Why You Don’t Need An MBA to Make It in Business (In Fact It Could Hurt You)

A common reason people choose NOT to go into business is that they feel they don’t have the right training or background.

There’s this myth out there that if you haven’t studied accounting, marketing, and operations management on some college campus somewhere with vines growing on buildings and professors in tweed jackets, you don’t have what it takes to succeed.

Bah! Humbug!

Jim McCann, the CEO of 1-800-Flowers, built a billion dollar a year business, and his background was that he had worked for 14 years as a social worker in Brooklyn at a group home for teenage boys.

So how does a guy who’s working in a group home as a social worker end up as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country, with no formal training or background in business? He used what he had.

What do I mean?

He said, quote, “I learned more from those 10 young teenage boys in that group home, who would have been in jail if they didn’t come to us, than I could have in a 100 years at the Harvard MBA program.”

If you’ve never been around a group home for troublesome teenage boys, you might imagine what it’d be like. Things tend to break more often, “disappear” more often, fights break out, drugs, despair…it can be pretty ugly. And all you’re trying to do is help them see the value and worth in their lives.

But Jim soon found out that teenage boys are about as excited about “counseling” sessions as they are about math class. So as things went from bad to worse in the home, Jim just about threw in the towel.

He was afraid not only for the boys, but for himself. As the group home was run by an order of monks, Jim went to resign…but the monk in charge of the order had another suggestion: to look at those around him who seemed to be successful at this work, and copy what they were doing.

So what were they doing?

FIRST, they always came to work with a plan, whereas Jim always seemed to show up and just react to what was going on around him.

And SECOND, he realized that he was trying to develop a relationship with the whole group…10 guys.

The problem is, you don’t have relationships with groups. You only have relationships with people one on one.

So Jim didn’t quit. Instead, he found opportunities in the problems around him.

And one of those problems you’re probably familiar with if you’ve spent time around teenagers, is the problem of keeping food in a kitchen cabinet for any length of time without it disappearing. So Jim decided that he was going to build a pantry for the food, with a lock on the door.

And sure enough, as soon as he started building it, two of the boys jumped in and helped him. And that’s when the magic happened!

Because instead of just talking about the things necessary to build the pantry, Jim and the boys talked about girlfriends…school…life on the street. In other words, they CONNECTED.

Soon, Jim and the boys were working on projects all over the house…planting a garden, building a fence, repairing the roof…and by working together, side-by-side, he was able to break through, share, learn, understand, and, ultimately, to make a difference in their lives.

These skills he later took with him to 1-800-FLOWERS, which is a whole other story in and of itself.


It was the PEOPLE skills he developed in connecting with people, understanding them, and motivating them towards positive change that he applied in building his billion-dollar business. In other words, his ability to break through and influence others positively.

If you are currently NOT massively successful as an entrepreneur, it has nothing to do with your background, college degrees, or anything else. IT HAS TO DO WITH FINDING THE UNTAPPED POTENTIAL YOU ALREADY POSSESS…and unleashing it, to build relationships towards positive change…in their lives, and in the world.

THAT’s ultimately what we’re talking about here in our business: helping you master your sphere of influence, and expanding it, to create positive change in others’ lives, and in the world.