It’s time to declare an MBA. Yes, it’s time for My Big Announcement.
More than 25 years since graduating SUNY Binghamton with a journalism degree, I have finally achieved an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) with a specialization in Digital Marketing.
In other words, this old geezer went back to school to get a Masters and survived. Actually, if I can brag a bit, I did more than survive. I landed a 3.94 GPA in the process. (Those few A- grades killed my 4.0)
When I graduated college and started working in publishing as a magazine editor, I swore I’d never go back to school. There was just no need. So on I went to use my degree for writing and editing. My odd career path took me to the online world as a project manager, content creator, affiliate marketing manager, online publisher, and so on.
I love writing. I always have and always will. Hence this blog you’re reading.
But over the years, my writing has become a tool to use in conjunction with so many other areas. My current full-time job is a combination of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO), as I split time between managing an entire office and helping shape our Marketing and PR Teams. (Does that make me a CMOO?)
Going back to school
In the last five to 10 years, though, I started mentioning to my wife Allison, that I actually wish I had stayed in school to get my MBA. The business side of things would have helped give me the real foundation I needed to put everything together. It was just talk though. Wishful thinking.
Until three years ago.
When I brought up the MBA again, Allie looked at me and basically said, “So why don’t you go for it now?”
I thought about it…. and dismissed the idea.
I’m in my mid 40s. I have a full-time job. A family. A blog. An MBA is expensive. Plus, I just don’t have time to go back to school.
Or do I?
We kept talking about it. Allie did a ton of research and gave me just the right amount of pushing for me to apply and go for it. (She’s been my #1 cheerleader throughout this whole process and no way I could’ve done it without her.)
Eventually, I applied to the Feliciano School of Business at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ and was accepted. Easy peasy.
The hard part (besides paying those bills every term) would be actually getting all of the hard work done.
It took nearly two and a half years, but I managed to get through it all. Yes, there were late late nights. Sure I had a ton of papers to write and tests to take. You bet I’m still friends with a few of the really great people I met along the way. (Hi, Merve, Nicole and Audra!) And as expected… there was math. A lot of math.
But now that I’m done, I am so incredibly glad I did it.
Why get an MBA?
These days when I tell people that I went back to school for my MBA, I’m usually met with one of two responses:
- Wow, that’s amazing. Congrats!
- Why on Earth would you ever do that?
These days, a degree just doesn’t have the same weight it used to in the business world. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still important, but I think real life experience now has a lot more going for it too. So after a few decades of working in various industries and being surrounded by the word of digital marketing for so long, why would I go back to get my MBA? What did I expect to gain from it?
Well, for one thing, I learned that you are never too old to learn something new. Even if you’re the supreme expert on a specific topic (Such as myself and cheez balls), there’s still something you don’t know.
The best way to better yourself in a sport or activity is to practice. Practice, practice and practice. So why would your brain be any different? Whether it’s digital marketing, finance or hospitality administration, you can only solidify and improve your expertise by constantly keeping up with the new.
One of the big reasons I wanted my MBA at this stage is that I was already doing a lot of high-level business functions (i.e. putting together monthly P&L reports, thinking about supply chain management, negotiating with third parties, etc.). But I only really had hands-on experience. I never had any actual foundation of knowledge in them. Getting an MBA would basically round out my overall knowledge in both business facets as well as digital marketing tools.
The knowledge gained from an MBA would make me more confident and successful with my work, which in turn would help everyone around me.
And I have to say, it’s already helped.
What did I get from my MBA?
Besides a real feeling of accomplishment, I actually did learn quite a bit from my classes. There were a number of financial-heavy ones like Accounting for Business Managers and Corporate Financial Decision Making that will certainly be of use to me in my current job. I’ve already worked in some forecasting tips for this year’s marketing goals.
One of my favorite classes, though, was Negotiation in the Workplace. As part of the class, we actually had to perform a number of mock negotiations on video. It was awkward at first, but considering I’d been negotiating in business for years already, I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt confident in my negotiating skills before starting, but I still learned plenty of new tricks, tips and tactics to try out. I actually used some of them at work and managed to secure a better deal than I anticipated.
My digital marketing classes gave me the time to really dive into some of the marketing and social media tools like Hubspot that I’ve only dabbled in before. Again, while I’ve dealt with a lot of these concepts in the real world, I never had the full-on teaching. So while I understand the various types of members we may have on our website, getting my MBA taught me the full-on specifics and importance of things like customer journey maps.
Basically, my MBA has given me some fabulous tools and terminology to properly do what I’m already doing in the business world. It’s given me exactly what I was hoping it would: structure and guidance.
Now, school isn’t for everyone. And I’m not encouraging everyone to go get their Masters. But what I am pushing is this: If you want something, go for it. Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t use age as an excuse. Don’t use distance or time as a reason for not doing something.
Always wanted to learn to play guitar but never did? Get some lessons. Or watch YouTube videos and teach yourself.
Was photography the career that got away from you? Then pick up your camera and start shooting. Read books. Join clubs. Attend workshops.
That great American novel you always said you’d get around to? Well, no time like the present.
If nothing else, getting my MBA has shown me that there’s a whole world out there that I can still be a part of. It’s real easy to get comfortable in your life, especially the older you get. But taking chances and stepping out of your comfort zone is the best possible way to grow as a person. I’m not just motivated but downright excited to start putting this newfound knowledge into even more practice at work.
As for the future, well, now that school’s done I find myself with a lot more time on my hands and I need a new challenge. A new mountain to climb. (Uh, figuratively, that is.) Maybe I’ll start taking up photography. Or sign up for professional guitar lessons.
The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, put it best when he said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
So get out there and take your shot.
What have you always wanted to try?