(Book) The Personal MBA – Josh Kaufman

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

The Personal MBA - Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA is a great overview of everything related to business. Josh explains concepts in such a way that anyone can understand them. Yet he goes into enough detail for everyone to come away with actionable points. I literally sat there with the book in one hand and my notebook in the other, creating action plans for the couple of businesses that I’m involved in.

Here are my notes:

Business is made of 5 things. It (1) provides something of value that (2) other people want or need (3) at a price they’re willing to pay, in a way that (4) satisfies the purchasers needs and expectations and (5) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owner to continue operation.


  • Starts with trust. No trust, no sale.
  • Value based selling. What is it worth to them?
  • Upgrade your user, not your product (education).
  • Three currencies. Resources, time, flexibility.
  • Negotiation: set up, structure, discussion.
  • ‘Assistant buyer’ not ‘salesman’.
  • Don’t chase, be chased.
  • Give up front free value.
  • Reactivate old customers.

12 forms of value

  1. Product
  2. Service
  3. Shared resource (access)
  4. Subscription
  5. Resale
  6. Lease
  7. Agency
  8. Audience aggregation (marketing list)
  9. Financial loan
  10. Option (freedom)
  11. Insurance
  12. Capital (ownership of business)

Value creation

  • Make someone’s life better.
  • The best marketing is a great product.
  • Drivers – ERG. Existence, relatedness, growth.
  • How does your business affect their social status?
  • Where there’s pain, there’s a business opportunity.
  • Bundle and unbundle.
  • Prototype and share, ask customers.
  • Iterate, you won’t make the final product straight away.


  • Receptivity. Talk about what they care about.
  • Be remarkable, don’t be boring.
  • The end result (why) is what a customer wants to hear about.
  • Hook. ‘1000 songs in your pocket’ not a ‘music storage device’.
  • Every message needs an obvious and repeated call to action.
  • Brand is just reputation.
  • “Whoever best describes the problem is the one most likely to solve it”
    -Dan Roam

Value delivery

  • Under promise, over delivery, surprise and delight.
  • Predictability and consistency.
  • Small improvements over time.
  • Don’t copy competitors, make them irrelevant.
  • Spend on force multipliers – tools.
  • The better your systems, the better your business.
  • Increase revenue: more customers, more sales amount per customer, more transactions per customer, raise prices.

Working with yourself

  • Mono-idealism. Single focus. No cognitive switch penalty.
  • Pomodoro. Focus for 25min. You’ll often go longer.
  • Focus on most important. Others in someday/maybe.
  • 5 whys. 5 hows.
  • Focus on the very next action.
  • Externalise ideas. Speaking or writing.
  • Counterfactual simulation, ‘what if…’
  • Seek disconfirming information.
  • Take not of your energy cycles during the day.

Hedonic treadmill

  1. Work to make ‘enough’ money.
  2. Focus on improving health and energy.
  3. Spent time with people you enjoy.
  4. Remove chronic annoyances.
  5. Pursue a new challenge.

Working with others

  • Small teams 3-8 people work best.
  • Make people feel important.
  • People must feel safe for effective communication.
  • Appreciation, courtesy and respect.
  • Give them a ‘why’ and intent.
  • Commitment and consistency – give them a reputation.

Understanding systems

  • Build a simple system and improve over time.
  • Eliminate the constraint, then find the next one.
  • Second order effects.
  • Be prepared for problems and failure.
  • Only measure what’s important.
  • Causation and correlation.
  • Change one thing at a time to optimise.
  • Diminishing returns. Don’t try to be perfect.