The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman — Book Review

Master the Art of Business

Master the fundamentals, hone your business instincts, and save a fortune in MBA tuition.

The consensus is clear: MBA programs are a waste of time and money. Even the elite schools offer outdated assembly-line educations about profit-and-loss statements and PowerPoint presentations. After two years of poring over sanitized case studies, students are shuffled off into middle management to find out how business really works.

4.05/5.00 (21,728 ratings by Goodreads)

The Personal MBA: Master the Art of BusinessThe Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Going to business school in order to start a business is an expensive waste of time. But does an MBA worth the effort and money to acquire?
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When it comes to business management, most people think that an MBA is required. However, this book would argue otherwise. Let us take a look at why.

The Personal MBA for me has become the go-to book for anyone interested in business. As I do.


Business school is an expensive luxury

Going to business school in order to start a business is an expensive waste of time. But does an MBA worth the effort and money to acquire?

Some might argue that the best teacher is the street, or street-wise as they call it, where blood and sweat and hard work are the teachings tools. Where experience and failure and desire to survive acts as both a guiding light and motivator. Where self-worth and personal aspiration might take a tumble and die, or it might take a tumble and fly. It is a teacher who has lots to teach if only one has the heart to learn.

But what’s about formal education? What about an MBA? Again, business school is expensive, very expensive — by the time the book was written, the top 15 MBA programs cost up to $53,208 per year. Ouch, that’s per year. And that doesn’t include fees, student loan interest or even day-to-day expenses.

Another interesting fact, average student debt for an MBA program would stand at $41,687.

Again, I ask you, does it all worth it?

Well, the book suggests it doesn’t. Before I read the book, I was almost signed up for an MBA course, as a part-time student, and that could cost me around RM 100,000. And for some reason, I thought I might get myself a little bit familiar with the topic and read one or two books on personal MBA. Little did I know, by reading The Personal MBA made me cancelled my plans.

In the long term, an MBA does nothing for your career. A master of business administration degree doesn’t correlate with measures of success, like an increased salary, or promotion. It doesn’t.

I love doing business, I love managing projects, and I would love to get an MBA, but I just don’t have the time, neither the money to pay a minimum of $41,687 for one. But I do have time to read every now and then, I have lots of books still yet to be read. And that I’ll do.


A good business idea: The practical balance between money and passion

Gary Vaynerchuk wrote a book specifically for this, about cashing in on our passion, titled Crush it!. Here’s a fact that more people should know — our business would not thrive if we do it for money alone. Generally speaking, even if our business might be able to run itself, later on, it still needs hundreds of work hours and a generous amount of money to set up.

Nowadays, most people romanticise the idea of entrepreneurship way too much, we often ignore the risk and the chances of success. It’s a dangerous path if we to walk it blindly.

However, there’s a trick to it. Most of the time people gave up too early since you lost interest or you’re lost willpower. The odds are if you start a business in a field that you like, not only you be more likely to stick with it, you’ll also be ahead on the decision-making front. Being in love with what you do, you’ll find both meaning and happiness doing the thing you do, as long as you make enough to live as a free man.

I still would recommend anyone interested in doing any business to study trade and risk.

A little bit of leverage

A great business idea, a good opportunity, what can we do if we’re don’t have the cash to pursue it? As Tony Robbins suggests, it is our resourcefulness that can fuel our success — not the resources we own.

In this case, the book suggests we use leverage.


What is leverage?

Simply put, it’s anything that can amplify investor profits or losses. Normally, it’s the strategy of using borrowed money to increase your profit potential. As Robert Kiyosaki suggests, OPM, Other People Money, using other people money to make money. In this way, you can make enormous gains with very little of your own capital.

However, with regard to leverage, we must tread carefully. It can be risky because it also amplifies our losses. I usually am against making loans to start a business. But then again, I business was more of a small scale. I rather start small and then pitch it to a capital investor for money.

The lesson here is that even that leverage can be great but we’ve got watch out.

Basis of a good product

We might think that for a product to sell, it just has to be good — this might not be as true as we thought it to be. Consider weight loss product, how many of those actually works? But then again, the weight loss industry worth more than a trillion dollars. The main product, for weight loss industry products, is selling the dream of weight loss without much effort.

Typically, any successful business fulfils one or more of its customers’ needs, and Harvard professors Nitin Nohria and Paul Lawrence suggest that there are four needs or drives that are common to all.

First: The needs to acquire and collect things

It could be Hotwheels, my friend collects them. I have no idea why and for what reason or if it has any benefit. Some might collect lego.

Me? I collect books.


Second: The needs to bond with others — to feel valued and loved.

Business such as dating services thrives on these needs.

Thirdly: The needs to learn and satisfy our curiosity.

I satisfy my thirst for curiosity and knowledge. Books publisher made thousands from me alone.

Fourth: The needs to defend ourselves, our loved ones and our property

This needs made us buy insurances, alarm system and even learn martial arts.


Great Marketing is much more important than great products?

Gary Vaynerchuck suggests business owners should spend at least $60,000 in marketing. I don’t have the budget for such scale marketing. However, in order to make your potential customers pay attention, you’ll need to offer something remarkable and memorable.

Another important aspect, that motivates purchasing decision would be the product reviews. Since through product reviews, a potential customer could have a hint of how and if the product would deliver the results it promises.

A simple way to get reviews is for you to

  1. Give a free sample away in exchange for a review — hopefully positive.
  2. Engage a social media influencer for a sponsored post or review. This might cost you a bit, but it would be worthwhile. The trick is to get your product seen where the eyeballs (attention) goes.

It is simple, yes, but actually doing it would take practices and a little bit of investment.

In conclusion

I personally love the book, personally rated the book as 5.00/5.00★ on Goodreads.

In order to thrive in the business world, our product should cater to our customer needs. Communicate confidently and cleverly can convince your potential clients, but never oversell. Always seek to learn and improves as you go along.



Author: Muhamad Aarif

A notorious book addict by night and an oil and gas executive by day. As Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." So, read, read, and read some more.

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