The Cost-Effective MBA- Year 2

Feb 21, 2019 | Sam Rook


More learning outside of the classroom

If you are a new reader of my blog, you likely missed year 1 of my Cost Effective MBA program. I read a lot of books throughout the year and have found that building on the efforts of others is a great way to get better in business. That it happens to be a lot cheaper than a regular MBA program AND a more efficient use of my time doesn’t hurt.

This year’s list of the best things I read in 2018 has a different feel than year 1 and that was by design. This year I focused not only on non-fiction but also fiction and other blogs because learning to write and communicate your message is a key skill to develop for all of us. I have divided this year’s CV into 3 areas: books, blogs and podcasts.

The Books

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator and he writes a fantastic book on negotiation skills that anyone can apply to their day to day life. Using real examples from his career he effortlessly explains this important concept and how to work around roadblocks to get a deal done. The chapter about the power of the word “No” in a negotiation just perfect. This was the best non-fiction book I read this year and is a must for anyone.

Big Mistakes: The best investors and their worst investments by Michael Batnick

The stories Batnick presents in this light read of famous investors and their worst investment decisions give power to the role that humility and perseverance had in their success. Batnick ends the book with a chapter about his own worst investment decision to drive home the true lesson of the book - our minds work against our success as investors.

Saudi America; The truth about fracking and how it's changing the world by Bethany McLean

In this niche book, McLean dives deep into the growth of the oil and gas fracking industry and how it was built (hint: repeated share and debt sales). It is a cautionary tale about the use of debt to chase growth and the volatility that comes with it. A must read for anyone that has exposure to the industry in their portfolio.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Foundation by Isaac Asimov makes the list on the recommendation of Dr. Ben Hunt from Epsilon Theory. I had never really been a fan of Asimov’s work but that was a clear oversight on my part. Foundation is the first part of a trilogy, and even though it was written nearly 70 years ago, boy does it shine a light on themes impacting our world now.

The Blogs by David Perrell

There are so many good blogs you can follow in the world but the best and most interesting new blog is David Perrell’s blog at It’s a thing of beauty and so well written that it belies his youth. His focus on brands and the building of a brand runs throughout the blog but there are so many interesting parts you are sure to learn about a lot of different things. My favourite read was “How to Maximize Serendipity”.

Epsilon Theory by Dr. Ben Hunt

I am a huge fan of Dr. Ben Hunt and his website, Epsilon Theory. The work done on Narratives is the best in the business and you are sure to spend hours reading the references made in each note. The series “When Things Fall Apart” is a multi-part call to action to all of us to make our world better and avoid the narrative machine and the attempts to drive us apart for the gain of only a few. Come for the pop culture references and stay for the razor sharp barbs aimed at the system we have built over the past 50 years.

The Podcasts

Invest Like the Best by Patrick O'Shaughnessy

Podcasts are another area that is absolutely brimming with high quality content but the best, in my opinion, is Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s “Invest Like the Best” series. The podcast features wildly different guests each week but Patrick does an incredible job of asking the right questions and then letting the guest download their knowledge. He has a unique skill in both aspects and it makes for a great podcast.

It was a deep year with lots of fantastic books, blogs and podcasts. It is becoming easier to learn from smart and interesting people from all over the world. Take time each day to learn from them and you will be surprised at how quickly that compounding will make you better. I encourage everyone to read different things and follow the wild tangents when they are learning. There are too many smart people in different fields for us to restrict our learning to only one or two areas and much of that brilliance can translate to your own field.