The Personal MBA

My cousin recently put me onto a book I’m finding quite interesting: The Personal MBA. He said it would be a good book for learning about business, and as I’m considering whether I might want to start a consulting business, it seemed like good reading.

I expected to find a book full of business/legal procedures one must go through to start or run a business, but what I’m actually seeing is much more focused along the lines of how to market, how to sell, how people’s perceptions work, how to optimize yourself, and how to work with (including manage) other people.

The author draws from numerous terrific sources in this book. GTD fans will see enjoy some of the references here, but in several respects this book builds on the GTD ideas. Never fear, it includes a sufficient description of GTD that you won’t be lost if you don’t know what it is.

Of particular interest to me are that the book cites numerous phenomena I learned about from taking IDesign‘s master classes. Confirmation Bias, Parkinson’s Law (and related performance load), the Dunning-Kruger Effect, Milgram’s experiments on authority figures, social signals (groupthink), communication overhead, they’re all covered in the book.

In my career I have seen nearly every kind of failure The Personal MBA mentions, including poor management-employee relations, managing by compulsion instead of encouragement, blind faith in process over people, bureaucratic breakdown, lack of accountability, failure to take advantage of comparative advantages, turf wars, and many others. You may have seen these too. If you want to be able to identify and combat or even prevent these scenarios from affecting your group or business, and see it succeed, you could do a lot worse than to take cues from this book.