Don't go to business school
Instead of getting an MBA, consider spending six months in my office (the original program, from 2008/09)
THE PROGRAM IS OVER. What an amazing group of people came and learned and made a difference. Thank you.
Six intense months working with a few other amazing people (and me.)
There are plenty of reasons to get an MBA, especially in a down economy. I'm not sure exactly what they are, though. A typical MBA might take two years out of your life and cost you more than $150,000 in tuition and opportunity cost.
On this page, I'd like to invite you to consider (and apply for) something very different.
First, I'll describe what's in it for you, then I'll explain how to apply. Please read all the instructions before hitting the send button. Thanks for checking this out. Please don't hesitate to forward this page to someone who might enjoy it.
If you're stuck in a dead end job in publishing, or if you made a not-so-great choice in getting your career started, or if you thought Wall Street would be a different place, or if you just got laid off, or if you're not crazy about fretting away the next six months waiting to get fired and you're not quite ready to start your own gig... this might be the turbolift you were hoping for. Yes, it's free.
It's a chance to get off that track and onto a new track, faster and cheaper than most of the alternatives. And it might even be fun.
[The rest of this page has various details about the program, so I don't have to answer the same questions again and again. It also has a bit of encouragement to it, since I realize it's a very big deal for you to drop everything to do this. It's also a big deal on my end, so hopefully it'll all work out.]
Three things you need from an MBA-like experience:
Some people would add (4. Connections) but I think those are overrated.
Here's the program I'm interested in creating:
One hour a day of class/dialogue
Four hours a day of working on my projects
Three hours a day of working on your personal project
Five hours a day of living, noticing, doing and connecting
At the end of the six months, it's quite likely that I'll ask one or more people to stay on. Everyone will get a letter of reference and a certificate worth framing. I think it'll be pretty scarce.
The program I'd like to do is not an internship. You don't get paid, you don't do scut work, you are not on your own. This is guided quest, one that delivers value to you (from the learning and the doing) and to me (from the teaching and from the work you'll produce.)
It's not for everyone. If it were, it wouldn't be worth much.
Boundaries that won't change
You have to find a place to stay that allows an easy commute to my office outside of NY (zip code 10706). We are three blocks from the train station, which is 40 minutes from Grand Central Station.
You have to speak perfect English.
You can't smoke.
You have to be both nice and smart, with an impeccable list of references.
I don't care a bit about how old you are or particularly what your business background is. I care a lot about what you've done and even better, how you've done it.
[Update: many people have asked about telecommuting or creating digital versions of this. I have no doubt that could be fun and perhaps effective, but it's not this. What I'm offering is a real world, face to face experience. Perhaps another time we'll do a digital thing.]
How to apply
Please read this part
The program starts January 19, 2009, which is quite soon. I need your application by December 14th. Please don't send it in late, because I'll just ignore it. I hate being late.
I'm looking for people who are brilliant, charismatic, on a mission, moving fast, filled with passion and empathy and want to do something worth doing. It's fine with me if you can't use a spreadsheet (yet) but not okay if you have no desire to learn what you don't know.
You get no credit for a clever application. The goal isn't to be creative in applying, it's to have a life that's shown creativity and insight already. (Please avoid photoshopping my picture and there's no need to do spec web research on me or any of my projects.)
You can apply digitally or by mail. Please don't ask anyone to email me on your behalf, and please don't come up with obnoxious or even creative ways to interrupt my day!
To submit a digital application, build a Squidoo lens that answers the questions below and email me the URL. It's fine with me if your lens points to pdf files, blogs or other digital media. It's fine with me if you want to invite your friends to post comments on your Squidoo page. If you want information to be private, include it in a pdf and email it to me. My address is seth [at] squidoo.com. I am most impressed by true stories of full responsibility as well as compelling references from trusted sources.
To submit a non-returnable physical application, mail it to me at Box 305, Irvington, NY 10533. If you're going to mail it in, please enclose a check or money order for $20 payable to the Acumen Fund, a charity I support. This is to encourage you to be digital.
No matter what, I need to see what your digital footprint looks like, so be sure to include links or screenshots or whatnot. Especially whatnot.
Here's my promise: if you spend the time to apply, I'll spend the time to get back to you by email to let you know that I got your application, and then again to let you know what I decided. I'm afraid that I can't have a dialogue with every applicant, though.
- What do you do now?
- Why do you do it?
- What are you hoping to learn?
- After you learn it, what are you going to do with it?
- Tell me a true story about making a change in the world.
- Have you overcome a Dip?
- What astonishing thing did you do before you did what you do now.
- Make a wish.
- What else should I know?
Best way to have a secret advantage when you apply
In your application, provide insight as to how many other people you told about this opportunity and how many other great people you persuaded to apply.
Your ability to organize, your willingness to share (even if it doesn't help your odds) and your kindness in spreading the word are exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for.
And here's the real point: if I don't find enough world-changing people, I have to cancel the entire program before it starts. So, believe in yourself... help me find the other people who will join you here.
The problem with laissez faire
In running internships, I've tried to take a hands off approach. "Here," I say, "this is the goal, these are the tools, shout if you need me." The idea is that people with motivation ought to be able to push themselves if they just have the opportunity.
I've discovered that this doesn't work nearly as well as I'd like. It's simple: if it were easy to change, people would do it. It's the pushing and the coaching and the daily expectations that help the change occur.
So that's my obligation this time around. To create enough expectation and support that you actually achieve what you set out to do. It's a lot more work for me (sort of scary, actually) but I'm willing to try. Which raises expectations/effort for you (a lot).
My goal is to focus the group on practical applications in the following areas:
community development and coordination
technology (as a user, not a creator)
I expect to spend zero time talking about the stock market, industrial engineering or large-scale finance. Very little accounting as well.
I would imagine that this sojourn will be very valuable to:
people hoping to move to the social or non-profit sector
change agents within corporations
musicians and other self-managed craftspeople
middle managers seeking more influence and authority
salespeople and business development folks
We're going to read books, have discussions but most of all, do stuff. Do it, complete it, push it through the Dip.
Informational conference call
YOU CAN HEAR THE RECORDING!
Visit this blog and you'll find the file.
Please come to an info session in my office
But you must apply by 12/14/08
I'll review your application and possibly invite you to a group info session to be held at my office at 8 am on December sixteenth (it's optional). By doing it at 8, you can still get to wherever you're supposed to be that day without being too late.
I'm going to interview all the finalists and this will give you a leg up and let you know what you may or may not be in for. I hope to be able to invite you and I hope you can come.
Note! This means that if you live in another land and are hoping to sojourn in New York during the six months, you're going to have to be willing to fly here for an interview on spec. I know that is wildly inconvenient, but that's the deal.
Should I pay people who do this? After all, the projects we're doing together are things I'm working on, things that might turn a profit.
On the other hand, should you pay a lot to do this? After all, it's an education and the group and I are helping you develop your skills and ideas--something you'd have a hard time buying at any price. It's a huge time commitment for me (and you.)
I can't figure out the right balance between the two, so I decided to make it simple. Free.
Some fine print
I reserve the right to cancel the program for any reason before January 1. All participants (including me) will sign an NDA and work for hire agreement. College degree helpful but not required. This is not an accredited program (what a surprise). Not responsible for unclaimed dry cleaning.
You supply books, laptops and lunch. No bacon. Sometimes I'll cook lunch and you can pretend it's delicious.
- Deadline for applications: December 14, 2008
- Open house in my office by invitation only: December 16.
- Start date: January 19, 2009