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on 11 February 2011
The premise of this book is that MBA courses are a waste of money and that just by reading business books you can learn all that you would do on a business course. In this book he sets out to provide all the basics that you will need.

He actually does a pretty good job. He is a decent writer and as far as I can tell all the information in this book is accurate. It is certainly very comprehensive. Occasionally it does seem a bit shallow and he doesn't always provide a lot of detail. A lot of this information is available for free from other sources.

His argument about MBA's providing poor value for money is convincing but there does seem a bit of a contradiction as he offers online courses that seem expensive to me. His website provides a lot of useful information for free though. He also has a reading list of 100 recommended business books.

One thing that I personally wasn't so keen was the section on "working with yourself" The information that he provides is mostly decent but he does quote from and recommend the books of several self-help bloggers who don't seem that credible to me.
I did really like the chapters on analysing and improving systems. I have a finance background and his chapter on finance seemed very credible and knowledgeable.

For a single volume it does a great job in providing the reader with the fundamentals of business. It is a lot better written than the average business book and it seems like a pretty useful resource to keep on your desk.
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on 8 March 2011
This is one of those books that reminds you of things that you already know but fail to bring into your business life. Some parts make fairly easy reading with some good examples of the theory in action which help with a clearer understanding.
It has obviously been written by an American for an American market and parts are less easy to wade through because of the colloquial syntax.
The sort of book you read all the way through once and then dip into to over and over again
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on 29 March 2011
I read this book in three days flat - I couldn't put it down! Kaufman does a very good job of introducing a wide variety of business topics, giving a little explanation of them, and then pointing you in the direction of further reading. Easily the best business book I've ever read.
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on 17 March 2011
This book helped me understand business. I now know that all of life is business. The organisation in ten minute chapters makes it easy to digest the concepts and all of it is the best bits on each topic, presented in a down-to-earth easy to understand, yet powerful enough to change the way I look at the world.
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on 14 July 2011
'A world-class business education in a single volume'... a big claim on the front cover, and one that is only partly fulfilled. Once I'd forgiven Kaufman his very extensive rant against the formal MBA programmes (one which is very geared towards the uber-corperate USA model and ignores the much more valuable workplace based experience of many of us who have done UK based MBAs) I did enjoy the broad range of subjects covered, and the concise breakdown of a variety of management theories and concepts. It is a very simple and simplistic approach to a complex subject, and does pack a huge amount of material into a relatively short and readable form. Kaufman is a huge fan of 'book based learning'; this work is result of a serious amount of time spent trawling and cherry picking from the best literature, articles, blogs, and research. He's done a lot of the hard work here for us; the list of suggested reading looks very impressive and interesting.

My criticism of the book, is that there's very little real life application. It's very thin on case studies, or encouragement to apply to your own situation... ironically it was this element that I loved the most in my 'real' MBA experience. And for a man who loves his 'book learning', there is an annoying lack of academic referencing to the many useful theories and concepts that he presents. Evidence as to which of these theories might be more useful or proven is also lacking - but Kaufman's own intuition for these things seems to be good, and certainly has earned him a lucrative career! One thing that Kaufman admits to creating himself, and an exception to my criticism about lack of application, is the excellent exercise right at the end of the book '49 questions to improve your results' which is a polished model of reflective practice.

In summary: a good read, a good introduction to a panoply of management concepts, a fantastic resource to crib from if you're doing consultancy type work, a good refresher if you're feeling a little stale in you're own management practices and want some new ideas - but really no substitute for a properly applied MBA programme where you engage with real people in the real world.
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on 3 March 2011
This book isn't as negative as you might think toward the MBA, it just asks a question. It sits on the new wave of thinking coming particularly from the US, where there is a growing awareness between of the difference between 'knowledge' and 'education'. Do you need the knowledge and core concepts for new perspectives and practical application, or do you need the accreditation on your CV? This makes sense as the American 3rd level education system is often on the scale of getting a mortgage.

Through all it's short chapters, the book sums up the core ideas and principles in an MBA course. From the dozens of great reviews at the start of the book, lots of people with MBA's found large amounts of useful informations and insights from it too.

I don't think this is going to put off that many people who are adamant about doing an MBA nor should it. But for those who don't really need the accreditation or want to take the time off work, this is an outstanding round up and clarification of the core principles to be aware of.

At present I'm building a new business. This book has helped me better analyse and then improve many facets of our product, our offer and how we go about delivering both. So for me, it has been practically applied.

Also I've bought this for a friend beginning to learn about starting and running a business, as it's an excellent grounding in all the facets and areas of planning, running and improving an enterprise.

Definitely worth buying and regularly dipping back into!
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on 18 June 2014
Mark : 3.5/5

As usual in this kind of book there is a lot of padding. Indeed the author writes two pages when few sentences could be enough and you will also find basic generalities such as "Be nice with your client" or "don't forget to sleep". Finally the author will never miss a chance to remind you how great this book is and how stupid it is to do a real MBA.. sensitive debate I agree but when the author does it every 10 pages it becomes unbearable.

YET, this book develops some interesting and useful ideas, and it is very easy to read. Even though you're not interested in creating your own company, you may still find this book interesting by the working methods and the psycological analyzes of human behaviour you can find and how these analyzes can be adapted to companies.

In the end I would recommend this book, even if you're not interested in entrepreneurship, but it personally did not change my life.

PS: I advise you to skip the first chapter of the book, where the author tells you how great his book is, how clever you were to buy it and how MBA schools are lame (40 pages...). And sorry for the potential mistakes in my critic, english is not my native language :)
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on 11 January 2012
Some of the reviews makes no sense to me, though I understand someone else may be seeing what I do not see, or not seeing what I do see - or both. I am more in agreement with the opinion on the US site. And this helps, because I feel less like I have been taking crazy pills. Anyway, all that aside, this book is about as close to printed gold that I have seen, and I am not exactly a casual reader of business books, or any books for that matter. Just hypothetically (obviously) if someone were to offer me a chunk of gold the weight of this book in exchange for the book, I would say no. This would pain me greatly - I need the gold frankly - but I would say no. I am grateful that I understand that insight and wisdom are more valuable than what is temporary, and this is an extreme example of insight and wisdom. That said, if anyone wants to offer me gold and I get to be aware of this book, I am happy to take the gold. Anyway, the depth of the information this book contains (and more importantly the generous referral to sifted and clarified information behind it) are something unusual. In my (somewhat) humble opinion what this book provides is profoundly intelligent mental models, in some density - such that I would guess they have not come without considerably wide ranging research and study. Mental models are common, everyone has there own set, and most people defend them because they form some equivalence between what they think and who they are. Investment. Most people defend their mental models, irrespective of how accurately and realistically they reflect and affect reality. To me this is a (somewhat large, bordering on huge) mistake. I think it is wiser to follow P. C. Hodgell, and his very interesting quote: 'That which can be destroyed by the truth should be'. Far better to swallow the unpalatable but true, buy and smoke a hamlet cigar (UK advert, hard to explain) than spend ones life defending a position because one has mistaken it for who they are. Anyway Thank You Josh, I do not know you but I appreciate the gift. As you say in your book: it is possible to create more real value than you ask for in return. Many businesses use marketing and manipulation to cover up the absence of this principle. So it is good to see in your book an expression of the possibility you outline. I cannot pretend to comprehend how this principle comes into being, but it is beautiful to see when it is present. So I am (fairly) sure that I have not been taking crazy pills, the book is good - very good. More than good. And judging by US Amazon website, I am very far from alone in this position. Also I am not paid to write this review...Though (not meaning to come back to the gold issue) if anyone wants to pay me to write good reviews..certainly I am open to that possibility. I have ruined the reviews credibility now. It was going so good too. Thank you Josh for the book.
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on 24 January 2012
After being put off of the high cost of MBA's, I purchased "Personal MBA" over Christmas (2011) to get me up to speed on MBA concepts, and perhaps to get help building a good foundation for a business venture.

This book has a lot of high praise, from the author's personal website, through to Amazon, the plaudits on "Personal MBA" are very high, and one can assume that he/she will be getting a good, broad education on MBA concepts, and get enough gumption to help draw up a strategy for success, be it in the world of business or in life.

However, upon reading the book several times, am unable to fathom why this book has such high praise! Looking beyond its excellent typography, and easy-to-read style, the book really has no content and by the second or third reading of the book, I suddenly realised that the book is a cleverly disguised self-help book dressed up as a business book.

The reasons why I mention that this is a self-help book is that there are lots of content on confidence, and attitude. Whilst these are important, I don't see how they help with drawing up a credible MBA style business plan. Indeed, the articles are written in such a way that has a "just enough information", a tenant that is commonly seen in self-help books.

One of the major problems I have with Personal MBA is that each subject matter is only described briefly, and they are at most 1-2 pages long. In addition, if you've visited the author's website, you'll see that a majority of the articles are actually reposted/regurgitated from his web-blog. Worse still, each subject-matter has a footnote which states "Learn more at [authors website]". Is this a book, or one-long sales letter? Does the author want me to read his book, or visit his website?

And consumers do visit/read his website, will they be happy or angry that the very same content in the book is actually published on the website?

Aside from the fact that each subject-matter is very light -- there seems to be hardly any actual content, there are no visuals that one would associate from a MBA business book. There are no graphs, no strategy charts.

Beyond the content, visuals, there is one reason why I do not like Personal MBA; it reads like one long-sales letter. At the end of each article, not only are there links to the author's website, there are also "additional resources", this by in itself is not unusual; however the way the author has structured the book seems to suggest that these resources are there for after-sales and even suggests these books are better than his own book.

This really annoyed me, I do not want to be reading a book for the author to tell me, "go buy these books if you want to learn x", isn't this the reason why I bought YOUR book?

In summary,


+ The book is quite big and meaty, with good typography and is very easy to read.
+ Plain english, articulate and can dip in and out for subjects
+ Short blog-style articles usually 1-2 pages long that cover specific MBA subjects in a way that is easily accessible


+ Seems to be a collection of articles re-posted/re-written from his blog
+ No real depth is given on any particular subject
+ It assumes that you like tweet-style articles and you have the reading capacity of 90 seconds to 2-minutes long.
+ No visuals
+ Reads like one long sales letter, and has lots of after sales copy (foot-notes, other books to buy)

Overall: 2/5

Books you should buy instead: Business Model Generation -- a highly visual, cut-out and play, hands-on business book that actually gets you involved in the process.
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on 6 October 2013
Really useful book, but in the end like a lot of things in life, one needs to practice it, and before you do that, you really do need to study it, not just read through it. As I have only recently started up my business I have lots to learn so I keep this book close at hand to refer to. I am slowly creating a vision of how business operates and know that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. No matter what an MBA takes 18months or more to get your head around.
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