The altMBA is expensive. It’s $3,850, but more than that entry fee – it’s extremely expensive when it comes to the time it will ask of you. But what this post will get to the bottom of is ‘is it worth that time and money?’
- You may think I’m going to shill for Seth Godin.
- You may think I’m going to use this as an opportunity for self-promotion.
- You may think I’m going to make it seem like I’m going to diss, then praise the AltMBA.
Instead, I’ve given a somewhat more nuanced approach to whether or not the altMBA will work for you, as well as curated 10+ altMBA reviews from others, from several different perspectives to help you get to the bottom of whether it will be a great choice for you.
5 Months Later Update! – Maybe I will shill a bit.
As many of the points of the altMBA have sunk in – I’ve come to a further conclusion than when I originally wrote this blog post. Some of the takeaways from further in this altMBA review, have made a bigger and deeper impact than I originally had thought. Particularly “asking better questions,” “constraints as opportunities”, “implementing a better culture”, and “creating a compelling vision and sharing that with my team.”
Though some of these weren’t directly related to the curriculum of altMBA, and rather related to the amazingly talented people that composed a good chunk of my ‘cohort’, they have made a deep and lasting impact that was hard to see right after I took the course which was when I wrote this post.
Sometimes you don’t see the growth you’ve had until some time has passed. Read on – for the key points I’m talking about to be elaborated on further.
A backstory on me and my context going into the altMBA
I first came across Seth Godin when I read Purple Cow – around 11 or 12 years ago, and I was introduced to marketing in a new, strange way. It sounded fun.
I had a winding road to get to marketing that went through playing music (and trying to market it) in a classic rock band in Dallas, Texas, then attending school to learn web design and development, becoming a marketing director at a marketing agency, and then starting my own business and taking it full-time.
Landing here, at 33 with my own company with my wife and 4 employees besides us.
I’m ready to invest in myself, my growth, and my companies well-being – even if that means spending on ongoing education to learn awesome things about marketing and business. That’s the general way I approached the altMBA – but 3.8k is a lot of money for sure, still to me. So the thing, of course, has to be good.
- The experience felt a bit more impromptu and self-run than many in the groups fully understood before they got in.
- There wasn’t as much ‘filtering’ as I thought there would be to get in. Many people seemed to not be super clear on what they were doing with their lives or careers – even though I kind of figured because of the way they made it seem like the vetting system would be stringent that there would be only people pushing hard on their disciplines or trades.
- Ultimately, I’m not sure I can suggest or not suggest the altMBA because it depends on what 3.8k is worth to you, and if general ‘meaningful thought-provoking questions’ by some smart people in a month push to better yourself is enough to justify that price tag. Perhaps a study of 5-10 really well-curated books – and some strongly worded writing prompts in a group could do the same, it’s just most of us wouldn’t know exactly where to start to produce that same effect.
That’s why – I’m very glad I did it, despite #1 and #2.
My Experience & 3 HUGE Takeaways
I was ripped up, torn down, and re-built within the altMBA. 20+ hours a week of discussion with peers, writing on thoughtfully crafted writing prompts and giving and getting feedback. Here are the biggest takeaways I have from doing the altMBA.
- Because of the number of times we had to give and answer good questions – a more visceral/clear understanding of the power of a really thoughtful question.
- A deeper appreciation for getting to the bottom of ‘who is it for?’ when starting a project.
- A number of questions really that were worked throughout the assignments like ‘What does this remind me of” are now apart of my daily work, as I run our little marketing agency. When I was in school for design, a painting teacher talked about ‘ish-ness’ meaning the general feel of something, and to me, this helped me apply that idea to a marketing campaign to draw out deeper opportunities by correlating it to things that already exist.
I definitely had epiphanies along the way, one of the ones toward the end was simply to apply the advice I was planning on giving to someone to myself, and how huge that would be for me and that person. I certainly was turned on to a number of books – podcasts, and resources through the people in my ‘cohort’, and had a couple of amazing days working with people.
Though the whole thing was extremely tiring towards the end, I emerged refreshed – and ready to crack open a new world for myself and my company.
Now… I will share some other really interesting takes I found elsewhere before sharing criteria by which you might want to make your decision.
Top 3 Reviews I found online
‘The altMBA ISN’T worth it’
From Quora (the top-rated answer besides Seth’s himself)
I was in the first altMBA class a few years ago. My advice is it is useful for the majority, not the minority. Which makes sense.It was not worth the resources for me. Here is why.
Understand it has been awhile. The class may have changed since I took it. And my lack of satisfaction is no ones fault. I think it simply wasn’t made for people like me.
The primary reason I feel it was not worth it for me, was because I am addicted to Seth Godin. I have gotten every Seth Godin book I could. Including some that very few others have, and one Seth Godin action figure. Naturally, I have watched as many online videos of Seth as I could find. So a number of the pieces in the course were covered several times in depth in those materials. More than that, I have endeavored to put those concepts in practice. So a number of the workshops in the course were covering things I had already done. So I feel I wasn’t exposed to much I hadn’t already been exposed to.
Another reason, is I felt like I wasn’t among peers. For starters, the majority of the people I engaged with were not founders like me. When we talked, something was just missing, and I think it was related to them not having started something themselves. Similarly, when I tried to discuss esoteric edge cases that were critical to me, no one really understood what I was getting at, let alone having something to add. I think I was so drawn in by the connection I had with Seth’s work, I mentally forgot I wouldn’t be engaging with him. However, this has happened before. My dad was part of a Purple Cow community, and the concept was excellent, but for him, the community fell flat. Which makes sense. In general, the people we want to engage with, are busy doing things.
Hope this helps! Years later…
– David Richards, Founder (2016-present)
‘The altMBA IS worth it’
From Reddit (the top up-voted answer on a thread that ranks very high for ‘altMBA reviews’:
“I too am a recent altMBA (7) alumni. I think it totally depends on the unique combination of where a person is at, how they respond to Seth Godin’s somewhat counter-cultural approach, if they absorbed (literally) the content and concepts in 7-8 books shipped to you a month in advance (no direction, up to participant what they do with it), and how quickly you get up-to-speed on the tech tools, weekly team work, every-other-day-posting to a student blog, and how much you embrace and wrestle with the 1/2 dozen pillars of the altMBA … tension, facing the fear, empathy, sunk cost, constraints, our human irrationality, and … shipping. If that clicks with where you find yourself personally, professionally, vocationally, transitionally? you’re probably good … the calibre of the people is awesome, the safety/trust in (on-line) community was remarkable, the on-going alumni network (pushing 1000 now, after 7x) remains connected and collaborative, and the altMBA has a completion rate north of 90% … so it’s working for lots of people. Check out the interview below w/ altMBA director about the design of it. Bottom line? it’s called the alt(ernative)MBA for good reason … it is quick (5 weeks), intense (modelling programme values and goals), cheap ($3K nowhere close to anything else for the experience, if it works for you, and you’re in the satisfied 90% +), and based on what alumni are doing post altMBA? Mostly achieving what it was designed for with the kind of people it was designed for. It’s a niche, a good one, but not for everyone. My 2c worth”
– Reddit User / altMBA fan
‘The altMBA ISN’T worth it’
From Reddit (the top up-voted answer on a thread that ranks very high for ‘altMBA reviews’:
“Premise: I love Seth Godin, I have read all of his book and follow his blog. I am a big follower of what he preaches. That’s what made me sign up for altMBA.
The good about altMBA: it’s very well organized, you’ll know what to do, how and when.
What I did in the altMBA: we did projects. Some are group projects, some are individual projects. A project is about writing a blog post, some posts are simpler than other, some are personal, some are about business. Some involve research on the topic, some are similar to case studies in business school.
Who’s it for? Non technical business people. It’s suitable more for people working in large organizations than in small business; more for middle management than for start-ups.
If you’re a technical person or are looking to start your own business and want to get better experience than the altMBA you’re better off starting your own business blog and commit to write 3 articles per week, write about your business life, problems you have, situations you encounter; and as you go along research those issues and write about possible solutions, no need to spend 3K.
You can see the projects published by searching for the keywords altmba1, altmba2, altmba3, altmba4, altmba5, altmba6; you’ll see blog posts, prompts and videos.”
– altMBA alumni / Reddit User / altMBA critic
3 Clear criteria for determining whether altMBA will be worth it for you
- You’ve got big decisions to make in your professional life.
- You want to get better at asking good questions, and want to get better at receiving good questions.
- You understand that investing 10 hours a week, $320.83 a session – could save you a lot of time and money later on.
The 13 Writing prompts key takeaways for me in a cliff notes format
Perhaps this is partly for my own reference, or to consider whether the general topics of the course will make sense for you and where you’re at and what you’re trying to do.
- Set goals – benefits, obstacles, skills and knowledge, who to work with … plan – deadline
- Business models – listing out as many ideas as possible – brainwriting = better than brainstorming because one person doesn’t dominate, write and then come back together.
- How will we know when we’ve succeeded.. what has to finish to start.. project dependencies. –
- Empathy for the customer, with understanding of why they would buy for customer.. What do THEY want their life to look like?
- Ask why and keep getting deeper on the outcome here? What’s the worldview of the customer?
- What does this remind you of? 1 Big step, or 3 incremental steps today towards this vision TODAY.
- Where do decisions die? How can work around that hangup? Especially on elements that really matter? How can we create pragmatic solutions to solve for this?
- What are purposeful pauses in this process? Can we subtract from our writing, and inject pauses into our writing- and try to imply rather than explicitly state? Allow others to get to conclusions not just push / or walk them all the way. Complementing exercise – Thinking of others. How can you nurture the worldview you want in your organization. How will I build our organization around these principles, what will I do deliberately to get that? How will I acknowledge and nurture the positive of what WE’ve individually done too.
- What do constraints do we have? List them.What would we do if there weren’t any constraints, or they weren’t as powerful as we think?
- List out the assets of the project, it’s boundaries and narratives. How could those change?
- What are opportunity costs you’re not currently considering – list them all out?
- Consider some of the best speaking people and principles from Garr Reynolds, Duarte, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King – pitch the change you want to see in a 3 minute video and ship it.
- How can you get folks to enroll by listening? How can you be with them, go together? What will enrollment look like?
7 More altMBA reviews / videos that may be interesting to you
Do IT! and a Key takeaway from the altMBA
Reflection on of the first few projects – Come up with 99 Business Ideas
11 Reasons Seth Godin achieves 96% completion of his AltMBA
Could be difficult for family members – but at least his wife loves it!
Unboxing course materials – first reaction
An amazing experience & “What I learned in the altMBA”
A unique opportunity to grow in ways I never have because I’ve been so focused on one thing. Really challenging and inspiring.
So thank you for checking out this curated group of reviews of Seth Godin’s altMBA! Would love to hear your experiences below – how did you feel about the altMBA! What questions do you have? I’ll try to answer them for folks that are considering doing it!
Thank you for posting this, it’s very interesting and helpful. Many thanks for the time you put into compiling this. Is it possible/allowed for you to explain what #6 means – “What does this remind you of?” I’m not sure what this is getting after, but it seems interesting. But I want to be respectful of the class. Thanks!
You’d have to take the course to find out 😉 – no really, it just means… is there a similar campaign or type of media thing you’ve seen before that it reminds you of… What does it “smell like” – the reasoning is because then you might get new ideas from thinking of similar items like it.