The one-year MBA

Take a walk through the business section of your local bookstore.

You’ll see hundreds of books on how to be more successful. How to do more in less time. How to be a better leader. How to make more money with less effort. How to be happier

You’ll see books listing the five secrets of this, the eight tips for that, the four steps toward your goals, and the one thing you simply must do that no one else does (except for everyone who reads this best-selling book).

mbaUgh. It’s enough to make your head spin. Who has time to read all of these books, or even the good ones, if there were a way to determine that? Who has the time to implement the nine steps, the three fail-proof techniques, or the five tricks?

Who has the time to implement the nine steps, the three fail-proof techniques, or the five tricks?

And don’t even get me started on business schools. Two years and tens and thousands of dollars to be taught business is like sending a kid to football school for two years and throwing him into an NFL game. The results wouldn’t be pretty.

As Scott Mackes, the owner of the Margin of Excellence website, explains in his article, “The One Year Self-Directed MBA Program”:

“I learned the most important lessons about business by applying what I was taught in the classroom to real life problems. You learn by doing and taking action. There’s no other way.”

Mackes is correct. In other words, while classroom learning—or the knowledge to be found in the books lining the shelves in the business section—is valuable, there’s no substitute for real-life experiences.

Mackes, a graduate of the US Naval Academy with real-world corporate experience as well, doesn’t dismiss the self-help, trendy business books. But he does provide an alternative to 24 months of life without sleep (also known as working through an MBA program) or latching onto the business strategy du jour.

Mackes provides a list of 21 to-do items to be completed over the course of a year, ranging from starting a blog to joining Toastmasters, reading Emerson and Peter Drucker, and watching Warren Buffet’s MBA talk on YouTube.

The beauty of Mackes’ article is that it recognizes that while all business leaders have skills, tricks, techniques and best practices that they implement in their work day (probably without realizing it), these didn’t emerge from emptying the bookstore shelves or sitting through classes that teach business hypotheticals. They emerged from real-life trial and error. Mackes’ list provides a concise, practical list of learning tools that look like they’d be effective—and cost-effective, too. In fact, he breaks down the investment as follows:

Self-Directed MBA: $2,309 / 2 hours daily for one year

Cost of my formal MBA: $25,000 / 2000 hours over 2+ years

Mackes sums up his program by saying,

After completing the self-directed program you will have a business, a financial strategy, and a strong professional network. You will also acquire important business skills that will help you survive as an entrepreneur. This will cost you much less time and money than a formal MBA, yet leave you with tangible assets and experience that you can’t get in the classroom.

Learn more about Mackes’ one-year MBA at marginofexcellence.com.

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