reflections on the MBA experience

I hated school until I got to my MBA program. In fact I hated school so much I almost screwed the pooch by not delivering on what I needed to deliver to even have the opportunity to get to an MBA program.

Do I believe an MBA is right for everyone? Nope (but I rarely seeing it hurt anyone).

Do I believe some MBA graduates misunderstand what they achieved? Yes (some believe because they simply went through an MBA program they are better than people who didn’t  … and that is not necessarily true).


What I loved about experiencing an MBA program (and, if it matters, I went through a program that was exclusively case study discussion).




1. Indirect learning.


Kind of an iterate learning process where you learn something on your own … they don’t teach things to you directly.


One of the things I know I recognized early was that there was rarely one “right” answer. I think that is why my graduate school experience was so much better than my undergraduate (or any schooling up until then).


I believe up until then you are being taught “here is the lesson” or “here are the answers” and in my warped brain I always balked at that. I debated and struggled through school not because I didn’t understand but because I didn’t agree. And that was painful (that would be the opposite of positive friction).


I loved the debate of different paths to success.

I loved the learning that came from the fact there is rarely one way to attain success but that part of success is actually making the decision to walk a path (and staying on that path regardless of the fact there are other options available to you).


Part of a good MBA program is learning to distill this type of information and gaining confidence to weave your way through a variety of “right answers” and selecting the ones right for you or the organization you are making the decisions for.

An MBA program may be a little more valuable than on-the-ground real life training because of the sheer volume you get exposed to in a short period of time. If you can absorb it and appreciate it, it is invaluable experience.



2. The impact of individual words.


And it was also in graduate school that I began learning to choose words carefully. Or maybe better said that how you expressed your thoughts was maybe even more important than the thought itself.

words inspire and destroyI was harpooned early by a professor (and rightfully so) for a flippant response I uttered in class … and while it haunted me for quite some time it taught me an invaluable lesson.


I was asked which path of the two being discussed I believed the company should take in the case study we were reviewing. I flippantly responded “I don’t care” (because either path would have led to a successful conclusion if they were implemented correctly).

For the remainder of the program that professor would ask me “so Mr. McTague, do you care about this?” (a good painful lesson to me).


Discussing a variety of “correct solutions” with a diverse audience of smart people (who may be considering a different ‘correct solution’) means the words you use are very important to not getting trapped into discussing inconsequential things. An MBA program does a great job of teaching you not only where the verbal land mines are but also how to diffuse a land mine as you approach it … and in those other unfortunate instances … how to get back on your feet when you accidentally blew a portion of your ass off when you exploded a land mine.

Getting an MBA helped me understand that words you say are almost as important as the idea.


Once again.

Let me end this by saying getting an MBA isn’t for everyone.


But, once again, let me say that I have never seen it hurt anyone knowledgewise (it can hurt you attitude wise if you believe you are better than other people simply because you received an MBA).


I loved my MBA experience.

I wrote this to share that fact because for some reason I have recently reconnected with a number of my MBA classmates and it made me think about the experience.

Hope this helps anyone pondering an MBA.

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Written by Bruce