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The Personal MBA

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  35,403 ratings  ·  1,195 reviews
The 10th anniversary edition of the bestselling foundational business training manual for ambitious readers, featuring new concepts and mental models: updated, expanded, and revised.

Many people assume they need to attend business school to learn how to build a successful business or advance in their career. That's not true. The vast majority of modern business practice req
Paperback, 10th Anniversary Edition, 496 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Portfolio (first published December 1st 2010)
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Popular Answered Questions
Rexemon King Before reading clear your mind.
Whatever you learnt before forget everything.
Start reading.
If it's your first book on marketing you will very much …more
Before reading clear your mind.
Whatever you learnt before forget everything.
Start reading.
If it's your first book on marketing you will very much love it.
I bought this many years ago.
Read it.
For me when I was reading I was in the mind of the author why he wrote this. Why he thinks like this.
After finishing I gave it to my younger one
For him, it is completely different.
Best of luck
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  35,403 ratings  ·  1,195 reviews

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May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wrote this book, so I may be biased...
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Risks are known unknowns...... Uncertainties are unknown unknowns." p.357

Do I believe, after having read this book cover to cover, that I have earned the equivalent of a MBA from a state college or university or amassed the same knowledge as one who has graduated with a MBA? No.

Do I believe I will grasp what the recent B-school graduate is saying as he/she begins spouting MBA-speak in the next meeting? Maybe.

Do I believe this book is a valuable beginners guide which arms me with the necessary i
Dave Bolton
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm studying an MBA at the moment (actually, for the last few years, almost done!) so I feel qualified to discuss this book.

To the book. It's a nice high level overview of a lot of the topics that an MBA will touch on, and quite a few that an MBA won't touch on at all. It is likely to be very helpful to all sorts of people. Anyone, even someone with an MBA, would be able to get something from this, particularly as it also covers "soft" subjects like personal development.

But be clear, this is no
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're thinking of going back to school to get your MBA, read this book first. Kaufman's premise is that MBA programs are very expensive and teach outdated material. Unless you're going to a top tier school where its name on your degree will yield connections and ins to high finance, you don't need to accrue all that debt to learn what you need.

Kaufman started by compiling a reading list of the top 100 business books on his website, His book takes all the best pieces he learn
Jake Goretzki
I’m a sucker for silver bullets like this.

It’s a pretty decent, digestible glossary of the most prevalent business terms de nos jours – he says ‘models and concepts’ but I think that’s an overstatement. It’s readable by virtue of no subject extending beyond a handful of paragraphs and it’s a pretty good reference, really. The sections on value and marketing are the best.

Its tone is also pretty likeable too – and I salute anyone who can tell me that any MBA is a waste of money (though I still do
David McClendon, Sr
The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman is one of those “have to read” books. The whole premise behind The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business is the same as for the Redneck MBA. That is, one does not have to go to a business school or even takes courses on-line to have the equivalent of an MBA.

Kaufman provides explanations of many different concepts and defines numerous terms in a simple, easy to read, format. The only problem I saw with the book was that 8% of the bo
Apr 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what went wrong with this book. I think I had my expectation way too high.

I was disappointed with the lack of depth of information. The entire book is about a list of concepts with some definition and a small example. This kind of information is completely useless. I'm a developer and it taught me the different types of marketing which does not help me in any way.

I think it's okay if you're into business and going to delve further in each topic discussed in the book. The book is lik
Leonard Houx
May 20, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Cheesy and shallow.

To be fair, I was attracted to the prospect of a 400-page book that summarizes the most important ideas in business. But this was too thin and too soft. Think of a 400 page crêpe.

Worse – and despite the shallow familiarity – it read like something the author was pushing to finish as quickly as possible, which I gather he was. A case in point are the quotes with which he begins each passage: it's obvious that he hadn't collected these from his supposedly extensive readings bu
Someone told me about this book and said that reading it was the equivalent of learning everything they teach in an MBA program, without going hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt. That’s exactly what the author touts in the first section entitled “Why Read This Book?”

I can definitely see his point. I found the format excellent: sections with clear goals and chapters illustrating one concept after another in an interesting and straightforward manner. As each concept was being explained I t
Heavy on terms and aphorisms but light on detailed case studies or dissections of different management processes. The whole thing feels fluffy; each chapter is broken down into one- or two-page segments, with an introductory quote providing some borrowed authority.

It's not a bad book. The opening section is persuasive in arguing against assuming the debt of an MBA program (although that's not something I was considering anyway). The examples can feel slight, but Kaufman is good at harnessing the
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book this is a map and I think should be treated as such. It gives you a good overview of the terrain, allows you to start strategise about how to spread and move your forces, but, like any map, its not the real land and until you go into the battle you will never know what its really like.

And actually a real MBA is not a real battle either (its just a fancier 3D map). So this is to answer some of the negative reviews.

Josh quotes Seth Godin in the book saying that dedicated reading
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book provides a very high-level overview of many different business topics. It is divided into short one-page definitions of terms you are likely to encounter in business literature. These terms are defined clearly and simply, with examples or anecdotes that highlight the issues at hand. Sometimes it is also accompanied by a short analysis by the author. It is generally very sensible advice.

For some, I'm sure this book will offer new, useful information, and I might keep it around as compac
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
I just finished my third listen of the Personal MBA and still enjoy it alot. In short, it is a great high level summary of many important topics in both business and personal development. I does not go into detail about each topic, but gives you a primer on the most important elements. The book is focused around the mindset of entrepreneurs and teaches you the «first principles of business thinking».

The opening premise of the book is that MBAs are a «waste of money» if you do not want to work at
Daniel Clausen
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took this book out of the library and spent the afternoon with it. For a long time, I had been a fan of Kaufman's website. I have personally referred a number of business students to it as a tutor for a professional college. The book was just as easy to read and reference as the website. I was able to obtain everything I wanted from the book in about two to three hours of reading.

For me the most useful parts of the book were on managing one's self, analyzing systems, and marketing. More impor
Mar 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly useful tidbits about entrepreneurship, management, leadership, etc. Nothing earth-shattering but the author does a good job with all his little summaries. Silly title.
Jonathan Fouch
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're like me and never took a business class in college - but want to learn more about business - this should be the first book you read in the genre. It's a great introduction to all the critical fields of business: value creation, marketing, sales, finance, working with yourself, working with others, and systems. The subchapters, which are centered around specific concepts, are bite sized and can be consumed in a relatively short amount of time - perfect for the busy, working adult. The w ...more
Mahbub Zaman
Jun 10, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am in Chapter 11 out of total 14 chapters. So I think it's fair to predict my review for this book won't change a whole lot from what it is now.

The author claims this book summarizes the knowledge gained from a typical MBA degree. If this is true, MBA is the most worthless degree I have known to date. But I am doubtful an actual MBA will be so much useless.

In the end, I feel the rate of return (time spent vs knowledge gained) for this book is very low. Not that I disagree with the content, but
Jul 06, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did you know that if you run a business, you can't just look at all the money coming in, and that you have to subtract costs such as taxes, produce and labour? Did you know that if you buy something to sell on, and then damage that item, you won't be able to sell it for as much as you could have done whilst it was undamaged? Did you know that motivation sometimes runs out? Did you know know that if you price certain items too high, your sales might suffer because fewer people are willing to pay ...more
Chris Bumpas
I bought this book mainly for the finance section, so the rest was somewhat boring to me. Too much "self help" for my taste.
Even the section I was interested in was sort of elementary.
This book is marketed towards those who want to skip business school. However, I plan to get my MBA and still found parts of the book helpful for a general idea of things to know.

Edit: Will graduate with my MBA from Texas Tech in December 2015 and this book just doesn't have enough substance for anyone to really
Apr 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a lot of great things in this book. Thousands of great ideas and things to think about, but unfortunately none of them are given the space to actually be discussed. This book feels more like a glossary of business terms and productivity advice, rather than a thorough business education. Although I enjoyed the writer's voice, I thought the format style of hundreds of very short "posts" was distracting and didn't allow for enough substance. ...more
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biz-help, finance
This is one of the top "biz-help" books I've read as there is very little fluff.

Kaufman attempts to condense all of the key business knowledge from a typical MBA program into a single book. He did this by spending years and years reading business books, identifying key concepts, and condensing those key concepts to 1-2 pages of no-frills writing.

Instead of a drawn-out, overly-narrated, anecdote-filled, way-too-many-case-studies typical business book, this is essentially a list of terms, groupe
Carolina Esteves de Andrade
This week I Just finished reading this great book called The Personal MBA written by Josh Kaufman, where the author explores the pros and cons of investing in an MBA course since even elite schools like Wharton and Harvard offer outdated programs that teach more about Power Point Presentations and unnecessary financial models than about what it takes to run a real business. The first part of the book is all dedicated to this discussion. I thought it was very interesting and an eye opener, since ...more
Andrew Padilla
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Personal MBA was a journey. It took me about two years of on and off reading to finish but finished it is! After starting a new job that I knew absolutely nothing about, I did what any over-eager and naively enthusiastic young employee would do: caught the flu! So I had Satan, er, my girlfriend, go and pick this up for me in an effort to earn my MBA for the economic price of $17.99!... or whatever it was. Anyway, Kaufman got me all psyched on the fact that I was saving tens of thousands of d ...more
Alex Timberman

The book is quite ambitious. The author says if you want to save money on that expensive MBA education and if you are not going for the connections to get you your dream office job, that he will tell you everything you need to know about an MBA in his book.

I think he achieved a lot of what he set out to do. Of course, you can’t get that deep assimilation of knowledge without all the advantages of being around smart classmates and professors and with the added benefit of 2-3 years of continuous
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I won this book in a giveaway. I thought it was going to be a book on MBAs and what they can teach you. It was yet another book on being a "Business Thinker". I've worked in retail for almost 20years and nothing in this book is a substitute for common sense and treating your employees with respect. CEOs, Business Leaders, Managers and College Graduates need a course in listening to ideas regardless of where they come from and admitting mistakes. Having a successful business depends more on those ...more
Rosie Nguyễn
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author made his effort to include most of the essential fields of business into a 400 page book, which may be long and heavy to capture all. But he managed to keep the business terms as understandable as possible. The examples are plain and mostly refer to his previous work at P&G, which can be tedious to some readers, as the author didn't have diversified working experience in business corporations. However, I appreciate his huge knowledge and his advocacy for lifelong learning, a good mode ...more
Ntombezinhle Nzama
This book has a lot of information, but I like how its divided into smaller sections. I have the audiobook and I feel I need to get the physical copy so I'm always able to refer. This is one of those books that enable you not only to understand how businesses work but also how people work and how you can be more productive. ...more
Ema AR
Jul 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend it to anyone to read it, not only to those with business or MBA related interests. It gives a great overview of how things/systems are working and for more in-depth info it has a great list of reading suggestions. Not to mention that it's easy to read, on point and I didn't have a single dull moment while reading it. ...more
Stefan Bruun
The book is more akin to a list of concepts and heuristics than an MBA.

As Derek Sivers puts it: "If more information was the answer, then we'd all be billionaires with perfect abs."

I don't hold an MBA, but the key for any education is understanding and the ability to apply. The book is way too brief and with too little depth to be more than just a reference book.

Learning takes time and dedication. Reading a book with a few pages on any topic won't make you an expert.
Jason Braatz
May 21, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the information contained in this book is flatly wrong. There are much better books on the basics of a business and synthesize it much more accurately than this author does; The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It comes to mind, for example, as a great starting point for a business of any size. Understanding the use of capital in simple English is better explained in Rich Dad, Poor Dad or any of the early books by Peter Drucker .

Mr. Kaufman is a
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Josh Kaufman is an independent business teacher, education activist, and author of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business.

Josh's unique, multidisciplinary approach to business education has helped hundreds of thousands of readers around the world master foundational business concepts on their own terms, and his work has been featured in BusinessWeek, Fortune, and Fast Company, as well as by

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“Business schools don't create successful people. They simply accept them, then take credit for their success.” 32 likes
“Every successful business (1) creates or provides something of value that (2) other people want or need (3) at a price they're willing to pay, in a way that (4) satisfies the purchaser's needs and expectations and (5) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owners to continue operation.” 25 likes
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