Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A slight Diversion: MBA Degress Don't Get Clients or Jobs

A justified comment from an anonymous person:

"Do you really think an MBA this late in life will get clients? Do they care about your education or examples of your business successes for your clients? You may be spending your hard-earned money for basically nothing."

No formal degree will ever get you clients or a job or a career. You get there the old fashion way: hard work, networking, selling good ideas and selling yourself. Learning to be a collaborator. You have to sell yourself in person, learn to communicate well, provide an honest evaluation of your skill set and capabilities. You don't get hired because you went to Babson, Yale, Harvard or the London School of Economics, or by stretching the truth about who you are or what you can deliver. You get hired because you probably learned how to to think well and became a broader thinker as a result of professors, your peers and ideas and activities you get exposed to offered by any educational institution. How you leverage the education, that is what gets you the clients, the job or in front of a VC. It becomes one of the many, and perhaps one of the most critical, tools in your toolbox.

Payout is critical. If you think you have a limited number of years, you have to work really hard at leveraging the degree. That said, I met a 63 year old doctor at Columbia Exec. MBA who said he wanted to buy a bank, and that a finance certificate was not enough education. At Babson I met a guy in his 50s who was in the music instrument business. He was president of the company. As he said its about the 200 case studies you would never read on your own. He began to leverage that knowledge whether he was in China negotiating or on a factory floor in the U.S.

School is not just a place where a professor lectures you. You must be assertive (even to the point of making mistakes and what better place to do that in a place where you pay to make those mistakes) in making connections with people who can help you achieve your goals and lead you to new potential directions you never would have thought about. Going back to school is more than a conversation starter, it provides you with new talents ranging from negotiation skills to a deep understanding of finance and new forms of marketing and exposure to management concepts and technology that did not exist 30 years ago.

It provides a foundation for some and enhancement for many in leadership development and team building.

As for payback, which I will get into later, there is one exercise that I have already applied to my business and to my client's businesses: "Define one focused need statement." But more on this later.

How you leverage your skills and education to find a client, to start a new business or a new division for a company, becomes a critical component of success. Place an ROI against it; measure your own payback.

In the end, you create your own luck.

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