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Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2009, 11:08
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I ran across this earlier today and really liked it:

http://spike.wharton.upenn.edu/mbaprogr ... t_wg11.pdf

It's a reading list that Wharton distributes to their incoming students.

Would any current students care to chime in on books that you found helpful to read before starting?
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2009, 11:23
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Well, all the ones I have read on that list I have found to be incredibly dull.

There is a lengthy twin thread to this in Business School life.

http://gmatclub.com/forum/mba-books-good-books-to-read-prior-to-mba-merged-74557.html
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2009, 12:31
Excellent! Kudos
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2009, 13:08
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eminent wrote:
Excellent! Kudos



:) Enjoy and feel free to suggest your favorite books.

We also have a fiction list here: books-to-read-improve-verbal-score-and-enjoy-a-good-read-76079.html
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2009, 18:56
im almost scared to ask, but do they require you to read all of them before you come in? :shock:
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2009, 20:50
shadowsjc wrote:
im almost scared to ask, but do they require you to read all of them before you come in? :shock:


Not at all! There are some people who work at intense jobs all the way through July or early August. Not everyone will have time for leisurely reading and preparation.

Some schools will ask you to take a quant or accounting refresher prior to starting school, and maybe have one required book.... but a reading list like that is daunting.
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2009, 15:45
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I started reading Wharton curriculum books back in college, and I covered books like Nudge or Made to Stick by actually buying them for Kindle or in Audiobook format and listening to them during my commutes to work. The Kindle is perfect for books with no quantitive data because it has a strong text to speech function. When it comes to the titles mentioned in Wharton's reading list:

Made to Stick - excellent book both for MBA aps and prep - it shows how to be memorable, does it with examples, and the principles seem to work.

The World is Flat - inspiring on first read but overly optimistic and a bit shallow if you look deeper into their arguments through other reads. It will get you fired up on globalization.

Good to Great - Old read - most companies from that book are no longer great. For that reason it was soon followed by Build to Last - with a focus on staying great, longer.

Freakonomics - fun read :)

Predictably Irrational & Nudge - I swear those two base their theories on some of the same experiments analyzed by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point and Outliers. Only they conclude very different things. There are rumours that Nudge and P. I. , coming out of the University of Chicago academic crowd are now influencing Obama's policy and are used by the new administration. Either way -good reads.

On top of the list I would recommend:

The Snowball Effect - Warren Buffet's biography - it is extremely long and I got through it in over a month of 40 minute commutes, but it carries more value and essential wisdom than many of the books on the list combined. Buffet covers several financial downturns with amazing depth of reasons behind them, a great overview of the Salomon Brothers crisis (better than Liar's Poker) because he actually bailed the company out, and long-term financial growth principles that I think will last much longer than many fads, including the reasons for the current crisis. I highly recommend this book for entrepreneurship, management, finance etc.

Bargaining for Advantage - written by a Wharton professor, this tiny book covers the best in Negotiations and will save you a lot of time while adding a lot of value on the subject. I bought it from the U of Penn bookstore while visiting.

Call me Ted - Ted Turner's Biography - great for entrepreneurs, and people wondering about balance in their goals. Excellent view of the Media industry and of what it means to lead with vision. In my opinion it was more entertaining than many novels.

Conflicting Accounts: The Creation and Crash of the Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising Empire - Great view of Marketing and advertising industry as well as the Mergers and Acquisitions during the turbulent 80s, corporate/culture and politics.

If you have not lived in the US or haven't read it yet - Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a must read. It is one of the defining books of american business culture and a must read at many companies here.

The Tipping Point is also a great read. The broken glass theory applies to cities as much as it applies to Business, Management, and this forum :)

Selling your IT Business another book I got off the Wharton curriculum shelf - great for future entrepreneurs and venture capital guys.

Boston Consulting Group on Strategy - strong collection of writings on the subject and many seminal theories that are used today.

Michael Porter's books on Competition are also exceptionally important and a solid chunk of reading that may appear dry but falls into the category of must reads in business and strategy.
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2009, 21:21
Excellent list, MBAgirl.

For those interested in private equity (or even high level general management), these two seem to be really interesting.

The Private Equity Edge: How Private Equity Players and the World's Top Companies Build Value and Wealth by Arthur Laffer

http://www.amazon.com/Private-Equity-Ed ... 885&sr=8-1

Buyout: The Insider's Guide to Buying Your Own Company by Rick Rickertson

http://www.amazon.com/Buyout-Insiders-G ... _6_rdssss0
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 06 Oct 2009, 15:30
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This is where I completely disagree with good ol' Wharton.

If you are doing "business" as a career, continue reading business-oriented books for pleasure if you want to end up being completely DULL, unimaginative, and narrow minded. And with an encyclopedic knowledge of business buzzwords picked up from the latest business books of the day, you're guaranteed to bore anyone to death.

You'll get plenty of reading material in b-school that will more than satisfy any business geek - in fact, you'll get way more than you'll have time for.

What I do recommend is to read The Economist, Financial Times, etc. to keep updated on current affairs in the business world, but to read fiction and biographies to stimulate the imagination (which is something most MBA types don't have enough of and which they don't seem to value enough - even though the greatest business breakthroughs in our time came about because of imagination and creativity, and not because of some application of "the business buzzword of the week" that they read in some business book somewhere).

For example, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you're probably better off reading sci-fi and fantasy novels than reading the latest business book - because the former is more likely to exercise a part of the brain that you will need (imagination) to come up with your latest idea. So much of our scientific inventions were inspired by being little boys/girls and dreaming "what if..." after reading a comic book, graphic novel or sci-fi/fantasy novel. And frankly, it's a lot funner to read that than "Make Profit Now: The Dewey Howard Way (TM)" or some book written by a b-school prof whose writing is chock full of buzzwords that its incoherent.

I used to get all high and mighty and recommend people read the "great books", literature, etc.

But whether you're reading Harry Potter or re-reading Cervantes' Don Quixote, it's about reading stuff that stimulates the imagination. Because that is the most underdeveloped aspects that I see amongst b-school types. You want to be innovative? You want to be able to reinvent yourself? You want to be able to discover what gives you conviction? It's not in what you *know* but what you *imagine* it to be.

As some famous nuclear physicist named Albert Einstein once said, "imagination is more important than knowledge". Imagination is at the heart of so much of the coolest sh*t we've discovered - whether in science, in business, in arts, etc. It's the initial spark, the ignition switch that gets everything else going.

So read more Harry Potter. Maybe some Japanese anime. The latest book by David Sedaris. Or read Chekhov's short stories. Or maybe some beat poetry by Allen Ginsberg.

You don't know how important that sense of imagination really is in the workplace until you're surrounded by people that have very little of it.
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 06 Oct 2009, 15:53
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AlexMBAApply wrote:
it's about reading stuff that stimulates the imagination.


I completely agree with you, Alex. I come from a technical position and work across different teams. Ideas are abundant but I needed to pitch them up to business executives and I had no MBA, or a management/business title to back me up. The business books on the market were a good secondary source to learn how to present and shape ideas with some business judgement. These lists could be valuable to career switchers and with all the bs on the market I also think its good to see what people here have found as valuable reads.
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 06 Oct 2009, 19:01
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I can understand how you may feel that reading more business books may help, but it's actually of far less help than you'd think.

The clarity and specificity with which you present your ideas has more to do with your command of language than anything else. It has nothing to do with reading business books and picking up the latest lingo. The sharper minds amongst the mgmt team you are speaking to will see through all that.

The problem isn't about "translating technical mumbo jumbo into business mumbo jumbo" -- it's simply about being articulate, which is something that many business and technical folks alike have trouble with (and are less willing to admit, especially the "business types" who equate their use of the latest buzzwords to be the same as mastery of the English language).

You don't need to read business books to become more literate or more articulate. You simply need to read more of everything, period and preferably stuff outside of the exceptionally narrow world of business books. In fact, if you are in a technical field and have limited exposure (whether in school or personally) to the humanities, the worst thing you can do is to replace one set of technical lingo for another set of business lingo - you don't really broaden your perspective, expand your imagination, or improve your ability to communicate in a clear and articulate way.

Talking in corporate-speak and buzzword lingo is great for middle management - it's where buzzword bingo lives. But if you want to connect with folks at the executive level, it sure helps to be able to speak about Jan Vermeer's paintings, because chances are there's one hanging in the boardroom and the exec is also a collector. Moreover, you'll likely have had a stronger impression on the exec than had you just droned on and on about the latest management theory. And when it comes time for you to "officially" talk about something in a presentation, that same exec will more likely perk his/her ears up when you speak - and will listen.

It's not just "for fun" to read non-business stuff. It's a necessity if you aspire to work at a senior level. The CEOs, board members, VCs, partners at institutional funds, etc. aren't all juiced up about the latest business book. They have the time and wherewithal to indulge in stuff they enjoy - going to exhibitions and collecting art, remodeling their showhomes in the style of a certain period (and thus learning about architecture and design in the process), being passionately involved in political campaigning, collecting vintage guitars, collecting graphic novels, and so forth. The best way to connect to a person is to be able to talk to them about their interests outside of business. People like to talk business, but many would rather talk about something else. Connecting with someone based on common interests (outside of business) is the most effective way to get them to see you as a peer even for that fleeting moment (other than having a lot of money haha).

That's my point. With limited time as an MBA student, don't waste it by reading more business books. Broaden your interests. It's not only good in and of itself, it will help your career.

And one last thing. When you're "selling" an idea, it's not the idea they are buying into - it's YOU.
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 06 Oct 2009, 19:35
Look what I started.

I love this thread :)
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 01 Nov 2009, 22:34
MBAgirl2010 wrote:
I started reading Wharton curriculum books back in college, and I covered books like Nudge or Made to Stick by actually buying them for Kindle or in Audiobook format and listening to them during my commutes to work. The Kindle is perfect for books with no quantitive data because it has a strong text to speech function. When it comes to the titles mentioned in Wharton's reading list:

Made to Stick - excellent book both for MBA aps and prep - it shows how to be memorable, does it with examples, and the principles seem to work.

The World is Flat - inspiring on first read but overly optimistic and a bit shallow if you look deeper into their arguments through other reads. It will get you fired up on globalization.

Good to Great - Old read - most companies from that book are no longer great. For that reason it was soon followed by Build to Last - with a focus on staying great, longer.

Freakonomics - fun read :)

Predictably Irrational & Nudge - I swear those two base their theories on some of the same experiments analyzed by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point and Outliers. Only they conclude very different things. There are rumours that Nudge and P. I. , coming out of the University of Chicago academic crowd are now influencing Obama's policy and are used by the new administration. Either way -good reads.

On top of the list I would recommend:

The Snowball Effect - Warren Buffet's biography - it is extremely long and I got through it in over a month of 40 minute commutes, but it carries more value and essential wisdom than many of the books on the list combined. Buffet covers several financial downturns with amazing depth of reasons behind them, a great overview of the Salomon Brothers crisis (better than Liar's Poker) because he actually bailed the company out, and long-term financial growth principles that I think will last much longer than many fads, including the reasons for the current crisis. I highly recommend this book for entrepreneurship, management, finance etc.

Bargaining for Advantage - written by a Wharton professor, this tiny book covers the best in Negotiations and will save you a lot of time while adding a lot of value on the subject. I bought it from the U of Penn bookstore while visiting.

Call me Ted - Ted Turner's Biography - great for entrepreneurs, and people wondering about balance in their goals. Excellent view of the Media industry and of what it means to lead with vision. In my opinion it was more entertaining than many novels.

Conflicting Accounts: The Creation and Crash of the Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising Empire - Great view of Marketing and advertising industry as well as the Mergers and Acquisitions during the turbulent 80s, corporate/culture and politics.

If you have not lived in the US or haven't read it yet - Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a must read. It is one of the defining books of american business culture and a must read at many companies here.

The Tipping Point is also a great read. The broken glass theory applies to cities as much as it applies to Business, Management, and this forum :)

Selling your IT Business another book I got off the Wharton curriculum shelf - great for future entrepreneurs and venture capital guys.

Boston Consulting Group on Strategy - strong collection of writings on the subject and many seminal theories that are used today.

Michael Porter's books on Competition are also exceptionally important and a solid chunk of reading that may appear dry but falls into the category of must reads in business and strategy.


Interesting. I read two of those books. I like reading business books for my free time. The books I read from the list you have:

Made to stick- Great book. Learn a lot and is very hard to put down.

Call Me Ted- Great book. Not as much of a teaching tool as Made to stick, because it's in autobiography form rather than Made to Stick, which is a book that's supposed to be educational.

I also recommend and old classic:

Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People

Education of an Accidental CEO (by David Novak CEO of Yum Brands)

Finally, a book that's entertaining although not as educational as others is "Smartest Guys in the Room" about Enron.

I just ordered Snowball Effect. Hopefully, I like it.

Finally a question, will reading business books on my own time as a hobby be seen as a positive by b-schools? Or do they not care at all?
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2009, 17:19
I agree with everyone on this thread and with anything in life, these are all good in moderation! I always like to read 2 or 3 books at a time...with one being a business/personal improvement book, one being a work of fiction, and lastly a biography/autobiography as I have always been intrigued my other people's life/adventure (makes ANYTHING seem possible) :lol:

Usually we read a few pages of each a night or with my free time, but varying my reading keeps it interesting.

Additionally, try to read/watch *cough* non-biased newspapers/new programs to keep up to date on current affairs. I know this is very hard in this day and age as it seems that being on the extremes is extremely popular with modern media.
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Re: Pre-MBA reading list   [#permalink] 04 Nov 2009, 17:19
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