Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is the bestselling author of books on business, entrepreneurship, skill acquisition, productivity, creativity, applied psychology, and practical wisdom. About Josh →

The Value of Apprenticeship

“Always two there are: a master, and an apprentice."

Yoda, *Star Wars*

I have an apprentice.

Meet Carlos Miceli. Carlos contacted me via e-mail a few months before the launch of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business. Carlos said that he’d been following the Personal MBA for a long time, and he wanted to work with me. If there was anything that he could help with, he’d be happy to chip in, no strings attached.

Carlos’ reputation preceded him. I’d been following Carlos’s blog, OwlSparks, for about a year. I knew his work, and I was impressed.

I’m a solo practitioner - my business is intentionally structured to not have employees. I prefer to spend most of my time creating new things and working with clients vs. managing a team. Communication Overhead is very disruptive in the type of work I do.

That said, I accepted Carlos’ offer, and officially took him on as my apprentice. Carlos is responsible for much of the material on http://book.personalmba.com. He is actively helping me develop new projects, and I am training him in my coaching and consulting methods. When his training is complete, Carlos will be fully capable and competent in teaching business the Personal MBA way.

I believe apprenticeships are woefully underrated. A formal apprenticeship has many benefits for both the apprentice and the master. By working together, a master and apprentice team can accomplish a lot – and learn a ton in the process.

I use the term “master" in this context very loosely. If you have a few years of hands-on experience in a field, you’ve mastered the necessary skills far more completely than someone who is just starting. Working with an apprentice is mutually beneficial - the apprentice learns and practices your methods, and you improve your craft at the same time.

Here’s a brief examination of the benefits and drawbacks of apprenticeships:

Benefits of apprenticeship for the apprentice:

Benefits of apprenticeship for the master:

Drawbacks of apprenticeship for the apprentice:

Drawbacks of apprenticeship for the master:

Experimenting with Apprenticeship

If you’re just getting started, finding an experienced practitioner and arranging an apprenticeship can be a great career move. You’ll learn a lot about what a new business looks like from the inside, watch a functioning business at work, and immediately start doing work that makes a difference.

Charlie Hoehn wrote about this a few years ago in an e-book titled Recession-Proof Graduate. By contacting a practitioner you want to work with and offering to do something for free, you can get your foot in the door doing work others only dream about - a classic Risk Reversal strategy. (Charlie is now Tim Ferriss’ right-hand man - a gig he landed using this strategy.)

If you’re an experienced professional, taking on an apprentice is a great way to hone your own skills and tune up your entire business system. By teaching what you do to someone else, you’ll inevitably find ways to improve your own craft. Done well, these benefits will improve the results you’ll deliver, both immediately and in the future.

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Books by Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

The First 20 Hours

How to Learn Anything… Fast!

A practitioner’s guide to rapid skill acquisition. Accelerate your learning by deconstructing complex skills, practicing the most important elements first, and removing barriers to deliberate practice. What do you want to learn?

How to Fight a Hydra

Face Your Fears, Pursue Your Ambitions, and Become the Hero You Are Destined to Be

A story about summoning the courage to face the beast, fight the good fight, & persist long enough in your efforts to secure a lasting victory.