Header Ads Widget

The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman: Book Summary


How to Build a Great Business (A Step-by-Step Complete Guide)

“A big business starts small.”

“You don't build a business, you build people, then people build the business.”


"The Personal MBA" by Josh Kaufman is a comprehensive guide that aims to provide readers with the essential principles and insights of business without the need for a formal business education. In this book, Kaufman presents a collection of key concepts, frameworks, and strategies from various business disciplines, including marketing, finance, operations, and more. 

By distilling complex ideas into practical, accessible language, Kaufman empowers individuals to develop their business acumen and make informed decisions. With "The Personal MBA," readers can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the world of business, regardless of their background or prior education.

About The Author: Josh Kaufman is the author of three bestselling books. His research focuses on business, entrepreneurship, skill acquisition, productivity, creativity, applied psychology, and practical wisdom.

What makes a successful business?

Kaufman’s definition is that every successful business (1) creates or provides something of value that (2) other people want or need (3) at a price they’re willing to pay in a way that (4) satisfies the purchaser’s needs and expectations and (5) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owners to continue operation.

To learn business, learn business skills too (not just management and leadership skills)

1. Marketing and Sales: Understanding marketing strategies, consumer behavior, branding, and effective sales techniques are essential for reaching and engaging customers.

2. Finance and Accounting: Gaining knowledge of financial management, budgeting, cash flow analysis, and basic accounting principles is vital for making informed financial decisions and ensuring the financial health of a business.

3. Operations and Supply Chain Management: Learning about efficient processes, supply chain optimization, logistics, and project management helps in improving productivity, reducing costs, and delivering products or services effectively.

4. Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Developing an entrepreneurial mindset, fostering creativity, and embracing innovation are key skills for identifying opportunities, adapting to change, and driving growth in a dynamic business environment.

5. Communication and Negotiation: Effective communication, both verbal and written, is crucial for building relationships, resolving conflicts, and presenting ideas persuasively. Negotiation skills are also important in securing favorable deals and partnerships.

6. Data Analysis and Decision Making: Developing analytical skills, understanding data-driven decision making, and utilizing tools for data analysis enable informed business decisions based on evidence and insights.

Best Leadership Books

Chapter 1: Value Creation

#1. Use core human drives and status signals

To make your value offering as appealing as possible, build it with the goal of connecting with as many of the five core human drives as possible and including status signals.

Examples of these core human drives in business:

1. The drive to acquire (the desire to obtain/collect physical objects and immaterial qualities like status, power, and influence): such as investment brokerages, and political consulting companies. (Companies that promise to make us wealthy, famous, or powerful connect to this drive.)

2. The drive to bond with others (the desire to feel valued and loved through relationships): such as restaurants, conferences, and dating services. (Companies that promise to make us attractive, well-liked, or highly regarded connect to this drive.)

3. The drive to learn (the desire to satisfy our curiosity): such as academic programs, book publishers, and training workshops. (Companies that promise to make us more knowledgeable or competent connect to this drive.)

4. The drive to defend (the desire to protect ourselves, loved ones, and property): such as home alarm system manufacturers, insurers, and martial arts training programs. (Companies that promise to keep us safe, eliminate a problem, or prevent bad things from happening connect to this drive.)

5. The drive to feel (the desire for new sensory stimuli, intense emotional experiences, pleasure, excitement, entertainment, and anticipation): such as movie theaters, arcades, concert promoters, and sports teams. (Companies that promise to give us pleasure, thrill us, or give us something to look forward to connect to this drive.)

Markets form to get these needs satisfied. And, prospects consider how your product/service will affect their status before they buy, so include status signals as well.

#2. Evaluate the market before you build it

“Market research is the business equivalent of look before you leap.” — Josh Kaufman

Here are the ten ways:

1. Urgency — how badly do people want or need this right now?

2. Market Size — How many people are actively purchasing things like this?

3. Pricing Potential — what is the highest average price a purchaser would be willing to spend for a solution?

4. Cost of Customer Acquisition — how easy is it to acquire a new customer? On average, how much will it cost to generate a sale, both in money and effort?

5. Cost of Value-Delivery — how much would it cost to create and deliver the value offered, both in money and effort?

6. Uniqueness of Offer — how unique is your offer versus competing offerings in the market, and how easy is it for potential competitors to copy you?

7. Speed to Market — how quickly can you create something to sell?

8. Up-Front Investment
— how much will you have to invest before you’re ready to sell?

9. Up-Sell Potential — are there related secondary offers that you could also present to purchasing customers?

10. Evergreen Potential — once the initial offer has been created, how much additional work will you have to put into it in order to continue selling?

#3. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel

There are already 12 standard forms of value. Don’t try to create a new one, create your value-offering based on one or more of the existing forms.

Here are the 12 forms:

1. Product – Create a single tangible item or entity, then sell and deliver it for more than what it cost to make. 

2. Service – Provide help or assistance then charge a fee for the benefits rendered. 
Shared Resource – Create a durable asset that can be used by many people, then charge for access. 

3. Subscription – Offer a benefit on an ongoing basis, and charge a recurring fee. 
Resale – Acquire an asset from a wholesaler, then sell that asset to a retail buyer at a higher price. 

4. Lease – Acquire an asset, then allow another person to use that asset for a pre-defined amount of time in exchange for a fee. 

5. Agency – Market and sell an asset or service you don’t own on behalf of a third party, then collect a percentage of the transaction price as a fee. 

6. Audience Aggregation – Get the attention of a group of people with certain characteristics, then sell access in the form of advertising to another business looking to reach that audience. 

7. Loan – Lend a certain amount of money, then collect payments over a pre-defined period of time equal to the original loan plus a pre-defined interest rate. 

8. Option – Offer the ability to take a pre-defined action for a fixed period of time in exchange for a fee. 

9. Insurance – Take on the risk of some specific bad thing happening to the policyholder in exchange for a pre-defined series of payments, then pay out claims only when the bad thing actually happens. 

10. Capital – Purchase an ownership stake in a business, then collect a corresponding portion of the profit as a one-time payout or ongoing dividend.

Once you know what form(s) of value you want to go for, you can start creating your “minimum viable offer” (MVO).

#4. Gather feedback and be ready to move on

Get feedback and allow people the opportunity to purchase your value offering to see if they’re only saying they’d buy it or if they’d actually do it. 

Chapter 2: Marketing

It’s almost impossible to make (or force) someone to want something they don’t already desire because we only purchase what we already desire on some level.

So, to market your value offer effectively, discover what people already want and then present your offer in a way that intersects with that pre-existing desire.

Kaufman: Your job isn’t to convince people to want what you’re offering. It’s to help your prospects convince themselves that what you’re offering will help them get what they (already) want.

#1. Levels of Awareness

To market effectively, you need attention.

Your approach to getting attention depends on how much your prospect already knows about their problem, potential solutions, and your offer (i.e. their “levels of awareness”).

Unaware—the prospect is not aware of any need or desire for what you have to offer.

Problem awareness—the prospect knows they have a need or desire, but they aren’t aware of any suitable solutions.

Solution awareness—the prospect knows that potential solutions exist, but they aren’t aware of your specific offer.

Offer awareness—the prospect is aware of your offer, but they’re not sure it’s right for them.

Full awareness—the prospect is convinced your offer is a good solution to their need or desire, they just need to know the price and terms so they can decide whether or not to purchase.

Your objective with each prospect you market to is to move them to a higher level of awareness (where, at #5, they’re most likely and ready to buy).

#2. Marketing Techniques and Strategies

Some include:

Demonstrations: show prospects the value you offer so it’s easier for them to believe in it (such as giving away free samples of your new secret sauce).

Qualification: weed out the prospects who wouldn’t be a good fit (such as raising your price so only the affluent can afford it).

Visualization: encourage prospects to visualize how their lives would be if they accept it.

Framing: emphasize the most critical details of your offering (such as how it will help them avoid losing something important).

Hook: create and use a single phrase or sentence that describes an offer’s primary benefit.

Call To Action (CTA): tell the prospect exactly what to do, so they’ll take the next step.

Controversy: constructively take a position publicly that not everyone will agree with, approve of, or support to get attention.

Chapter 3: Sales

“The best businesses in the world earn the trust of their prospects and help them understand why their offer is worth paying for…sales consists of helping the prospect understand what’s important and convincing them you’re capable of delivering on what you promise.” — Kaufman

#1. How to Price Your Offer

The “Pricing Uncertainty Principle” states that all prices are arbitrary and malleable. You can charge whatever you want, so long as you can justify the price enough to get the sale.

There are four ways to justify your price:

Replacement cost: supports a price by answering the question, “How much would it cost to replace?”

Market comparison: supports a price by answering the question, “How much are other things like it selling for?”

Discounted cash flow / net present value: supports a price by answering the question, “How much is it worth if it can bring in money over time?

Value comparison: supports a price by answering the question, “Who is this particularly valuable to (maybe a specific group would be willing to pay more)?

#2. Sales Techniques and Strategies

The main ideas of effective sales is to build trust and common ground, and always sell based on the value your offer provides, not the cost.

With that said, there are a few techniques and strategies you can deploy to increase your chances of reaching the close:

Value-Based Selling: the process of understanding and reinforcing the reasons why your offer is valuable to the purchaser. This is an approach typically characterized by listening, asking good questions, and then making good arguments based on the information acquired.

Education-Based Selling: the process of making your prospects better and more informed customers. This is an approach characterized by investing time and energy in making your customers smarter which builds trust and increases their interest in your offer.

Know their Next Best Alternative to your offer: you can structure your offer to make it more attractive than the competing option.

Create and maintain exclusivity: create a unique offer or quality that competitors can’t match.

Trigger reciprocity: give value upfront so the receiver feels the need to reciprocate (such as by giving you the sale).

Acknowledge your offer’s potential risks or drawbacks: it increases trust and shows integrity.

Limit how many options you give your prospect to buy from: too many options can overwhelm prospects and give them “decision fatigue”.

Give a money-back guarantee: which Kaufman calls “risk reversal”.

Convince past customers to buy from you again: which Kaufman calls “reactivation”.

#3. Overcome Objections

There are five standard objections in every sales process:

  1. It costs too much.

  2. It won’t work.

  3. It won’t work for me.

  4. I can wait.

  5. It’s too difficult.

Structure your offer with those objections in mind to be prepared for them and always try to negotiate with the decision-maker.

Chapter 4: Value Delivery

Main ideas:

Give customers an unexpected bonus in addition to the value they already expect: to surpass their expectations and ensure customer satisfaction

Keep your offer predictable: by keeping it uniform (such as Coca-Cola keeping the same formula), consistent (such as Coca-Cola delivering that same formula every day for years), and reliable (being able to count on delivery of the value without error or delay).

Focus on improving your value offer and delivery, not your competitors: because every improvement makes it harder for your competitors to keep up anyway.

Spend time creating good systems and automation: that allow you to create, sell, and deliver more.

Chapter 5: Finance

#1. Only take as much as you need from customers (nothing more)

Kaufman: “Value Capture is the process of retaining some percentage of the value provided in every Transaction.

If you’re able to offer another business something that will allow them to bring in $1 million of additional revenue and you charge $100,000, you’re capturing 10% of the value created by the transaction.”

So, how much value (money) should you take from customers when doing business with them?

Kaufman says to only capture enough value to make your investment of time and energy worthwhile and to cover your needs. 

Do not try to squeeze out as much as you can with a nickel-and-dime, “get-every-penny” approach because that can have long-term consequences.

#2. The Four Ways to Increase Business Revenue.

1. Increase the number of customers.

2. Increase the average transaction size.
3. Increase the frequency of transactions per customer.
4. Raise your prices.

#3. More main ideas

If your business manages an inventory or extends credit to others, use an income statement with your cash flow statement: only using only a cash flow analysis can be misleading. 

Use cost-benefit analysis: to make better decisions (see if the potential benefits outweigh the potential costs).

Seek markets where customers have a high lifetime value: to increase your chances of building and maintaining long-term relationships with profitable customers.

Try to keep your overhead low: so it’s easier to sustain your business operations.

Don’t lower the quality of your offer in the process of trying to cut costs: that’s a mistake called “Incremental Degradation”.

Split the financial management responsibilities across multiple people and limit authorization in your company: to make theft and fraud more difficult for anyone one person to commit.

Chapter 6: The Human Mind

Some of the ideas:

Practice self-care and meditation: get proper nutrients, exercise, and rest, and use meditation to increase your self-management skills.

Personalize decisions for better decision-making: assess ideas by asking if you’d let someone you care about make the same choice. If not, consider avoiding it.

Offer novelty in your offer: to keep people’s attention (such as by breaking up your course into manageable modules and prefacing each module with a unique and interesting story).

Chapter 7: Working with Yourself

A couple of the ideas Kaufman shares:

Focus on only one task at a time: and, if necessary, group similar tasks together (which Kaufman calls “batching”) so it’s easier on your brain.

Don’t become too attached to your vision: you’ll have a hard time adjusting and adapting to the inevitable changes and unforeseen circumstances that come with life.

For more on productivity, also see Monk Mode.

Chapter 8: Working with Others

#1. The state Model

A communication framework to communicate without anger or defensiveness:

Share your facts. Facts are less controversial, so lead with them.

Tell your story. Explain your point of view, without judging or insulting.

Ask for others’ paths. Listen to their side of the story.

Talk tentatively. Avoid judgments and ultimatums.

Encourage testing. Make suggestions and ask for input until you agree on a course of action.

For an assertive communication framework to draw boundaries with others, check out DESOE.

#2. The Golden Trifecta

Kaufman’s communication approach to making others feel important and safe when talking to him: 

Appreciation: express your gratitude for what others are doing for you, even if it’s not perfect.

Courtesy: be polite. 

Respect: honor the other person’s status

Note: not a bad model. But, of course, I’d prefer if his “Golden Trifecta” was a “Golden Duo” of communicating with (1) warmth and (2) calibrated dominance because that would cover a broader range of applications—including the cases when you shouldn’t show gratitude (see social scalpers) or be polite (such as in the face of a slap).

#3. The Six Principles of Management

1. Recruit the smallest group of people that can do the job quickly and effectively.

2. Communicate the end result clearly, who is responsible for what, and the current status of the task/project at hand.

3. Treat people with respect. 

4. Create a productive environment and then let people do their work (avoid micromanaging).

5. Have an aggressive plan to complete the project, but don’t have unrealistic expectations
regarding certainty and prediction.

6. Measure what you’re doing to see if it’s working, and make the necessary adjustments and experimentations.

Also, when hiring, avoid making the mistake of judging candidates too harshly based on their interviewing skills. Judge them more on their past performance.

You don’t want employees who are good “interviewees”. You want employees who you know can get the job done.

#4. More ideas.

Increase your power: by increasing your influence and reputation.

Make others feel important: to make them value their relationship with you.

Spend time with people you’d like to become more like: and leave groups that don’t serve you.

And, more on the leaderlike behavior side:

Set proper boundaries: and enforce them.

When things go wrong, focus on potential solutions: it’s far more productive than fixating on the issues. 

Also, another good note, Kaufman says, “Incentives influence the way people act. Change the incentive, and you’ll change the behavior.”

And, he’s right. (See the silver medal technique.)

Chapter 9: Understanding Systems

#1. Where to start when building your system

Follow Gall’s Law:

Kaufman: “Gall’s Law states that all complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked. If you want to build a complex system that works, build a simpler system first, and then improve it over time.”

#2. How to improve your system’s performance.

Remove the constraints:

  1. Identification: find the limiting factor.

  2. Exploitation: make sure that the good resources related to the constraint aren’t wasted.

  3. Subordination: redesign the system to support the constraint.

  4. Elevation: permanently increase the capacity of the constraint.

  5. Re-evaluation: after making a change, reevaluate a system to verify where the constraint is truly located.

  6. Chapter 10: Analyzing System

  7. Measure your systems to better understand how to improve them.

#1. Use KPI’s.

Here are some questions to identify your business’s KPIs:

Value-Creation: how quickly is the system creating value? What is the current level of inflows?

Marketing: how many people are paying attention to your offer? How many prospects are giving you permission to provide more information?

Sales: how many prospects are becoming paying customers? What is the average customer’s Lifetime Value?

Value-Delivery: how quickly can you serve each customer? What is your returns or complaints rate?

Finance: what is your profit margin? How much purchasing power do you have? Are you financially sufficient?

#2. Track variances

For example, track your customer-support requests, return requests, and warranty requests, and if the variation (fluctuation or trend of the numbers) is much higher than normal, take immediate action.

#3. Measure and analyze your data without emotion or bias

If you let emotion or bias get in the way (such as by putting a greater emphasis on vanity metrics—metrics that make you look/feel good but might not accurately reflect the state of your business), there could be short or long-term consequences.

#4. Track useful ratios

Here are some:

  1. Return on Assets: for every $1 you invest in equipment, how much revenue do you collect?

  2. Return on Capital: for every $1 you borrow or take on in investment, how much revenue do you collect?

  3. Return on Promotion: for every $1 you spend on advertising, how much revenue do you collect?

  4. Profit per Employee: for every person you employ, how much profit does your business generate?

  5. Closing Ratio: for every prospect you serve, how many purchase?

  6. Returns / Complaints Ratio: for every sale you make, how many choose to return or complain?

  7. Chapter 11: Improving Systems

#1. Eliminate waste.

Kaufman: “Non-critical inputs are significant opportunity costs. If you’re spending most of your time in unproductive meetings, for example, you’re wasting time that could be used to get important things done. The same goes for non-critical expenses. They represent money that you could be using to far greater effect. Find the inputs that produce the outputs you want, then make them the focus of most of your time and energy. Eliminate the rest.”

#2. Make your business resilient.

Here are the key characteristics to look for when analyzing your business’s resiliency:

  1. Low (preferably zero) outstanding debt.

  2. Low overhead / fixed costs / operating expenses.

  3. Substantial cash reserve for unexpected contingencies.

  4. Multiple independent products / industries / lines of business.

  5. Flexible workers / employees that can handle many responsibilities well.

  6. No single points of failure.

  7. Fail-Safes / backup systems for all core processes.

Real-Life Tips

Offer genuine, free value to attract attention

It’s effective for marketing your business because it gives prospective customers a chance to experience the value you provide and can gain a sale from someone who wouldn’t have otherwise bought.

An example is the awesome free content here at TPM :).

Ask for permission to follow up before/after providing free value

Interruption marketing used to be effective back in the early days when a commercial would interrupt your TV program and catch your attention.

But, things are different now.

These days, permission marketing is often more effective because it saves you time (only focusing on prospects you know are interested) and resources (not expending anything on those who are uninterested).

As an example, many online businesses use a “double opt-in” strategy to acquire email addresses. The prospect gives their email address to get free value, but before they can receive the value they gave their email address for, they must “confirm their subscription” (which gets their permission).


Great example of the importance of simply going for it

Kaufman tells the story of how the PersonalMBA.com blog started out as simply a way to archive and share the best books he’d read on business as he pursued his path of self-directed education.

When Seth Godin (see Purple Cow) made a mention in an interview of how most people could gain as much value from an MBA by reading 30-40 solid books (and save years of their life in the process), Kaufman sent Godin an email thanking him for his perspective along with a link to his blog.

A mere few minutes later, Godin made a post to his audience recommending Kaufman’s blog, and what was once a small side-project became a full business.

I liked this story because, among all of the business concepts, principles, and strategies, the most important 99% is in the action one takes (the execution and the “getting off one’s ass”). 

So, while many allow fear to stop them from even starting, sometimes the action that changes one’s life forever can be as simple as a quick email to someone you like and respect. 

And, I love that.

Follow your passion…if it inspires you to give more value

In Unscripted, MJ DeMarco makes the case that you shouldn’t follow your passion because passions alone don’t give value to the marketplace (and the market only pays for value). 

And, even if the market did, mixing your work with your passion will likely lead you to hate your passion by the time the work is done (because if you tie your passion to your work and then start to hate the work you’re doing, you’ll start to hate your passion as a side effect—at least, according to DeMarco.)

But, Kaufman makes the case that you should follow what interests you if it pulls you enough to keep you improving your offering every day (which is a part of the caveat to DeMarco’s rule).

Calls out poor business practices and discourages them

For example, one quick snippet:

Kaufman: “Respect your applicants. Your hiring process should not be a cover to obtain free consulting. If you prefer to use longer projects to evaluate a candidate, you can always hire them as a part-time consultant. Then, bring them on full-time if you’re pleased with their work.”

If you’ve read around the forum, you know that you must be careful of these types of interviewers and I was glad to hear Kaufman speak against it.


Ignore your WHY when creating your value offering?

Kaufman says that you should build your value offering with the goal of connecting it to as many of the five core human drives as possible and including status signals. That way, you can make your value offering as appealing as possible.

But, what if that approach leads you to create a value offering that doesn’t align with your mission or vision?

As Simon Sinek says, “When you follow your WHY, what you do proves what you believe.” (See Start with Why.)

But, Kaufman’s advice suggests that you should follow the mantra, “When you follow what appeals to the market, what you (are able to successfully) do proves what others want.”

I’m not yet fully convinced that that’s the smartest way to go.

Note: I also couldn’t help but notice that Simon Sinek’s book, Start with WHY, didn’t make Kaufman’s list of recommended reads. So, maybe he doesn’t fully agree with some of Sinek’s teachings.

If no one seems to care about your offer, you might still have a viable business idea

Kaufman says that if no one seems to care about your offer, you don’t have a viable business idea.

But, there are a few examples in The Lean Startup of businesses that had little to no sales, indicating that no one seemed to care about their idea.

And yet, after implementing the “Build, Measure, Learn loop”, they were able to start getting sales, accelerating growth, and attracting more customers.

So, if the market doesn’t seem to care, is it that you don’t have a viable business idea or that you don’t have an effective process for validated learning?

A few poor quotes

Kaufman says, “Marketing grabs attention, the quality of the product closes the sale.”

Oftentimes, it’s really the framing of the product that closes the sale (framing the product as solving the prospect’s needs) and the quality of the product that sustains business growth (such as with repeat customers or virality). (That’s an oversimplification, there’s more to it than that, of course. But that’s the general idea.)

If product quality was all it took to close a sale, then there would be far less scam artists and “value cheaters” in the world (those who promise great value and then run off with the money while delivering nothing—in those cases the quality of the product was absolute zero, yet the sale still closed).

Some ideas didn’t convince me

Kaufman makes the case that you cannot manage your reputation because it’s ultimately up to the people how they want to perceive you.

I’d agree that one cannot always control their reputation, but a reputation can be managed with effective influence, power dynamics, and social strategies.

If such weren’t the case, PR firms and reputation management agencies probably wouldn’t exist.

Note: this part seemed like a nitpick by Kaufman. For example, someone once told me that there’s no such thing as time management because there are 24 hours in a day, in any given day, and you cannot change that. So, you can’t technically “manage” time, only yourself. So, he practices self-management.

That makes sense and it’s true, but it’s also just the same thing (time management) said differently.

In Kaufman’s case, he seems to be genuinely saying that reputation management truly cannot be done and is only an illusory idea which, I have to disagree with. 

Good businesspeople and their respective businesses can get dragged through the mud for sharing information that’s true, yet controversial. That doesn’t mean that they should just lay back and allow others to continue dragging them because “it’s not up to them what others want to think”.

Ignores fair value social marketing + encourages naive collaboration

Kaufman says on reciprocity:

Kaufman: “Being generous is one of the best things you can do to improve your results as a salesperson. If you give away value and help others as much as you can, they’ll respect you.”

Of course, as per social exchange dynamics, that may make sense IF you’re dealing with honest and grateful people.

The caveat being that if you keep giving more and more to a taker, they’ll just take and take until you’re depleted.

And, the chances that they’ll respect you after that are slim. (See The Go-Giver and the naive self-help article.)

And for more on effective collaboration, see:

Enlightened cooperation

Life Strategy: The Enlightened Collaborator

Ignores preparing for the worst (“cover your ass”) strategic thinking

Kaufman retells the same parable of the fisherman and the businessman that MJ DeMarco tells in his book, Unscripted.

However, these two authors ended their versions of the story in very different ways.

Kaufman ends the story with the businessman quitting his job, realizing that he could be just as happy with his current income as he would be after having built a giant, income-producing business.

The main point Kaufman makes here is that you only need to generate enough profit to cover your needs. 

MJ DeMarco, however, ends the story with the fisherman being hit with a wave of unexpected fishing fees, costs, and expenses that cause him great misfortune for not having planned ahead by making a priority of generating more income.

Both stories have valid points and both books talk about how money is not the goal of life. (In Kaufman’s book, the goal is happiness and satisfaction and, for DeMarco, an “unscripted lifestyle”.) 

However, only MJ DeMarco’s writing shares the importance of preparing for the worst. And, that leaves Kaufman’s telling of the story (and his corresponding advice) to come across as carrying some naivety with it.

Chapter on the human mind was very lacking 

This book is already great in how it’s condensed the top business principles into an overview of business and business development.

But, Chapter 6 felt like an attempt to fit an overview of psychology concepts and personal development into the book as well…all in one chapter.

And, for me, it very much fell short.

You could skip all of Chapter 6, save your time, and be just as well of listening to what Kaufman has to say on business.

If you’re looking for a good book on applied psychology and the human mind, Methods of Persuasion gives a far better overview and introduction.

First half of chapter seven should’ve been removed

It couldn’t measure up to the other resources out there. Once again, I feel that Kaufman should’ve focused on the business topics.

Short, surface-level productivity tips (that could’ve been found on most YouTube channels), standard “take care of your health” recommendations most already know, and a brief talk about forming habits. 

You’d get far more value on all of those topics from Ultimate Power and a more in-depth analysis of behavior psychology applied to habits from Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Sometimes felt like certain ideas were shared in the wrong sections

For example, as much as the sunk costs fallacy makes sense in the finance section, it probably should have gone in the “human mind” section (right next to his writing on loss aversion) because it’s more of a cognitive bias than a financial strategy.


In conclusion, "The Personal MBA" by Josh Kaufman is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to gain a comprehensive understanding of business principles and skills. By distilling complex concepts into accessible language, Kaufman empowers readers to develop their business acumen and make informed decisions. 

Whether you are a budding entrepreneur or a seasoned professional, this book equips you with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the world of business effectively. With its practical approach and emphasis on a broad range of business skills, "The Personal MBA" serves as a guide for success in today's competitive business landscape.

Post a Comment