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MBA or Book of the Week?

The debate is on over at 800CEORead.com over whether you need an MBA or just to read a few hundred books. My take on this is clear – you need both. A common argument is that experience trumps all. However, your past experiences can hinder your judgment as much as it can help it. The academic knowledge you gain will give you frameworks to parse your experience and apply all of your knowledge and talent to a particular situation. Do you need an MBA – of course not. But it certainly doesn’t hurt. After you earn it, you need to keep reading and learning.
Those who say “I have an MBA and I wouldn’t do it again” are probably experiencing ‘Hindsight Bias’ – a phenomenon whereby after learning something, it seems to become common knowledge and you can’t believe you wasted time/energy/money on something so obvious.
With that said, I give you my book of the week – Leadership – by Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani talks not only about principles that have driven his leadership style, but also about how they have transformed and been implemented over the years. He accomplishes this through a down to earth, storytelling voice.
A further note of caution – I think there are too many people around letting these types of books run their lives. This is what worked for Giulani. Another style worked for Jack Welch. Yet another style worked for Lee Iacocca. While there are similiarities, there is no cookie-cutter approach.
Do not go to work thinking you are going to be Jack Welch. Only Jack Welch is Jack Welch. You have to have the right style, at the right time, for the right situation.

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