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Non-fluffy AltMBA review: Seth Godin's program

Updated: Apr 2, 2023


It was a wild ride. I took the altMBA program by Akimbo and Seth Godin in Jan, 2022.



100ish people from all walks of life made up my cohort


100 people are split in four cohorts, 25 each. Every week, they'll shuffle you around with new people in your cohort with whom you will discuss three prompts.


The 13 altMBA prompts help develop soft skills and are on topics like:

  • Goal-setting

  • Business modeling

  • Decision making

  • Empathy & worldviews

  • Building culture

  • Intentionality

  • Marketing methods

  • Gaining buy-in

  • Public Speaking

  • Leading through ambiguity

  • Strategy & critical thinking

  • Giving and receiving feedback

  • Having difficult conversations



No, Seth Godin doesn't show up for the altMBA


Seth Godin founded altMBA. But I don't think he is affiliated with them anymore. For me, this was the biggest bummer.


I spoke to a friend who took the program and Seth showed up for their commencement ceremony.


But for my batch 'altMBA54', he didn't.


And it makes sense. Read what is written on Seth's blog

"I’m the founder of Akimbo, home of the altMBA. These are the most effective learning opportunities I know of. Akimbo is now an independent B Corp, owned and run by the team"

So, Seth isn't actively involved anymore. Just an FYI in case you speak to someone who graduated before the 54th cohort i.e. Feb, 2022 batch.




The real cost of altMBA


altMBA pricing: It costs $4,950. They seem to have increased the tuition from $4,450 to $4,950. Tbh, it's is pretty expensive compared to other educational programs I've taken before, ranging from $39/month to $2000/year.


Time commitment ⌛

Takes 20 hours/per week. Some folks spent more; others spent far less.


Mental commitment 🫠

It did break me down a couple of times because I had to face my fears.


Family commitment 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦🐕

The old African proverb “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate village” held true. I brought my family along for the journey, teaching them what I had learned. Oral narration not only helped me better store this in my memory.


AltMBA friends commitment 👯‍♀️

At times I had trouble navigating in and out of my newly developed altMBA personality so some of my friends didn't like this new change. Apparently, friends don't like when you become more polite. /s





My confession


To be honest, I never fully understood what the altMBA would teach me until the first day of school.



If you're wondering why I still enrolled, I had two reasons:



1️⃣ I hit an inflection point in my career:


People wanted to give me more leadership opportunities, but I was hesitant to take them up. I was hesitant if I could rally people around well enough. So I turned down the opportunity. I had plenty of hard skills but lacked the competency to lead effectively.




2️⃣ I also chase sunsets and have ridiculously high ambitions


I asked someone who won the Forbes 30 under 30 award what did she do to win it.


Her advice for me was to find people I want to emulate and trace back their path. Have enough sample size, and map my plan.


"Find 50+ LinkedIn profiles of Head of Growth and analyze what was their path: roles, skills, courses, awards, public activities, etc".


So I did just that. I set up an Airtable. And AltMBA came up way too often.


Those two reasons were enough for me to say yes.




A thorny altMBA review


Every rose has its thorns. The altMBA is not flawless but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 🌹


I'll share three things with you:

  • 🙂The good stuff

  • 😖 The stuff they could definitely improve on

  • 🤔 Dated experience once I'm past the honeymoon phase. I'll share how I feel about the altMBA 3, 6, 9, and 12 months from today.




My altMBA review: 6 awesome things


👋🏽 Community driven


With the altMBA, I had the chance to spend 20+ hours with each of the 15-20 in my learning groups. These were people at the top of their game, with decades of work experience.




💬 Learned thoughtful and intentional messaging


I've realized that sometimes hitting backspace is more important than hitting the keys. Nowadays, I try to think more deeply before I hit send, and I find that things like 'curiosity' and 'empathy' really make a difference. I feel like I've gotten better at giving feedback and framing my sentences in a way that people resonate with.


Wondering what should I do with my typing speed 🥲





🙋🏽‍♀️ Learned how to ask better questions


After the altMBA, I've become more empathetic when I'm talking to people. It's become easier to motivate people when you're asking the right questions. I used to think I had to draft instructions to get things done, but now I've found that asking questions and helping them come up with their own solutions is way more effective.




👩‍🏫 altMBA comes with on-demand coaches


You'll have two coaches dedicated to your cohort. You'll get one piece of feedback from on your prompts. On top of that, you can schedule a personalized call with any of them. I used my call to talk more about figuring out my leadership style. I'd strongly recommend making use of these calls.




🙇‍♀️ I got so much better at receiving feedback.


Receiving feedback is a life-skill. Even better when you have to actively seek out feedback. Small mindset change, but is really helpful for my career. The book "Thanks for the feedback", a part of the reading list at altMBA, was pretty good.




🎁 The altMBA will send a welcome package your way.


This was really special. I could post a picture but don't want to ruin any surprises.



 

Is the altMBA worth it?


Here are a few things I think they could improve upon:


1. altMBA is too self-serve


I had submitted 13 prompts and received only one feedback per prompt from coaches, with the remaining four feedbacks coming from fellow students. It was as if we were all left to our own devices. While the approach of students discussing prompts, writing answers, and giving feedback to each other has its merits, I would have appreciated more guidance from the team. It would have been helpful to have a coach walk me through the feedback I gave others, offer suggestions for improvement, and show me how to better receive feedback.





2. altMBA gives no lifetime access


A few weeks after graduation, the program material will no longer accessible to us, which was somewhat disappointing. Additionally, our Slack channel would be deleted within a week. Perhaps there could have been more emphasis placed on maintaining access to these resources beyond graduation. Rather than having each student spend several hours exporting stuff from the platform, which to me is a waste of man hours.




3. altMBA has poor networking after the cohort ends.


After deleting Slack, we are all asked to join a Facebook group with the broader altMBA network.


I don't use Facebook, and many Gen Z and millennials have switched over to Tiktok and Instagram for their. It seems like the wrong place to build a business community. If I want to find out who's working for Canva in Europe, for example, it's not a particularly efficient process. It should've either been Slack or at least LinkedIn if they couldn't code their own platform. And the numbers speak. People aren't joining this FB group. The AltMBA alumni FB group has 2.6k members whereas their website says there are 5,000 alumni.




On the other hand, Reforge handles this so much better - it allows me to search for anyone based on their job title, industry, name, company, or business model and get results in just a few seconds. Plus, with the ability to DM them right in our Slack group in just one click, it feels much more streamlined and efficient.




ShiftNudge, which is a cohort based design course, also handles it much better. Even though it's a one-person team. You have one Slack channel for your cohort, and the others are for prompts. All ShiftNudge students stay in one Slack workspace and you can hop in and out of channels that are relevant to you.





4. altMBA's calendar sharing system was quite outdated


I had to add the entire calendar manually. And it didn't book my calendar, which means I could get double booked. To avoid this, I had to duplicate events one by one or use Zapier. Moreover, some events weren't even added to the calendar, causing a few friends to miss out on all of them. I recommended some third-party tools that makes adding to calendars as easy as a single click and hopefully, the altMBA team incorporates this feedback.




5. You won't meeting everyone in the altMBA


You'll meet 12-16 people during your time at the altMBA. You don't interact with everyone.



 


altMBA reddit and other reviews


Take my opinion with a grain of salt. Here's feedback from around the internet:


CJHoss when asked if altMBA worth it:

"For education on topics taught in business school, mostly yes. To help you land a new job, make a career pivot, build your professional network, that’s a big no."


John Rau: For me, Seth Godin’s altMBA was worth it. However not all my classmates felt the same. Some considered it too “culty,” others found it an unrealistic time commitment, some thought it was too expensive, and others said they didn’t learn anything.


David Richards: The primary reason I feel it was not worth it for me, was because I am addicted to Seth Godin. So a number of the workshops in the course were covering things I had already done. So I feel I wasn’t exposed to much I hadn’t already been exposed to.


Also, lots of people in my batch loved the altMBA and wanted to bring it to their entire team. So, there's definitely an upside. If you're still on the fence, just get on a call with their team to understand what it would really entail.




altMBA books and reading list


AltMBA will send you a bunch of books which you can find here and they also share plenty of articles to read. I'm still trying to find the article that has links to each of these resources. If you find it, please let me know so I can link it.




altMBA Scholarship


The altMBA has an incredible scholarship program. If you're unhappy with the scholarship offer you've received, request to through a second interview and explain your situation.




altMBA Free Download


Downloading the altMBA isn't really fun. The real magic is in the community and the discussions you have with your learning groups. You're constantly receiving feedback, and are giving feedback. Downloading a set of 13 prompts will be futile. altMBA has a fair use policy which I doubt anyone would disrespect.





altMBA Alternatives


  1. Read a lot of philosophy books. They'll teach you a lot of what altMBA seeks to teach without the human interaction. It should still work because I shared altMBA learnings with my brother who said he already learned all of this from his philosophy books.

  2. Build your own learning groups, where you journal together.

  3. I don't think it's the same as an MBA since it teaches soft skills and no hard skills. An altMBA won't pass off as an MBA. It's sort of a condensed mix of self-help books put into a simulator.




The End


I was able to recoup my investment, so it ended up being a great decision. Awesome to know that you're reading this review and being wise with your choices.


Was this review helpful?

  • Yes, it helped me choose altMBA

  • Yes, it helped me reject altMBA

  • No, it wasn't helpful




Want to chat?


I'm curious to hear what are your thoughts about the altMBA? I'd love to answer any questions. Here's my Linkedin and Twitter. But if you can drop it in the comments below, that'll help anyone else reading this article too.

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