The value of pop stars as business role models

Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009This morning I read GOOD’s post about a new class titled “Michael Jackson: The Business of Music” that will start at the MBA of Clark Atlanta University. Veteran entertainment attorney James Walker will teach how Michael Jackson “negotiated and his tours, recorded deals, and merchandising“, as well as “how he revolutionized legal practices related to entertainment copyrights, trademarks, licenses and more“.

That’s not the first attempt to leverage Michael Jackson’s fame into something that can be taught. For instance last year and Zack O’Malley Greenburg from Forbes is currently writing a book titled “Michael Jackson, Inc“. Joseph Vogel also tried to give Michael Jackson entrepreneur-like qualities: vision, willpower, considering new products (sic – I thought music was a cultural thing) as events, etc.

So one day we will have an entire MBA dedicated only to past (preferably dead) stars … At Vlerick, we already had

  • “How to Negotiate like in Mandela‘s days?” with Prof. Venter (Negotiation Skills)
  • “How to eat and energize yourself like Dominique Monami?” at a closing seminar
  • “How to understand economics like Yves Leterme?” with Prof. Gerooms (Economics)

And I am wondering if we will have the following classes this year:

  • “How to excel in marketing like God Steve Jobs” with Prof. Debruyne (Marketing)
  • “How to avoid Field Marshall Rommel‘s operational mistakes in North Africa” with Prof. Boute (Operations management)
  • “How to think like Daniel Lebeau, CIO of the Year 2010?” with Prof. Viaene (Value-Added Enterprise IT)

Now I am wondering if one really needs those star-oriented classes? Of course having real-life example is really nice – especially if you are fan of Steve Jobs or Michael Jackson. But a whole course on how someone was good in some particular topic (or -worse- on every business topic)? We saw last year that students were fed up with a little bit of Steve Jobs everywhere for everything and anything. In a general MBA course, my opinion is that we need more examples from different industries first. Once the basics are acquired you can of course have specific session per industry. IMHO – YMMV.

Photo credits: Michael Jackson 1958 – 2009 by bernissimo, on Flickr (licence CC-by-nc-nd)

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