5 (more) ridiculous things I learned were being taught in business school this week

Note before reading: I have withdrawn from the program that offered the examples I provide below. Time is the most important asset and I couldn't waste any more of it in a program that provided more "WTF" content for my blog than it did my education. After a great deal of consideration I elected to enroll in a highly ranked Executive MBA program at a different school.   

Well, business school strikes again. 

About a month and a half ago I wrote a short summary of what I was learning in a business school that’s reported to be one of the top 50 in the United States. You can read the full post here. If you don’t feel like getting caught up, let me summarize it with this actual factoid offered up in our MBA reading: 

“The internet is really best for sharing information, not for selling things.”

Yes, that’s what students are learning at (at least) one business school. The information being taught is not just outdated, it's inaccurate. And just in case you thought it was a fluke chapter or section, here is an update on what we learned this week. 

5) Technology that allows advertisers to address users by name has been adopted in Israel and will soon be available in the U.S. 

Gasp. We will be able to identify individuals and use their name in digital advertising soon? When I was researching diamonds for my wife’s engagement ring, I had to clear my browser’s cache and browse in a private browser because Facebook and Amazon knew what I was shopping for elsewhere and would show me nothing but jewelry ads, which could've been a massive surprise spoiler. Calling me by my first name in an ad doesn’t impress me. 

4) Instant messenger is the “new kid on the block,” but growing up fast. In fact, Yahoo! Messenger has released IMVironments, which allows users to customize their messenger application with brands such as Polaroid. 

So, where to start? IM is clearly not the new kid on the block. Slack is. Yahoo! hasn’t released a stable version of their messenger service in over 3 years. And Polaroid is hardly a company people are looking to brand their personal messenger services with. Unless you’re a Donald Trump supporter, who in the hell wants to get that strongly behind a brand that filed for multiple bankruptcies in the 2000’s? 

3) DVRs are only in 5% of American homes, but growing fast. 

Flash forward 10+ years. 66% of households with incomes above $75,000 and 30% of households with incomes below $30,000 have a DVR. 25% of households that don’t currently have a DVR in the household, used to. 

The book was trying to speak to the challenges advertisers face as the habits of TV viewers change. That point would be better made by informing students that 76% U.S. households have DVR, Netflix, or use on-demand viewing. What the book was presenting as forward looking has already been recognized, and passed. Advertisers face a slew of newer challenges with streaming, on-demand, and mobile viewing, none of which are referenced in the particular course on consumer behavior. 

2) Although online advertising declined in 2 of the past 3 years, it is on the rise. And mobile marketing is in its infancy, now representing a $3 billion market. 

Yes, online and mobile advertising is on the rise. That much is correct. But the trend is overwhelmingly upwards and incredibly consistent. Evidence of this is the fact that mobile marketing alone now represents a market of more than $19 billion, not the $3 billion stated in the reading, which is probably just a small rounding error. Online advertising as a whole represents well over $40 billion in revenue, more than broadcast or cable television advertising. 

Most notable, however, is what is missing. Reading references search advertising and SMS advertising (which most consumers can attest to, was never really a thing), but fails to mention anywhere in the online advertising conversation the small contenders like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. 

And, as usual, I’ve saved the best for last. 

1) Blogs, or weblogs, are being invaded by corporate America. Examples of this include GreenCine, an online DVD rental company, and Nerve.com, an online magazine and dating service. 

Well, let’s just assume I don’t need to explain that corporate America has completed its invasion of “blog land,” as was reported to be underway in the reading. 

I may, however, need to explain who GreenCine is, since they are defunct. GreenCine was a DVD rental company similar to Netflix. GreenCine, however, carried a wide range of independent, rare, and anime, as well as porn on its sister site, BlueCine. 

Did someone say porn? Yes. And speaking of which, there’s Nerve.com, which is an online magazine. Kind of. Given that it was my first visit to the site suggested by my MBA reading, I was a little startled to see the site’s “Cum Shots” section. Yes, you read that correctly. 

In this section you’ll find doozies such as: 


I’m not on a crusade against porn. I do, however, find it fascinating that a decade ago, the authors couldn’t find two better examples of companies that were using blogs. And it's equally fascinating that this is still the content at least one graduate level professor elects to keep year after year (after year, after year, after year). 

The curriculum would be funny, if only it weren’t. The cost and return on investment of an MBA aside, as a student with very limited time due to actually conducting business, completing courses like this is beyond frustrating. It is a waste of time. It’s an exercise in going through motions, valuing activity over productivity, and putting style (the degree) over substance (the knowledge). I couldn’t think of lessons any worse to be teaching future business leaders. 

The top 5 things I learned in business school this week

Note before reading: I have withdrawn from the program that offered the examples I provide below. Time is the most important asset and I couldn't waste any more of it in a program that provided more "WTF" content for my blog than it did my education. After a great deal of consideration I elected to enroll in a highly ranked Executive MBA program at a different school.  

Don’t judge me, but I’m working on getting my MBA. I have some reservations about the effort, some of which Gary Vaynerchuk bluntly expresses here:

Solid points. I'd add that nearly every business skillI I have, I've learned from experience, not a professor. 

Nevertheless, I’m enrolled and making progress on getting a piece of paper that qualifies me as a "master" of business. Why? Well, for starters, it's an employment benefit and I’m not paying for it. Plus, I’m a nerd and find learning pretty fun, so why the hell not?  

As someone enrolled in MBA classes thinking I can actually apply what I am learning to my businesses, these past couple weeks have been a massive fucking disappointment.

To enlighten you as to just what I mean, I’ve taken the liberty to list the top 5 things I’ve learned in the past week from my MBA classes. Before you read, please, I beg you, check the date of this post. It’s not a typo. And this is legitimately what my required reading is at the moment.  

Without further ado, here’s what I’m “learning” about consumer behavior in my MBA program:

5. Google is rapidly taking over as the internet’s top search engine, recently overtaking Yahoo as the leader. 

From the textbook:

"Yahoo lost the top spot by 2003, with the gap between Google and Yahoo becoming even greater with the following year."

Thanks for the breaking news, business school. Looks like I better stop sending MSN my search advertising budget. 

4. Longaberger is a great example of how to successfully execute direct selling.

From the textbook:

“Longaberger is the premier maker of American-made handcrafted baskets and other quality home and lifestyle products. Annual sales of 8 million baskets and a total of 30 million pottery, dinnerware, wrought-iron, and other home products are accomplished by nearly 70,000 independent home consultants nationwide who sell Longaberger products directly to customers. Led by CEO Tami Longaberger, the company was ranked the eighteenth largest woman-owned U.S. company by Working Woman in 2001.”

Who the hell is Longaberger? Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. As it turns out, so was their most recent President, Michael Somoroff when he was offered the job, which he took for 6 months before departing. Somoroff is just one of 7 presidents Longaberger has had in the past 10 years and since 2000, the company has seen revenues fall from $1 billion to about $100 million. If I’m going to learn anything from this company, it might be what not to do.

3. Catalog sales are growing dramatically. 

From the textbook:

“Catalog buying has experienced dramatic growth in recent years, averaging about 7 percent per year growth in sales (at least twice as high as location-based retailers).”

Well shit, here I’ve been working to integrate an effective inbound marketing strategy using valuable and relevant content for one of my businesses and I didn’t even stop to consider printing out expensive magazines and mass mailing them across the planet. I have to alert my sales team of this innovative approach. 

2. Newspaper and yellow page ads are really important. But the real growth opportunity is in television home shopping. A great example of this is when Kodak used QVC to introduce its new Cameo zoom lens.

From the textbook:

“About 20 percent of in-home purchases are stimulated each year by newspaper magazine, and yellow pages ads that call for a direct response such as the return of an order form. But big growth in this category is occurring in television home shopping both in the United States and abroad. The on-screen sell seems to work well with a variety of products, especially when there is a need for demonstration. When Kodak introduced its new Cameo zoom lens camera on the QVC shopping network, 9,700 were sold in just seventy minutes. Kodak also benefited from pitching its related products at the same time.”

Want a surefire way to train our future business leaders for success? Teach business students about newspaper ads, yellow page ads, selling shit on QVC, and Kodak’s cutting edge ways of doing business. Seriously, fucking Kodak?    

But I have saved the best, most informative, most important thing I’ve learned for last…

1. The internet is really best for sharing information, not for selling things.

From the textbook: 

"It's probably correct to conclude that the Internet is still best for providing information rather than selling."

You read that correctly. 

What I'm wondering here is, if I'm asked on a test whether the internet is a great tool to sell products, do I answer correctly, or do I answer with what is in the book? 

This must be a business history class, right? Sadly, no. This is what they are teaching about consumer behavior at one of the top 50 business schools in the country.

I’m not even paying for my MBA and it’s enough to make me reconsider whether it's worth the investment I'm making, which is largely in time.