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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why pay $100k for a "degree" when you can Self Educate?
I found this book to be highly entertaining and enlightening. A lot of the books I've been reading lately have been great but mainly re-affirming what I already know. Michael gave me quite a few great new ideas and numerous entertaining stories to back his arguments and make his points. I felt as though he readily admits that for some, higher education may be a totally...
Published on November 8, 2011 by Blake Leavitt

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484 of 597 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Felt I had to Wash My Hands when I was done
First: i would rate 2 1/2 stars if possible but not three!
The premise of this book was really promising. I thought it was going to be, based on the preface, about people who have educated themselves and become experts or broke new ground in technology, finance, and other fields.

What I got: multilevel marketing scams and sleaze. It starts about the...
Published on October 7, 2011 by Reviewer


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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why pay $100k for a "degree" when you can Self Educate?, November 8, 2011
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I found this book to be highly entertaining and enlightening. A lot of the books I've been reading lately have been great but mainly re-affirming what I already know. Michael gave me quite a few great new ideas and numerous entertaining stories to back his arguments and make his points. I felt as though he readily admits that for some, higher education may be a totally feasible option, but the main question would be "to what cost?" His ending Epilogue about the coming "Education Bubble" sums it all up incredibly well. Most people (including most of my colleagues) graduate University with HUGE amounts of debt only to be able to find jobs serving you & me at Starbucks or similar high-school type jobs. There is no way that they'll be able to pay off there school loans at their income levels and even if they file for Bankruptcy they still owe on their student loans. Having been well over $50k in debt and working behind a shovel for minimum wage with a college degree, I know the overwhelming stress that creates. It's enough to make you want to off yourself! So the question is, why pay all that money & go through it all in the first place when there are other options like khanacademy.org (which has a HUGE selection of completely free educational videos, including everything from Trig, to Economics, to Art History!) or other resources he lists in his book.

I am a person who has purchased online training seminars/ courses for business & investing, reads a non-fiction business/ self-help book about every other month and has even shelled out over $7k/seminar for similar weekend seminars. I also hold a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurism & finance. I can honestly say that all of my success has come from me busting my ass & figuring out what people want & delivering on that (just like what Michael suggests in his book). Never really liking school and going to college to fulfill my father's desire to have a male member of our family graduate from higher education I can honestly say that what I have learned in my self education FAR exceeds my formal business classes and at a fraction of the total cost. But I knew that it would. My father is a very successful small business owner who dropped out of college and is far more successful in business & life than most of my colleagues parents who hold degrees. He always told me that continuos self education and refinement in all areas of your life was the key to being successful and happy.

My only major critique of the book (and of most business non-fiction books) is that it can be a little long winded at times. I found myself a few times thinking, "Skip to the end Michael, you've already made your point." But I would also say that for a few lessons, I needed that length for it to really sink in.

My apologies for such a long winded and personal review, but I think what Michael touches in on is a very sensitive subject that many of us hold very personal. People are going to either love it or hate it. Remember that when reading reviews & if you're skeptical, pick it up at your local library, but just remember... that's exactly the type of self educate Michael urges his readers to do.
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484 of 597 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Felt I had to Wash My Hands when I was done, October 7, 2011
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First: i would rate 2 1/2 stars if possible but not three!
The premise of this book was really promising. I thought it was going to be, based on the preface, about people who have educated themselves and become experts or broke new ground in technology, finance, and other fields.

What I got: multilevel marketing scams and sleaze. It starts about the third chapter, where he mentions his 'friend' Eben Pagan.. I looked up the guys name and his site.. something in my gut just told me something was very very wrong.. well I looked up his name and it turns out he was one of those 'dating' 'seduction' hustlers. It just got sleazier from there, Ellsberg goes on to say how you should 'lift people ' like Pagan up - and then people will lift you up... does this sound like a non-financial ponzi scheme or what? Ellesberg never mentions Pagan's past, he just says the "runs a 30 million internet marketing company" - gee just like the founder of Zappo's eh? Ellesberg is not upfront about this, implying he knows its a liability and undermines his point. He often refers to copy writers who launched products that made ## million in sales but, suspiciously, never mentions what those products or companies were.( In fairness, he does point out who his personal friends are.)

Then I started to notice all the plugs for his buddies in the pages and I felt like I had paid for an advertisement. I 'thought' having a column on Forbes that this guy would be somewhat respectable, but I should have known better having first heard of him from a link to Tim Ferris (The four hour hustle)'s web site. The cross-marketing is annoying an undermines credibility.. Anyone who has read such books knows the pattern by now: "Four Steps to doing a successful career" Step one "increase networking" You really can't become a great networker without reading "this book by author blah blah blah (plug for book here, and the author of the book having reciprocal agreement to plug you)" But it's not just books, he constantly pushes expensive seminars as well (not his own). Sorry the idea that you have to spend 4000.00 on some 'empowerment' weekend is hogwash. i sincerely doubt these meetings are little more than some insiders making money and a lot suckers out 4000.00.

These guys sell dreams, not real advice. They sell the idea you can work four hours, or you can live like a rock star. A lot of times there advice is counter productive or at the very least unfounded.. they are good confidence men, but what they advise has no efficacy. To be fair to Ellsberg, he does clearly say that your chances of becoming a rock star or billionaire are largely out of your control and he does often site the more temperate Seth Godin.

I also found the writing sophomoric - call me a prude, but if someone has to constantly curse rather than think about what he is cursing about, he's no better than authors who write in cliches (for a wonderful analysis of this read George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language")

I believe that education, particularly higher education, has become a bit of a financial scam, and educational standards have shrunk. But statements like "What do you want your kid to learn, trigonometry, we have computers for that" quoted from one of his "experts" with tacit approval is beyond ignorant.

On the up side, there is some practical advice here and there, some good stories and even if you don't want to emulate ellesberg's tactics, analysis of his self marketing and promotion might be helpful.

Also he does offer practical warnings about the impracticality of today's higher education, the sense of entitlement it creates that cuts one off from opportunities (the idea of being 'above' certain types of work, or that abstract theories of 'film studies' will get you a job anywhere, let alone in film ). Some of his descriptions of the mentality of formal education are amusing and eye opening.

lastly, people who game amazon (like Ferris) are notorious for deleting negative reviews (notice all the short five star reviews, usually the 'user's only one? , so I will saving this off line and will check for occasional attempts by the author or his minions to delete it).
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56 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Game-changer -- do not pass go until you read this book!, September 29, 2011
By 
Jenny Blake (Bay Area, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ellsberg's book is a referendum against the notion that higher education is mandatory for self-made success (in fields other than law and medicine that require highly trained professionals). The book comes at a critical time as more and more graduates find themselves buried in debt but without a job to show for it.

Through dozens of in-depth interviews with movers and shakers, Ellsberg uncovers what he sees as the seven key self-education categories for career success -- that they DON'T teach you in college.

The millionaires he interviews are self-taught and self-made -- and their stories are inspiring for anyone who is looking to rely less on others (school, teachers, managers, companies) for career success and more on themselves and their highest creative faculties.

The seven key success skills Ellsberg highlights are:
1. How to make your work meaningful and your meaning work
2. How to find great mentors and teachers, connect with powerful and influential people, and build a world-class network
3. What every successful person needs to know about marketing, and how to teach yourself
4. What every successful person needs to know about sales, and how to teach yourself
5. How to invest for success (the art of bootstrapping)
6. Build the brand of you (or, to hell with resumes!)
7. The entrepreneurial mindset versus the employee mindset -- become the author of your own life

This book is a page-turner and a must-read -- I read it on one cross-country plane flight, then immediately gave it to my brother (a more recent graduate) and said "do not pass go until you finish this book."
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read, and a valuable, informative book., September 29, 2011
I went to an Ivy League school and don't think I've ever used a thing from my college education to help me in the real world. (Except maybe how to throw great parties, as I was social chair of my sorority. I have found this to be a pretty great skill, actually.)

In the real world of being an entrepreneur and running a business, it's sad that truly not a penny of my $140,000+ education has helped me learn how to serve in such a way that I can run a successful business.

I run a public speaking and stage/camera presence speaking program for women, and am in the midst of learning how to expand my business by using internet marketing to reach, inspire and train more women. There is valuable, actionable information in this book to do things that make a true difference in how you run your business.

In particular, I appreciated the stories the author shared about his wife and her struggles with her business, and how the practices that some of the successful people he interviews and speaks about in this book actually turned her whole business around in a big way. Great case study, and I've taken the actions the author mentions into account in how I'm doing things.

This book is a very fast read, and it's enjoyable and educational. I'm keeping it with the short stack of books on my desk that I reference for great business tips, advice and strategies.

Highly recommend!
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entrepreneurial Feast, September 29, 2011
Great, easy, inspiring read. Lots of useful take-aways. Finished it in about 5 hours.

In summary:
Conventional education does not teach us what we need in order to be financially successful in the world. Michael Ellsberg offers 7 success skills that he believes are essential to success based on his interviews with self-made millionaires. There's a chapter dedicated to each of the 7 skills as well as resources to pursue to learn more about each.

There's a part of me that wants to share the 7 skills here, but I know that if it was me reading this review and someone else had posted the 7 skills in bullet point format, I'd probably read them and think to myself "I know this already". That would have been a tragedy, as although none the 7 skills are long lost secrets, Michael and his self-made millionaire mentors gave me a an eye-opening perspective that has changed the way I do business.

I loved reading the stories of the extraordinary people interviewed in this book. Some are famous... some I'd never heard of... But they're all compelling... and what stood out for me the most was that they approach wealth creation from the perspective of "what can I give" rather than "what can I get". A refreshing change and a perspective I think is becoming more and more common.

A hugely valuable book filled with lots of entrepreneurial wisdom.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The "Andragogy" of Entrepreneurs, January 28, 2012
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Michael Ellsberg, in "The Education of Millionaires", argues the educational model in the United States is not only responsible for perpetuating an "employee" versus an "entrepreneur mindset", but is also broken, too expensive, and ill-suited for the chaotic, flat, disruptive, and digital world in which we live.

Mr. Ellsberg began his freelance writing career doing direct-sales copywriting, where he surely learned how to wrestle his prose into a form that it is both efficient and moving. This book has a power to persuade. I found myself surprised at the degree to which his writing was a call to action for me.

According to Ellsberg, this book was intended to be a launching-off point from which its reader will begin a journey of self-improvement and self-education. He provides throughout the book: links to websites, names of other books, seminar information, and other resources with which the curious can pursue further reading or learning.

"For people in the industrialized world," writes Ellsberg, "middle-class and above, the primary focus of our waking lives between the ages of six and twenty-two is--to a first approximation--grades. To a second approximation, the agenda also includes narrowly defined extracurricular activities, such as sports and music and volunteering, which look good on college applications and entry-level resumes... Have you ever stopped to ponder how utterly bizarre this state of affairs is?"

Later in the book, Mr. Ellsberg interviews PayPal founder, Peter Thiel, who contends, "Formal education has become very status oriented, and very far substantively from what people are interested in accomplishing in their lives and the world. And it's gotten worse as our society has become more tracked," says Thiel. Students are going to school for the "credential, only."

Throughout the book, Ellsberg quotes interviews with other entrepreneurs (most of whom, unlike Peter Thiel and Seth Godin, never graduated from college). Mr. Ellsberg demonstrates the ways that most of these interviewees "bootstrapped" a business from nothing. The example of these entrepreneurs, says Mr. Ellsberg, is to do, to be, to work for no boss. And Mr. Ellsberg speaks from experience. While a graduate of Brown, and the Ivy League, he attribute none, if any, of his success to his formal education, but rather to his ability to market himself, learn a new skill, find mentors, etc.

The structure of formal, higher education in the United States is currently such, argues Ellsberg, that smart people are otherwise brainwashed to look for external guidance and instruction on what to do with their lives.

Is not the unifying lament of the "Millennial" generation on some level, "I don't know what I want to do with my life!"? Perhaps this is because that when they "graduate" from our formal education system, one that has supposedly shown them the way their whole life, they are lost in the desert without a guide?

Grades and credentials, Ellsberg argues, lead us to pursue a "path" in life, where achievement of the next wrung up the ladder is the only end game, and obedience and completing the tasks handed to you the way to get there.

Mr. Ellsberg through the many examples in this book demonstrates how there is another way. This way is to realize that the most valuable learning is practical and experiential. You learn by doing, and failing. You learn by adapting to situations in the world before you. Credentials will not prepare you for these situations, only experience will. If only experience will educate us, the logic continues, why do we not just throw ourselves into the world of experience sooner? Formal education's answer to this question has long been, "Because our youth at age 18 are not ready for the real world of experience." But are US colleges really the protected, sheltered incubators of higher learning they claim to be? A Saturday night on a University campus may argue otherwise. Perhaps the un-reality of a college campus perpetuates the very immaturity it claims to inhibit?

While Mr. Ellsberg's point that formal education, the pedagogy of this educational system and the benefits it provides, is overpriced, may indeed be a fair and accurate statement, I am not ready to discount the institution in its entirety. Doing such is to throw the baby out with the bath water. Formal university systems, with all their problems, still offer demonstrable value (the ability to network and establish social connections for one). Mark Zuckerberg may have dropped out of Harvard, but isn't that where he met his co-founders and original investors without whom Facebook would have never happened? Isn't it contradictory to use quotes from Messer's Thiel and Godin, both graduates of Stanford (Law and Business School), to strengthen his argument? Ellsberg's admonitions of higher education seem better geared towards Liberal Arts programs that cost $50,000 per year than towards law and business degrees at top institutions.

So perhaps there is a middle way. Perhaps the message of Mr. Ellsberg's book is not that formal education is evil and valueless per se. Perhaps the better takeaway from this book is that the lessons of the entrepreneurs in this book, no matter your situation in life, are worth learning and applying in your life. Education, as Marc Ecko says, is ultimately about "andragogy" rather than "pedagogy". In this sense, an education in the Humanities can still offer a return on investment if it turns a student into a voracious readers and seeker of knowledge, rather than of credentials and grades.

As Mr. Ellsberg notes, "andragogy" literally means "man-leading", whereas pedagogy "child-leading". This delineation of these two words is an apt peroration of the entire book. The formal education system in the United States has evolved more and more into a pedagogical system, where Professor expert gurus, people whom often have little practical experience outside the University walls, lead their young students, showing them the way to read a text, understand history, etc. And to motivate these students, they use external abstractions like "A's" and "B's". Anyone with even a basic knowledge of Social Psychology knows that external motivators sap intrinsic motivation.

Contrastingly, the entrepreneurs in this book learned another way. They were not children with adults to show them the way. They were alone in the world. They had to rely on experience and personal responsibility. They focused on learning things that were directly relevant to their personal business endeavors. Their learning was focused on fixing a problem, rather than absorbing and regurgitating a sea of content. Their motivators were internal (growing their business) rather than external (grades and degrees). Their efforts were less taught and more self-directed.

I am not ready to look at the experience of these entrepreneurs, and say as a result that all formal education in this country is best thrown out with the trash (as Mr. Ellsberg seems ready to do). But their experience is enough for me to say that there is a lot to be learned from their approach to learning and life, especially for someone who might be a product of a formal education system. Their example of self-starting, courage, and perseverance is one that anyone would benefit from studying and implementing to some degree in their own life.
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90 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only I had this book 10 years ago..., September 29, 2011
I rarely finish a business book thinking - "damn - I wish I got all this 10 years ago..." Through subtle distinctions, simple frameworks, and amazing first hand accounts from Sean Parker, Peter Thiel, and Eben Pagan, Michael offers a way to look at the world as a world of opportunity - all the time. It's not some platitude, he actually gives you the formula. As a disclaimer, I went to Harvard, I have an MBA, I am looking for a job in Corporate America and thinking about dabbling on the entrepreneur's path. I'm one of the lemmings Michael addresses throughout the book and the message got through.

Michael's formula is simple -
1. Get your head out of your ass
2. Find people that inspire you and help them
3. Learn what people want
4. Show them that you can deliver
5. Invest in yourself and build little by little, keep teaching yourself
6. Own the impact you are making in the world, under your own name
7. And really, get your head out of your ass, stop being a victim and own your life. Dead-end jobs aren't forever. If you want different, make it so, because the education structure as we know it may be the next bubble.

While reading this book, I've been preparing for interviews and it's made a world of difference in my impact. Before, I didn't really listen for what the company/ hiring manager needed me to do. I cared more about whether they liked me or not and how much $ I would make. And what followed? Lots of dings. Now, I listen for "what's needed" and sell my experiences doing what's needed! I don't have a job yet, but I'm now in serious conversations with a multi-national company about a position where the job description asks for 5 more years of experience than I have. Regardless of what happens, I know I am just getting started...and this book will definitely be by my side.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but fundamentally flawed, March 27, 2013
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Ellsberg's book has an intriguing premise, but falls flat after the second chapter. One of his main points throughout the book is that higher education in the United States does not properly prepare students for the real world, and that academic success does not correlate with success in life. The other substantive point is that your passion should be your work. You don't need to buy it anymore, I just gave you the best parts. If this book was a study of the failings of higher education, it would be decent. However it quickly devolves into sleeze and product placements.

Chapter 3 is how to find a mentor. Ellsberg never actually tells you how to find a mentor, and instead recommends that you spend $2500 on one of his friend's weekend leadership seminars. Paying someone to advise you isn't having a mentor, just like frequenting a brothel doesn't mean you have a girlfriend.
Chapter 4 and 5 are about marketing and sales. Once again, he pushes outrageously expensive consultants as the solution. What manages to slip around the edges of the billboard is that manipulating emotions is the key to successful marketing. No, that's just car salesman gimmickry.
Chapter 6 is about reinvesting capital into your business and yourself, hardly a revolutionary concept, but a good reminder.
Chapter 7 advocates for the aggressive use of social media and blogs as a means of self-promotion. This might have been good advice 10 years ago, but nobody's going to get noticed for their clever hashtags these days.

The author of this book is not an authority on the content, and does not delve deeply into any of the topics presented. Instead he recommends some other book or expensive consultation with a guru friend of his. His examples of people that rejected traditional education and became rich exhibit classic confirmation bias. Many things contribute to success, not the least of which is luck. For every fabulously rich college dropout he writes about, there are probably thousands of others flipping burgers. Perhaps if Ellsberg had paid more attention in college, he would know how to conduct and present proper research on this topic of education and it's relationship with success.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but post-reading "plan-of-attack" should be more clearly defined, October 17, 2011
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I got a lot out of this book, but I wanted to raise one issue that was a bit murky.

One of the main premises of this book is the argument for self-education versus pursuing a Master's degree, the latter costing a ton of money in student loans for skills that are not very compatible in today's labor market (minus being a Doctor, Lawyer, or Academic). He presents compelling arguments and examples for self-education and provides a plan on how to accomplish it.

The problem for me is that his plan could be a bit clearer. Throughout the book, he mentions a number of other books that he has read, as well as seminars and email newsletters to subscribe or attend. Some of the books he says "you absolutely must read", while others are mentioned with less emphasis; maybe they had a few pages that helped emphasize one of Ellsberg's arguments.

I would really appreciate a guide, with all required reading/email newsletters/online courses (like those from Eben Pagan), and perhaps optional books for each success skill. If the book had this at the end, I would have happily given 5 stars instead of 4.
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47 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How To Be A Millionaire, September 29, 2011
By 
Ryan C. Holiday (Los Angeles, California) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
As a person who considers the day I dropped out of college the first real day of my education, this book told me a lot I already knew. But, I'm not a millionaire so I did learn plenty. Basically, Ellsberg flew around the world meeting billionaires and millionaires--most of whom were rejected or ejected from traditional schooling--and shares their lessons. And not just the lessons but how instructions on how to replicate their success by finding mentors, tips for investing in yourself and marketing the brand of You.

The book features a wide variety of personalities, which is good. Discussions of this topic tend to disproportionally focus on tech startup CEOs which isn't really fair because coding is a bit different than other fields. But Ellsberg includes musicians, fashion designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and other such successful people. This is a great book, and worth reading.
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