I’ve been wondering for a while what you learn from a MBA. When I came across “The Visual MBA” by Jason Barron, promising “A quick guide to everything you’ll learn in two years of Business School”, I thought it’d be worth the time to have a read and find out.

The book is as promised, visual. On each topic it is about 50/50 writing and relevant diagram. It was based on the author’s notes doing his MBA. The book is generally easy to understand – there’s a few places where I wanted a bit more depth to understand the message, but in most places it was sufficient to communicate the concept.

Here are the most memorable points from the book for me:

  • The value of money now vs. the value of the promise/prediction of money in the future, and a way to calculate it using the Present Value formula. It can be used to work out how much money you would need now to equal an amount in the future, or to take the risk into account as a discounting rate on a future prediction.
  • Who are your customers and who are not? You can’t build a product to suit everyone as it will suit nobody well. Instead segment and target the most valuable potential customers and build a relevant, exception product for them.
  • Laddering – what sells is not the product features, it is the personal value. “Ask your biggest fans what they like (a particular feature), why they like it (product benefit), why that matters (personal benefit) and how that connects to a high level personal value”. Eg, fast car – feature: speed, product benefit: get places quickly, personal benefit: makes me feel young, personal value: youthfulness. “Position your marketing materials through the love group’s eyes while targeting the swing group to gain new customers.. Don’t waste time on the haters.” Sale is usually based on emotion evoked (eg, makes me feel cool, youthful etc) rather than the features.
  • When branding, think about what we do (eg, “we bring kids happiness”), then how we do it (“by making toys”) and then why we do it (“because children are our future and each one deserves to smile in a darkening world”). “People care about the WHY we do what we do… that becomes our brand mantra…” and should be used to guide decisions.
  • For people in general, “logic is like a man riding an elephant (emotion). Guess who decides where to go?”. Appeal to peoples’ emotions.
  • “How can we get young people signing up… why? .. because our revenue is going down.. OK maybe the right question should be why is our revenue going down?”. Make an issue tree (like a decision tree on why the problem is happening) and test each branch to see if it is the cause.
  • Advice from Churchill: “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”! Ponder then act decisively.