Education Of Millionaires

Michael Ellsberg book, ISBN:1591844207 on Making A Living

see 2011-12-07-EllsbergMillionairesDropoutsAndDeschooling




(or, Why Practical Intelligence Almost Always Beats Academic Intelligence)

There are, of course, many wonderful things you can learn in college, which have absolutely nothing to do with career and financial success. You can expand your mind

These are all worthy pursuits

But the idea that simply focusing on these kinds of things, and getting a BA attesting to the fact that you have done them, guarantees you will be successful in life is going the way of company pensions, job security, and careers consisting of a single employer for forty years

If this were your goal—to maximize the chances of your professional success under any economic circumstances—then what would you need to start learning? That is the central question this book answers


In a video talk in the famous TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) series, entitled “Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity” (which became one of’s most downloaded talks ever), Sir Ken says: “If

For most fields you’d want to enter—aside from, say, research science—beyond basic levels of academic intelligence, developing additional academic intelligence will have virtually no impact on your life prospects and success. Developing your practical intelligence will have far more impact on the quality and success of your life

I focus on seven key skills that will be crucial if you want to succeed in your work and career. These practical skills are not meant to be a replacement for college

*I had learned a lot about how to live as a successful, happy adult. Yet nearly all that learning had been self-education in practical matters, out in the real world in my twenties, outside the bounds of a classroom. This got me thinking: What would education for a successful life look like? *

Around 90 percent of the people I interviewed and feature in this book are literal millionaires, and several are even billionaires

All of the millionaires and successful people I interviewed for this book said “no thanks” to the current educational model

The people in this book also have much to teach us about what kinds of practical life skills and career-oriented content your children should be learning if our educational system is to take the new realities of this twenty-first-century digitized, globalized, flat-world economy seriously—an economy in which every traditional assumption is being turned on its head, shaken up, and called into question, including traditional assumptions about education

I am passionately pro-education. There are few things I care more about than reading and learning constantly. Yet, the lives of the people profiled in this book show conclusively that education is most certainly not the same thing as academic excellence

It has to do with your drive, your initiative, your persistence, your ability to make a contribution to other people’s lives, your ability to come up with good ideas and pitch them to others effectively, your charisma, your ability to navigate gracefully through social and business networks (what some researchers call “practical intelligence”), and a total, unwavering belief in your own eventual triumph, throughout all the ups and downs, no matter what the naysayers tell you

This is the book I wish I had when I was sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen. If I’d had it then, I would have saved a lot of misery, stress, and drudgery in the rest of my education. I would have been more focused and clear on my path


An article in the New York Times, called “No Longer Their Golden Ticket,” covered the tidal wave of recent law school graduates, often carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, who can’t find jobs

It is now widely understood that the latter portion of this timeline—getting an entry-level job and rising through the ranks of middle management at a large bureaucracy—is no longer the best way to do things, for two reasons

First, job security is dead

Building a portfolio of real-world results and impacts you’ve created, over time, becomes more and more relevant

Second, the Internet, cell phones

create careers for themselves that can’t be outsourced, offshored, or automated

While the classic professions still require credentials, for young people today these professions are no longer the only (and certainly not the hottest) avenues toward social advancement, economic opportunity, and making a difference in the world

The courses in The Education of Millionaires consists of seven key areas of lifelong self-study

Here they are, the courses in The Education of Millionaires

These seven courses, which correspond to the seven core chapters of the book, focus primarily on skills related to success in career, money, work, and business. Of course, for a truly integrated sense of success, in the fullest sense of the word, we all need to learn many practical personal skills as well. These include skills such as how to find and maintain a wonderful, loving relationship, how to sustain vibrant health, and how to navigate our spiritual beliefs





(or, How to Make a Difference in the World Without Going Broke)

David found himself in a hospital in Paris one night, being treated for malnutrition

they were putting together called Pink Floyd

He has lived—I would say—a deeply Meaningful Life. Yet, there is something profoundly unsettling about his story as well—and indeed, about the story of just about anyone who has made a great difference in the world

Yet, there’s a paradoxical aspect to “making a difference” and “having an impact.” The world doesn’t always care whether we want to make a difference or have an impact on it. In fact, it can be downright hostile to us when we try. The world doesn’t automatically open its arms to us just because we have good intentions. It may laugh at our great sense of “purpose” or, more commonly, simply yawn and turn its head to something else

I asked David about the secret to his success, and he gave me a frank answer: “I got very lucky

*It’s absolutely not a course I would recommend to anyone, unless you were absolutely 110 percent convinced that your passion was something you had to do and you would be willing to forsake a lot of other things for it.” *

Yet, such dreams of making a difference always involve risk

What you need is an honest discussion of how to navigate gracefully among dreams, risk, and ruin in the real-world marketplace


*The bigger the impact you want to make on the world or in your chosen field—the bolder your purpose is—the greater the risks you’re going to have to take. Which means, the greater the chance that you’ll end up making no impact at all. *

These types of family dramas and arguments, in my opinion, boil down to arguments about our sense of safety versus heroism in life.

Kids, in their idealism, want to make a big impact on their world. They want to change the world, to feel like their existence makes a difference. They want a big sense of purpose and excitement. They want to be heroes

Almost by definition, “having an impact” or “making a difference” or “living a purpose” involves going beyond what already exists

An “impact” is a change in course, so if you want to make an impact in your field, you’re asking people to venture into the unknown

*If you want to become wealthy or famous, which I presume you do if you’re buying and reading a book on success, then you’re going to need to make a difference in the lives of many people. (By definition, it’s impossible to become famous, and it’s also very difficult to become wealthy, if you impact the lives of only a few people.) *

Yet, when you’re trying to have an impact on the lives of large numbers of people, two additional challenges arise

Making an impact on large groups of people involves leading them in some way. Yet, seeking to be a leader is akin to seeking what economists call a “positional good.” A classic example of a positional good is a penthouse apartment.

Those who do end up leading often achieve leadership, amass wealth, fame, or support, or make an impact on the world, largely through the effects of Word Of Mouth... convert more people to followers/customers/fans, until a big group—which business author Seth Godin calls a "tribe" (Tribalism)... Yet, word of mouth is one of the least predictable things on the planet

A good way to think about “living a meaningful life,” to a first approximation, is “making a difference in the lives of people you care about

But, as Randy Komisar points out in his book The Monk and the Riddle, there are also a lot of unacknowledged risks to not following your passions, of sticking too close to the beaten path in the name of safety and predictability. These include

Is there a way to get the best of both worlds? Yes, I believe there is

*I call it the “Art of Earning a Living.” *


had a very well-heeled and important client. He said, ‘Anthony, without a doubt, you’re one of the best sailing instructors I’ve ever had. But, there is no future for you in being a sailing instructor. You need to capture what you do, identify it, and codify it, so it can be taught to many, many people. First teach it to a team, and then beyond

I started the school by borrowing boats on the Berkeley Marina

I bootstrapped it entirely. No investment, no debt. A six-dollar business license

now employs over eighty staff members, managing a fleet of over fifty boats and yachts

Anthony is now in the process of figuring out what the second stage of his life is all about. He knows it has something to do with teaching entrepreneurialism to kids. To that end, he’s been mentoring underprivileged children in the Bay Area on how to start businesses

He believes the future of our planet depends on young people learning these skills

So this is the “Art of Earning a Living.” It is the art of creating a career path that both provides a high likelihood of financial security and allows you to follow your dreams and make a difference in the world

The Art of Earning a Living requires a great deal of self-inquiry into what, exactly, the difference you want to make is, and also a lot of creative, entrepreneurial problem solving to figure out how you could make decent money while making that difference

You’re going to have to create a solution unique to you and your circumstances. No similar solution will have ever existed before, for a very simple reason: in the whole of human history, no one has yet made the difference you want to make

in this book, I am going to give you a set of tools and skills that will minimize the dangers and maximize the chance of making a difference


STEP 1: Get on Your Feet Financially

That’s what most of the people in this book did. They got financially stable, from a young age, often their mid-teens. Get a square job, a corporate job, a temp job, a boring nine-to-five. Don’t feel anything is “beneath you” so long as it pays

The best way to get financially stable, once you have some kind of job—any job—is to exhibit the entrepreneurial leadership values on the job

STEP 2: Create More Room for Experimentation

Experimentation takes time. It takes money. And it takes room to fall and to fail

It’s just so different—and better—figuring out how to make a difference in the world and find meaning in your life when your bills are covered and you have a secure roof over your head

Now, one problem you may encounter once you’re financially stable is that the time it takes to create that financial stability in your life is so great, there’s nothing left over for anything but following the dictates of your job. This is where Step 2 comes in

If you’re working seventy-hour weeks at a corporate job, however, there will be very little space left over for anything else but that

In this case, you should begin taking some risks at work. See if you can get buy-in from your boss to focus more on results you achieve, rather than focusing on hours logged. There are some great books on how to make this transition, including

Flextime, working at home, telecommuting, working from your laptop and your mobile phone—these just aren’t the foreign concepts they were even five years ago

STEP 3: With This New Space in Your Workday, Begin Experimenting!

you can now experiment with taking some risks toward making a difference within your organization, workplace, or industry

you can also begin experimenting more intensively with potential sources of meaning, passion, and purpose outside of work, from artistic endeavors to charity and causes

STEP 4: Striking Out on Your Own (for Those Who Want to Change Careers, Become Entrepreneurs, or Become Self-Employed

begin experimenting with things that might one day become both a source of meaning and a source of serious income for you outside of your current job

This might mean starting a small business on the side, moonlighting in a second “start-up” career, pursuing self-study to prepare for a different career, or finding ways to earn money from your artistic and creative passions

you’re going to have to do a deep dive into the success skills in this book, particularly marketing, sales, and networking. You’re going to have to wrap your own passions, talents, and purpose—the things you care most about and are best at—in the package of these fundamental success skills. If you know how to do that, you get paid a lot, and you’re living your passion and purpose

So here is my own story of how I applied the Four Steps to Aligning Your Money and Meaning, in my own life

You could say I was trying to blaze a trail. And perhaps I was doing so. But there was a problem with this trailblazing. No one really wanted to go wherever the trail I was blazing led. In fact, I didn’t really know where it led

in 2007, at age twenty-nine. I began seeking out every gig I could get. Editing gigs. Ghostwriting gigs. Copywriting gigs

I moved to Buenos Aires, for a while, where I knew I could live very cheaply

At the end of 2007, I moved into a $350-a-month room in San Francisco

I was developing a valuable set of skills. Not editing/writing skills, which were already fine. I’m talking about the success skills in this book

*In his book The Monk and the Riddle, Randy Komisar advises you to ask a simple question about your current mode of income: Would you be willing to do this for the rest of your life? *

And the clear answer to his query was no. I would not feel satisfied spending the rest of my life as a book proposal writer. I wrote a proposal for what became my first published book, The Power of Eye Contact

However, in 2010, I got the idea that I wanted my passion—book writing—to be my main income

I continued nurturing my side career, in a more serious and devoted manner than before


developing a different—and I believe more realistic—relationship to risk

I’ve seen that they have systematically and intentionally developed a style of working that allows them to take lots of small bets (Little Bet)

I believe that for most of the people featured in this book a trait even more important than luck was resilience

Most of the self-educated people featured in this book took pains to make sure that their “downside was not so exposed,”

Indeed, a great many of the people I interviewed for this book have at least one bankruptcy under their belt

He took a day job at a software company, but soon he was back at his entrepreneurial ventures on the side

They fail early and often, and turn courses on a dime, until something begins to gain traction

I can’t help it. It’s an addiction. It’s a compulsion

These people are not addicts of gambling; they are addicts of learning in the real world. And learning in the real world involves failure

This statistic brings up images of 95 percent of all small-business owners ending up on the streets begging for change to feed their kids after they sell off their house to pay off business debts. “That statistic is a bunch of crap,” Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business, told me

The very best things you can do when starting a new business,” Josh told me, “are, number one, keep your overhead as low as possible, and number two, make sure you’re getting recurring revenue as quickly as possible

Josh talks about a concept called "IteratIon velocity"

Let’s consider an analogy.

While I have absolutely no scientific data to back this up, it seems to me a reasonable guess that 95 percent of all dates are failures


there was this little side project he and some of his dorm buddies were working on, called The (FaceBook)

Harvard allows you to stop out for an indefinite period of time. So I could go back anytime

*We also knew, however, that it wasn’t a done deal by any means—there were many other entrants for this winner-take-all prize, which definitely could have beaten us in those years. *

But here’s the thing. We knew we were developing skills. These were plenty marketable skills. People knew who Facebook was. And we could go back to Harvard whenever. It just didn’t feel that risky.”

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