The Education of Millionaires

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Who is Michael Ellsberg?

I am a book author. Specifically, I am the author of The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think, and It’s Not Too Late, published by Penguin/Portfolio, and The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret For Success in Business, Love and Life, from HarperCollins. I also write a blog on entrepreneurialism, career development, and education at

I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, Will Dropouts Save America?, which reached #6 “Most Emailed” on the site, as well as a guest post on Tim Ferriss’s blog, titled 8 Steps to Getting What You Want… Without Formal Credentials.

(Aside from The Education of Millionaires, what do I think is my best writing ever? My Forbes pieces How I Overcame Bipolar II—And Saved My Own Life and The Paradoxical Secret of Obsession-Worthy Branding, and my manifesto What Does It Mean That Your Life is Perfect?)

I’ve spoken at the Googleplex for the Authors@Google series, at Dartmouth College, at the World Technology Summit & Awards, at the Thiel Fellows Retreat, at TEDxSF, and at the Commonwealth Club of California.

I grew up in an activist household, the son of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and Patricia Ellsberg—subjects of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. (I appear in one still shot at the end of the doco, a babe in my father’s arms as he speaks to an antiwar rally in the 70s.) I oversee my father’s website, Twitter, and Facebook page. (They like the book, although they don’t agree with all of it :)

The Education of Millionaires is a bootstrapper’s guide to investing in your own human capital. I interviewed some of the most successful people on the planet who didn’t complete college and who educated themselves in the real world, to deconstruct their secrets and create a “Syllabus for a Successful Life” based on what I learned from them.

The book features interviews with self-educated billionaires Phillip Ruffin and John Paul DeJoria, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and founding president Sean Parker, WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg, fashion designer Marc Ecko, Pink Floyd lead guitarist David Gilmour, and marketing experts Eben Pagan, Frank Kern and Joe Polish. It also features the insights of experts including Seth Godin, “Rich Dad” Robert Kiyosaki, and PayPal co-founder and Facebook angel investor, billionaire Peter Thiel.

The Education of Millionaires has been sold into Russia, Korea, Brazil, Bulgaria, Thailand, Taiwan mainland China, and Hong Kong, and as a US audiobook release. The Power of Eye Contact has been sold into China, Russia, France, Korea, Brazil, Poland, the Czech Republic, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

I am the creator of Eye Gazing Parties, a series of social events based on eye contact which attracted feature press coverage from the New York Times, Associated Press TV, CBS News, CNN, Good Morning America, MSNBC, Regis & Kelly, Current TV, Yoga Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco magazine, the BBC, the Times of London,,, Agence Press France, German and Canadian national television, and in Tim Ferriss’s bestseller The Four-Hour Workweek, and on Tim’s blogElle magazine called Eye Gazing Parties “New York’s hottest dating trend.”

I collaborated with Dr. Marc Gerstein on Flirting With Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental, which was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.

I was born in San Francisco in 1977, grew up in Berkeley, and graduated from Brown University in 1999. I live in New York with my wife Jena la Flamme, and we spend a lot of time in San Francisco as well.

The Education of Millionaires was inspired by Jena (and is dedicated to her.) She dropped out of college her junior year, and then went on to become a successful entrepreneur.