Thoughts on “The Personal MBA. Master the Art of Business” by Josh Kaufman

Sustainability Explored
5 min readFeb 10, 2021


I set myself on a challenge to read more books in 2021 and to keep myself accountable I decided I’ll be sharing my thoughts about books I am going to read every month here on the podcast with my audience. I hope that it will inspire you as well to read more quality books.

For my January sprint, I chose the book called “The Personal MBA. Master the Art of Business” by Josh Kaufman.

I’ll let you research more about the author and will leave all the relevant links below, but one thing that I find particularly interesting about Josh Kaufman is that his TEDx talk on The First 20 Hours is one of the top 25 most-viewed TED talks published to date, with over 24 million views on YouTube.

Why is this important?

Because Josh, like me, is very practical. And puts what he learns directly into practice.

Why I chose this book in particular?

I have mentioned earlier on my podcast that I give career consultations to professionals in the field of environment and sustainability.

The question I received from one of the career consultation clients was: shall I get an MBA, will it help me advance my career?

It kept me intrigued for nearly 2 full months and I was determined and motivated to get some answers to this multi-angled question.

What is this book about?

This book provides a very high-level overview of many different business topics — 12 chapters on things like Value Creation and Delivery, Marketing that leads to Sales, Finances, Psychology, Systems, Working with Others, and Working on Yourself.

It is divided into short one-page definitions of terms you are likely to encounter in business literature — every chapter unfolds up to 15 to 30 aspects within each category.

These aspects are defined clearly and simply, with examples or anecdotes that highlight the issues at hand. Sometimes it is also accompanied by a short analysis or a story by the author. It is generally very sensible advice and gives you the juice of each topic.

What I mean is: usually, I read books ACTIVELY, meaning I also take notes of the main ideas and concepts I’d like to return to in my daily personal or professional life.

This was my first intention with this book — all right, where is my notebook & pen…. and then — wait a second, if I started, that would mean re-writing the WHOLE book into my notebook!

What I absolutely LOVED about The Personal MBA book is that it’s extremely applicable and strictly to-the-point. See, it’s a relatively short book, very manageable — BUT it took me one whole month of January to finish it because I used it as a TOOL — with every new page, I’d stop and implement the acquired information in my business immediately.

It’s definitely not a book you would want to keep next to your bed and read before sleeping, but rather a book that deserves a place on your desk.

I’m glad I read this book and can see the value in owning a copy of my own to refer to from time to time.

The author quotes Seth Godin in the book saying that dedicated reading of 30 or 40 books combined with real-world experience is a better use of money than an MBA. This book is important because it gives you the list of those 30 or 40 books in the right structure and helps to avoid filter bubbles and gaps.

It’s important to mention that Josh Kaufman, the author of this book, claims that reading this book will replace the actual MBA.

I would suggest treating this book as a map that will show you how to spread and move your forces and will introduce the basic concepts to you to help you navigate the uncertainties of your business.

But let’s circle back to the beginning — to the real question: shall you get an MBA to advance your career and is this book a replacement for it?

The easy and short answer to the second part — no, the book is in no way a replacement for an academic degree.

Will an MBA degree actually help in getting the job opportunities of your dreams, and will the employers be lining up after you? — I am not so sure.


Because a gram of practice is worth tonnes of theories.

The bold truth is — DESPITE your credentials do matter in the real world, rarely anyone cares (let alone gets impressed) by which school issued your diploma, rather than what you ACTUALLY bring to the table.

Neither this book nor the carefully curated expensive MBA curriculum will magically land you on the job of your ambitions and aspirations.

Practical steps, real-life experiments, trial and error process WILL.

It heavily depends on the sphere you’re in, but it’s worth mentioning that sometimes the practice is also free, with no starting capital required.

To conclude

I recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn the business basics and is eager to implement the learnings right away to get the most out of it.

And then, once your business is started and rolling and you PRACTICE- PRACTICE-PRACTICE, IF NECESSARY — going into the depths of these troubled ever-changing waters for an actual MBA degree.

What are your thoughts on conventional education? Agree/ strongly disagree?

Share with me on LinkedIn — I’d love to keep this conversation rolling.

In February, I will be reading a book called ‘Growth Reinvented. Turn your data and artificial intelligence into money’ by Mika Ruokonen. If you wish to read with me, this book is available on Amazon.

In late February I will be moderating a talk with Mika about his book and the benefits AI can bring to businesses on United Europe event — make sure to follow their updates not to miss the opportunity —


Josh Kaufman website:

The first 20 hours — how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU:

The book:

The book I am going to read in February, ‘Growth Reinvented. Turn your data and artificial intelligence into money’ by Mika Ruokonen:



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