Learning is Earning

A few years ago, and I would love to find this article again, on Yahoo Finance, there was an article about why you should just forget about getting an MBA. Just start an Internet start-up and skip business school! That is what the writer prescribed. Not sure if this was written to get the Yahoo Finance readers up in arms or to make a point. It did get lots of responses, good and bad. And in some ways I totally agree with the writer. In some ways I did not. I had my own answer to this, but my situation was very different than the audience the writer was writing for. Seemed like she was writing for a group of 20 something technology hacking recent grads.

Your GMAT Score Is Inversely Related To Your Ability To Run Your Own Business

Your GMAT score is inversely related to your ability to run your own business. I stole this line from a book I read years ago on how to survive the Harvard business school. Yes, it is true that MBA programs train people to work at companies and deal with big company issues. It is also true the degree is a generalist degree in many ways, kind of like an engineering degree. What you learn in school is not what you are going to be doing in real life. And it may actually be true that those who go to get their MBA are often not able to start and run their own business, but when I ask entrepreneurs if they could have an MBA right now to assist them in their business and their answer is always yes. It is always better to have more education. I would get a PHD, if I had unlimited money, time and resources.

More Learning Means More Money

If you do some research, like here, you will find that the more education you get, the more you earn in general. Obviously we would all love to start a company and make money on our own working for ourselves, but the statistics say that overall getting more education means more money. It is a simple principle. Also, not everybody can go off and start an Internet company. There are as many failures in online business as there are offline. It is easier and faster to start a business online and thousands of new websites every year prove it. You can’t knock people from trying, but don’t argue this start-up method is an alternative to an MBA. You can have an MBA and be in a start-up, in fact that combination is more powerful than a start-up founder without an MBA.

I Went To Learn

My MBA education was not about the degree. Well, it became about finishing the degree in the last year, but overall, it was done over time, at 2 programs and I literally took my time and made often my class work about my day job. This was not about the degree in my mind, it was about my mind. I think it is important to learn and not just be handed a piece of paper. One of the issues that speaks broadly about this, is the lack of ethics among MBA grads. Well, if they are not about learning, and just about the degree, what do you expect them to be like. There are many with no scruples, no ethics and why do we often hear about guys like Madoff attempting to run a scam.

Education Realization

I recently had a epiphany not about my own MBA, but about certain pillars of my own learning in the past 10 years, especially about the web. What I realized is that there are probably a dozen foundational areas of being an expert on websites, such as web design, web programming, web analytics, business development, product management, email marketing, search engine marketing and organic SEO. What I realized is that you can be an expert in one of these areas. Once you become an expert, you will find that your desire to learn more in that specific field may top out, especially after many years in the field.

This just means you need to get knowledge in the other areas, if you work in the web. Our brains can handle the same thing day in, day out for just so long. And learning something new does not mean giving up what you know, it means building on what you know by learning a new area, especially if it is related. Maybe I am nothing like the rest of the web workers out there, especially if their answer is I am happy knowing my little silo of information and that’s that. This is a rare person, and in fact, this kind of person is the perfect company person.

Ford’s Assembly Line

If you look at the original concept of Ford’s Assembly Line and why it was so ground breaking, its because of specialization. Each person in the factory would specialize in one small area of the making of the car and just do their job. I probably would have quit that job at some point, or maybe I would have moved around the plant and worked on the fenders for a while. I need to get around and learn more about different areas after I master an area of business. I had for the longest time been considered a web analytics expert. This expertise, which is somewhat uncommon in the market, is in my opinion, not an end unto itself, but one of many disciplines needed to truly understand the web. It is foundational.

The Designer Becomes The Programmer And Vice Versa

I have actually seen web designers start out writing a few PHP programs here and there and turn into a full time programmer. I have seen designers become directors and engineers become writers. We seem to migrate towards not what we know, but what we are good at. In fact, maybe initially we did not even know we were good at these things, but when we found out, by chance, that we were good at it, be decided to like it. I stole that idea from the New York Times article on why Chinese Mothers are superior (They make their kinds learn something. They say be good at something, and then one day you will learn to like it!).

Web Education

Let’s face it, you can get an education on any subject in like 15 minutes today. I use Youtube.com when I cook and watch videos on how to make Indian food. I use Instructables.com to figure out how to do this or that. I research facts that make me as knowledgeable as any doctor, on certain matters, in a matter of minutes. I even found out at a retail outlet going out of business recently, the approximate value of a painting on the wall, before it was sold to me. We are empowered with the ability to discover and learn at a moment’s notice. Think about the impact of this on future generations who will have an answer to any question imaginable in a second. Still the web doesn’t give us the core part of an education that we get in the classroom, and that is working in teams, directly with an instructor that can’t exactly be mimicked online. The day is coming with Skype, Wifi and iPads where this will not be true anymore…