The MBA system is broken. Here’s why we’re doing something about it

Lior Frenkel, Partner and CPO at Jolt
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May 8, 2019

Have you ever considered doing an MBA? A few years back, it was the ‘done’ thing, right? A measure of on-paper success. The ultimate addition to your LinkedIn profile.

And then something changed. We, as a society, started becoming more entrepreneurial, more creative, more inventive. As a result, top MBA schools started seeing declines in application numbers, too. Take Yale, for example. World-renowned and with a 7.6% drop in applications for 2017-2018. Ouch.

Why? Because MBAs are, in today’s working world, largely irrelevant. By the time you finish your first year, half of what you’ve learned will be outdated as technology moves that quickly. Books can’t keep up. Old school business schools definitely can’t keep up.

Did we mention that they’re cripplingly expensive and since 2010, increasingly, ROI negative?

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The odds are no longer with MBA students. The system is broken. As Dale Stevens wrote in the Wall Street Journal: If you want a business education, the odds aren't with you, unfortunately, in business school. Professors are rewarded for publishing journal articles, not for being good teachers. The other students are trying to get ahead of you. The development office is already assessing you for future donations. Administrators care about the metrics that will improve your school's national ranking. None of these things actually helps you learn about business.

So, what should you do, as an ambitious person in 2019 and beyond. What will soon be the most essential professional skill? "The ability to absorb tremendous amounts of information," predicted Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The average person changes jobs roughly 12 times in their career (and that’s just averaged data ⁠— imagine the numbers for millennials and Gen Z). There’s no single-degree solution that can serve you throughout your career. Your degree or MBA will help you secure your first grad job, but that’s all. To keep advancing, you need to keep learning.

At Jolt, it’s our belief that learning should be affordable, accessible and packed full of implementable skills. That’s why we’re committed to teaching business administration using the world’s most innovative, current business methodology: the startup method.

A startup isn’t just a type of company, you see. It’s an entire system that allows you to achieve great things with limited resources. It touches every aspect of business, from decision-making to marketing and sales, from funding to management. We believe that in a free economy, the startup system is the strongest, most relevant business method available. Our Not an MBA ® programme is built out of three key pillars:

We don’t subscribe to the idea that business school should only be accessible to those with the biggest bank accounts. No. We believe that the best leaders of the future are, in fact, self-made. The people who had to work hard for what they have. The people who learn through doing, because they’ve had to.

For too long now, opportunity has been less about talent and more about nepotism. More about who your parents are than what you can actually do. Ever had that realisation that the people you admire had high-flying parents? Us too.

On the contrary, we’re a team inspired by our own experiences and driven by the experience we deliver to our students: people from all walks of life, united by an entrepreneurial mindset.

You’re only as skilled as the last podcast you listened to, the last lecture you attended, the last class you learned at. Why not try upskilling the smarter way with Jolt?

So why do so few of us have creative breaks?

Because almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.

Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.

So why do so few of us have creative breaks?
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I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...

Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.

And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.

The cognitive load is real, y'all.

But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.

Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.

The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.

Your dreams don't have an expiration date.

Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.

And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.

Here's a challenge for you

Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.

Put airplane mode on for a while. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it.

Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.

When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.

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"A spark of inspiration needs an empty cave."

Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.

Could you get to the top 1% of your industry?

Empower your team to go and shine.