Skip

Don't go to business school(?)
December 4, 2008 8:39 PM   Subscribe

Business writer Seth Godin tell readers to forgo the MBA and spend six months in his company. While potential applicants have made use of social networking to show their enthusiasm, others think it's a bad idea. Great opportunity or massive scam?
posted by divabat (42 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sick of that bald fuck.
posted by jayder at 8:51 PM on December 4, 2008


Yeah, he's a loser. But, to paraphrase one of the comments on the Gawker link, is this program available with Seth Rogen?
posted by snofoam at 9:00 PM on December 4, 2008


it depends on what you are looking for.

if what you want to learn is being an independent, business oriented person and you have the cash to handle a significant time investment for no pay the experience itself is worth it. I'd do it if I were 10 years older and had some money on hand to spend.

But if you want to learn the nuts and bolts of how to succeed in the status quo business world this is not for you at all. You won't get to meet the "who's who" of the MBA world and read the business books and so when its over you wont speak the lingo and probably won't fit in at any normal business.

just meeting all the people who get into this program and having beers would be a real treat for me actually. the independent projects section of this program could really spawn some cool stuff too.
posted by Glibpaxman at 9:00 PM on December 4, 2008


forget the MBA and Baldy. Go to dental school and become an Orthodontist...

- private practice average income = $420k, based on a survey by the American Association of Orthodontists
- average # days worked: 4
- average # hours worked per week: 32
- average malpractice insurance : <$5,000 per year
- average patient age: 8-16 (no crying babies and no sick old people)
- never on call (well, actually they are on call 24/7 but get about 2 calls per month, and these calls are never true emergencies)
- extremely low stress
- only 2-3 years of residency after dental school, no fellowships required or even available
- majority of orthodontists do not accept insurance

The links above led me to these nuggets. Clearly I made the wrong career decision.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:03 PM on December 4, 2008 [10 favorites]


WTF? Is it legal in the USA to say things like, "You can't be a smoker" to applicants?
posted by Manhasset at 9:15 PM on December 4, 2008


But if you want to learn the nuts and bolts of how to succeed in the status quo business world this is not for you at all. You won't get to meet the "who's who" of the MBA world and read the business books and so when its over you wont speak the lingo and probably won't fit in at any normal business.

How hard could it be to "learn the lingo"?
posted by delmoi at 9:15 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


WTF? Is it legal in the USA to say things like, "You can't be a smoker" to applicants?

Why wouldn't it be? Is smoking a religion or a race? Unless you want to claim that it's a physical disability, there's no reason any private employer in the US can't refuse to hire smokers, or Democrats, or gun owners, or whatever.

Although, I could see someone suing over "You have to speak perfect English" on the grounds that it constitutes discrimination by national origin.
posted by nicwolff at 9:34 PM on December 4, 2008


I would say it's a great opportunity to be massively scammed.
posted by saraswati at 9:39 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


He is not hiring you so smoking or banning smokers is ok.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:44 PM on December 4, 2008


What a banal world this guy wants to create.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:48 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I guess if you haven't been to business school yet, you're more likely to consider six months indentured servitude a "great opportunity."
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:56 PM on December 4, 2008


So all the ego of being an apprentice but none of the benefits (rent, food). Neo-feudalism-- like feudalism just meaner.
posted by wuwei at 9:57 PM on December 4, 2008


How hard could it be to "learn the lingo"?

Depends. I've working among them for years and years and am baffled by what passes for language in certain circles.

Fortunately, I have loops in my head of various 30s character actors muttering about "college boys."
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:58 PM on December 4, 2008


Can someone explain to me why it's a scam? Most of the "scam" comments say it's because you're working for free, but from what I understand most internships are free anyway. I did two for uni and they're definitely not scammy. I've had friends who had to do a year of full-time work in their subject matter unpaid (one such person grumbled to me about having to figure out ways to support herself).

Some of the other comments mention "oh, he wants you to work on his projects, therefore FAIL.". In my internships there were super strict policies on not working on your own stuff AT ALL, not even your own email, during your time at the office. At least with his thing he's giving about 5-7 hours a day for your own thing.

Is there something else I'm missing, or just a cultural difference?

(btw: the most sketchy thing I could see about this is the extremely short time frame and the on-spec interview; having done the Kaospilots admissions, which also give you an extremely short time frame and require you to travel up to their offices on spec, I can say that it's not ideal but not new either.)
posted by divabat at 10:00 PM on December 4, 2008


So all the ego of being an apprentice but none of the benefits (rent, food). Neo-feudalism-- like feudalism just meaner.

If someone can find me an opportunity like this that actually covered for your costs please let me know. I've only found one out of nearly hundreds and that's more like a university research gig, which isn't necessarily what I'm after.
posted by divabat at 10:03 PM on December 4, 2008


How hard could it be to "learn the lingo"?

Gutsy question. You're a shark. Sharks are winners, and they don't look back because they have no necks. Necks are for sheep.
posted by rokusan at 10:04 PM on December 4, 2008 [16 favorites]


But if you want to learn the nuts and bolts of how to succeed in the status quo business world this is not for you at all.

Hmm. As I survey the smoldering wreckage that used to be the American economy, I'm thinking maybe "success" as the status quo business world defines it isn't really good for those of us not wearing Zegna suits. Isn't this the world that convinced us that we could base our entire economy on business that produce no salable products?
posted by 1adam12 at 10:18 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Does Godin produce any salable product?

Actually, I guess he does. He took me for a book I could download for free in pdf form once. I also spent all of a couple of evenings creating a few squidoo pages only to let them forever fester and rot.
posted by robtf3 at 10:28 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the Gawker link:
My little magnet-pen won't drag the metal shavings up to his face. May I borrow yours?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:34 PM on December 4, 2008


C'mon, guys, without Seth Godin, ther'd be no Nintendo: Worlds of Power books, or F.X. Nine!
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:03 PM on December 4, 2008


From what I understand, he pays 3000$ a month for college students, and half of that to high school students? Or is this a different program?

"This is a paid internship. There's no scut work, no cold calling, stapling, collating or errands. But we want to support your education so we pay a stipend of $3000 a month for college students, half that for high school."
posted by houshuang at 12:09 AM on December 5, 2008


Great opportunity or massive scam?

Honestly, as soon as that question hits my brain, I walk away. Usually with a look of contented smugness on my face.

The only time I regretted it was after I didn't score the hot Landmark Forum chick. C'mon, electronslave, you could have at least pretended for six hours!
posted by electronslave at 12:14 AM on December 5, 2008


Can someone explain to me why it's a scam?

Because the dude specifically says it is _not_ an internship, and because it is supposed to be a _substitute_ for an MBA. Essentially, he's promising a mid-career shift for the low, low price of listening to one hour of his lecture every day and working four hours for free.

I'd have considered it, but his name is not, say, Steve Jobs. Which is to say, I don't see how career-changing it will be, except in being asked to relocate to New York, and work in two jobs to feed yourself.
posted by the cydonian at 12:33 AM on December 5, 2008


I have his first book at home: Ultra Secrets of Game Boy Games.
posted by PenDevil at 12:58 AM on December 5, 2008


houshang: this is a different program, aimed at people who are already in a career/have gone to college/would be considering an MBA. It doesn't pay anything.
posted by jacalata at 1:10 AM on December 5, 2008


If Seth worked in the porn industry I might consider it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:46 AM on December 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is really early where I am now. My eyes are bleary, and I haven't consumed my first full cup of coffee yet, but my initial reaction is: Yes, MBAs are a massive scam.
posted by belvidere at 3:08 AM on December 5, 2008


Given that Godin is a scamster, a generator of useless drivel (ever read any of his stuff?), a self-important nada, draw your own conclusions. His 15 minutes were up ages ago.
posted by dbiedny at 3:41 AM on December 5, 2008


> forget the MBA and Baldy. Go to dental school and become an Orthodontist...
- extremely low stress


I knew a dentist who committed suicide from stress that was in large part due to his profession. He was sinking in debt from dental school, buying his own practice and covering his malpractice insurance costs.

Dentist ≠ orthodontist; my story = anecdotal; said dentist = plagued by demons unrelated to his job. Still, I can't imagine being an orthodontist is that stress-free.

> The only time I regretted it was after I didn't score the hot Landmark Forum chick. C'mon, electronslave, you could have at least pretended for six hours!

This is funny because I didn't sleep well last night, so once the sun began rising and I realized I wasn't getting back to sleep, I logged on an began checking MF. The reason I was tossing and turning? I was anxious over starting the Landmark Forum, which begins in two hours.

A pox on you, The Fates!
posted by andromache at 3:48 AM on December 5, 2008


Because the dude specifically says it is _not_ an internship, and because it is supposed to be a _substitute_ for an MBA. Essentially, he's promising a mid-career shift for the low, low price of listening to one hour of his lecture every day and working four hours for free.

I took that symbolically rather than literally - his point being that this isn't like any normal internship/MBA/etc. I've seen other opportunities that have very similar elements to his and they're legit, so I still don't see what's so scammy about his. He's at least up front about what he can and can't offer.

(While I am applying - despite likely not being able to make it anyway due to visas - I don't have any strong feelings for Godin either way. I've just been doing a lot of research for opportunities like these and get frustrated when people dismiss them as scams but don't take the time to explain why, let alone suggest other avenues.)
posted by divabat at 4:02 AM on December 5, 2008


Is it me or does he look like Captain Picard's screw-off younger brother?
posted by chillmost at 4:17 AM on December 5, 2008


If he was offering it as an internship, it wouldn't be scammy at all. Free labor plus servile conditions is pretty much par for the internship course these days, sadly enough.

But claiming that working in his office for a few months will get you the same benefits as doing an MBA? That's scammy -- it's the kind of overpromised hype that works really well to sell vitamin pills or herbal viagra.

I bet it would be a lot of fun (well, except for having to fly yourself there for the interview, and support yourself in NYC while working long hours for free for him), and definitely good for one's career -- just like any internship in your field would be. But the "alternative MBA" claim really sets my teeth on edge. That's like me saying "why go to medical school, when you can work for free in my clinic for six months and learn most of what you will need." Not that MBA = MD precisely, but substitute pretty much any serious course of study there and the comparison is the same.

I'm not sure what the real value of an MBA is, since I've never considered doing one. But my guess is that there is a real and measurable boost to one's lifetime earnings, and that one learns all the skills expected of a rising young executive -- how to dress, how to present, how to work both competitively and in teams, and so on -- as well as an assortment of case study- and numbers-based approaches to business problems. (Plus networking and alumni support for job searches, of course.) Unless he can really give you all of this, it's not serving the same role as an MBA, or offering the same benefits.

So yeah, I read it as borderline scammy.

While I am applying...

If this FPP is part of the application -- he requires demonstration of "Your ability to organize, your willingness to share (even if it doesn't help your odds) and your kindness in spreading the word" -- that would be a pretty tacky use of MeFi, though probably legit in the letter of the law.

posted by Forktine at 6:12 AM on December 5, 2008


I met with Seth long ago at a job interview in his lair on the banks of the mighty Hudson River. It was an enjoyable half-hour or so that ultimately did not lead to me working there. (He later sold that company to Yahoo!)

Here's a guy who went from writing videogame books to investment books and several other things to whatever it is he is doing now, all with relatively high degrees of success. So I'd imagine hanging out with him for six months would not be worthless.

I don't think this should be labeled a "scam". First, he lays out the terms clearly. Second he doesn't ask you for any money. Yes, you work for four hours a day free. On the other hand, you have three hours a day working on your own personal project. Presumably you will be using his facilities and equipment for this. Plus you have people around you to act as a sounding board for ideas. Comparing it to an MBA is a bit over the top, but then that is pretty much Seth's defining characteristic (and I think once you read the rest of the page describing the deal you get a sense of what is is/isn't that doesn't come across in the lede paragraphs).

We see many posts here from people who ask how to start over in their career for whatever reason. Given the right conditions, I could see where this would be a good opportunity to jump-start such a change. No, I would not drop everything and move across the country for this. But, if I lived in the NYC/Hudson River area and was able to not work for six months (had enough savings or perhaps a year of severance pay, or a partner who could support us, etc.) I'd consider this a fun opportunity. I wouldn't be counting on coming away with a job offer from Seth or a personal project VCs would be clamoring for or even something that I could point to instead of an MBA, but I'd expect an overall positive and useful experience vs. feeling like I've been scammed for six months.
posted by mikepop at 6:31 AM on December 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


A professional marketing guy is over promising the benefits you'll get from something he's promoting? I am shocked, SHOCKED, to find such a thing is going on in here.
posted by FfejL at 6:32 AM on December 5, 2008


OK, before reading andromache's comment I had never heard of the Landmark Forum. After checking out their site I am terrified.

I know how these things work. No self-help program can be so purposefully vague and full of cheerfully menacing language about its benefits without being either a Scientology front or a scheme to implant us all with alien parasites. Possibly both.
posted by xthlc at 6:41 AM on December 5, 2008


"Why stay in college? Why go to night school? Gonna be different this time."
posted by nosila at 7:29 AM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm looking for people who are brilliant, charismatic, on a mission, moving fast, filled with passion and empathy and want to do something worth doing. It's fine with me if you can't use a spreadsheet (yet) but not okay if you have no desire to learn what you don't know.

I'm not any of these things. I'm extremely ordinary. Oh well. Maybe there's hope for me in other professions.
posted by anniecat at 8:33 AM on December 5, 2008


i feel used for just reading that page.
posted by erikvan at 10:20 AM on December 5, 2008


Forktine: lol, nah this isn't part of the application. I just thought there might be some interesting discussion here between the two sides (good idea vs scammy scam).
posted by divabat at 11:31 AM on December 5, 2008


I guess I'll be both late to the party and swimming against the current; I like Godin a lot. Granted, a lot of what he has to say seems pretty self-evident, but he's got a high signal-to-noise ratio, and generally presents solid ideas. The people that rail about him just generating drivel strike me as the kind of people that wander through art galleries braying "why, my child could do that!" -- first, s/he couldn't, and second, s/he wouldn't think of doing it in the first place.

As a reasonably intelligent, fairly creative, and very busy marketing strategist/writer, I find he's useful as a grounding tool: he tends to return to the "focus on the core/what makes you unique?/inspire people to become fans rather than consumers" well a lot, but when you're drowning in acronyms, buzzwords, trend-hopping and consumer research, having a clear, distinct voice saying interesting things about the core of what marketing should be all about -- focus on what you do that's special, and focus on treating your customers well -- is both useful and refreshing.

I'm pretty much aligned with mikepop, above: he's clear in what this internship is, what the expectations are, and what participants stand to gain/lose. If I were dead-ending in my current job and desperately wanted some sort of change, this would probably be a fantastic opportunity. And I think saying that it is not the literal equivalent of an MBA and therefore a scam is facetious: it's framed very tongue-in-cheek, with an argument for what makes it a worthwhile substitute (short-term high-intensity real-world no-tuition vs. lengthy, tedious, mind-blowingly expensive). Anybody thick enough to think it was supposed to be exactly like an MBA program wouldn't get past the application letter, I suspect.
posted by Shepherd at 12:52 PM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was just reading this article about a guy who lost his job and has resorted to handing out his resume at street corners. He makes a comment about his daughter, who's also having trouble finding even basic jobs, and it reminded me of a lot of the criticism made here and elsewhere about Seth's offer:
Now that she's graduated, she'll have an easy time finding work, right? Wrong. She couldn't get an interview for anything. Office assistant, receptionist -- no luck. And the jobs she did get called about were "unpaid internships." Now, tell me how does someone pay commuting costs to New York City, health insurance, and student loans with no pay?

How does an employer have the nerve to call a free employee an "intern"? It's just a way to get an employee in New York for less than the wages paid to a Chinese factory worker.
posted by divabat at 10:30 PM on December 7, 2008


Yea, but his daughter graduated in playwriting and film production.
posted by jacalata at 5:05 AM on December 8, 2008


« Older Hides in winter's skirts   |   Star Wars: A New Heap Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post