altMBA – A Self-Discovery Sprint

There is always on-going learning. However, every five years or so, I assemble any wisdom developed to date and try to make a leap.  Usually, these missions enhance the core of who I am, or it’s an experience that challenges my status quo or comfort level.  Seth Godin is one of those people who tries to have you do both.

Sparing a diatribe on my background you can follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter. With a solid education, varied and deep experience and industry knowledge, plus a very loving family. So, why do this program?

Professional Self-Discovery. There are lots of quotes available on Respect, Leadership, Change, Wisdom, Purpose, Success which all begin with knowing yourself.  Once in a while, you have to look up and reflect.


What is the altMBA?

QGnSgoVV_200x200It is intriguing that I find myself describing the program from that person’s worldview.   If you’re in startups, the program molds someone to become successful in a tribe.  If you work for an enterprise firm, the program provides a new way to lead, even if you’re not in a leadership role.   If you are in the chaos of being a small business owner or freelance stay at home parent, the program delivers a way to view constraints and chaos as opportunities.  For me, the takeaway I wanted was to round out the rough edges and gaps of being heads down through my professional life. Finding success doesn’t always mean you are complete.

Here’s how the website describes the program: The altMBA is an intensive, 4-week online workshop designed by Seth Godin for high-performing individuals who want to level up and lead.

My translation, there’s ALWAYS room to grow.  With some great like-minded folks from different backgrounds, the program not only pushes you but empowers you with ‘tools’ to continue redefining the box well after the program is complete.   In its simplest form, the altMBA is about shipping projects: thoughtfully, concisely, and rapidly.


What’s in the program?

CngPaZLUsAAdiXyWeek 0 – It’s the computer engineer in me.  It is what I call my two weeks leading to the program.  I was advised that it’s like drinking from the fire hose and just to go with it.  That’s cool, but I never leave things to chance and wanted to march ahead as much as possible. We are provided several books and 75+ resources to read up on that cover a wide range of topics. Notice, none are Seth’s books, but certainly equally if not more insightful.

Whether it’s individual or group involvement, we delivered 3-4 projects during the week. Lots of brainwriting. The day after each project was due, we followed-up by providing feedback on five cohort member’s deliverables.  Finally, the day after that, we reflect on the comments and deliverables to provide a reflection follow-up.  Yes, these all overlap!

altmbaWeek 1 –  We covered, a new (to me) lesson in goal setting, brainwriting 99 startup ideas with micro-business plans, produced a deep-dive decision-making framework on a company pivot, we accomplished this with a five-person ruckus making team, added some solid personal equity building. Of course, we landed an unexpected huge client that week for IntelliPhi. I’m anticipating lots of late nights.

quote-of-the-day-dream-big-quotesWeek 2 –  With a new team of amazing people, we found ourselves working on larger projects under greater time pressures. This week we worked through: an exercise in empathy, expanded on irrational decision making, conducted a soul-searching exercise for the magic in 15 products/services and created an entire public service announcement campaign on obesity in just 8 hours.  Funny. By now, I feel even more energized and more productive even in a tired state.  Haven’t felt the rush since that Fat Kat II project back in ’08.

PzG93wWeek 3 – This week was a struggle to complete projects on time.  It hit me that the program was more than half over.  I wanted to play catch up on resources and revise previous work to get the absolute most out of the remainder of the program.  Also, I had a business trip to take and rarely saw the family.  On the bright side, I had a new rockstar team.  This time, we turned on our strategic mindset to cover: Directed organizational change, revisiting being a ‘good finder’, used tension to close sales, turned a constraint into an expansive opportunity, advising a company on a course to cross the chasm, came up fun/succinct bio for me. Oh and found I can fake being functional with less for sleep…okay into the final stretch.

never tell me the oddsWeek 4 –  I was committed to sharing more throughout the program. I discovered more about managing my weaknesses and new found strengths. This week’s theme: New Team, familiar faces, same vigor. During a public speaking exercise, I had 1.5-hours prep to create a 3 min PSA video on why local political engagement matters (my topic of choice), an introspective exploration of opportunity costs, conducted an ABN (asset, boundary, narrative) analysis of a situation. Also, we create a proposed plan for our target co. in a crossing the chasm honors project. Took an afternoon nap, T-3 days and counting. Never tell me the odds.


Who were my cohorts?

Flax 2For those who know me, say that I’m very adept at identifying talent and leadership like a professional scout or investor.   I can say that everyone, whom I encountered in altMBA are people I would seriously considering hiring.  There has never been such a concentration of current and potential talent pool of people whom I or would ask someone to invest.  While they are from different backgrounds and skill sets, and no matter the circumstances, I can count on everyone to push to do their best.  It made me always give even more of my best in return.  Think tough mudder, military boot camp, or culture at a high-growth startup.  We had authors, entrepreneurs, freelancers, accountants, educators, deans, philanthropists, artists, thought leaders, lawyers, former politicians, etc. the list goes on.


So, What’s next? (Week X)

It’s been an exhausting and exhilarating month. Believe it or not, I am still drinking from the fire hose a week after the program.  There are still resources/books to read, deliverables to revisit and opportunity to apply what I’ve learned.  I have access to an active and growing alumni network. Most of all, keep the momentum going and share what I’ve learned.

A couple of big takeaways.  One was that self-awareness is a worthwhile investment.  Also, how feedback and reflection have new meaning in my coaching, leading, advising or managing. Finally, discovering that it’s okay to identify as more than one person – apparently a real struggle for many of us.



So we do what are called reflection scripts – like a postscript, but after delivering on a project and getting feedback. Expanding on the patterns of the way we live, operate and deliver, I found these tidbits that reminded me or have to enlighten me through the program:

  1. the Strength to be Vulnerable.
  2. the Courage to Fail.
  3. to Accomplish the Impossible.
  4. to Lead through Serving.
  5. to Give without Receiving.
  6. to Discover by Wandering.
  7. to see Serenity in Chaos.
  8. to Constrain for Opportunity.
  9. to make Friends among Strangers.

From another Raven flying from the nest, thank you for the level-up, altMBA. Its been an honor and real pleasure meet and work with my cohort in the program!


RS, RS – I plan to have coffee with Seth Godin by the end of the year.