into a top tier university, get an MBA. Otherwise, don’t bother. The only other time I might suggest it is if you are going into a very specific field, like research…but I’m still not sold on that one. I spoke with some MBA’s about social media and was blown away by the lack of understanding of how the actual market works. Fundamentals are good, but that’s all they are. You can study film for hours but if you never get out on the field and play, you’ll never excel (advice from an old professor who is a PhD and teaches in UW’s MBA program).

    And as far as climbing the corporate ladder, MBA’s aren’t a guarantee for career advancement. According t Forbes o, CEOs with MBAs perform worse than those without them (http://www.forbes.com/2002/04/25/0425ceoschools.html). Eager to become a CEO…start a company! If you fail in 6 months, I guarantee you’ll learn more than you will getting your MBA.

  • http://fireignblog.com Steven Clough

    I love it! I’ve heard most entrepreneurs start 10 ventures before finding success. If you’ve tried 10 ventures and still can’t figure it out, and can get into a top tier university, get an MBA. Otherwise, don’t bother. The only other time I might suggest it is if you are going into a very specific field, like research…but I’m still not sold on that one. I spoke with some MBA’s about social media and was blown away by the lack of understanding of how the actual market works. Fundamentals are good, but that’s all they are. You can study film for hours but if you never get out on the field and play, you’ll never excel (advice from an old professor who is a PhD and teaches in UW’s MBA program).

    And as far as climbing the corporate ladder, MBA’s aren’t a guarantee for career advancement. According t Forbes o, CEOs with MBAs perform worse than those without them (http://www.forbes.com/2002/04/25/0425ceoschools.html). Eager to become a CEO…start a company! If you fail in 6 months, I guarantee you’ll learn more than you will getting your MBA.

  • Joe Hoyt

    Stephen Clough – You’re only right to a point. Jack Welch once said that the expiration date on MBAs is 2-3 years, and after that, it’s up to you to perform, so from that standpoint, you are right that MBA does not equal success (I obviously agree with Jack). MBA degrees and contacts made while earning a degree (at least at Babson) help get you into the door of companies, VCs and Angel groups, plus you get to work with some amazing business people, and that’s where the biggest benefit is. Plus you get access to mentors that will help you develop your business plans.

    I do not know what your background is, but at least for me, there were a few areas in which I was lacking – particuarly in finance – so the MBA program is helping me fill in the gaps. Will I still make mistakes when I open busineses? Of course, and I will learn a lot just like you mention, but I think I have also learned to mitigate much of the risk b/c of my educational background.

    I am not too surprised that the MBAs you spoke with didn’t know much about social media. A lot of MBAs they tend to be older and were not exposed to this form of media. If marketing and sales is not their focus and they want to pursue say product development for a living, then I think that’s okay – they will just need to hire/work with someone with more expertise in the area like yourself. These people will not be on a site like this because entrepreneurship and business ownership is not their goal.

    I do think that people should have a few years of work experience before getting an MBA. It goes back to the coaching analogy that Ryan elaborated on in a previous post.

  • Joe Hoyt

    Stephen Clough – You’re only right to a point. Jack Welch once said that the expiration date on MBAs is 2-3 years, and after that, it’s up to you to perform, so from that standpoint, you are right that MBA does not equal success (I obviously agree with Jack). MBA degrees and contacts made while earning a degree (at least at Babson) help get you into the door of companies, VCs and Angel groups, plus you get to work with some amazing business people, and that’s where the biggest benefit is. Plus you get access to mentors that will help you develop your business plans.

    I do not know what your background is, but at least for me, there were a few areas in which I was lacking – particuarly in finance – so the MBA program is helping me fill in the gaps. Will I still make mistakes when I open busineses? Of course, and I will learn a lot just like you mention, but I think I have also learned to mitigate much of the risk b/c of my educational background.

    I am not too surprised that the MBAs you spoke with didn’t know much about social media. A lot of MBAs they tend to be older and were not exposed to this form of media. If marketing and sales is not their focus and they want to pursue say product development for a living, then I think that’s okay – they will just need to hire/work with someone with more expertise in the area like yourself. These people will not be on a site like this because entrepreneurship and business ownership is not their goal.

    I do think that people should have a few years of work experience before getting an MBA. It goes back to the coaching analogy that Ryan elaborated on in a previous post.

  • http://www.ramenrentresumes.com ramenrentresumescom

    Great article.

    I think that while an MBA can be useful, one has to evaluate if they really NEED the degree. If not, there are other ways to get similar benefits.

    Same thing with grad school. Everyone thinks it’s a must-have or must-do, but in many cases, it isn’t. In some, it is. You have to see what it means for your specific career!

  • http://www.ramenrentresumes.com ramenrentresumescom

    Great article.

    I think that while an MBA can be useful, one has to evaluate if they really NEED the degree. If not, there are other ways to get similar benefits.

    Same thing with grad school. Everyone thinks it’s a must-have or must-do, but in many cases, it isn’t. In some, it is. You have to see what it means for your specific career!