A Stand-Up Comic’s Take On The MBA Experience

You Should Totally Get An MBAI first met Paul Ollinger nearly two years ago when he had just started writing his forthcoming hilarious book, You Should Totally Get An MBA. During a long lunch at a small table in downtown San Francisco, I found myself captivated by his life’s story and his comedic perspective on MBAs.

Even though he had graduated from Dartmouth College’s prestigious Tuck School of Business in 1997 and had therefore taken the GMAT 21 years ago, I urged him to retake the exam on a lark and write about the experience for us at Poets&Quants. Paul immediately took me up on my crazy challenge—and I felt drawn to him for the chutzpah he displayed in sitting for the exam that nearly every MBA applicant loves to hate and for his witty, irreverent views.

His resulting essay was rip-roaring funny, a vicarious escapade that was both wildly amusing and oddly absurd. My favorite line: “My brain felt like it was in the same shape as my middle-aged body. Which means that my frontal lobe is balding and my cerebellum sports man-boobs and a muffin-top. Perhaps it’s natural atrophy, but it couldn’t have been helped by 15 years of trans-scalp Rogaine absorption.”


That’s a real clue as to what you’ll discover in the book that is akin to an extended stand-up comic routine.  One thing’s for sure. You’ll find yourself dipping into this treasure of a book for a laugh or two when you most need it (and if you are applying to a school that routinely rejects 75% or more of the people who apply, you are going to need to laugh out loud more frequently than you could ever imagine).

The unmistakable conclusion: Paul Ollinger is one funny guy.

Sure, he’s supposed to be funny. After all, he has spent years in stand-up comedy.

But Paul also has had a successful career in the Age of the Internet, having done a startup and worked for four years at Yahoo and another four years at Facebook. In fact, he was one of the first 250 employees at Facebook, ultimately serving as vice president of sales for the western U.S.  And he thinks and writes from the perspective of someone who has been fully indoctrinated into the Master of the Universe culture of MBAs.

This is all another way of saying that given his background, moder-day experience and sometimes sick sense of humor, you would have a hard time finding a better author of a book on the entire MBA experience and whether it is worth it. His answer, by the way, is unabashedly in the title: You Should Totally Get An MBA, which can now be ordered on Amazon now.


For anyone about to plunge into what will no doubt become an obsessive quest to get into a highly selective business school, You Should Totally Get An MBA is totally a guide you want in your briefcase or knapsack, next to your laptop, or on your bedside table. Hell, it could even help you hook up at the local Starbucks if you proudly display it while sipping your Caramel Macchiato.

That’s because, as Paul so aptly tells us, young professionals who are thinking about getting an MBA are an impressive and alluring bunch. ”B-school guys are less douchy than law school guys,” he quips.”If you are in the market for a fella, then you’ll do great at b-school, which is a hot dog fest for smart, motivated dudes. It’s not as male-heavy as it used to be, but it’s still like shooting sausage in a barrel.”

And he says, “B-school women are cooler and better looking than law school women. (I have no data to support this, but I feel pretty good about it as unsubstantiated conjecture.”

Paul’s book is a hilarious romp through that often anxiety-filled journey toward an email box filled with ding and admit letters. Time and time again, his musings on everything from GMAT test scores and business school rankings to whether you should get a J.D. or an MBA are so downright funny that you will immediately find yourself reading them aloud to friends and loved ones. In no time at all, you’ll have them laughing along with you.

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