If big billionaires like Elon Musk, Jack Ma, Ray Dalio, Peter Thiel, Charlie Munger, and many more say that MBAs are not useful, why do people keep doing them?

Image by Kristine A from Pixabay

Look, I don’t have the time to go through each of these famous names’ bios online (Wiki and stuff). So, I’m gonna make this wild and blind guess.

They would have only if they could have!

What’s that supposed to mean?

The majority of successful entrepreneurs I know or I have heard of or read about couldn’t afford to study at some university, let alone finance their MBA studies. At the same time, you have the most prestigious universities, business, and MBA schools in the world, which invite business “celebrities” to give speeches on special occasions (graduations, acceptance ceremonies of new students, etc.).

You reach a point when you can literally buy the whole business school or university, but that’s not the point.

Here’s a useful comparison. I’ve been a part of the freelance industry for more than ten years. I can tell you first-hand that the most successful, experienced, and knowledgeable developers in the world simply didn’t have the time to graduate. Later it became pointless and with all due respect a waste of time for them to get a degree.

Many of my colleagues and friends either paid or get scholarships or had their companies cover the costs of MBA studies. Why?

Because any degree isn’t about guarantees, but rather about increasing your chances of success.

One more VERY IMPORTANT THING!!

The names mentioned in this question may not have an MBA, but I’m pretty much sure that they have to learn very hard to obtain an official, so to speak, real-business-life MBA. Their experience is invaluable that they can easily become lecturers rather than students. They can be the ones to do the talking not listening, if you know what I mean.

After I finished my business law studies, I used to be so close to getting the full scholarship for the MBA in cyber law. I would’ve been one of the first generations in the world, back then, with that kind of a degree. However, because of the political situation in my country, and the whole region back then, they offered me only something related to human rights. I said “no,” and the rest is my personal history of the unique mixture of business, sales, and freelance working experience.

Nowadays, when I look back at my life, from this perspective, I shouldn’t have been anywhere near the university. For that matter, I didn’t need the high school either. I support my family based on things I learned myself and in my free time. That’s the reason I couldn’t care less about the formal education of my only child. But, I’ve never said, hey let’s go turn all the schools into something else because we don’t need them.

Knowledge is power. True. But, knowledge needs a home. Also true. There are both formal and informal ways of getting knowledge.

You’d be surprised how many courses some entrepreneurs, I personally know, took and how many books they read. They spent more money and time to learn what they needed to learn through “informal education” channels compared to the “regular” MBAs.

Finally, getting an MBA doesn’t mark the finish, but only the beginning of your business journey. The only difference I see is that some entrepreneurs have their MBAs on the walls framed while others have them in their heads.

Originally published as a Quora answer in Entrepreneurial Mindset.

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Eight-Time "Noonies" Writing Award Winner

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