Two Capitalist Tools Tell How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying to Get An M.B.A.
John D. Rockefeller didn't need a Master of Business Administration, argue John Freund and David Porter, so why are some 55,000 students now paying tuition up to $8,220 a year in pursuit of the degree? If they were really smart, they'd just buy The Official M.B.A. Handbook (Simon & Schuster, $4.95), a satire that sends up the Harvard Business School, from which the authors graduated last June, and corporate life in general.
Freund and Porter, both 28, devote much of their 237 pages to parodying B-school lessons on finance, accounting and marketing—all using the renowned Harvard case method, though the cases run to things like the preparation of an annual report for lemonade stands and corporate strategy for the family businesses of one Don Vito Corleone. There are wry tips on Power Accessories (one favorite: a superthinleather lunch pail), The Handshake (to fend off an unwanted kiss from a male counterpart, a woman exec can "stop him cold with a bone-crushing shakedown") and Résumé Expansion ("The creative short story is not a dying art when it comes to resumes"). Other tips: Use buzzwords (C.I.A. for cash in advance, S.O.B. for son of boss, etc.), learn to look busy even if that means fouling the copying machine to spend "half an hour trying to unjam it."
Porter's father ran a Bath, Maine radio station. Freund is the son of a Manhattan surgeon. They used pen names—Jim Fisk, after the 19th-century financier, and Robert Barron, evoking both Barron's and robber barons—to avoid putting off potential employers. Now that Porter and Freund are with New York banks, neither minds admitting he got started in satire at Harvard by setting up a firm that sold 70,000 copies of a spoof Ronald Reagan movie poster called Bedtime for Brezhnev. The authors claim their work will surpass The Official Preppy Handbook's record of 49 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. After all, says Freund, "more people want to make money than wear pink and green."
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