Surviving the altMBA

My experience on Seth Godin's four week long online workshop on leadership and management


I just finished the altMBA and I thought it would be a good idea to jot down some notes before feelings and thoughts fade away. Some people have asked me about my experience with the program, so this will hopefully provide some answers too.

What it is

The altMBA is a four week long online workshop on leadership and management created by marketing guru Seth Godin.

My favorite way to describe the curriculum is this: it’s got what you (should) learn in business school that you can’t learn on a book. So… a lot of soft skills. Yes, there are marketing and business concepts here and there, but nothing too technical.

How it works

The course is heavily based on peer learning, and interactions with other students happen both synchronously and asynchronously.

Each class is around 120 people, but you are put in a smaller (around 30) cohort with people from your time zone. Then, each week, you are assigned to a 4–5 people learning group within your cohort.

At the beginning of the week, 3 prompts are released, and you will have to work with your learning group throughout the week.

This is the cadence: first day, work with group and ship; second day, leave feedback on other students’ work; third day, go back to your project and write a reflection script. You’ve done the math right: there’s one day where you have to write a reflection script and meet with your group and ship a project.

The tech stack

I particularly enjoyed the simplicity of the materials and tools and the hybrid approach: you get some physical books (not textbooks), but prompts are published on a digital message board built on Discourse; there’s a Slack for announcements, side conversations and learning group asynchronous chat, but live meetings happen on video conference through Zoom.

How it feels

Spending a month meeting people outside your field and working together with them is refreshing.

The pressure to ship fast is real, so if you are extremely busy or not well organized it can be hard to squeeze the lemon out of each project. I took the first week off work to get used to the pace and I think it was a great call.

Most students are professionals either looking for a change or trying to level up, and a safe space is created for everybody to share real stories, so at times it can feel a lot like therapy. You need to bring all your generosity and park the cynicism at the door.

I found easy to apply some of the concepts I learned and practice at work, so although it’s a long game, there’s an immediate reward.

It is too early for me to tell how the altMBA changed me, but I can say I am really happy I took it, and I recommend it to anybody who finds this description appealing.

I am thankful for everybody on the #altmba22 class who shared their knowledge so generously with me, and for everybody at work and at home who helped me throughout the journey, whether it was by baring with me leaving a bit early, or by feeding me sandwiches behind the webcam.