I recently finished taking the altMBA, described as “an intensive, 4-week online workshop designed by Seth Godin for high-performing individuals who want to level up and lead.“
Intensive is a great word to use. Throughout the four weeks, you work through 13 separate writing prompts. They ask us not to reveal the nature of the prompts, but they are around things such as goal setting, decision making, sales, and much more. They’re quite thought-provoking.
I estimate I spent about 35 hours a week working through this, so adding 140 hours of work to my month made for quite an intense experience.
Groups are gold
Throughout the process, you work with a variety of groups. At least in our case, things broke into three levels:
- Everyone in altMBA class 46, which was around 120 people.
- Everyone in my cohort, which was around 20 people.
- My “Learning Group” for the week, which was 3-5 people out of those 20, changing each week (with some duplicates in later weeks).
You get to know your 20 people very well, and you also get to know many of the others when interacting in various settings.
During each week you’d go through three of the writing prompts with your team, in three phases:
- Write the prompt. Simply reading what they want you to write about can take a few hours per prompt. I loved it! Most prompts included a few blog posts to read, some videos, and various other material, ending with “and now you should write about…”. When you finish writing, you publish your entry for the group at large.
- Leave comments. The next day, you go through and leave comments on other posts, and people do the same for yours. “Leaving comments” is putting it lightly, though. The process of how to leave comments is something you spend many hours on, as learning to give (and receive) insightful comments is key to the process. (Note: “That was great!” is not a helpful comment.)
- Write a revision. The following day, you go back and write a post-script on your original posts, with new insights you have based on the comments left by others.
Then you repeat — 12 more times.
To help out, each prompt comes with a significant block of time for your Learning Group on a Zoom call. These are the key. The great (but challenging) thing with altMBA is that it’s not inexpensive, and not everyone gets in. You have to work hard just to get into the program, meaning the people in your group tend to be amazing individuals. I felt out-classed the entire time, which made me work that much harder.
Set aside time
I’m sure they’re constantly revising the flow of things, and I won’t get into details for the sake of your experience, but blocking huge chunks of time on your calendar is essential. In my case, having the full support of my family and work team were required to make it happen, and they were all amazing during the process.
When I first received the course agenda, I knew to block out the time for the Zoom calls but I wasn’t sure what else. I thought it might be wise to block out 3-4 hours before each item was due to make sure I had time to work on it, which was ideal.
For me, though, the best part was blocking out my entire day on Monday. It kind of happened on accident the first week, but I made it happen on purpose for each of the following weeks.
Each Monday, at least in this season of altMBA, is when you receive your three prompts for the week. Having the day available to dive deep into them, watch all of the videos, read the posts, take notes, etc, was incredible. I used Roam Research to help with my note-taking, which worked out very well. When each prompt then came up for our group during the week, I could skim back over things and dive in.
Is the altMBA for me?
I really can’t begin to answer that for you, but reach out if you have questions and I’ll try to steer you in the right direction. Everyone I met through altMBA came into the program with a different goal, but most were people that wanted to become better thinkers and leaders.
The time spent just thinking and talking and dissecting ideas with amazing people made everything worthwhile. I came out of the experience with more clarity of thought and a lot of business tips and ideas, but also with much greater empathy for those around me.
If I could go back in time and take it again, I 100% would. I encourage you to check it out for yourself at altMBA.com.
I just ran across the altMBA on someone else’s LinkedIn profile and have been intrigued by the program. The aspect of being able to complete an MBA program, for a fraction of the cost of traditional MBA programs, and in a reduced time commitment is a bit of a siren song.
I’d be interested in hearing your perspective on how you feel the program compares with other more traditional programs.
Mickey Mellen says
Good questions, though I may not be the best suited to answer since I’ve never gone through a traditional MBA program. I likely will in the coming years, but we’ll see.
I think the name “altMBA” is a bit confusing, as it’s really not very MBA-like. While it got a good bit into marketing and leadership, and some with pricing, it had zero to do with accounting and relatively little to do with finance.
altMBA has no grading, no passing, no failing. You 100% get out of it the work you’re willing to put in. In my post I estimated that I put in around 35 hours/week of work. I think you could technically get by with 15-20 hours/week, but you wouldn’t get nearly as much out of it. On the flip side, I’m sure that others in the program put in even more time than I did (based on the number and depth of comments they left) and came out that much better for it.
I don’t know if that helped much, but I’ll certainly chime back in if I hear of other comparisons between this and a traditional MBA program.