Most Expensive School In The World

Last week I had a privilege to be a guest speaker at Profesia Days in Prague – biggest job fair in Czech republic. I was asked to speak to HR professionals and students on “my favourite teacher” topic.

Here’s what I had to say:

My best friend went through Harvard MBA. One thing that was new for me, was style of learning. It was all based on case studies. 500 case studies in 2 years. You read your case, think about it. Then you discuss with your study group. Then you discuss with whole class with professor leading the discussion. Different cases, different companies, different industries. Many times CEO’s from discussed companies come over and give you some more perspective on a case. After two years you can say, you have seen it all.

One of the things I took from this approach, is that you are learning from other people’s mistakes. You read, study and discuss what worked and what didn’t to make sure you will not do same mistake in your business and personal life. There is a very clear motivation to avoid these mistakes – they are very costly. I would argue I paid more for mistakes I made than I would pay for Harvard MBA.

Just 2 recent examples.
For years I was convinced and argued with everyone that local celebrity chefs don’t increase number of visitors of food festivals. This year we have opted for a lesson. We hired country’s most famous chef to have cooking show plus some additional presence on our food festival. Result? We have learned that it indeed doesn’t bring more visitors. Price for this lesson was at $4K.

Mistake in hiring last year or weak on-boarding and succession planning? I still don’t know, but great lesson again. Yes, you guess. Almost $50k price tag attached.

My message here is very simple. Learn as much as you can from other people mistakes to make sure you avoid doing them yourself. Couple things to help you on the way:

i) books
No problem is new. If you have a problem, somebody had it before you and it is very likely they wrote a book about it if problem was worthy. Or there is blog, article or website about it. Read and learn – as much as you can.

ii) friends
People you meet on regular basis have the most influence on your life. It is proven fact that with people you meet on regular basis, sooner or later your income will become more or less same (20% variance). Choose wisely who you spend your time with. Be with people who inspire and motivate you, from whom you can learn and who will give you honest feedback on what you do.

iii) reflection
Seems we are in constant chase for growth and some holy grail of happy and successful living. Stopping for a moment here and there will help you reflect on what worked for you and what didn’t so you can learn from your own past and not to repeat mistakes again.
Paying for learning is fine, but paying twice for same lesson is stupid.

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