There’s no denying that a master’s degree in business administration has cachet. Too bad that cachet takes a few years to achieve, comes with a hefty price tag, and — these days — offers no job guarantees or business success. Wouldn’t it be a nicer route to become a master of business through interesting career moves and investments, personal connections, great talks, classes and events, and a handful of enlightening business books that share powerful lessons?
Let’s start with the best business management books. We’ve broken down 10 MBA program lessons, and for each one there is a corresponding must-read book to add to your reading list. Call it business school in 10 books. It won’t earn you an MBA, but it will give you an education in business success.
Depot Town, Michigan. Image source: Cmadler via Wikimedia Commons
In today’s virtual world, the next great business idea need not come from California’s Silicon Valley or New York City’s Silicon Alley. It could come from a silicon cornfield, digital bayou, or mobile rustbelt in any one of thousands of tiny rural regions or small towns across America, towns that may have lost a past glory or never thrived because of a lack of employment opportunities. With online learning programs offering the ability to train adults to do in-demand careers, people throughout the country now have the same inroads to specialized learning and potential innovation available to residents of big cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, and Boston.
As a mother of two boys under age 10, I know how hungry to learn children can be. My kids could teach themselves to read literature in Russian if they thought it would be fun. I kept that in mind while researching the best resources to teach kids to code. What children need is something that makes coding engaging, exciting, and (the word that parents cannot utter without turning whatever they are talking about into anything but) cool. Here are some apps, online programs, and camps to help your future coders get started.
However you want to come at your next career or business idea, we at General Assembly have a class to help you do it. With on-campus courses in 12 cities—including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, London, Sydney, and Hong Kong—and online classes available everywhere, it’s just a matter of making your next move. Which will it be? Here are a few questions to help you find an educational opportunity that fits your goals and lifestyle.
Please bear with me while I make a case for something that most of us don’t likely need: Another social media network. Hear me out—this one is different. It’s the American Express OPEN Forum, and it’s arguably a must-visit for entrepreneurs, thought leaders, even corporate executives. What started as a resource for American Express clients has become an organic meeting place for the business minded. Call it LinkedIn for thought leaders, Facebook for founders; OPEN Forum is an online space where almost every exchange seems relevant to entrepreneurs and innovators. Here are three reasons you won’t regret joining.
When people talk about setting boundaries at work, it is often in terms of personal or individual boundaries and how they affect work-life balance. This balance is certainly important, but so is office-life balance. According to a PENN Behavioral Health study, Setting Boundaries at Work, there are several types of boundaries: job responsibility boundaries, interpersonal boundaries, and personal boundaries.
These boundaries start with the founder, define how managers do their job, and impact individual employees. Here is how to set boundaries in the workplace if you are a company founder, manager, or employee.
CC Image Courtesy of Brian Talbot, Flickr Creative Commons
Companies are sort of like sharks. Just as sharks must keep moving to avoid death, companies must keep growing. But large, well-established corporations often find it difficult to grow organically under an existing business model. Corporations are less nimble than startups, and more averse to risk. Because of reputation and shareholder expectation, they lack the ability to “pivot” the business when a product or idea is not working out as planned.
How can large corporations focus on product innovation in the same way that startups do? Through corporate entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship.
Remember those all-night cramming sessions in college, when you would overcaffeinate, stay up for days, and muster all the focus you could to finish a paper or prepare for a test? Imagine a room full of computer programmers, developers, visionaries, and marketers doing the same thing for a day, a weekend, or even a full week. Instead of cramming, they are competing to create prototypes that innovate on a theme or improve upon an existing project. It’s called a hackathon, and it is has become a regular part of how technology companies do business. In fact, the power of the hackathon has extended beyond the tech industry into countless other sectors.
To many devoted entrepreneurs, a product is kind of like a child. It’s your creation, a reflection on you and your hope for the future. Is it any wonder that the business world uses a biological lifecycle as a model for how a product is expected perform? It’s called a product lifecycle, and in it a product is born, it grows, it matures, and (in many cases) it declines. You can almost hear the strains of “Sunrise, Sunset.”
One of the first things a startup should build is a library. Business books can help hone or disrupt your way of thinking (sometimes in ways that are subtle, sometimes in thunderclaps), they can help you learn from examples and case studies, and they keep you up with the latest jargon at pitch meetings and cocktail parties. Of course, new books come out all the time, and everyone has their personal favorites, but these essential titles should help you fill your startup library.