The beginning of the "Real World MBA."
In November 2017, Donny Kimball and I found ourselves falling into the same trap every day: open Instagram, check reddit, read a blog or 10, and retweet some stuff. Rinse and repeat 5 days a week. Nothing meaningful learned, nothing accomplished, week after week. The fact is, we both had a lot of downtime in a given week, and it was easy to see that we were wasting it on meaningless tasks. But why?
We discussed the issue. Perhaps it was the environment – it’s difficult (if ill advised) to check out completely at work and put real focus into your own projects, so we avoid them when at work. Could there be a flaw in tactics as well? It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to accomplish too much at once, which actually ends up leading to a burnout of attention – Donny says this is like “driving with the emergency brakes on.” Funny, coming from a guy who I don’t think has ever driven a car, but surprisingly accurate.
Basically, we both came to the conclusion that a tactical, information-consumption based strategy would allow us to overcome the aforementioned issues. If we assume learning to be a goal, and we intend to track what we consume, we can in fact direct our efforts to begin building a meaningful knowledge base that could help us with both career and side projects. Piecemeal knowledge acquisition means we don't need to begin working on a "project" at work – we will be reading topical material anyways, and having some direction will mean each resource is chosen for its ability to meet a goal.
We will begin the process at a very basic level: consume some meaningful content every day to build our knowledge of business and marketing beyond what we gain from our day jobs.
For reference, Donny works at a major PR agency, and I work in a digital strategy agency, both of us located in Tokyo. The main focus for both of us is to come away each week knowing more about marketing, personal branding, and running an effective business than we did the week before, and then to start ramping up the effort and direction to carve out something highly valuable and actionable to our future career/business prospects.
As much as I would love to claim that I came up with this idea, I’ll be very honest and say that it was mostly Donny’s doing. If you haven’t already, go check out his site – the guy is a perfectionist, and his craft is building up the Japanese tourism industry in a way the government here won’t (or more likely, is incapable of). He has been my marketing mentor since day one, and this project is a combined effort.
The 2018 Real World MBA is a straight-to-testing, “do something instead of nothing” approach, so don’t expect perfection. We certainly don’t. However, what we do expect is to gain a lot of knowledge on current marketing trends and business fundamentals in areas currently outside the scope of our daily job activities. I intend to track 4 main areas as I go, so that this can potentially be refined and useful for anyone else who wants to attack it along with us:
Now, I will be the first to say that an MBA from the right institution and with the right cohort to network with can be an invaluable learning experience for some. However, with the preponderance of information available online now, I think a determined individual can track down the main parts for self study. Using the Stanford MBA curriculum as a base guide (because why not?), let’s list up the headers for their course areas across their full program:
Wow. That’s a lot of potential material. Where to begin?
Up front, this is the 2018 Real World MBA, not the 2018 Theoretical MBA. Being a "Real World MBA," I don’t have profs to consult about the intricacies of global economic theory, and if we’re really honest, I’m probably not going to be motivated to force myself to review anything beyond human resources best practices for an afternoon or two until I’m sure which country I’ll be operating in long term. Not only that, but, as Donny puts it, “The world is now changing so rapidly that anything being taught in school is out of date by the time it hits the textbook. How the hell do you teach that on Instagram, powerlikes and engagement pods are where it’s at for now but that will change before 2019?”
He’s 100% right.
"Anything being taught in school is out of date by the time it hits the textbook. How the hell do you teach that on Instagram, powerlikes and engagement pods are where it’s at for now but that will change before 2019?”
Basically, 2 things: learn and do. It's as simple as that. (See here on the value of "just starting")
Set-in-stone planning in digital marketing is a no-go, but I think there’s some value in covering the fundamentals, so here’s my cherry-picked list of what basics (plus some personal interest areas) I want to cover over the course of this:
Cherry-picked Stanford MBA areas:
Personal interest areas:
*Subject to change at our discretion
The world is changing rapidly. Cryptocurrencies are booming, technology is evolving for use cases I’m not even 100% clear on yet, and audio is up and coming. However, as sure as cats still run the Internet, and Japanese companies continue to increase television ad spend in the face of reality, I am sure that a solid foundation of the above areas is a strong investment of time and effort. For anyone interested in running their own business or managing marketing accounts at an existing business, a Real World MBA is a time and effort investment you can make around a day job. Keep in mind that, like anything nowadays, a year is honestly a distant projection and things will change, so we will update as necessary. The main page for all following updates is here.
Welcome to the 2018 Real World MBA.
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