The Education of Millionaires, the 2nd full length release from Michael Ellsberg, is a book about redefining higher education, a hot topic that within the past year has received a considerable amount of attention. Instead of the traditional path of college learning, a common, highly advocated for, and century old life choice, Ellsberg offers an alternative perspective via higher learning outside the classroom. Much like the call of The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman and to some extent Linchpin by Godin, The Education of Millionaires is inadvertently a declaration against the “old way” of acquiring knowledge. It’s a subject that doesn’t come without controversy, but the mere conversation itself can prove to be beneficial in the right context.
One such example comes from the author himself, in which he lays out two different life scenarios, both of which hit close to home and are rich with detail. The first story is his own, we’ll call this the traditional route, in which he attends college, mingles through life looking for work, takes on some mediocre copywriting gigs, and eventually climbs towards his dream of making a living as a published author. The other scenario comes via his wife, who at a young age drops out of school, pursues her passion, surrounds herself with valuable information and people from which she learns the art of marketing and sales, and subsequently works hard and becomes a respected entrepreneur. Both people were successful, but in a striking conviction of honesty, Ellsberg ends up with mountains of college debt and his wife acquires over $500,000 worth of savings. Who do you think made the better choice?
This is the argument at the heart of The Education of Millionaires and it’s sold with gusto. Fortunately it doesn’t take long for Ellsberg to build a convincing case. Through stories and interviews, the reader meets entrepreneur after entrepreneur, some you’ve heard of, but many are people who’ve found success quietly through pursuing their passions and finding creative ways to prosper. Some are laptop warriors, while others are simply smart business people who break the status quo. It’s difficult to not applaud and root for these rogue entrepreneurs and Ellsberg brilliantly uses his writing chops to make it appear as if we’re sitting right next to them as they spill details on how they achieved more out of life. The reader is left attentively listening with the intent of absorbing as much as possible. Most of the bullet points are spelled out in easy to understand language and Ellsberg connects the dots for us by pulling out key attributes that perhaps we may choose to adopt for ourselves
As an internet marketing professional I found this to be a fun and fast read that packs a lot of useful nuggets within its 270 pages. If I sat down for drinks opposite Ellsberg I’d probably argue that having a diploma from Harvard or Stanford sure looks great on a resume and that the associated benefits can’t be ignored. Stats show that on average those of us that have college educations make more over a lifetime than those who don’t. Then again who says it’ll be that way forever? It’s certainly hard to argue against what’s possible when a person digs in and commits to alternative methods of acquiring knowledge. It’d be an understatement to say that books like this that are addressing these questions head-on are timely, appropriate, and dare I say, needed.