By Steven Pressfield | Published: March 9, 2011
When I first started blogging, I wasn’t really hip to the ethic. That, I learned from Seth Godin. A blog is about giving. Or, perhaps more accurately, giving back.
A guy like Seth, who has started many businesses and failed and succeeded in about equal measure, has acquired a thoroughgoing education from the University of Hard Knocks. When Seth blogs, he shares that knowledge. He’s not asking for anything, he’s giving. But one thing I didn’t know about Seth was that he has also passed along that knowledge in an extraordinary free MBA program. 48,000 people visited the announcement page in 2009; 350 applied; one out of forty got in.
Here is Ishita Gupta (currently Do You Zoom’s “Director of Hoopla”), describing her tenure in this one-of-a-kind postgrad learning track:
The informal program that Seth ran was called the Six Month MBA, which was the alternative to traditional business school. It was the “un-MBA,” if you will. Not accredited by any institution, but the best real-life training any entrepreneur needs to start and learn about running a business. We covered basic business concepts—finances, cash flow, legalese of running a business—but it was more about the topics that really hold us back: fear, uncertainty, taking risks, how to evaluate if an idea is good or not, knowing that it’s not about the ideas but about doing the work. It was six months of terror and innovation, duality at its best, but it was certainly worth it. For six months, nine of us from all different backgrounds talked about what it meant to run a business, learned about business partnerships/joint ventures, how to “run” something on our own. We started up our own businesses while we were in the program. I started fear.less [Ishita’s monthly online magazine]. Although the seed had been planted in my head for many months, I really had the structure and resources—a business partner, time—to work on it during the program. So fear.less was created during that time. A lot about the magazine has evolved since then, the scope, the vision, etc. but none of it would have happened without the guidance and structure of the program and the people involved. During the program, I was like a USB drive—downloading and downloading information, only processing bits of it. I’m a slow processor and I like to marinate on things, so it was difficult for me, partly because entrepreneurs work fast and think fast and on the web things happen at lightning speed. It was a hard adjustment at first, as I wanted to grow and learn and really absorb things, and now it was ALL coming at me without let-up. Needless to say, I’m using all of those lessons now! The program was one of the hardest passages of my life (I cried every night for six months) and I definitely battled Resistance throughout it all. But it was one of the best and most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, and so much has come out of it.
Here’s a link to a post about what I and my colleagues learned from the program.
Here’s a post that I wrote about it myself …
And here are programs that Seth has run after it: The “Nano MBA”—a six-day short version of the Six Month MBA—and the FeMBA, specifically for women entrepreneurs.
It’s not a “regular” thing for Seth to run programs like this, and I think both he and all of the participants gained so much, but I’m not sure it’s something he’ll continue. It certainly changed him and everyone in each program. I also think it was Seth’s way of sending the elevator back down to people because he was given great mentors and chances throughout his life. It’s about showing people that taking risks and seizing opportunities in life is a choice, and that in order to succeed, you gotta push yourself through sometimes uncomfortable places.
Thanks, Ishita. I feel a little guilty posting your account, because a lot of people who read it are going to say, “Hey, how do I get into this program myself?” I’m one of them. I’d love to apply. Sorry!
To attempt to make up for this tease, here’s a Seth Godin correspondence-course, micro-nano-MBA—borrowed from Poke the Box.This is all you or I need to know, in 123 words:
Starting implies (demands) finishing
What’s the distinction between carrying around a great idea, being a brainstormer, tinkering–and starting something?
Starting means you’re going to finish. If it doesn’t ship, you’ve failed. You haven’t poked the box if the box doesn’t realize it’s been poked.
To merely start without finishing is just boasting, or stalling, or a waste of time. I have no patience at all for people who believe they are doing their best work but are hiding it from the market. If you don’t ship, you actually haven’t started anything at all. At some point, your work has to intersect with the market. At some point, you need feedback as to whether or not it worked. Otherwise it’s merely a hobby.