Full Review - The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman

Learn key business concepts with Josh Kaufman's “Personal MBA”. A summary of the best practices in management and entrepreneurship.

“Personal MBA” is a comprehensive and accessible guide to the fundamental principles of business. Written by entrepreneur and strategy expert Josh Kaufman, this book aims to offer most of the knowledge taught in top business schools, at a fraction of the cost and time.

The central themes covered include:

  1. Value creation systems : how businesses create, deliver, and capture value for their customers and shareholders.
  2. Marketing and sales principles : how to understand your market, position your offer and acquire customers effectively.
  3. The fundamentals of finance : how to read financial statements, calculate profitability, and make informed investment decisions.
  4. The keys to management and productivity : how to define your vision, build a successful team and execute in a disciplined manner.

Critical analysis

“Personal MBA” is a remarkable book that succeeds in the ambitious challenge of condensing essential business knowledge into a single accessible and engaging volume. It is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to master the fundamentals of business, whether they are an entrepreneur, manager, or student.

The highlights of the book:

  • The clarity and conciseness of the explanations : Kaufman has a gift for making complex concepts understandable and memorable, without unnecessary jargon.
  • The range of topics covered : from marketing to finance, including strategy and human resources, the book offers a complete overview of key business disciplines.
  • Examples and concrete case studies : each concept is illustrated by real business stories, making the lessons more tangible and applicable.
  • Practical advice and tools : beyond concepts, Kaufman provides frameworks and techniques for implementing principles in real life.

A potential downside is that, because of its condensed format, the book can sometimes seem to cover certain topics. Readers looking for a very thorough exploration of a specific area may need additional resources.

In addition, While the book is a great general introduction, it is not an entirely substitute for practical experience and application in the field. Some subtleties can only be learned through practice.

Despite these slight reservations, “Personal MBA” remains a very valuable book, which democratizes access to best business practices. It is an ideal companion for navigating the entrepreneurial and managerial challenges of the modern world.

Key Points to Remember

  1. A business is a system that creates, delivers, and captures value. Understanding this system is the key to success.
  2. Marketing is not about manipulation but about deeply understanding the needs and desires of customers.
  3. Finance is not an occult science: a few key principles and ratios allow you to make informed decisions.
  4. A good manager is not necessarily a technical expert, but someone who can define a vision, build a team, and execute with discipline.
  5. Productivity is not about managing time but about managing your energy and concentration.

Similar books

  • “The Ten-Day MBA” by Steven Silbiger
  • “The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship” by William D. Bygrave

Author profile

Josh Kaufman is an entrepreneur, researcher, and author who specializes in the areas of business strategy, productivity, and accelerated skills development.

Kaufman has significant experience as an entrepreneur and consultant:

  • He founded and managed Personalmba.com, one of the most popular business education sites in the world.
  • He has advised and trained thousands of entrepreneurs and managers around the world.
  • Before going solo, he worked as a strategy director at Procter & Gamble.

Passionate about learning and sharing knowledge, Kaufman is the author of several best-selling books:

  • “The Personal MBA”, her first book, was an international success translated into numerous languages.
  • “The First 20 Hours”, her second book, explores techniques to quickly acquire new skills.
  • His writing has been featured in leading media such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, etc.

A sought-after speaker, Kaufman has given talks at numerous renowned conferences such as TED and SXSW, sharing his unique vision of learning and performance.

With “Personal MBA”, Josh Kaufman has made the quintessence of the programs of the best business schools accessible to everyone.

His book reflects his philosophy of self-learning and his desire to democratize access to best business practices.

For Kaufman, entrepreneurial and managerial success is not reserved for an elite qualified from the Grandes Écoles, but for all those ready to learn and apply some key principles of value creation.

With this book, Josh Kaufman is one of the most innovative and influential thinkers in business education. “Personal MBA” is not just a book, it's a movement that has inspired thousands of readers to take ownership of their entrepreneurial education.


Do you need to have studied business to understand and appreciate “Personal MBA”?

No, on the contrary. The book was specifically designed for the uninitiated and those who did not have the opportunity to attend business school. The concepts are explained in a clear and accessible manner.

Can the book replace a real MBA?

The book provides an excellent overview of the key concepts taught in MBA programs, but is not intended to entirely replace the traditional MBA experience. Some elements such as the network, the practical experience and the prestige of the degree cannot be reproduced in a book.

Is the book suitable for entrepreneurs or only for business managers?

The “Personal MBA” lessons are just as relevant for entrepreneurs as they are for managers. The fundamental principles of value creation, marketing, finance and management apply to any type of business.

Is it necessary to read the book in order or can you pick chapters according to your needs?

Although the book follows a logical progression, each chapter can be read on its own. It is an excellent book to keep as a reference and to consult according to the needs and challenges of the moment.


In conclusion, “Personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman is an extraordinary book that makes all fundamental business concepts accessible to all fundamental business concepts. With its clear pedagogy, concrete examples and practical advice, it is a real bible for navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship and modern management.

Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, an experienced manager or simply curious to deepen your understanding of business, “Personal MBA” will offer you the keys to create, deliver and capture more value in everything you do.

A unique compendium of entrepreneurial wisdom, a must read to boost your business culture and propel your career or business project. Your pocket MBA, from the best teacher there is.