The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman

Main Lesson of the book: A broad overview of business-related topics.

This book covers an extremely wide array of topics relating to business. What is very interesting is that I started this journey to improve my knowledge of financial matters and he started his journey to improve his knowledge of business matters. Yet for some interesting reason we ended up reading many of the same books. But lets get into it and let me explain what I learned. I learned that if 2 writers read the same book, the chance that they will reach the same conclusion is pretty high. I went through this book reading a lot about books I have read. Its like someone telling you about a movie you’ve already watched and not giving you any new insights. What was beautiful is that he did what I am doing right now, which is read a lot of books and share the information gained in the hopes that it will help people.

This book is based on the concept that it will enlighten everyone, from the person who has no idea what a business entails to the CEO of a major company. It covers basics like Value, Sales and Finance to just name a few. What is interesting however is that also goes into depth about the human mind and its interpersonal capabilities as well as societal issues. I believe he did this with the mindset that becoming successful is as much a state of mind as it is achieving things. The book didn’t really teach me anything I didn’t already know or already read in my previous books, but it did drop a few gems here and there. One of those gems is the concept of Caveman Syndrome.

The way the Personal MBA describes the Caveman Syndrome is that our current mind and body aren’t made for this current day and age. This concept was first given to me by Nassim Taleb who stated that our mind simply cant keep up with the speed at which information is given and shared today. But Josh Kaufman took it a step further and made the point that our very instincts are based on 1000’s of years of evolution. And because our instincts are based on a time where a mistake could literally kill you, or the dark could hide a predator that could devour you, they get in the way of our current life style. Most of the situations we find ourselves in, don’t carry mortal danger, but our mind or rather our instincts react to it as if it could. I have often thought about that concept. Because the speed at which technology is moving is all nice and dandy but humanity likes comfort, humanity adores new stimuli but it often forgets that these carry with them new consequences and new problems. Our minds and bodies have yet to catch up to this new world and what it demands from us or rather what it doesn’t demand from us. Our body loves moving, it evolved to chase prey, it needs to keep moving to stay healthy and yet we created jobs that require us to sit all day. We invented things to keep us in static positions for long periods of time. Our body still has to get used to the fact that it is now OK to be lazy. If you felt I just went on a tangent … this was covered in the Personal MBA in a bit more depth.

A very beautiful quote that summarizes a lot of what is wrong with our world while highlighting the beauty of understanding that what you have right now is perfect is in this book. The quote is the following: “An American businessman standing on a pier in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American casually asked.

“Oh, a few hours,” the Mexican fisherman replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American businessman then asked.

The Mexican warmly replied, “With this I have more than enough to meet my family’s needs.”

The businessman then became serious, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman answered, “I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs…”

The American interrupted him, “Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats. Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you’ll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman a bit confused asked, “How long will all this take?”

The Harvard MBA pronounced, “Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard.”

“And then what, señor?” asked the fisherman.

“Why, that’s the best part!” answered the businessman with a laugh. “When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?” asked the young fisherman in disbelief.

The businessman boasted, “Then you could happily retire with all the money you’ve made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want.””

I later found this text on several websites. But its validity still stands.