I was a vocal proponent of online education, self-education, and the rethinking of ineffective education models even before COVID. As it’s been stated ad nauseum at this point the pandemic accelerated what was already happening (albeit slowly) in all aspects of our lives, but it also had some surprising effects on human behavior.
2020 was a time of being introspective and spending time with ourselves, and when we were surrounded by others in lockdown times, we had to retreat within ourselves, or at least to a computer screen. Which is why I think if anything, 2020 has been the most informative year in learning about ourselves (how we react under stress and duress), with the world going through an extraordinary time, and even the economy and entrepreneurship changing. I know a lot of students are seeking to apply to traditional MBA programs these days (along with the crushing tuition fees) in order to ‘wait out’ a possible bad economy. I don’t believe that is a wise bet, I chose instead to take ThePowerMBA and lean into the chaos, and create my own future (and skills) by working along with taking the online classes. Below are some things I learned as a result of taking ThePowerMBA this year.
The importance of digital community
Traditionally, one of the selling propositions of an MBA was networking. While that is still most likely relevant in the top 10–15 elite MBA programs there are so many networking groups and communities globally these days which help facilitate high quality networking. COVID of course took everyone for a spin and questioned the value of paying tens of thousands of dollars into forced (but obviously effective) situations where everything is online. While online communication is improving, and there are more authentic experiences, we are not at a point where Zoom will completely supplant IRL.
I liked how ThePowerMBA was honest about this aspect of an MBA; many people I know went to get their MBAs did so because of the networking, so a program may as well be open about the value of it. They’ve built a digital first platform on Telegram and a pretty active and engaged group of participants. I’m confident we’ll see more from this, not just in looking at new networking platforms like Upstream, but the community will grow. Once things start to settle down in Israel (where I am based now) it looks like we may reach a level of normalcy by the spring, and that means in person networking events.
The flexibility of a digital platform
I don’t need to wax on about how ineffective higher education can be for people like myself who have a short attention span. It felt growing up as if the education system was built for learning during the Victorian era, and the reality is if you’re busy juggling many plates (my full-time business, a side hustle, pro-bono content and community engagement, and of course health, family, and relationships) traditional is not for everyone.
I like micro-learning, and while I admittedly have not been as diligent regarding the lessons as I would have liked, I can jump into the courses when I have time and start learning and absorbing knowledge. It is useful because the classes are geared more towards busy entrepreneurs and professionals who want brass tacks and actionable ideas. I want to implement an idea, and whether it’s taking an idea from a book I read or a podcast I listened to, I want to execute against the new idea that day.
The lessons themselves
I am obviously biased as I write weekly about the Israeli tech ecosystem, but one of the earlier classes in the program, on understanding business model canvases, with Uri Levine of Waze was my favorite. If anything, many of the lessons cemented what I knew instinctively from my own learning while building a business. There are many lessons, and every day I feel I add another building block to my understanding of business, not just from an entrepreneur’s perspective but of attaining a better understanding of the business world as a whole.
Overall, the importance of community, the flexibility of digital, and the lessons themselves have been able to enrich my life during these exceedingly turbulent times, and I look forward to continuing on this path, and further deepening my relationship with ThePowerMBA when live events start again in this post-COVID world.
Jonathan ‘Yoni’ Frenkel heads a content marketing agency, YKC Media, and works with VCs, corporates, and startups in creating written content, social, and advising on marketing strategy focused on engaging a US audience. He is currently in Israel working with the Tulsa-based fund Atento Capital. He can be reached on LinkedIn here.