I recently read Education of Millionaires, which wasn’t about at all what I expected but turned out to be a great read.  It was a mix of:The-Education-of-Millionaires

  • Inspirational stories about people who created great lifestyles, often through startup companies, without impressive academic credentials
  • Identification of key skills to succeed professionally and how to develop them
  • Reasons why college education in American is broken and why it’s not relevant

Like Four Hour Workweek, I found it to be a great book even though I’m not looking to start a company or work 4 hours a week. Ellsberg identifies these skills as the keys to success:

  • Finding great mentors – you can get great mentors, but you have to actually take the action of identifying them and asking them
  • Marketing – great marketing happens when you focus on your client, not you, and how you can help them (not how great you are) — for example, try listing 25 of each of these for a client you’re pursuing:  fears, frustrations, desires, dreams, and nightmares and see how that affects how you communicate with them
  • Sales – learn from people who are great at it, like great copywriters; don’t think sales is beneath you (it’s a key skill, not a separate profession)
  • Investing in yourself
  • Building your personal brand

Some great quotes/concepts from the book:

  • “But what these cultural expectations for dropouts miss is that people can turn around.  Whether you’re a fast-food server or a cubicle jockey in a mindless corporate job [crappy] job fresh out of college, you’re not going to create anything better for yourself unless you make a fundamental shift:  from viewing yourself as a passive follower of paths other people set for you, to actively taking responsibility for creating your own path toward success, however you define it.  Thus, how much education you have doesn’t really matter; what matters is whether you make this fundamental shift in mentality.”
  • “The people who are most successful, they had a problem gnawing at them, and they couldn’t be comfortable unless they did something to solve that problem. … It was about solving a problem” – Sean Parker
  • “Understand that no matter what you’re doing, even if you want to be a ballplayer, a rapper, a movie star — nothing happens until something gets sold. Ever. The reason actors make so much money is because their face sells the movie tickets. It’s not about their ability to act. … The key is … to cause someone to joyfully give you money in exchange for something that they perceive to be of greater value than the money they gave you.” – Frank Kern
  • The skills of success (marketing, sales, leadership) are separate from the skill of your craft (writing, design, engineering, etc.) and you need both to succeed.  Marketing is getting people who didn’t know you to know you.  Sales is getting people to pay you who haven’t paid you before.  Leadership is changing the hearts and minds of people (not manipulation, but effectively leading).
  • The five minute rule:  when you’re having a bad day, you can whine/vent/complain about it for 5 minutes; then focus on what you can control
  • “We don’t get to choose what happens to us. But we do get to choose what it means. And in the choice is a tremendous power.”
  • “If there are other people doing well in your industry, and you’re not, there’s nothing wrong with the business you’re in, there’s something wrong with you.”
  • “Most people don’t see that they have options beyond what society tells them to do.  That’s the biggest problem.  They honestly believer that compliance is the shortcut to success. …there are all these people who work in newspapers who think that they can comply their way to success.  It’s insane.” – Seth Godin
  • “There are two decisions you need to come to in order to be free, and to be more effective.  First is that you are not entitled to anything in the world, until you create value for another human being first. Second, you are 100 percent responsible for producing results. No one else.” – Joe Polish
  • The entrepreneurial mind-set (not the employee mind-set) is the key to success, whether you’re a business owner or an employee:  focus on contribution (not entitlement), outcomes (not output), what’s needed (not what’s requested), working yourself out of a job (not working to protect your job), going toward big decisions (not avoiding decisions), seeing your circumstances as temporary (not seeing them as permanent)
  • “I predict that many of the critics of [Education of Millionaires] will incorrectly say I reduce education to mere “vocational training.”  My book, in fact, recommends the opposite of vocational training.  Vocational training prepares you for a specific job — even though many of the jobs people people are now training for may not exist in five or ten years!  The courses in this book prepare you for success in any job, including jobs we can’t even imagine because they don’t exist yet.”
  • Education doesn’t have to be linear anymore, thanks to the hyperlinked Internet of knowledge (concept discussed by Sean Parker)
  • “[Peter] Thiel told me he asks a simple question of people who are seeking employment with him, as well as asking it of the young people applying to his fellowship program.  He says that many young people, raises for years and years through the hoop-jumping and conformism of the formal schooling system, have an incredibly hard time answering it.  So it weeds out most applicants:  ‘Tell me something that you think is true that very few people agree with.'”
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