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MBA Books - Good books to read prior to MBA [Merged]

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MBA Books - Good books to read prior to MBA [Merged] [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2009, 10:33
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i'm looking forward to all the time i'll have back once apps are over. i wanted to find out the must reads prior to entering b-school.

nytimes had a great article a while back about ceo libraries and what they reveal about the leader.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/21/busin ... aries.html

here's an excerpt
Forget finding the business best-seller list in these libraries. “I try to vary my reading diet and ensure that I read more fiction than nonfiction,” Mr. Moritz said. “I rarely read business books, except for Andy Grove’s ‘Swimming Across,’ which has nothing to do with business but describes the emotional foundation of a remarkable man. I re-read from time to time T. E. Lawrence’s ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom,’ an exquisite lyric of derring-do, the navigation of strange places and the imaginative ruses of a peculiar character. It has to be the best book ever written about leading people from atop a camel.” Students of power should take note that C.E.O.’s are starting to collect books on climate change and global warming, not Al Gore’s tomes but books from the 15th century about the weather, Egyptian droughts, even replicas of Sumerian tablets recording extraordinary changes in climate, according to John Windle, the owner of John Windle Antiquarian Booksellers in San Francisco.

so, what are those books that professors reference all the time, jock mbas mention to act like they know what's up, or books your bosses are reading? and since i don't want to spend all my time reading only about management or leadership, what other insightful, witty, life-changing books have you read?


Books Recommended in This Thread and the Number of Recommendations

Finance Books
1. Blue Blood and Mutiny: The Fight for the soul of Morgan Stanley
2. Handbook of Corporate Finance: A Business Companion to Financial Markets, Decisions and Techniques
3. Banker to the Poor - book about the Grameen Bank and microfinance in the third world, and delves into how capitalism and the free market can be harnessed to return value to vulnerable communities x3
4. Liar's poker - a bit dated but its gives you a sweet intro to the S&T world x2
5. Ugly Americans (HFs)
6. When Markets Collide
7. Damn it feels good to be a banker - And Other Baller Things You Only Get to Say If You Work On Wall Street x2 - by Leveraged Sellout (it looks brilliant if it's the same quality as the blog)


Economics Books
1. Travels of a T-shirt - is pretty fun, written by a prof at georgetown - she explores the global economy (and the institutions that govern it) by following the creation, life, and death of your average t-shirt.
2. The World is Flat - Do not Buy
3. Passionate Economist
4. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More
5. The End of Poverty - Harvard Alum and Professor at Columbia's Global Earth Institute, Sachs presents interesting, simple (perhaps even common sense) solutions to tackling the following obsctackes we will face in the upcoming century namely: the environment, poverty (extreme - less than $1-2/day) and population growth (in the poorest countries).
6. Common Wealth - regarding Jeffrey Sachs - as someone who works in international development, I'd like to point out that for all his popularity among the general public, most people working in the field think a lot of his "big ideas" are sheer lunacy. Particularly the idea of a "big push" to massively increase the amount of official development aid to developing-world governments. He's a very smart guy, and End of Poverty (as well as Common Wealth) are both interesting books with a lot of good information - but the policy prescriptions they contain are totally off the mark.
7. The White Man's Burden - t provides an outstanding analysis of not only successes and failures of trying to develop the third world, but at lot of it also applies to life in general (politics, economics, society, etc).
8. The Forgotten Man
9. The Chicago School - For those thinking about going to Chicago and going to economics
10. Vienna and Chicago, Friends or Foes? - For those thinking about going to Chicago and going to economics
11. Rise and fall of great powers by Paul Kennedy. though i read it about 10 years ago(when the book was too good for me). i immensely liked it. It beautifully captures a history of all great powers(economic and military) from sixteenth century to mid twentieth century. wonderful analysis and breadth in my humble opinion.


Leadership Books
1. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future
2. We need Managers, Not MBAs - It's a scathing look at MBAs. If anyone reads this again, please keep an eye out for the part where he reveals the statistics that something like 70% of MBAs quit their jobs within two years of graduating (suggesting that the vast majority pick "wrong"). I cant find the exact stats anymore, so please, if you see it, take note of the page

Behavioral Books
1. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - There's a little pop psychology to it, but it has some interesting insights.
2. Fooled by Randomness
3. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell: I had thought about many of the theories he exposes way before this came out, but it's still an interesting/easy/quick read.
4. Predictably Irrational - is by a fuqua prof that is a total boy genius. it's behavioral econ.
5. Why We Buy - if you have any interest in running a business that is consumer-facing (CPG, banking, retail, restaurants, the post office) this is a must-read. or if you just wanna know why the bananas are where they are in the grocery store. Behavioral Econ.
6. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler - written by a lawyer and an economist from the University of Chicago. The book sort of sits at the intersection of public policy and business, and provides examples of how consumers can be 'nudged' towards decisions that are in their economic/physical/emotional/etc... best interest. You get the point after the first few chapters, but it's worth finishing nonetheless. (recommended by CS11)


Investment Banking Books
1. More than Money by Mark Albion - No, its not a rant against banking - he says thats the right path for some - but it is a very real depiction of MANY MBA attitudes and it will make you consider your goals. Frankly, in retrospect, this short book is probably the single most important thing I could have read before getting my MBA. It so accurately captures exactly what so many of us have thought or felt at some point - about jobs, about money, about careers - I virtually promise that it will resonate with you at some level. Its also worth noting its a short and easy read.
2. Tearing Down the Walls: How Sandy Weill Fought His Way to the Top of the Financial World. . .and Then Nearly Lost It All - to all future investment bankers
3. Monkey Business - which was a very quick read that provides an interesting look into the IB landscape in recent times. x2
4. Barbarians at the Gate - really is a must read. I thought it was great and included all of the major Wall Street legends, Kravis, Wasserstein, Fortsman, Lipton, etc. x2
5. Risk Takers
6.Pioneering Portfolio Management
7. The accidental investment banker - Jonathan Knee - pretty funny; give you a very good idea over the Ibank world. Not great though.
8. Den of Thieves - well-researched book that brings up a number of scandals involving Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Martin Siegel, and others
9. 21. When Genius Failed
10. The Money Culture by Michael Lewis - It is a collection of articles published by Michael Lewis in various magazines in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I thought it made a brilliant read not just because Michael is a very funny guy. His articles were very insightful and, in some cases, prophetic. He has consistently been critical of levels of debt in wall street since the 1980s (if only everyone else took notice). He takes particular joy in poking fun at the LBO players and the value they add to a takeover target. His criticism of the American Express card had me splitting my sides laughing. This book will not be too much fun for those without enough knowledge of wall street history (especially of the 80s and early 90s when Japan and not China was considered threat #1 to US supremacy). A recommended light read for those long flights to b-school. (recommended by BSD Lover)
11. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator - This book is a timeless classic for anyone moving to any form of trading / investment (recommended by BSD Lover)


M&A Books
1. M&A Titans M&A Titans: The Pioneers Who Shaped Wall Street's Mergers and Acquisitions Industry - about some of the legendary dealmakers in Wall Street's golden era (recommended by JB32)
2. Deals from Hell: M&A Lessons that Rise Above the Ashes - (especially relevant for future Darden IB's since it was written by a Darden prof.) - case study about 10 of the worst deals of all time. (recommended by JB32)
3. The Big Deal by Bruce Wasserstein - The book is loooooooooonnnngggg (like 1,000+ pages), but provides a history of deal making by industry from the 1950's up through 2001 (published in 2002). It's amazing how much M&A shaped many of the familiar brands we know today. Then, the second half of the book chronicles how a deal gets done and who the main players are. I would recommend this book for anyone that wants to be a dealmaker. (recommended by JB32)


Design Thinking Books
1. The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage - Martin shows how leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cirque du Soleil, RIM, and others use design thinking to push knowledge through the stages in ways that produce breakthrough innovations and competitive advantage.
2. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation - Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, introduces the idea of design thinking and it′s a human−centered approach to problem solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and more creative.


Accounting Books
1. The Portable MBA in Finance and Accounting

Marketing Books
Why We Shop: The Science of Shopping" by Paco Underhill. I found it very interesting especially for those with an interest in CPG, brand management, marketing, retail and even consulting. Its a quick read and very entertaining. I definitely find myself thinking differently every time I walk into a store now.

Management Books
1. How Would You Move Mount Fuji?: Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle -- How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers - to all future Management Consultants...
2. The Halo Effect:... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers - Wow! Good book. It pretty much blows apart a lot of the analysis people do to find out what makes a company "successful".

International Relations and Policy Books
1. confessions of an economic hit man
2. Rise and Fall of Empires
3. Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein: Must read. it opened my mind to sooo many things. please go read it, it gets long but towards the end it's amazing.
4. Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism - Sixty percent of the world's population live on 6% of the world's income. The author argues that capitalism, if it accepts a social conscience out of self-preservation, can eventually develop a world where poverty is on the decline.
5. The Post American World - By far one of the most accessible poly-sci books around. Zakaria presents brutally honest opinions on the state of the U.S. in contrast to the rest of the World. He brings forth the challenges that face the U.S. and the world in the 21st century. Good read, not heavy at all.
6. No Logo is a bit dated but a lovely attack on globalization. if i weren't already too old, i'd grow up to be naomi klein.
7. Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. by Dr CK Prahalad. a must read for all those interested in social entrepreneurship and non-profit careers.


Career and Networking Books

1. Ahead of the Curve x2 - best book I've read on business school - more specifically HBS - looking at a top bschool from the pov of a non-business candidate gave me an amazing idea of the whole thing.
2. Never Eat Alone - Its a great book about the power of networking and how to build a strong network


Green Books
1. Hot, Flat, and Crowded - which is about why we need a green revolution. While i'm just 1/3 of the way through, it's excellent so far... He's got some hard facts scientifically, politically, and economically about why we need to care about our planet and makes it easier for me to explain to another layperson why we need a green revolution.
2. Green to Gold by Daniel Esty x2

IT and Operations
1. Black Swan - not recommended (I read part of the book when it came out but just got sick of it and never finished. If true "black swan" events by definition cannot be predicted or foreseen in any way, what's the point of it?)
2. The Goal - is something you'll probably read in your ops class. the best textbook ever, the worst novel ever. i'm a closet ops geek, so i dug it.

Poker and Gambling Books
1. Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments - Dan Harrington
2. Read 'em and reap 'em
3. Bringing down the house

Fiction and Other

1. The prince - Niccolo Machiavelli: I don't know why but I recently picked it up and it's full of pretty interesting stuff. It is not about business but it gives you an idea of how Power was seen in the 1500.
2. Guns, Germs, and Steel - overview of Human Civilization, focusing on the question why Eurasians took over other continents rather than inhabitants of other continents - a bit repetitive but a good read - a lot of interesting information
3. Nathan McCall's Them - t's an interesting read, and a great book to invoke discussion amongst peers who view the world differently.
4. 9. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier - (not for the faint-hearted; story of a young boy in Africa). A diary/journal of sorts of a young boy who escaped the "recruitment" of rebels in Sierra Leone. Witness of death and consumed by drugs at a young age, he manages to escape through a very graphic yet inspiring story. Now in the U.S.
5. The snowball - Biography about Warren Buffet - I got this one as a present and thought it would be amazing, however I still haven't really started loving it (ive read around 25% of it- its looong) but I guess if you like biographies then you'll like it. x2
6. The Last Tycoons - “Cohan's thoroughness—he interviewed over 100 current and former bankers and assorted bigwigs—unearths a trove of colourful titbits, many quite racy . . . Illuminating are Mr. Cohan’s descriptions of the scheming, politicking, and general dysfunction that was Lazard.”
Economist
7. Atlas Shrugged - the last and best of Ayn Rand's books - beware 1,000 pages and not really a travel size.


Other Book Links:
Books that help improve English and are Fun to read
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Last edited by alexsr on 04 Jul 2010, 08:49, edited 14 times in total.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2009, 11:33
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I love the idea of this thread. We could have a GMATClub Book of the Month! It would be great to have a reading list to get the a better understanding of the business world at large and any potential future endeavors. However, in your mention of what professors recommend, I would imagine that would err to the side of textbooks/references.

I second your nomination of Green to Gold and found it pretty interesting. I also recently read Ahead of the Curve, which seemed to be a pretty good read if one is considering Business School. If you keep in mind that you are viewing the world through the author's eyes and not your own.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2009, 07:28
I've been reading "Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism" by Muhammad Yunus. It's the follow-up to his big "Banker to the Poor" book about the Grameen Bank and microfinance in the third world, and delves into how capitalism and the free market can be harnessed to return value to vulnerable communities. A great (new) way to think about business.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2009, 12:48
I recommend, of course an Emory author, Nathan McCall's Them. It's an interesting read, and a great book to invoke discussion amongst peers who view the world differently.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2009, 13:25
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Twilight. If you dont <3 Edward Cullen by the end, you have no heart.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2009, 11:22
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My view about reading is read only what you like. Sounds trivial, but it's amazing how some people force themselves to read crap just because it's about "management", "leadership" or "communication" (or any other buzz word).

Here's what I'm reading atm or have recently read:

- The accidental investment banker - Jonathan Knee: pretty funny; give you a very good idea over the Ibank world. Not great though.

- Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments - Dan Harrington (3 tomes). Probably the best books out there on NL Holdem tournament strategy. He also wrote 2 tomes about cash game, but I haven't read those yet.

- Read 'em and reap 'em - Phil Hellmuth and Joe Navarro. Poker book about tells, it's not bad till now.

Books I'm planning to read:

- Damn it feels good to be a banker - And Other Baller Things You Only Get to Say If You Work On Wall Street - by Leveraged Sellout (it looks brilliant if it's the same quality as the blog)

- Black Swan - supposed to be great

- The snowball - Biography about Warren Buffet

- Barbarians at the gate (although I'm not looking really forward to reading that one - any opinions?)


Great thread btw.
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Last edited by Audio on 13 Jan 2009, 11:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2009, 11:25
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Praet, is the HBS book about how BS lost their way any good? Looks interesting, what's your opinion?
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2009, 11:28
triple5soul wrote:
Jeffrey Sachs - The End of Poverty & Common Wealth
Jospeh E Stiglitz - All
Ishmael Beah - A long way gone (not for the faint-hearted; story of a young boy in Africa)
Fareed Zakaria - The post American World

These books are some of my favorite (books that "open" the mind).

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I like Fareed Zakaria, how's his book: worth it? What is the orientation of the book?

PS: in the future, if you recommend a book, please also add a brief description just to have an idea (yes I could check it on Amazon but I'm too lazy :-D )
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2009, 19:58
Audio wrote:
- Barbarians at the gate (although I'm not looking really forward to reading that one - any opinions?)
Great thread btw.


I read it my senior year in college. It really is a must read. I thought it was great and included all of the major Wall Street legends, Kravis, Wasserstein, Fortsman, Lipton, etc. I would also recommend:

- Den of Thieves
- The Last Tycoons
- Atlas Shrugged
- When Genius Failed

-All good finance classics. The Last Tycoons is REALLY long, but I enjoyed reading about Felix Rohatyn and Andre Meyer, who are some real legends on Wall Street.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2009, 20:31
Travels of a T-shirt - is pretty fun, written by a prof at georgetown - she explores the global economy (and the institutions that govern it) by following the creation, life, and death of your average t-shirt.

The Goal - is something you'll probably read in your ops class. the best textbook ever, the worst novel ever. i'm a closet ops geek, so i dug it.

Super Crunchers - is all about the way that math (mostly stats) is changing the way the world works. a decent look at regression and other tools.

Predictably Irrational is by a fuqua prof that is a total boy genius. it's behavioral econ.

No Logo is a bit dated but a lovely attack on globalization. if i weren't already too old, i'd grow up to be naomi klein.

Why We Buy by paco underhill. if you have any interest in running a business that is consumer-facing (CPG, banking, retail, restaurants, the post office) this is a must-read. or if you just wanna know why the bananas are where they are in the grocery store.

these are all biz books, but here you go.

You might also like to see what gmatclubbers of days goneby recommended: p324431#324431
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2009, 00:24
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I recently finished Blue Blood and Mutiny: The Fight for the soul of Morgan Stanley by Patricia Beard. Highly recommended as another Finance one to add to the list.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2009, 04:13
are there any free ebooks that I can download to read?
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2009, 08:09
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1) The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman (all T. Friedman books are wonderful to review your economics knowledge and case-studies)

2) Passionate Economist by Diane Swonk

3) A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H Pink

4) The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2009, 10:35
Audio, pls find a description below and my opinion on Zakara.

Jeffrey Sachs - The End of Poverty & Common Wealth: Harvard Alum and Professor at Columbia's Global Earth Institute, Sachs presents interesting, simple (perhaps even common sense) solutions to tackling the following obsctackes we will face in the upcoming century namely: the environment, poverty (extreme - less than $1-2/day) and population growth (in the poorest countries).

Jospeh E Stiglitz - His books (now a Nobel prize winner) are a little more theoretical than one may want. Nevertheless, very interesting points of view on the failures of globalization.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (not for the faint-hearted; story of a young boy in Africa). A diary/journal of sorts of a young boy who escaped the "recruitment" of rebels in Sierra Leone. Witness of death and consumed by drugs at a young age, he manages to escape through a very graphic yet inspiring story. Now in the U.S.

Fareed Zakaria - The Post American World. By far one of the most accessible poly-sci books around. Zakaria presents brutally honest opinions on the state of the U.S. in contrast to the rest of the World. He brings forth the challenges that face the U.S. and the world in the 21st century. Good read, not heavy at all.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2009, 10:36
Has anyone read any of Malcom Gladwell's books (Outliers, Tipping Point...)?
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2009, 10:50
Gladwell's book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking was pretty good stuff. There's a little pop psychology to it, but it has some interesting insights.

Also, regarding Jeffrey Sachs - as someone who works in international development, I'd like to point out that for all his popularity among the general public, most people working in the field think a lot of his "big ideas" are sheer lunacy. Particularly the idea of a "big push" to massively increase the amount of official development aid to developing-world governments. He's a very smart guy, and End of Poverty (as well as Common Wealth) are both interesting books with a lot of good information - but the policy prescriptions they contain are totally off the mark.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2009, 11:29
Interesting... glad to hear a different perspective! Sachs is extremely persuasive and for someone not in the field, I cannot with confidence evaluate his proposals.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2009, 12:06
For my money, the best book on development is William Easterly's "The White Man's Burden" - it's much lighter on actual detailed policy proposals, but that's all sort of the point. I was totally engrossed. Check it out.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2009, 16:15
triple5soul wrote:
Has anyone read any of Malcom Gladwell's books (Outliers, Tipping Point...)?


I read the tipping point a while back, wasn't too big a fan of the book to be honest. A lot of the examples felt like they weren't as fleshed out as they could have been.
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Re: Good books to read prior to MBA [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2009, 09:06
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Must Read:
1. More than Money by Mark Albion
No, its not a rant against banking - he says thats the right path for some - but it is a very real depiction of MANY MBA attitudes and it will make you consider your goals. Frankly, in retrospect, this short book is probably the single most important thing I could have read before getting my MBA. It so accurately captures exactly what so many of us have thought or felt at some point - about jobs, about money, about careers - I virtually promise that it will resonate with you at some level. Its also worth noting its a short and easy read.

2. We need Managers, Not MBAs
It's a scathing look at MBAs. If anyone reads this again, please keep an eye out for the part where he reveals the statistics that something like 70% of MBAs quit their jobs within two years of graduating (suggesting that the vast majority pick "wrong"). I cant find the exact stats anymore, so please, if you see it, take note of the page.

Books that suck:
1. The World is Flat: Allow me to condense 500 pages for you. A guy in India can call a guy in Florida whenever he wants. They can interact online, with webcams and with phones. Your taxes can be done in Bangalore while you sit in the Bahamas.

2. Blue Ocean Strategy: Also crap
Re: Good books to read prior to MBA   [#permalink] 17 Jan 2009, 09:06
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