“If You Are To Dedicate Yourself To Truly Mastering Only ONE Category of Knowledge, Only ONE Skill-Set, Only ONE Competence – What Should It Be?”
STANLEY BING is a funny, sarcastic, provocative guy.
His books include Sun Tzu Was A Sissy…What Would Machiavelli Do?….and 100 Bullshit Jobs & How To Get Them.
He’s a long-time columnist for Fortune, a top executive at a giant corporation whose identity is a worst kept secret, and a very rich fellow with homes in NYC, LA, and Mill Valley, California. His latest book – THE CURRICULUM: Everything You Need To Know To Be A Master of Business Arts – is both tongue-in-cheek, dry humor and serious advice.
The pie chart illustrations are good for a chuckle. I pulled two connected items from it for you…
His answer to “Do people ever really make it to the top without an MBA?” includes this list of people who got along okay or are muddling through without their MBA: Disney, Jobs, Wozniak, Branson, Ellison, Dell, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Zuckerberg, Gates, Sara Blakely (founder of Spanx®, world’s first from-scratch female billionaire), and Ron Popeil. And Oprah.
None of these people went to business school. Most didn’t even graduate from college. I can add my own LONG list – notably including Greg Renker and Bill Guthy. Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel. And Dan Kennedy himself.
Warren Buffet attended Wharton, but bailed, saying he knew more than his teachers. Famous Wharton grads do include top Wall Street crooks like Dennis Levine and Raj Rajaratnam. Bing admits to “cooking the books” to make his point – there are corporate titans with MBA’s from various learned institutions.
But the point stands nonetheless, and it is particularly valid about entrepreneurs. Basically, to get an MBA, you surrender your visionary thinking and renegade-ism, akin to surrender of your humanity to get a law degree (some do recover) or surrendering opinions of your own in exchange for a marriage license (just kidding).
After they create companies, entrepreneurs are pressed into putting MBA holders in charge, but you won’t find many great enterprises – or small, nicely profitable small businesses – created by MBA holders. They are intellectually impotent, when it comes to creating.
So, what will you find? – if you look for the shared, key item in Disney, Jobs, Branson, Ellison, Blakely, and the majority of other entrepreneurial creators, builders and fortune makers? I give you Bing’s answer, within comment on his own career: “Ask any writer/journalist what he does all day. He writes for perhaps 20% of the day.
The rest of the time is spent selling editors on story ideas, selling potential sources on the benefits – often illusory – of talking to them, selling the finished story to their editors again, fighting for space in the paper or online media – which is a form of selling, then going out at night, drinking and selling projects to book editors. All day long, selling, selling, selling.
Occasionally they do a little writing. Artists, too, their time branding, positioning, and marketing their stuff, to critics and gallery owners.
Who would want anything by Pollack or Warhol if it hadn’t already been branded, explained, super-marketed and pre-sold as a valuable object? The only person who was an absolute loser at the sales part of his game was Vincent van Gogh, who produced several paintings a day for his entire working career and sold not one of them.
He finally shot himself. That’s what happens when you suck at selling.
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