I saw a tweet posted by Mark Suster talking about getting your REAL MBA by working for yourself and it reminded me of where I learned so much, outside of school. I made this decision early on by going to a small tech school that no one knew about and taking a telemarketing job at a tech company, when I was 18 years old. “Hello future, I’m knocking on your door”, that’s all I could think of daily while I amassed experience and knowledge.
The truth is that I learned most of what I do on a daily basis on the job while I was going to school. No matter how much I learned in school, I was always learning an order of magnitude more by solving real world problems on a daily basis. There are no case studies you can read or tests to take that could compare to this knowledge. From integrating technology/server infrastructure to web development, and learning to manage clients to figuring out sales/revenue growth strategy. There was no classroom environment that could team me any of that, the pressure of being on the job and solving the problem is what separates the men from the boys. Having that experience at such a young age, provided me with the ability to deal with situations with much more ease as I get older.
What most people don’t realize when getting into school and wanting to become an engineer of some sort is that it’s not just about learning theory. But, it goes deeper than that, it’s not just learning the theory or the programming language. It’s about understanding the theory, the practice and dealing with real world problems that sets you apart. Dealign with real world problems allows you to gain experience of how to deal with situations, both from a programming standpoint and a person standpoint. As I start doing less and less dev work, I forget the little things that I use deal with on a daily basis. When you aren’t facing problems in the real world on a regular basis and you just learn something in school, it takes much longer to figure out the solutions because of the amount of research you have to do to figure it out.
Similarly, dealing with business issues has the same challenge. You could learn all about the 3 P’s and how to access your competition in Marketing 101. But, the fact of the matter is that if you haven’t actually done it in the real world or faced real world situations, it’s going to be much harder when you do. When I was asked to deal with all the day to day operations, while I’ve run Visible Factors, and when I managed my various sites, I learned how to deal with many things. From how to incorporate and the types of companies formed to dealing with clients and managing a budget. I learned so much daily that I stopped caring about my school work and it was more of a hobby than actual education.
My education was happening while I was working and continues on to this day running the first online event venue marketplace.
I learn so much every single day I run eventify because there are things that I haven’t dealt with before. I find myself leaning on a support system of really smart entrepreneurs and mentors when I’m in need. Which reminds me that I built that support system networking with folks in the industry, which I learned was important early on. And, those were the days after I graduated Mt. Sierra College, sitting there wondering if I should get an MIS degree or go back for an MBA. I’m glad that I didn’t because everything I learned and everything I continue to learn daily is way more important than any degree I could have gotten. If I got my MBA I never would have started my own consulting company at 22, I never would have taken contract gigs to work for startups, and I never would have gone to work at PayPal. All of those have been extremely instrumental in my career.
I’ve always been apposed to those that get their MBA, but, I know that it’s important to many, so I don’t discredit it entirely. But, what I will say is that if you come out of grad school with an MBA and a chip on your shoulder, you’ve got another thing coming. There are hundreds of people waiting to knock that chip off your shoulder, including myself. It reminds me of some of the people that I worked with at Yahoo! and why I disliked the marketing organization there so much, and, why I would never hire anyone I worked with their. (yes, at the risk of hurting some feelings and burning some bridges, even though that’s not like me at all). Now, you might ask, “why, working for Yahoo! could be great experience!?” The problem with that logic is many kids (yes, to re-iterate, “kids”) get their MBAs and work at big companies, but don’t face real world problems. They don’t know how to solve situations creatively and they don’t know how to be scrappy with costs. That isn’t a valuable resource, that’s an overpaid MBA that will never provide startups and entrepreneurs any real value.