Time to start a new tradition.

What I’m reading now: Ten Day MBA: A Step-By-step Guide To Mastering The Skills Taught In America’s Top Business Schools

Excellent read so far. Up to the chapter on Accounting. The first feature that really struck me about this book is that it focuses on direct application of knowledge instead of theory like everything else I read.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a healthy respect for theory and high-level concepts. I’ve just read so damn many books like that and while I’ve still learned a lot about that very fine slice of knowledge, I don’t always know how to apply it to my situation.

Thinking further, many of the business books I’ve read — particularly the books on marketing — are tailored toward the extreme newbie \ beginning idiot. Again, this is fine, but I feel like I’m ready to move on, and for a long time, despite all I’ve read, I’ve still felt unsure on how to actually APPLY said knowledge.

I did manage to apply what I learned about marketing when I was the marketing guy at Liquid Development, but that really ranks somewhere between the logical result of months of preparation and simply ‘tarding my way into success. Put simpler, two parts preparation, one part dumb luck. Or is that how it normally goes? :) In any case, I still felt like I was flying blind and that the books I’d been using as my guide were only telling me part of the story.

But Ten Day MBA is different.

I’ve read a good deal of books on marketing. In fact, I spent about eight months solid where that was all I read. But until I got to the chapter on marketing in Ten Day MBA, I didn’t know how it all fit together. And now I do. It’s like a breath of fresh air. FINALLY, all the high level concepts, theory and different pieces are drawn together into one large, beautiful, coherent picture. The author, Steven Silbiger, just whips out Da Knowledge, rattles off a beginning-to-end step by step walkthrough of marketing as a clearly defined PROCESS. Everything I had learned to date suddenly fit together with this vital, beautiful piece of information.

I GET IT! I really get it!

I knew from the first ten pages that this book was going to be a winner. See, part of my process of reading and learning involves extensive note-taking. I don’t always trust my retention of information, especially when I’m reading as much as I do, so I have to — you guessed it — brutalize the information into my brain! For this reason, I never read a book I want to learn something from without a pen and a Post-It notepad at my side.

  • First I read everything very carefully, very critically, making sure I grasp each concept as it’s presented to me individually, and then again in relation to the whole.
  • Next, when I encounter information that I know I want to retain, I get my Post-It notepad, write down in my words what I just learned and why I find it significant, then I peel off that Post-It and stick it to the page and move on. I repeat as necessary.
  • Finally, when I finish a book, I open it up again and go through each note one by one and transcribe what I wrote and what the passage in the book was, except organized in a way that makes sense to me. I use a program called Mindjet’s Mindmanager which is a mind-blowingly terrific program for organizing and creating a branching hierarchy of data.

    What this means to me is that I can organize the book into different topics and subtopics and organize the information in a very clear-cut and precise way that’s meaningful to me. If the book lists, say, ten principles of branding a product, I’ll want to create a new subtopic called “Ten Principles of Branding” and transcribe and summarize each of the ten principles into one neatly indented and numbered list.

    Once I transcribe all my notes and re-write everything into text that means the most to me, that I understand, I’ve actually read the important parts of the book at least three times over.

    And not only that but I also have an extremely well-organized and custom Cliff’s Notes of all the books I’ve read that I can refer to at any time and even share with friends. Writing it down is the MOST important part of the process to me because, in my opinion, it doesn’t exist unless it’s written down.

    THAT, my friends, is how I retain knowledge.

    And back to my original point: I knew Ten Day MBA was going to be a terrific book because I stuck a note on at least every other page for the first 75 pages of the book. When I read a book of about 250 pages, even if it’s an excellent book, it will have perhaps 30 or 40 notes in total. Ten Day MBA is destroying that record easily, and it’s such rich reading that I have to break my reading time up into smaller segments just so I can properly absorb it all.

    I’ve always wanted a book like this that’ll give me an all-around overview of managing a business. The main subjects the author touches on is condensed knowledge from the MBA course he took at a top business school (he won’t say which), and that subject breakdown is this: Marketing, Ethics, Accounting, Organizational Behavior, Quantitative Analysis, Finance, Operations, Economics and Strategy.

    So far, it’s all information I can learn AND use. There’s so much here. I’m having a freakin field day with this book. If this subject is up your alley, GET IT!

    That’s all for now. It is late and time for bed.

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