Welcome to my hybrid blog post on the topic of formal (university) education where book review meets general discussion. Let me start off with my view on what formal education actually is and what it supplies – at least in the business and entrepreneurship department. To me, it provides a mix of knowledge, network, social & emotional intelligence and insurance.
Knowledge and (alumni) network will probably seem standard as we are getting to know like-minded students and are also learning a bunch of things. Developing social and emotional intelligence is another thing that is hardly possible to attain through books. Group projects within a program as well as the social aspects outside the classroom provide a good playground for those skills to develop. But what do I mean by insurance? I simply believe that downside protection is a big value driver of degrees. We prove some skills and endurance by going through a university program. This should give us a head start vs others without any certificate. Hence a degree is an insurance for times when things don’t turn out as planned and this is hard to substitute.
True coding hustlers or entrepreneurs mostly avoid the time and energy investment needed and go straight to work. Then there are some scared guys like myself who like to (or have been brainwashed by the environment) minimise potential risk. We can probably learn (and build) more by working on projects and self educating with tons of books and online material compared to spending the same time at uni.
Self education is a lifelong theme and formal education can certainly be a part here and there. As you can read in my bio, I myself did uni programs in my early 20s and 30s, but I still am a bigger fan of self education and learning by doing. Charlie Munger is a famous example on how valuable self education and running your own company can be compared to formal business education. Here is a man who worked as a lawyer for many years before he found his designation. Given his wisdom I think it is safe to say that his line of self education and “learning on the job” was a quite successful one.
Let’s now turn to the book. Kaufman touches on many important concepts and does a good job in giving the reader a clear overview of what matters in building your own business. From marketing and sales to value delivery and working with others he outlines many crucial elements of business life. Additionally he adds great quotes which makes the book overall inspiring and easy to read.
He is pitching a bit too high though in saying “If you learn these critical concepts, you’ll be in the top 0.01% of the human population when it comes to knowing how businesses work”. Nevertheless, the book is a great read for all those who want to run their own business or advance in their career without spending $xx,xxx on formal education.
The Personal MBA, Master the Art of Business, gives a good overview but obviously lacks depth because it tackles a huge topic. No book can cover all those subjects in detail, even a 2+ year program can only dive in so much. Business management takes a lifetime to master and there are just no shortcuts.
Additionally to his chapters, he offers a nice recommended reading list on his website.
Even though I recommend the book, I don’t think it is a replacement for an MBA. It is what it is – a good book. However, it doesn’t teach anything about structuring and communicating thought, or about financial analysis. You also won’t learn how to argue, negotiate or work in teams by reading a book only. For those skills, an MBA can certainly be worth the effort.
Enjoy the ride, but don’t fool yourself either. Another benefit of a business school is the setting of learning through real case studies and discussing those with professionals and students from various backgrounds. I have found these case studies to be very helpful in my Private Equity education and even though I’ve read many books on that specific topic as well, nothing can replace these real world examples – except of course doing them actively in a real business setting outside a protected university. In my opinion, nothing beats real life application.
My one-line pitch is: I am a business addict. In my early 20s, I graduated in Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurship. Recently, now in my early 30s, I successfully completed a program on Venture Capital and Private Equity.
While formal education certainly does not hurt, I do not think that it is essential for entrepreneurial success. I have a strong opinion on gaining experience in projects or companies by having "own skin in the game". There are just so many skills a business school or university cannot teach us.
From 2008 to 2013 I enjoyed a professional career in playing some of the world’s most popular card games. Yes, these are skill games and you can even make a few $$.
While playing millions of poker hands (mostly online, but towards the end also offline in casinos) I worked as a content video producer and coach for the biggest online poker school. Beyond that I also offered private coachings to players around the world. My blog posts and strategy videos had > 1,000,000 views from platform members. Even though I quit contributing to the blog in 2013 it still is #1 in terms of all-time views on the English site.
At the end of my career I wrote a book (The Education of a Modern Poker Player) with JB, who is a math professor in Nottingham, UK, and Manu, who - fast forward three years - is now the BO$$ of Adefy. As JB tricked me into writing a book with him, I tricked Manu into moving to Vienna in order to join forces with us and work on our united mission.
Things are moving at an enormous pace and we are living in exciting times. My way of experiencing and influencing our world is mainly through my entrepreneurial lenses. Especially since 2013 I dived into full-time business mode and I don't see that changing anytime soon. For my passive stakes I try to mostly invest in companies that generate a positive and sustainable impact, mostly in the energy industry (consulting, renewables, energy efficiency). While I might be below average in many skills, I consider mindset, adaptability, competitiveness and work ethics my biggest strengths.
Interested in: Poker. Venture Capital and Private Equity. Renewables. Energy efficiency. E-mobility. Performance Marketing. Finance. Management. Investing.
Hobbies: Golf. Tennis. Badminton. Reading. Racing. Snowboarding.
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