Volume 15, Issue 1

I’ve never been to business school but I’m very conversant on topics important to most business people and entrepreneurs.  To make matters worse, my major at Villanova University was in Philosophy!!  In spite of my lack of formal schooling, I can comfortably carry on a conversation with the CEO of any Fortune 500 company.  How’d I get there?  Two things helped me get to this point:  First I’ve always been a voracious reader.  Second, I approach every meeting with people in my network as a learning opportunity.

One of the strategies I used when I launched my coaching business (and a strategy which I still share with my clients) over 20 years ago is to view every meeting with someone in my network as a mini MBA class.  In the early years, I assumed EVERYONE had something to teach me.  Even now, although my knowledge base is much greater, I STILL assume every person I meet has something to teach me.  Very few people disappoint me and my already considerable knowledge base continues to expand.

The voracious reader has always been a part of my makeup.  During the first two months of my career change from lawyer to coach I read 50 business books.  You read that right: I inhaled 50 books in 60 days.  The more I read, the more excited and confident I became.  It also reinforced an early business habit that serves me well to this day.

This extensive reading also compliments the meetings you are having with people in your network.  If I was captured by an idea from what I was reading I would always ask my lunch guest what he or she thought of the idea.  Doing so almost always led to high energy conversations and enjoyable meetings that left both parties longing for more.  I developed a reputation with people in my network as someone who was intensely interested and curious about how stuff worked.

If you’re reading this and wondering what YOU can do to get your MBA without going back to school consider this:  Meet with at least one C level executive (CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CTO, CLO etc)  every business day for the next two years.  Go in armed with thoughtful questions before EVERY meeting.  I can confidently predict you will be conversant with top level executives in record time.

I’m guessing several of you have done something similar to get the equivalent of your mini MBA.  Drop me a line and let me know how you got there…