It’s counter-intuitive. For several years I invested $1.2M into several Web3 projects to learn about the future of technology.
In November 2021 that $1.2M of cash went up in flames when my digital wallet got hacked. Even though the money disappeared the learning stayed with me. The skills I learned are the same ones I use today.
The result is I made back the $1.2M — and a lot more.
Part 1 of a Personal MBA
The idea of a personal MBA came from Tim Ferriss’s blog.
Tim considered going back to college and getting an MBA (Master of Business Administration). After a random encounter with an entrepreneurship college course, he changed his mind.
He took the $120K he was going to spend on college and invested it into 6–12 startup angel investments. Each investment was $10,000-$20,000 each. Even though the companies could make money and generate an ROI, this wasn’t his goal.
He planned to lose every dollar of his money from the start.
He wanted the experience and the connections from his $120K investment, not an ROI on the startup’s profits. Surprisingly he made money on the startups and also got the experience and connections he wanted.
This is the difference between passive learning and experimentation.
If you want to create a personal MBA, you must make information combined with experimentation your #1 goal. Otherwise, all you get is learning followed by procrastination.
Commit–within financial reason–to action instead of theory.
— Tim Ferriss
Once this insight is obvious and you agree with it, you can then use these inputs to make up your personal MBA.
Part 2 of a Personal MBA
(Books and videos)
1. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant
Many people live in the old world.
They don’t understand the transition from the physical world into the digital world. They don’t understand code can be law.
They don’t understand decentralized networks and the change from nation states to borderless digital states.
Naval’s book is a great introduction. His thinking is spectacular and it’s so simple a 5th grader can understand it. A personal MBA is useless without some modern philosophy to start off with and set the scene (the why).
How to start a business
2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
This book changed my life.
I used what I learned in the book and took it to the innovation lab at my employer. It gave me a huge advantage.
The book started a cultural movement towards Minimum Viable Product. That movement has migrated to Minimum Viable Community.
It’s the notion you start small and validate an idea as you go. It’s the belief you challenge your assumptions and let customers and data drive you.
The #1 business problem in the world is too many people create products/services for a problem that doesn’t really exist.
If you implement the lean startup methodology and iterate on it, you’ll never be one of the idiots who makes that mistake and goes bankrupt.
Business strategy on steroids
3. Zero to One By Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
Standard business advice is terrible.
It forces people to rot away in home offices writing strategy decks and spamming people in their LinkedIn DMS with idea pitches. Yuck.
**Vomits in mouth**
Peter Thiel breaks those paradigms in this book. He makes you rethink competition and how monopolies work. One of the most relevant ideas he shared is that technology and AI will not replace humans.
In an age of AI conspiracies and AI-end-of-the-world movies, this is an important idea to grasp. And Peter is at the cutting edge and explains it beautifully.
The book also talks about building a great team. Many people can be delusional and think they will succeed alone. Nothing that is great is built by a single human.
Even an amazing painter, like Pablo Picasso, still needs humans to mix their paint and manufacture their paintbrush.
A key ingredient of great teams is to understand incentives. When incentives are aligned you can build an incredible business.
If you don’t understand human psychology, you won’t attract and motivate the right people and you’ll end up smashing your head against the wall in frustration.
The Attention Economy
4. The Art of Focus — Dan Koe
This is a new book in my personal MBA.
Where your focus goes energy flows, so if you don’t know how to focus you’re screwed.
Focus is crucial because the attention age has replaced the information age. Creativity and imagination now come at a premium in business. Neither of those things can exist without focus.
The internet and society want you distracted, numb & attention-deprived so you have no energy left to build a business or new income stream. This book will save your life.
Focus is the key skill of the new rich and it’s creating a spectacular digital renaissance right under our noses that most people haven’t seen (yet).
5. $100M Offers — Alex Hormozi
I just finished reading this book. WOW, just wow.
So much of business boils down to landing pages, copywriting, offers, and pricing. If you master these simple skills, even if your product or service is average, you can still run a profitable business.
An offer is an ask. It’s the transformation your product offers, presented in a way that ethically takes advantage of human psychology.
A great offer is when you know the ideal customer so well you can play back their problems to them on a landing page and have them believe your business is the one to solve them.
The art of a great offer is all about being non-sleazy, low risk, believable, subtly salesy, and no-BS — which 99% of offers aren’t.
A clear offer is irresistible and this book will teach you how to create one.
The pursuit of money and why
6. The Psychology of Money
Business can become a hamster wheel just like a job can.
This happens because we don’t understand the psychology of money and how it works.
Money can work for you or against you. It’s best to understand the slight difference so you don’t get used and abused by money and head down the wrong path of wanting fame, fortune, and billions of dollars.
This book will show you the hidden traps of money so you can build a business around your lifestyle, not a never-ending to-do list.
Business is hard (and it’s supposed to be)
7. Shoe Dog — Phil Knight
This book is the story of Nike.
I used to think Nike was as old as the Roman Empire haha. Only after I read this book did I learn it’s a product of the 70s and 80s.
The story isn’t known by most. The point of this book being part of your personal MBA is, it demonstrates how hard bigger businesses can be.
It’ll help you decide whether hiring loads of employees and raising money is worth it for you.
After I read this book I decided to have a business partner and two virtual assistants. That’s as big as I ever want my online business to be. The book is also a great reminder that business is hard and it’s supposed to be.
It’ll get you out of thinking all your dreams will come true in a year and you’ll make $10M after publishing your first website.
Understand that the hard way is the only way…and business will be easier.
Asking for permission versus permissionless
8. The Third Door — Alex Banayan
Many people are stuck in the past.
They still think they need to ask permission to take a piss. They think they need a college degree permission slip. They believe they have to apply for job ads and jump through circus hoops to get a job at Google.
This book teaches you there are multiple lines in the nightclub of life. Some get stuck in the general admission line, some use the VIP queue, and some discover there’s a third door to the nightclub out the back in the alley that has no line.
To reinforce this powerful business idea you can also read James Altucher’s “Skip The Line” book to go deeper.
Stop asking for permission like a loser.
9. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook — Gary Vee
Business doesn’t exist without marketing.
But the world has changed and the days of transactional, one-off customers that find you via paid ads are dead.
Gary was the first person to teach a new way of thinking. I’ve used the methods in this book to build an enormous email list and make millions of dollars. His social media tactics make you magnetic so you don’t need to force anyone to buy anything.
Once you have a community and communicate your story, people will be drawn to you. About 1% of that community will buy from you. The rest will be supporters and amplifiers of your message.
Community marketing is the future and this book shows you how. You can use the concepts to build-in-public and let people see your creations, which will do the selling for you.
Economics, stocks, investing
10. Money Master The Game — Tony Robbins
Tony is known as a self-help guru.
I ain’t mad at him. A few years ago he used his extraordinary network and influence to get the smartest people in finance to share their secrets. The way hedge funds, venture capitalists, and Wall Street think is different.
Until you understand the money game you can never get ahead. You might make loads of money in business, but it’ll be inflated away by currency debasement and poor risk management.
The biggest idea from this book is asymmetric risk. It’s where the downside risk is tiny and the upside opportunity is massive. If you can learn to spot these risk patterns you can literally print money. What’s missed in MBAs is a business creates cashflow.
But it’s what you do with the cash flow that determines financial freedom.
I make good money from my business, but what made me wealthier was investing that money into financial assets.
Money creating more money is an idea as hold as the Japanese samurai (sounds like clickbait), yet I rarely see it appear in business education. This book will show you how.
11. Hidden Secrets of Money
In month 9 it’s time to double down on money.
Mike Maloney made a great Youtube series years ago called “The Hidden Secrets of Money.”
The title sounds terrible and Mike’s main message is to sell your home and buy gold.
If you put this nonsense aside and pay attention to the animated videos in the series about how money is created and flows through the economy, you’ll never think the same again.
The concept of debt gets blown right open, too.
Random events that bankrupt innocent people
12. The Black Swan — Nassim Taleb
Forget about whether you like this guy.
Like Elon, you either love or hate him. Nassim’s book is timeless. It discusses black swan events which are the unpredictable events like:
- 2008 financial crisis
- September 9/11
- Dot com bubble
One of the biggest black swan events of the last few years was the 2020 bat virus that locked us in our homes.
The virus was amazing.
What it did is force people in business (and their careers) to think different with a tight deadline. People had to change overnight and it created some of the coolest businesses in history.
This book teaches you that you can be the smartest person on the Zoom call with a successful business and still lose everything. The events that’ll destroy you are the ones you can’t predict.
Unpacking this mindset and making yourself recession-proof is crucial. It’ll help you be more humble and stockpile for hard times, even if everything is booming in your business.
What I learned in this book got me through the recession of 2022 and helped me survive the crypto/NFT bear market. Nassim’s second book “Fooled by Randomness” is an optional tangent to your personal MBA.
Many people do well in business because of sheer luck. This book will help you appreciate that.
I see people on this platform all the time become fortune tellers. They think they know what essays will blow up or that they’ve cracked the earnings model because three articles in a row made $1.49 instead of $0.10 (a 1390% increase!!!).
Gamblers, wannabe Hollywood actors, and potential Grammy-winning musicians suffer from these same flaws. They think randomness will bless their lives and that’s how they’ll become successful.
You’ll never say or make dumb predictions again after reading this book.
13. 4-Hour Workweek — Tim Ferris-Wheel-Ferriss
Some critics hate this book.
The idea you can work 4 hours a week and be a millionaire is garbage to them. But those critics have no spine. They don’t understand the clickbait title isn’t the message of the book (it just sells books).
This book gives you a master apprenticeship in global outsourcing. I read it years ago but only implemented it in my business in the last 6 months.
And I’m an idiot.
I should’ve had virtual assistants and freelancers working for me years ago. The main point is not to leave it too late. Create business systems from the start and bring help on early so you don’t try to do everything.
14. On Writing Well — William Zinsser
What the hell?! Why’s this on the list?
Everything is writing.
If you can’t write you can never be in business. Writing is how we communicate. You have to be able to communicate ideas and use writing to attract people to your vision.
This book will help you write simply, get to the point, and improve your writing. It’s an easy read and crucial for anyone doing anything on the internet. Learn to write well and everything will get easier.
A personal MBA can be better than a college one.
Don’t just consume the resources above then sit around with your hand in your panties. Act on the information and experiment with it. All the key business skills are there and it can make you 6, 7, and even 8 figures.
More importantly, these skills can help you join the new rich and access personal freedom. Let me leave you with a challenge.
I double-dare you to turn the above 12 month personal MBA into 3 or even 6 months. A life hack I learned years ago is to take the predictable and prescribed timeframe and cut it by 25%, 50%, or even 95%.
Those unreasonable enough to break tradition have the most success in business.