77 | Do You Need An MBA To Be Successful? A Discussion on Education

YouTube Link: http://youtu.be/8C8KZLTlS0M

If you think getting your MBA is your ticket to the good life…think again.
Having your MBA can be extremely valuable IF you know you’re WHY.

On today’s show, you will learn:

  • Do you need an MBA to get the “corner office”?
  • Why a mindset shift is crucial
  • Active vs. Passive Learning
  • When to hire an MBA
  • The only reason you should get your MBA
  • Is college a “must”?
  • Why you must teach yourself to continue to learn
  • The Importance of learning from experts
  • Self-taught vs. MBA
  • What it takes to be successful

How has an MBA or some form of intentional learning helped you?
What are you doing now to grow?



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

9 thoughts on “77 | Do You Need An MBA To Be Successful? A Discussion on Education”

  1. Love the podcast. I would like to add my own experience. I am both an avid “self educator” and a very recent MBA grad from a relatively prestigious business school. While I am not in the corner office (yet) I have already seen concrete, direct impact from these educational experiences. I have also spent considerable time talking with successful business leaders (both MBA grads and not) trying to understand what has made them successful.

    Pros for MBA

    forced study – very, very few people are disciplined enough to replicate the enforced deadlines of an MBA. Don’t kid yourself…you are not that person. My MBA experience was intense and there were many nights where I worked well into the early AM hours to get my work done. People just don’t do that on their own. Besides, If you are that disciplined already I doubt the MBA will benefit you. You are already in the 99th percentile and will find a way of getting things done.

    professional network – If you get into a good school your professional network will become incredibly valuable. Whether you like it or not, who you know is nearly as important as what you know.

    guided learning – How does the quote go? “A self taught man has a poor master”. It is helpful to have an expert guide you to the important topics and highlight key elements. Also the interactive learning is crucial in some fields like finance and decision sciences.

    cachet – having the MBA on your resume (and in some cases a top 10 MBA) is the only way you will be considered for certain roles. In particular if you want to work for specific consulting or finance firms you HAVE to have an MBA from a particular school with a near perfect GPA. Like it or not it is the criteria they use.


    If you look at graduates from MBA programs, especially top tier programs, you will see a disproportionately high number of very successful individuals. The number of VP’s, directors, and successful entrepreneurs in my personal circle is unusually high and a direct result of connections made during my time in my MBA.

    But there is a cause vs. correlation issue here. The cohort of students I went to school with were already a self selected group of high performers. They probably would have found a way to succeed with or without the education. The defining characteristic of these students was not their intellect (though many of them were brilliant) it was their work ethic and their drive.

    Also, I have several good friends, some without even a college education, who have absolutely killed it in the marketplace. No MBA, no business education, nothing. I have a very good friend who, while several years behind me and having just a degree from a Bible school under his belt, is doing much better than I am in terms of raw income.

    Bottom LIne

    B school is certainly helpful but don’t rely on it to make you successful on its own. It is a small piece of a much larger picture involving discipline, persistence, connections, effort, self learning, and luck.

    An MBA is not a degree you get for self actualization. If you want that go take a pottery course or something. A good MBA program is ton of work meant to help build pragmatic, practical skills. Also it costs a lot of money and if you are going to a top 10 or top 100 school may not have the ROI you expect.

    If your company provides tuition reimbursement I think getting an MBA is a no brainer but if you are paying for it yourself you need to count the costs very, very carefully.

    And whatever you do please don’t finance it. Find a way to cash flow it. You will be much happier after the fact.

    Ok Chris, back to you

    1. Great points, William. I was going to comment similarly after listening to the podcast, but I won’t repeat all your points. I would only reiterate that there is a huge difference between a top tier program and other MBA degrees. I would make the same decision again to get my MBA from Kellogg. The notion of understanding your WHY (or Simon Sinek’s Start with Why) before deciding whether to get your MBA (or any other education) is a great point. The WHY could have been unpacked more effectively in deciding whether to get an MBA if this podcast had not been used to push fallacious arguments against an MBA.

  2. So…. As I was browsing Facebook today (minding my own business) I received a notification that I was tagged in a post. The post stated…. “Melissa Dunston, this is for you!!Just listen and process!! You are very intelligent and you know this!!!!!” Below it there was a link to your podcast and it said MBA. Being it was my sister, who will remain nameless til the end(lol), I just knew it was encouragement. Needless to say, I am on the fence…. Not because of the opinions shared, but for the first time since I started my MBA, I actually thought about WHY?
    Little background about me; dropped out of school @ 16, returned to get GED when I was 20. I tried my hand at several different career objectives but none stuck. I began working in Education in several roles; Substitute Teacher, Teacher Assistant, Bus Driver, Office Support, Transportation Supervisor, and now HR/Finance Officer/Assistant to the Executive Director (in that order) while chasing after my career goals; I was also in College full time and a full time mom of 2 teen girls. I managed to graduate with honors for Associates, then continued to Ecu where I wanted to do my BA but instead allowed fear to tell me that I would not be able to do it because of the math. (I have a phobia of #&letters in the same place;)) So I did Interpersonal Communications with minor in business. Graduated again, top of class. I was done, so I thought. For 6 months I looked for a position in the field that I would be able to use my gained knowledge from experience and a 4 year degree, I just knew I was a Gem and any employer would be excited to have an employee as driven as I was…. And nothing! 3 times I was interviewed for 3 different positions with the same organization and 3 times I was told no. I was broken from that experience because of the feedback I received. I was “cocky”, arrogant, over confident, and over qualified; my response was,”I’m sorry I intimidated you.”
    My ultimate goal is to be a Business Consultant. For some crazy reason I enjoy looking at organizations, finding what is not working and what is, then creating a plan as to how to fix it.
    I have been with a non profit Charter for 1 year, in that year I have been able to assess the needs and provide a plan as to how we would move forward.
    My question is this… Being not everyone is as open to hiring a hungry employee as you; how do you validate your knowledge and experience if you are not even given the chance because you do not have those 3 letters behind your name? You reference a Melissa in your podcast; sounds like we are fierce individuals because in addition to doing my MBA I am self teaching; eating any crumb that falls off the plate of my leaders.

    I do feel that I am in a very frustrating situation. I know what I am capable of, and if you are around me for 30 minutes you then know. Problem is finding someone who believes in me as much as I do…. Jury’s still out, and it sucks! (No, I do not lack In confidence; lol) p.s. Michelle Sealey tagged me

    1. Melissa, I am no Chris Locurto, Joel Fortner, etc… but a small word of personal experience. I have encountered some of the same things. I can come across as aggressive, over confident, cocky, etc… Historically I would find myself turning people off and unintentionally making enemies…and could not figure out what was wrong. I was baffled (nuance is not my thing). I was “just being me”.

      Chris Locurto and another podcaster Mark Horstman (Manager-Tools) turned me onto the DISC profile. I have taken the assessment a couple of times and come in as off the chart I/D. Basically, this means my default behavior will be construed as overbearing by at least half the population.

      I had to religiously study the different DISC profiles and very purposefully adjust my behavior to the needs of the people I was trying to communicate with. As Drucker says “Communication is what the listener does” and Horstman “I’d rather be effective than right”.

      Anyway that is what has helped me. Take the DISC assessment on Chris’s site. You might find it useful.

  3. I’ve been listening to your podcasts for a few years now they are always encouraging and inspiring. This one definitely struck a cord with me. In 2007 at 27 I started my own business which is doing pretty well. I never went to college yet alone an MBA and always had in the back of my mind that was holding me back. Over the past 3 years I have been listening to and devouring podcasts (10 a week at least). I have come to call them “RJ college” the catch is no tests or exams those happen in real life when I actually apply what I listen to. Keep up the good work!

  4. I have been on a journey to get a bachelors in business for a couple years now. But I have an end goal in mind. I do not plan on going for an MBA. And I am going the CLEP/DSST route. As I study for each test, I see things differently. Even though I am just a subordinate ( I know Chris, you hate that term), sometimes I am able to see things from such a different perspective from my supervisors and managers. They have tons of front line experiance, and they are good at crisis management, but they rose from the ranks and have not been encouraged to push themselves.
    There are a lot of good managers, but they would be great managers if they did push themselves to learn just basic principles. And there is so much free online. Even if you don’t go off and get the degree, if someone needed to know where to start, use the college degree plan. Pick a subject/class/test and study for it on your own. In between read the stand alone books like “tho shall prosper”.
    Great stuff. Love it!

  5. Loved this episode Chris! Just goes to show that everyone has the potential to succeed and that having an MBA isn’t a guarantee especially if you’re getting it for the wrong reason. People have been telling me to get an MBA because apparently, it would help me further my career as a manager since most companies look at those who have MBAs over those that doesn’t and listening to this podcast only proved me right in saying it’s not the determining factor. Your podcast alone is enough to educate people like myself in leading a group of individuals while improving my self in the process. I regularly listen to your podcast and even referenced it in some of my blog posts for my readers to try it out. I’m glad your coming out with more episodes lately. Keep producing great content Chris because you are helping a lot of people through your podcast!

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