The Argument Against Business School


A light went off. “That was the moment when I realized that this project I had been doing on my own for quite a while could be useful to a ton of other people, ” says Kaufman, a self-proclaimed “independent business educator.” Within’ days, he drafted a list of recommended books that would form the basis of a self-taught “Personal MBA,” put it up on the web and, suddenly, a flood of users flocked to it. Then, Kaufman crafted a “manifesto” to explain the idea to newcomers and to urge them to “skip business school” and “educate yourself.”

A serious and committed MBA basher was born.

During his lunchtime at P&G, where he worked in support of such brands as Mr. Clean, Swiffer, Dawn, and Cascade, he would rush off to a nearby Barnes & Noble store to read more business titles. Kaufman says he spent increasing amounts of time at the Cincinnati public library, pulling classic business texts off the shelves. When he told his mother, a children’s librarian, and his father, a former sixth grade science teacher, that he was going to quit his job at P&G to create a business out of his idea, they thought he was crazy. Still, he left P&G in 2008, moved just outside Fort Collins, Colorado, and went into business, doing one-on-one coaching and consulting for $1,000 a month and creating a 12-week online crash course delivered live and on video for $997. His website,, features what he considers to be the 99 best business books that lay out all the basic principles of business and a community in which to discuss the ideas with others.

The Personal MBA will be published in early December by Penquin's Portfolio imprintThe Personal MBA was published in December by Penquin’s Portfolio imprint 

Kaufman’s first book, to be published in early December by Penguin’s Portfolio imprint, makes his anti-MBA case and distills the business essentials from the thousands of books he has read. Kaufman claims he is already pulling down what a freshly minted Harvard MBA would make upon joining Boston Consulting Group or McKinsey & Co. “Without any of the debt,” he quickly adds.


To Kaufman’s way of thinking, the only reason someone should go to a business school for an MBA is if they want to work for a prestige consulting firm, investment bank, or a Fortune 50 company which he says uses elite business schools as a filter to decide who to interview. “If you want to work in an industry that uses the MBA as a screen, you are effectively buying yourself a $150,000 interview,” he contends. “If you want to do anything else in business, if you want to start your own company, get a job in another field, you don’t have to have an MBA. It’s better if you don’t because of the debt.”

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