Gurus, MBAs and other useless people

For years, I’ve been telling my audiences that there are very few reliable places to go to get a marketing education. So if they’re having trouble with their marketing, it’s really not their fault.

On the one hand, you’ve got the “Scam of the Month” Gurus.

On the other hand, you have MBA programs.

Talk about being between a rock and a hard place!

I’ve guest lectured at the MBA programs of NYU, MIT and Columbia University, and when it comes to providing an education in marketing, I don’t know what’s more useless: the gurus or the MBA programs.

Some people say that while I might be right about the gurus, I couldn’t possibly be right about the MBA programs. After all, these are prestigious institutions with big names.

Well, here’s an article about the real-world value of Marketing MBAs from the March 21, 2006 issue of Ad Age by Jack Neff…

According to Neff:

“A Master of Business Administration degree is not only worthless, it can work against a marketer…

(According to a by consulting firm Ken Coogan & Partners) marketing executives from under-performing companies were twice as likely to have been recruited out of MBA programs than marketing executives from out-performing companies.”
– Jack Neff.

In other words, companies that are losing have LESS MBAs and companies that are losing have twice as many.

Is this really a surprise?

Not to me it isn’t.

Maybe because I saw lots of MBA programs up close and personal, I got the chance to learn this lesson first hand. If you didn’t have the chance to get an MBA, you’re not missing much. In fact, you’re probably better off for it.

By the way, in the same article that pointed to the MBA survey, I learned something else.

Do you know who Peter Drucker is?

Before he passed away at the age of 95 last year, Drucker considered the the world’s leading expert on business management and indeed, he was a very bright and insightful man.

Interestingly, Drucker HATED the word “guru.”  He said the only reason people use the word is because it’s easier to spell than “charlatan.”

Well said.

Gurus and MBAs. Two sides of the same coin. They both talk a good game, but when it comes down to it, they deliver a whole lot less.

P.S. Someone once said I give away more useful information than all the gurus and MBA programs combined.

Modesty prevents me from agreeing, but I’m not afraid to offer some evidence so you can make your own judgement on that call.

Here’s what a real training in marketing looks like (free peek):

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

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One Response to Gurus, MBAs and other useless people

  1. Peggy July 25, 2006 at 5:35 pm #

    I have an MBA from the University of Rochester and, while I agree with you about the marketing content not being very useful, I found the Finance, Accounting, Organizational Behavior and business case studies we did to be very useful.

    The marketing focused on traditional concepts like product life cycle, etc. that are interesting, even illuminating, but don’t really contribute to knowing how to market anything.

    My point is that there are useful facts and skills you can learn within an MBA program other than marketing, so you may not want to write off the degree entirely!


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