Five things to know about Seth Godin's AltMBA course

Sep 29, 2022

A few years ago I took Seth Godin’s AltMBA program. If you are considering the AltMBA please read. The course is awesome but not for everyone.

Note: this is a refreshed version of the original review written in 2017. I am sure the course has changed over time but I am going to assume it is still generally the same

Seth Godin’s altMBA program is difficult to describe. Officially the description was: “… an intensive, 4-week online workshop designed by Seth Godin for high-performing individuals who want to level up and lead”. I found it to be the most effective four weeks I have ever spent in training or education. Would I recommend it to everyone? Heck no! Read on and see if it sounds like a good fit for you.

What the course includes is hard to describe. This course pushes you. It forces you, along with everyone else, to work past the point you will give up. That point is “the dip” and you feel it about two weeks in. You will come out the other side realizing how much more you can do.

What you get out of this course will match the effort you put into it. Here are five things you need to be aware of before you take this beast on:

You will spend a lot of time on this course. The advice to prepare and freeze a months worth of dinners and kiss the family good bye is slightly exaggerated. I went in assuming that it would be every weeknight until midnight, and full days Saturday and Sunday. I would finished up by 11pm on weeknights, and while I ended up only a part of Saturday, Sundays were often full days.

You will be responsible for how much you get out of this course. Each assignment is, mercifully, up to you for a topic. This helps as you can deal with subject matter that is familiar and useful while exploring it in new and interesting ways. The amount of time you spend puzzling through the assignment, writing and re-writing - then reviewing other peoples work to provide insights, then the amount of time you spend considering and altering your own work, directly matches how much you will grow. Through the cycle of writing, reviewing others, considering feedback to you, and re-writing you expand your horizons pretty quickly. AltMBA is a journey of self discovery along a thoughtfully guided path.

You will do all sorts of things outside of your comfort zone. Oh yes. There are assignments which will fit right into your sweet spot, but most will be different and require you to think in a completely different manner. In some cases the assignments will poke into your personal life and ask you to consider and write about challenges you have. In other cases it may be simply things you have not had to do before… like make 99 business plans in six hours. If you are set in your ways and are not seeking to making positive change in yourself this course is not for you and it will be painful.

You will read, write, and think… a lot. Aside from the time investment you will produce a LOT of words. At three weeks in my writing software showed I had written over 40,000 words. In layman’s terms that is a lot. Also, you will be sent a pile of really good books before the course starts. One of the only flaws I feel the course had was that it did not align the books with the course or prescribe which to read first. All of them are awesome books and I am still making my way through them, but my advice read as many of them as you can prior to the course beginning.

You will be sad when the course is over. If you apply for this course and stick with it, you are a motivated individual. During the course you are surrounded by people who are sharing big thoughts, planning big things, thinking in new an innovative ways. This crowd is self-selected and quite intense. When the course ends you will go back to work and be surrounded by a beaten down crowd . You will find them set in their ways, and uninterested in making big changes. I can’t put into words how that feels, but lets go with sad for now.

I do not recommend this course lightly. In fact, over the past four years I have only recommended it to two people. If you are the person who thinks about how you can change your surroundings, or have big ideas about where you want to go, or try to pursue your dreams (even if you fail) this is going to be awesome for you. The time flies and yes, it is a metric crap-ton of work, but it is all rewarding and it goes fast.

If you are just looking for some sort of management training course, or a get rich quick approach, or someone to hand you a bunch of study guides, this is not for you.

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