January 9, 2014 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I've reached a point in my career where I'm starting to need to knowledge that comes with an MBA, but not the actual degree. What are the best books you've read that cover the hard and soft skills of an MBA?

I've already found useful or interesting:

- Getting to Yes
- How to Make Friends and Influence People
- The Charisma Myth
- project management training (PMI)
- the Lominger Leadership system

I'm more interested in books and less in blogs or classes, but I'm mostly focused on quality and usefulness. Industry focus doesn't matter right now as I'm looking to build a base of general knowledge. Stuff about finance, forecasting, and budgeting especially welcome.
posted by the_shrike to Work & Money (13 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
Harvard Business Review do a good series of books on Leadership, Managing People, Managing Yourself, Change and Strategy. HBR generally is a pretty good resource for soft skills.

For some harder stuff like financial ratios etc, I'd recommend the Vest Pocket MBA.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:05 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's Josh Kaufman's opinion on the subject.
posted by emilyw at 9:11 AM on January 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have an MBA from a school in Evanston, Ill. It was over 20 years ago so I do not know the name of the book, but I would get a top text book on accounting. I would also read a text on business law. Also, I say without irony, snark, etc, I would read Sun Tsu and the Art of War.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:14 AM on January 9, 2014

The Ten-Day MBA 4th Ed.: A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering the Skills Taught In America's Top Business Schools might give you a good overview/outline, or a good starting point. It's 448 pages long, so it's not that trivial.

I'd definitely suggest reading more on marketing -- that will give you a good perspective on focusing on actual end users of whatever your company makes.
posted by amtho at 9:14 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have an MBA from an Ivy League school. To tell you the truth, I learned very little that was of any use to me in my subsequent career. My MBA classes were too general to be applicable to the specific situations I faced.

My advice to you is this: figure out which specific areas or skills you need to develop for your career, and work on learning those subjects (regardless of whether they are covered in most MBA programs).

For whatever it's worth, I have found the following two skills to be by far the most useful to me in my career:

1) Getting along with my co-workers and avoiding petty conflicts, office politics, etc.

2) Managing my time wisely
posted by alex1965 at 9:17 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

On financial analysis, I like Analysis for Financial Management by Robert Higgins. I had to read this in prep for a "mini-MBA" 4 week course I attended about a dozen years ago. It is relatively easy to read and actually somewhat humorous in parts.
posted by elmay at 9:31 AM on January 9, 2014

I found MBA In Day to be a good overview. After going through it it's allowed me to focus in on the areas where I need more work. It also showed me how much I already know at this level, just picked up through work experience.

I'm starting an MBA because I need the official paper. On one hand the book made me realize that it's not going to be super hard which is great but also annoying because of the money it's going to cost.
posted by Jalliah at 10:11 AM on January 9, 2014

Finance and Accounting for Nonfinancial Managers is an easy to read and follow guide.
posted by IanMorr at 1:41 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

if you are going to work in the for profit sector, this book is fantastic:
posted by bobdow at 3:02 PM on January 9, 2014

I found the case studies to be the most valuable and I actually still reference them (though not out loud) in my work now. I'd recommend getting some Harvard case studies and working through them, ideally with a group of like-minded people who want to do "personal MBAs".
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:02 PM on January 9, 2014

+1 on Josh Kaufman. I bought his book and everything. Take a look at his site, read some of his blog posts, see if you like where his head's at...
posted by Bron at 7:17 PM on January 9, 2014

Here's what I said last time.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:53 PM on January 9, 2014

Two personal recommendations:

Sun Tzu, the Art of War
Winning through intimidation
posted by yoyo_nyc at 7:23 PM on December 19, 2014

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