Saturday, February 2, 2013

Personal MBA Paris

Personal MBA Paris is not a big idea, it's not supposed to be the "next big thing". Rather, it's the sum of many things that have been accumulating in my mind over the past 3 or 4 years :

- Back in 2009, this life-changing day happened, where I decided to actually use all the tools and concepts I knew about personal goal setting: we sat with a friend in our living room, with an almost blank sheet in front of each of us, and for six hours straight we were trying to reach deep inside our respective minds and pull out some great ambition for our lives and make up our minds on how we would change the world. The sheets were not entirely blank, they had some questions on them, some powerful questions that helped direct the "soul-searching" process. After that day, we still had to continue and refine the ideas separately, but I had already defined a broad plan for what I wanted for my next 3 to 5 years. It included a radical shift of career towards sustainability, working in a highly multicultural and multilingual environment, and graduating from a world-renown MBA program.
The point about the MBA is that I saw it as a way to help quicken my career shift, and I was meeting some MBA graduates at the time who explained it had impacted their lives in "oh so many ways" and had been critically instrumental in making them land exactly where they wanted to. On the other hand, I could already perceive that another thing all MBA graduates said was "you know, in the end it's not about the classes, hey let's say it, it's not even about the job you land afterwards : it's all about the people you meet during the experience, and the network: if I get an assignment next month that sends me to Kuala Lumpur, I can just pick up the alumni directory, phone up some of the guys who live there and I'll be crashing their couch and we'll sip French wine while discussing local business and globalization as if we'd been old friends, because we share the [insert business school name] MBA experience." And they had stars in their eyes when they said that last part. And when I heard them, I had stars in my own eyes... because I already knew exactly what they were talking about: I had that experience from before already, and I had that network, that kind of bond to a worldwide community of strangers. I got it all with Aiesec.
So I thought : if that's really what it brought them, what they think was a good part of the value they got for the money... do I really need to put in tens of thousands of dollars for something I already have? True, it's not the same network: MBA alumni have a business dimension that is hard to match. But the Aiesec network is quite an entrepreneurial too, and with 60 years of existence and over 110 countries today, it beats most MBA networks in terms of multiculturalism and global presence.
Already a few months after deciding I wanted to do a prestigious MBA, I was having doubts. This was a problem.

- Early in 2010, the first TEDxParis was organized, and I was lucky enough to get a free seat there, and the experience totally lived up to its promise. The quality of the speakers, the interaction allowed with them during the intermission, the mindset of the attending crowd. After seeing so many TED talks online, some of which did really blow my mind, the experience of the actual event, the energy in the place, set the bar at a whole new level. I thought this kind of events should have existed since long ago, and wondered if the open classes the top Greek philosophers had among themselves, being peers and challengers to one another, somehow resembled a TEDx event. I made a resolution to follow up on this TEDx concept and see how it could be done some other way, even more open to the public, or replicated at a smaller scale, but more often.

- Just after the event, I was so enthusiastic about the idea of learning directly from other people that I actually organized something like a TEDx, with my flatmates and a group of friend. I was sharing a flat with three totally amazing people, all former Aiesec members (!) and in no time we had rounded up a dozen of people who wanted to participate to the "home made TEDx", at least as test-audience! The initiative was short-lived as we only had one session, but the feedback was still great and we had a chance to be impressed by our friends about how they presented a topic they were truly passionate about, and the talks actually had some impact on our lives at the time.
Since then, I've had this thought at the back of my mind that I want to try a few other things around the concept of "education among peers".

- Some time later in 2010, I stumbled upon a French professional blogger who had done a Personal MBA. As I read more about the concept, and saw what it could bring and how it delivered value, I thought I had found something really. I made a resolution to take a more serious look at it when I was ready to start my MBA education.
It was around that time that I started discussing more and more a crazy idea: the idea of a world tour to revolutionize social innovation and accelerate the up-scaling of social businesses.
Well, that happened, and during the world tour I thought that I should start a personal MBA as I came back.
After a few months of reverse cultural shock, I was ready, so I started this in January 2013, expected to finish in 52 weeks.
I'll be posting, here or there, at the pace of 1 each week, the summary of the business book I read.

But because I can never do things like they are supposed to, I'll try and gather a group of friends around this initiative, so that we can :
- discuss and augment the list of books to have in the curriculum
- make their own summaries of the books they read, and we'd comment each other's reviews
- buy some of the books, so we share the cost between all of us
- review progress and keep each other accountable.

This is the start, it's gonna be great :)

1 comment:

  1. Awesome initiative Jean! I'm glad to see you found your way ;-)

    Sophie C-J