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Learn MBA Skills In 12 Weeks

Getting an MBA takes time and money, making it inaccessible to many people who want to take charge in the business world. The 12-Week MBA offers an alternative way to learn business essentials by focusing on the skills and knowledge required to succeed as both a manager and a business leader. 

“This book is the result of what we have learned teaching leadership and business acumen classes to rising and senior leaders at Fortune 500 companies for twenty years,” share authors Nathan Kracklauer and Bjorn Billhardt.

The 12-Week MBA’s unique premise is that business leaders in any industry, any function, and at any level need the same core knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively manage and lead. 


That core consists of working through and with other people to create value while using financial concepts and metrics to maximize the value created for all company stakeholders. The timeless essence of managing numbers and leading people can be learned in less time and at a lower cost than in a traditional two-year MBA, where much of the curriculum may become obsolete by the time students graduate. 


In addition, the book provides an excellent glossary of most used terms within business. And it links you to a website where you alone or in a group can supplement your reading with some interactive exercises and resources.


One of my favorite takeaways from the book is where the authors explain that anyone can act like a leader, but the more visible you are, the more impact you will have as you:

  • Communicate the organizational vision.
  • Model cooperative behavior.
  • Call attention to and recognize cooperative behavior.


Bjorn Billhardt



Nathan Kracklauer


Today, the authors answer these questions for us:


Question: How will readers benefit from making the book part of a book club experience as you recommend readers do?


Billhardt and Kracklauer: Learning is fundamentally a social activity. As we process new ideas -- including from management books! -- we're always looking for social validation. "I found this concept difficult -- does the problem lie with me?" or "This is news to me -- has everyone else known this all along?" When we're in a book club, we get that social validation. "Whew, I thought I was alone, but I'm not" is comforting. "Whoa, I really need to up my game" induces anxiety.

The cocktail of comfort and anxiety you get when you benchmark yourself against your peers is just one of the many ways a social learning experience like a book club can help keep you interested and focused.


For our book, forming a reading group with professional peers would be especially helpful, inside or outside the organization in which you work.


Question: How does spending 12 weeks using the book compare to the length of time to earn an MBA degree?


Billhardt and Kracklauer: Although MBA programs may be offered in both 1-year and 2-year versions, twelve weeks is decidedly quicker than either option! We’re able to get to that length by going deep into the areas that we believe really count.


We chose where to go deep based on what we observed from delivering leadership training programs in hundreds of global companies and what we ourselves experienced running our own two companies. We found that what really matter divides into two broad areas:


Numbers: Understanding how managerial decisions create value; how we measure value using financial analysis; and how we use the language of finance to communicate inside and outside the organization.


People: How to cultivate everyone’s quirky talents to achieve great things; how to get a team to act as one even when we all bring different perspectives; how to shape organizations so they don’t just perform today but perform better tomorrow.


When it comes to Numbers, the traditional MBA goes much further than all but accountants, M&A specialists, and Wall Street wizards need. When it comes People, most traditional MBAs offer little that prepares you for the daily challenges of working with a team, with direct reports or working alongside other leaders.


Besides Numbers and People, traditional MBAs cover a lot of other topics, such as marketing and operations management that are fascinating, of course. But we leave them out of our book because they are neither timeless nor universal. Either the state-of-the-art changes too quickly for a book or an MBA program to keep up with. Or the knowledge and expertise are too unique to specific industries and business functions to matter to the average aspiring manager.


Question: By reading The 12-Week MBA book what will readers get most versus what they will miss from completing an MBA degree curriculum?


Billhardt and Kracklauer: The true value proposition of the traditional MBA is that it supplies you with a network of like-minded people, many of whom are already well connected. And it gives you the signaling value of a credential. No book can offer a privileged network or a prestigious credential. But reading a book can give you the knowledge and concepts to confidently reach for the rung on the career ladder right now, without going into five or six-figure debt and giving up two years of your life.


But if the book is not enough, and you want opportunities to apply the skills and knowledge in it, we offer a live online curriculum that is hands-on and led by faculty with business experience, and in which you collaborate with peers who can form the core of a professional network.



Authors Bjorn Billhardt and Nathan Kracklauer are senior executives at Abilitie, a global leadership development company that has served over 100,000 learners in fifty countries.  Abilitie’s clients include some of the world’s most recognizable brands such as Coca-Cola, The New York Times, and Dell. 


Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.



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