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March 2009


Jane, successful brand strategist and MBA

I strongly disagree with your stereoype about MBAs. It is a huge generalization (and very narrow minded) and one that perepetuates this negative perception.

The power of any strong brand strategy is the ability to understand how it fits into an organization's entire business strategy. This is true for large corporations or small non-profits. An MBA education provides the opportunity to truly understand all aspects of business thus allowing a holistic approach to branding. Those that want to succeed in branding need to understand not only the principles of marketing and using their right brain but also the business operations function, human resources,and finance (how are you going to pay for branding?)


What do you do if you don't know how to build something people want to buy? Go get yourself an MBA and pretend that you do.

I have never met an MBA worth the money I paid them. In my company, it is now a strict policy that no MBAs will ever be hired. These guys have big egos (which is why they went to 'management' school) and they've got few skills. They don't want to work hard - they just want to make money.

Don't hire an MBA.

BTW - Stanford MBAs are the pinnacle of bad judgment.

R Vaughn

In terms of your first few paragraphs, I'd just like to say that there's been a lot of this kind of talk lately and I think that it's inherently flawed. With the whole financial services sector on its knees, people are looking for reasons why, and many have come across the notorious MBAs as ideal candidates.

The problem with blaming b-schools is that you're saying these people learned (or failed to un-learn) their loose ethics and moral vacuity there...which would imply similar catastrophes in the other sectors where MBAs went (beware of what caused what here). Further, this line of thinking completely ignores that the moral vacuity is much more likely to have been learned on the job; it's much more likely to be a problem inherent in the FS&C corporate culture.

Yes, b-schools certainly have to adapt and address its role in this economic mess, but they deserve far less blame than the sectors at the heart of it, and this whole argument is eschewing the real problem.

R. Vaughn


an mba, like anything, is what you make of it. it is WHO goes to an mba that matters. if you walk in a right-brained thinker, you walk out still right-brained but with some extra skills & network. if you walk in already left-brained, then that's how you walk out, with some extra skills and network.

i think any (school) system whatsoever is not enough of an excuse for lack of common sense.

David Cameron

I understand your point. And I couldn't agree more on the value of having diversity of thought, expertise, experience, style, etc. at the decision-making table.

Many companies and organizations have hardwired diversity into their business strategies, and so we're starting to see change on this front.

My concern lies in this -- leadership continues to underestimate and undervalue the contributions employees at all levels of the company can make to what I'll call the strategic talk of the day, talk leading to meaningful decisions. When leadership considers options or new directions, wouldn't they benefit immensely from the many diverse voices across their organizations? Yes, but too often those voices aren't heard.

I know... I know... confidentiality and sensitivity on some business matters don't always make wider consultation possible. But where we can be more inclusive, shouldn't we?

One doesn't want to slow down decision-making, but where we have time to be thoughtful and deliberate, shouldn't we make every effort to be more inclusive?

We are stronger together. We needs MBAs and MBAs need the rest of us! That's not even a question.


I do not fault anybody that gets an MBA. I would have definitely got one myself if I didn't have the opportunity to work with Al.

The reality is that the credentials/connections that an MBA gives you are priceless in a corporate environment. You can't get ahead without one.

What I do have a problem with is with the MBA schools and what they teach. MBA programs don't particularly value marketing. They don't teach management to appreciate marketing and they don't teach marketers the principles.

The great marketing thinkers might get that MBA degree but they still go with their gut when it comes to marketing.

Right-Brainers just have to be careful to not drink too much of the koolaid at school.



There might be a little bit of truth in what you're suggesting. But many of the people I know who have read and internalized your dad's (and your) teaching are MBAs (and I'm one of them). Insulting a large part of your target customer base is probably not such a great idea. :)

The MBAs I know are inquisitive minds (be it right or left brainers) and have a thirst for ideas and new learning. That's in part why one would decide to leave work to go back to school to get an MBA.

I think it would be more accurate to say that graduate education in general caters more to left brain development than right brain.


I do not know the american B-schools, I am finishing my MBA at the Open University in the UK this year and we are studying about everything you mentioned that is missing in B-edu (long-term, broad view, vision, etc.) as mgmt basics :-\

John Nesheim

Agreed! Twice over. The MBAs taking my entrepreneurship class at a top Ivy League MBA school have to abandon what they have learned about marketing. Sad but true. So those that see the light leave inspired to find their freedom by doing a startup. That's where the trend is taking them.

Keep beating the drum. It is resonating with the lost.

Siddharth Soni

I read Al's books after I graduated from my B-school! Poor me. But the good part is I came to read them because I always felt something really really missing in whatever I had read and heard in the classroom till then. And I got quite a few answers to some really troubling questions within.

It's actually unfortunate that some books haven't been made compulsory reading in b-schools here. I wonder, why? How does a training module get designed, I can't understand...

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