Ramit Sethi Interviews Michael Ellsberg

I had a blast being interviewed by one of my favorite authors, Ramit Sethi.

Here are some topics we covered:

  • The right way to ask for feedback, and the wrong way
  • The crucial difference between people who act on feedback and people who don’t
  • The delicate dance between confidence and feedback – and how to make *improve* your confidence rather than detract
  • How to know when you should ignore someone’s advice, vs. listen to it

Enjoy!

I Will Build Your Network…

After I wrote The Education of Millionaires, I thought I was going to spend a year after the book came out talking about education, because that’s what the book is about.

But to my surprise, hardly anyone asked me about education.

The thing people all asked me was, “How did you get connected to all those billionaires?”

I thought it was normal to be able to reach all these successful and influential people. But over the course of writing my book I realized that this is actually my special power, and other people want to learn how to do that.

I’ve tried teaching this in lectures. I’ve lectured on this topic at Awesomeness Fest in Playa del Carmen, and at conferences around the country.

But, as clearly as I try to lay out the steps… I’ve found few people are actually able to put them into practice effectively.

So I’ve decided to change tack.

I’m going to do it for you.

I will build your professional network.

Of course, I can’t actually go to talk to potential people in your network for you—otherwise I’d be building my network, not yours!

But I am going to…

  • Tell you exactly what to say, on the phone and in networking events, to get in the door
  • Help you write emails to key people that will get ANSWERED (all this writing talent of mine has to be good for something, right?! This is what I’ve found to be its most economically-valuable use–networking)
  • Devise a secret plan for you that none of your competition will have, for meeting the important people you need to meet
  • Help you become the HUB in your network (not a spoke)… the person other people come to for advice, connections, introductions, with opportunities to share.

Do you have something really big you want to accomplish? Does it require the support, endorsement, collaboration, or investment of influential people?

By influential, I mean the people in your industry or field who will connect you to all the resources and opportunities you need.

The difference between meeting even one such influencer in your field, and meeting none, is the difference between your project and/or career sailing smoothly, and you feeling stalled, stuck, and frustrated.

What if you knew exactly what custom-designed actions you needed to take to meet not just one, but dozens of such game-changers for your career?

That’s what I plan to show you.

Privately.

1-on-1

Tailored to your exact goals, circumstances, location, and industry.

If you are in a business or career and you need to find…

  • More Customers
  • More Clients
  • More Leads
  • More Prospects
  • More Investors
  • More Talent
  • More Media/Buzz/PR
  • More Word-of-mouth

… then you and I need to talk.

Also, if in your personal life you would like to find…

  • A new, more diverse and wider social circle
  • Better and more dating prospects
  • “The one” for a long-term relationship
  • Invitations to more exclusive private social events and insider parties

… this method works just as well.

(One client of mine, a divorced 61-year-old man who had a sleepy social life before our work together, is now regularly hosting 100-person parties for some of the most interesting artists, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs in NYC. Last fall, he met an amazing woman at one of these parties. They fell madly in love, and they’ve been happily together for 6 months now.)

How does this work?

We’re going to get on Skype video for 90 minutes, I’m going to hear a bit about your situation and goals, and then I’m going to lay everything out for you, step-by-step. Your own custom networking plan.

If you get just ONE valuable connection out the strategy and tactics I devise for you, your investment will pay itself back. And my goal is for you to get dozens of new valuable connections, if you follow the personalized plan I will give you.

If for any reason you think you didn’t get you money’s worth, I will refund it with no hassle and no hard feelings. My goal is for you to be blown away by this value.

Ready to get on Skype with my and start building a world-class professional and personal network?




 

I’ll get back to you within 24 hours to schedule your session.

Yours,

–Michael

How to Connect With Powerful and Influential People

At Awesomeness Fest in Playa del Carmen, I delivered this keynote:

[Below is an edited transcript. There is also an audio version available for streaming and download at the bottom.]

[By the way, if--after watching this video--you'd like additional help putting these steps into action, in a way that is relevant and tailored to your particular situation, check out my page "I Will Build Your Network"]

You think you’re here right now for a just little dose of awesomeness. Actually, what you’re here for is a religious conversion. The particular religion of which I’m a missionary—and I’m going to convert every last one of you—is the religion of connecting with powerful and influential people. Everything good in my life has come through this power. The most important connection in my life, to my wife Jena, came through a mutual connection. My book deals have come through connections. Most of what has happened in my business life has come through connections. I’m going to share some secrets with you that are going to “super sauce” this power in your life.

There’s one really important distinction you have to understand if you want to be good at this skill, and bring all the benefits that I’ve already mentioned into your life. It’s a distinction between two types of networking: the “right” way, and the “wrong” way. My guess is that a lot of you are unconsciously networking the wrong way, because a lot of people do this.Read More

My Debate in India, Sponsored By the Hindustan Times

Here is the video of my debate at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, New Delhi, India.

We had a lot of forces against us. I had been in India for 24 hours, did not know the local culture, was in Goddess-knows-what time zone, the motion was worded, for maximum debate fireworks, in a highly polarized way that didn’t work in our favor (“A liberal arts education is a waste of time and money.”) On account of that wording, by show of hands only two people voted, pre-debate, in favor of the motion (my wife and my friend), and most of the hands in the room, full of 500 of India’s most elite businesspeople, went up against it.

Nonetheless, I rained debate hellfire on our opponents. If you’d like to see what it looks like when a young tyke dresses down the headmaster of prestigious Wellington College (one of Britain’s most elite boarding prep schools) for perpetuating and promoting a system in which a year of education at his institution costs 40+ years worth of the average income of an Indian family, watch here.

I also got a chance to tell, to an Indian audience, the story of how my wife got her higher education, informally, traveling in their country on a budget of $6K, for 2 years in her early 20s. That made her a mini-celebrity for the rest of the conference.

We lost the debate (the audience was still overwhelmingly against our motion in the post-vote), but we went down swinging and fighting. Dozens of people came up to me afterwards and expressed gratitude for bringing up the issue of the costs of higher education, which are so pressing for Indian families (as they are for US families). And our opponent, Wellington College headmaster Anthony Seldon, graciously came up to me afterwards after our spirited debate, and said that he thought we won the debate. I was unrelenting and merciless, and had Seldon on his knees (literally! watch the video!) after my segment. He was a good sport and came back swinging in his own segment after mine. You can watch all the fun below.

My segment starts here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yoi-ixfqWkc&t=1h17m34s

The full debate from the beginning is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yoi-ixfqWkc&t=56m27s

And stay tuned on the same video (either link), after our debate segment, for a wonderful presentation by Darryl Hannah.

Introduction to Immersive Awareness

[This is a transcript of the first class and Introduction to Immersive Awareness. For additional teachings, see the main page at that link. A downloadable audio of this recording is available at the bottom.]

Today I am going to teach you a style of meditation that I created and developed called Immersive Awareness.

You might ask,“Hey Michael you’re only 37. Who gave you permission to create your own meditation style? There are already styles that have been around thousands of years. Why are you coming in to creating your own? What do you think you’re enlightened or something?” [Laughter]

The answer is, of course I’m not enlightened—that’s the reason why I had to create my own style.

I’ve been trying to learn other styles of meditation for about 20 years with limited success. I started my first TM class, Transcendental Meditation, at age 15 and practiced that for a while. I switched to the Vipassana as taught by Jack Cornfield and the Spirit Rock Community in the Bay Area. Later, I did a 10 day Vipassana retreat taught remotely by Goenka.

I’ve been trying meditation for quite a while and have not been very good at it. This surprised me because I’m usually good at learning things that I set myself to learn them. I did well in school. I’m a quick learner, but I figured if something is not working for me after 20 years, maybe it’s not a good match for me.

The more I talk about meditation and teach my own style to people, the more I hear of people who have similar stories. The other day, I was teaching a woman who had done a 10 day Vipassana retreat at the same place that I had done mine. She said that she had tried it for a while but had a lot of trouble with it. The trouble that I had, and that other people I’ve talked to had, is that people find a lot of the styles boring.

I’m not here to knock these styles because they are incredibly powerful. They benefit millions of people. This is not about better or worse. It’s about whether it’s a match for you or not.

I have found that I get bored. In Transcendental Meditation, you focus on a mantra. In Goenka’s vipassana, you do a body scan, scanning your body up and down. I would get bored. Maybe that’s the point. You’re supposed to get comfortable with boredom. I would never look forward to meditation. And I’ve talked to many people who have had the same experience.

This brings me to the second reason I developed it. I needed to meditate because I have been on a path of sobriety.

I’ve been taking no mind-altering substances. No marijuana, which had been my main recreational buzz. No alcohol, although I didn’t ever drink very much. No caffeine, no coffee, no stimulants, no green tea, no dark chocolate, which had actually been my main daily get up and go drug. No Adderall, which I used to write sometimes, no Provigil, nothing. I was clearing all that from my mind.

The reason we take mind-altering substances is for the second word in that phrase “altering.” I have found that it’s beneficial to do away with mind altering-substances and learn how to alter my consciousness on my own. I needed to meditate, but the other meditation styles weren’t working for me. Again, it’s not a problem with the styles themselves. They weren’t good matches for me. If you’re reading this, my guess is they weren’t good matches for you.

I wanted a style that really fit well with the sobriety. What I noticed when I got sober is I started feeling a lot more. I had more emotional feeling. I was much more sensitive to things, even to sound and smell. My whole sensory system from the emotional to the physical got more sensitive to my environment.

I believe we sometimes use substances to numb ourselves. When I was no longer doing that, the numbing went away and the opposite of numb is sensitive. All of a sudden, there’s so much more sensory information coming to me from different levels, including the subtle energetic level. It was overwhelming.

I was sitting there trying to meditate, unsuccessfully as usual. And I got this thought, “What if I tried to feel everything? What if I tried to feel everything that was coming my way at once? To un-numb everything and feel it all.” This was a new thought.

Most meditation styles have you focus. When you focus on one thing, you ignore other things. In TM you focus on the mantra, which means you’re ignoring a lot of your body sensations. In various Zen styles you focus on your breath, which means you’re dissociating from other things that may be going on in your body, other than your breath. In Vipassana you do a body scan, which means you are focused on one body part at any given moment. You’re not actually taking in the whole.

I thought, “What if I took in the whole at once?”

I started paying attention and trying to feel everything at once: my body sensations, my body tingling, my emotions, my breath, my heart beat, the sounds around me, the sensations on my skin, and even my thoughts. I took a wide-angle view, a birds’ eye view, of everything that was going on. With some practice, I was able to have the experience of taking in everything that was going on.

At first it was chaotic, like a symphony that was playing discordant music. Every instrument was playing something different, and I was hearing the whole as unpleasant. With some practice, you’ll be able to feel everything happening at once in harmony.

It’s like looking at a storm from above in airplane. You could see many different things happening in the storm: different wind gusts and pockets of air moving in different ways. But you’d also see one whole storm. When you take in the whole storm, it’s no longer so stormy. It’s one thing that is constant. There’s chaos within constancy. It’s that constancy that we often don’t feel throughout all the chaos.

This meditation style is particularly useful for those of you who are practicing Sobriety for Mental Clarity, which is my group and practice that I teach. Even trying it for a few weeks, I highly recommend doing meditation while you practice sobriety, and in particular the style that I’ve developed here which I called Immersive Awareness.

The idea is that if you take in everything at once, you’re not tuning out your body. You’re not dissociating from it. You’re immersing yourself in it. What I found in people who’ve practiced this and who I have taught, is that over time, not your first time or first week, you feel immersed in your sensation.

It’s an enveloping immersive experience. It takes on a three-dimensional quality. All of your feelings and sensations become three-dimensional. It’s psychedelic, which is great for someone like me who loved marijuana and psychedelics. I wanted to clear my brain of them, and it’s wonderful to access states that remind me of that alteration of consciousness. They are altered consciousness without using substances.

Without further ado I’m going to practice this with you for about 10 minutes. I recommend that you sit. Do not do this while walking around, and especially not while driving.

Later on, however, you can do it in your day-to-day life. Because you’re practicing taking in lots of different sensory stimulation at once, it’s the only meditation style I’ve encountered that works very well in your day-to-day life, even when you’re not meditating on a pillow. I practice Immersive Awareness on the subway. I practice it while I’m at the grocery store. I even practice it while in conversations. It enhances the experience rather than taking away from the experience.

Let’s say you are in a conversation. You are taking in all the ideas, thoughts, and aspects of your conversation partner’s being at once. You are aware of and have had practice taking in multiple streams of information and sensation. It’s really cool once you practice this.

Because of this ability to do it out and about, I practice Immersive Awareness for five, six, or seven hours a day. I get to meditate for those hours each day without taking the time out of my schedule, which obviously would not be possible if because I have work to do, things to get done, and bills to pay.

You can’t do an eight-hour-a-day meditation retreat each day, but you can practice Immersive Awareness for long stretches of the day.

For now do this sitting. If you have a meditation pillow that’s great. Otherwise, get some pillows from your couch. I recommend a half lotus position, but any way that’s comfortable for you is great.

You’re going to layer in different aspects of awareness and sensation, one on top of the other. You’ll see what it’s like to have all these different types of sensation and information coming into you.

Layer 1 – Body Tingling

You are going to start by becoming aware of your body tingling.

Your body has an enormous amount of electrical activity happening at the cellular level and the nervous system level. If you pay attention, you can feel the tingling of the electricity in your body. I’m not exactly sure what that tingling is. Maybe it is this electricity; other traditions would call it Chi or Prana. I’m going to call it body energy, which is not necessarily a supernatural force. If you pay attention to your body, you can feel the tingling all around in your body.

Instead of focusing on the tingling in one area, bring your awareness to the entire body and all your tingling. There’s all this electrical life in your body that we often don’t pay attention to because we are so caught up in our thoughts and our mind.

Layer 2 – Breath

Now that you have awareness of your body tingling, you going to add the breath and awareness of the breath on top or with it. Breath is three-dimensional. It has volume, fills your lungs, and expands your body.

Breathe into the tingling, so that your tingling starts to have volume as well. What you might find when you focus on the breath is it starts to feel like a three-dimensional breath tingling. It’s actually quite delicious. In and out, expanding and contracting.

Try not to feel these as two separate things. Not as the breath and the tingling, but as one thing, the breath tingling.

If you don’t get this the first time, that’s fine. This is a practice. When learning to start the piano, you would not be upset that you can’t play the first time. That’s not how it works. It takes practice. In my experience people can get this much faster than a musical instrument. But don’t be upset if you don’t get it right away. Keep practicing and you’ll get it soon enough.

Layer 3 – Heartbeat

Next add a third element into your mix. It’s like we are making a smoothie here. A lot of my readers are health fanatics like me, and we make green shakes. These are all different energies or ingredients of one delicious energy shake that you’re creating here.

You have the tingling, the breath, and now mix in awareness of the heartbeat and the pulse. You may not feel your heartbeat, but if you pay attention, you may feel the pulse in your body. [Not everyone can feel this. Don't worry if you can't.]

The breath tingling may take on a pulsing aspect. This is the point at which you start to be aware of how much activity is going on throughout your whole body. Take in the whole body, the breath tingling pulse.

You may feel the pulse in unexpected places. Don’t think that it’s only going to be in your wrist, which is where we normally check the pulse. Sometimes I feel it in my lips. You might feel a throbbing throughout your body.

Layer 4 – Skin Sensations

Now add the sensations outside your body. You have clothes on or a blanket over you, you’re sitting on a pillow, you feel some air in the room, warmth or coolness, breeze, anything that is touching your skin, even if it’s only air. You are going to add that.

You have the tingling, the breath inside of you, the pulse, and the body sensations outside of you. This is where you get a sense of the three dimensionality of it as you feel your body taking up space in a room.

There’s a symphony of activity happening here. This is why I find this style works for me. It’s not boring. You are not repeating one word or focusing on one body part. There’s a symphony of activity that’s actually quite marvelous and spectacular. As you practice this, your view into the symphony becomes finer and finer grained. It’s infinite really, infinitely fascinating.

The sensations might become stronger as you dive into this practice. Even over one session, you’re bringing awareness to things that have been numb for so long.

Layer 5 – Sound

The next layer you are going to add into this mix is sound. Even if you’re in a quiet room, you’re going to have sounds associated with your breath. Maybe you’re not in a perfectly quiet room. I’m sitting over a street as I meditate in this room. I’m hearing traffic noise. Whatever there is, add sound into this evolving energetic mixture that you’re creating.

You have tingling body energy. You have breath. You have heartbeat and pulse. You have outer body sensations. Now you have sound. That’s five. This is a five dimensional thing that you’re creating, bringing awareness into, and immersing yourself into.

Layer 6 – Emotions

There are two more dimensions you are going to add. This is where it can be a little challenging. Don’t worry if you don’t get this right away. You will get it with practice. The next sixth dimension you are going to add is your emotions. This can take on a rapid feeling.

Feel your emotions infusing into this mixture. One word I use is mixture. Another word I use is cohesion or cohesiveness. At first all these different dimensions might seem chaotic and separate, but a few of them start cohering together. Ideally, you create a complete coherence of all of these things so that they’re all working together. You feel them as one, not as separate dimensions.

Add your emotions into this cohesion, this coherence. The emotions might occur rapidly. Anger, frustration, boredom, excitement, joy, regret, anger, fear. Fear is a common one.

Don’t try to name them. If you automatically put names or labels onto them, that’s okay. But the idea is to feel them, not to conceptualize or label or name them. Feel them in this mixture.

My emotions add a lot of electricity into the mixture. Everything gets more intense.

Often there’s one emotion that you’re not willing to admit that you’re feeling. If you’re feeling stuck or the meditation is not working for you, the number one cause of that in my experience is some emotion that you’re not willing to acknowledge. Often it’s fear or shame or something you’re upset at yourself. If you feel that and add it into the mix, so much energy gets liberated. The flow starts again. Where it gets stuck, what is that emotion that you’re not willing to admit and don’t want to look at. For me it’s shame or self criticism or fear.

Let it flow, feel it all.

You’ll get to a point where you’re feeling everything flowing inside of you: The good, the bad and the ugly. This is not always pure bliss. Often the emotions are negative and unpleasant, but they’re not stuck anymore. When you feel them and add volume to them, add breath to them, add tingling to them, they move. They don’t sit there stuck in a dark basement. There’s movement. You’re aerating them like air out of a stuffy room.

Layer 7 – Thoughts

Finally you are going to add the seventh dimension, which is often the most challenging. You’re going to add your thoughts into this.

When you practice this for a while, your thoughts quiet down a lot, which is quite nice. When starting out, there’s a lot of thinking, which is usually considered a main block to meditating. In our style we don’t tune thoughts out. We mix them into the evolving mix. There’s space for them within this mix. They take up less space in our consciousness. They’re one part of this coherence.

When you’re making a smoothie and put a little more of one ingredient into it, more blueberries or peanut butter or protein powder or whatever it is; you put that into this smoothie. There’s a moment where you see the ingredient swirling around, just for a few seconds, before it gets subsumed into the blend. That’s the image we can use with our thoughts.

You may have a thought for moment, “Oh I forgot to pick up such and such at the grocery store,” or “I have to respond to so and so’s email.” Think it for a second and feel it subsumed into the blend. It becomes part of the coherence.

The thoughts take on a three dimensional aspect because they’re being infused with your breath and volume of your body. They flow through your body. You normally think of thoughts occurring in your head, but why do you think that? You wouldn’t have thoughts if you didn’t have a heart or didn’t have lungs. While your head is necessary for thoughts, they occur throughout your whole body. Feel your thoughts.

You’ve gone through the seven dimensions. You may have varying levels of success adding different dimensions in. I encourage you to keep practicing now that you’re on the pillow go for another 15 minutes, and see what comes of it.

A thought I want to leave you with before I sign off: I would encourage you to practice this throughout the day, particularly during dead times on a subway or train or bus. Try it in grocery stores or while in conversations.

There’s no reason not to go throughout your whole day with Immersive Awareness.

Thank you so much for sharing with me in this practice. Please do let me know how it’s going for you. Share with me your questions and experiences in the Immersive Awareness Facebook group. Again, thank you so much. I’m really looking forward to developing this practice with you and with everyone who is practicing this in our growing community.

Immersive Awareness – Daily Practice

Here is a recording to practice Immersive Awareness, for regular use. It doesn’t have the introductory material in the Introduction; it just has the practice itself. For other teachings, see the main Immersive Awareness page. Enjoy!

[The audio version is available for streaming below. To download it, CTRL-click on the "Download" link below and select "Save Link As" (on a Mac) or right-click on a PC.]

Immersive Awareness (Meditation)

I have developed a style of meditation called Immersive Awareness, that works very well for people (like me) who get bored easily, or have difficulty concentrating enough to do other styles of meditation such as Transcendental Meditation and Vipassana.

You can read more about it, and download free audio teachings, via the following links. There is also an Immersive Awareness Facebook Group, where you can connect with other students of IA.

Class 1: Introduction to Immersive Awareness

Class 2: Daily Practice

Sobriety for Mental Clarity

Today is six weeks of sobriety from all mind-altering substances—no marijuana (previously my recreational “buzz” of choice, alcohol (not that I ever drank much anyway), coffee, Adderall or Provigil for writing, psychedelics, or any kind of stimulant including green tea or dark chocolate–that last one has been the hardest, as for years dark chocolate was my main day-to-day “get up and go” stimulant.

I am doing this, not because I ever felt I used substances in a way I couldn’t control. I have always felt in control, and have never had a “problem.” I am doing this, because I desire mental clarity, and I felt pumping all these mind-altering substances into my brain, while fun, and while often leading to insight, creative inspiration, and motivation, was clouding and fogging my brain.

I also have been feeling a desire to know exactly what inspiration, energy, and motivation comes from within, and to be in touch with those cycles and rhythms, and learn to align with them and cultivate them naturally, rather than creating cycles (and cycles, and more spinning spinning cycles!) through substances.

This period has also coincided (non-coincidentally) with my first serious commitment to meditation. I’ve been meditating about 1hr per day, the most consistent run of meditation in my life, since I first learned over 20 years ago (previously, I have been the model of an inconsistent meditator.) I have even developed my own technique of meditation, which I call Immersive Awareness, which I find complements the particular experience of sobriety for mental clarity well.

After about 2 weeks of very unpleasant caffeine withdrawal (I slept almost nonstop for 2 weeks and couldn’t do anything productive during the days), I’m feeling way more grounded, clear, stable, and energized. And all cravings for caffeine and dark chocolate (the only ones on that list I ever felt craving for) are gone. I’m getting to bed earlier, sleeping more deeply, and waking feeling more refreshed.

From people who know me personally, I’m getting unanimous reports that I’m coming across as more grounded than I’ve ever been. (Coming across as “grounded” has not, in the past, been one of my strong points 

The quality of my thinking is much sharper, I feel my writing flowing more easily (without the caffeine, which I felt I needed to write). My creativity feels more subtle, without the “jacked” or “manic” edge.

And, the benefit I’m most excited about- my meditation practice is going deeper than I’ve ever experienced. I am finally having meditation experiences that are as profound and life-changing for me as the many psychedelic journeys that have changed my life–without all the downsides of substances. A channel has opened up within me that I’m tapping into big time. I feel very grateful for this.

I thought other people out there might like to explore these benefits, so I’ve created this Facebook group called

Sobriety for Mental Clarity

I don’t know what this group will become yet, but let’s evolve it together! I intended it to be a gentle, non-judgmental place where you can get inspired and get support to explore sobriety, not because you have a “problem” with substances, but because you desire more mental clarity.

In general, in this group, I want to avoid the whole 12-step/substance abuse frame, not because there’s anything wrong with that frame for people who need it, but because I think it is overrepresented in the sobriety literature and community, and not everyone exploring sobriety relates to it.

This is a place for you even if you don’t have a “problem” with drugs or alcohol, but just want the mental clarity benefits of abstaining, or want to try it for a week or two and see for yourself. We won’t judge you, no matter what your circumstances or motivations are.

Welcome, and enjoy! 

Your Competitive Advantage is Not Information, It’s Transformation

Of all the talks I’ve ever given, this is, in my judgment, the best.

At Jazz @ Lincoln Center, speaking to the students of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition:

[Below is the edited transcript. An audio version is available for download at the bottom]

If you are a thought leader, trainer, coach, or service provider of any kind who shares with an audience or works or with personal clients, you are in the midst of a storm right now.

There’s a very powerful competitor out there trying to put each and every one of you out of business. This is an extremely well-funded competitor. I just checked their market capitalization. It’s around $230 billion. Everyone has heard of them. Everyone uses them. People have access to it on their computer and in their pockets or phones. Pretty soon it’s going to be driving your cars. It’s even going to be on your eyeglasses. If you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about Google.

We live in an age now where information is abundant, cheap, and free. If you are going to compete by providing information to your clients, you will lose. Competing with Google is a losing proposition. Often you’ll hear the distinction made between information and knowledge. There’s so much information out there, but what we really need is knowledge. Google has us beat here because they have videos. They own YouTube. Anyone can get the information distilled in any way they need. They can get all the concepts they need for free. Just flip on TED or go to YouTube. It’s all there.

This sounds a little depressing. How can you compete with this behemoth that is making all of the world’s information free and available to everyone? The answer is that your competitive advantage is not information. It is transformation.Read More

How to Live The Writer’s Life

HiResI’ve put in my 10,000 hours at being a neurotic writer.

Now I’m sharing what I’ve learned with you!

I’ve created a course called “How to Live The Writer’s Life”

This isn’t focused on *selling* your writing (I may teach a course on that later.)

This is focused on *actually* writing.

Like, how to get yourself to do it regularly. (Which is, by the way, most of the “trick” to being a writer.)

–> How to do that most elusive thing writers are supposed to do, “Find your voice.”

–> Vulnerability vs. transparency. How to be “vulnerable” (that 2010′s must-have for writers) without being transparent about that… uh… that… that *thing* you’d rather people not know about…

–> Dealing with rejection from family, friends, and publishers (A writer who can’t deal with rejection is like a surfboard who can’t deal with water.)

–> Owning your identity as a writer fully, and dealing with people’s judgments of that identity. (“Oh, a *writer*. I see. What have you published?”)

–> How to write things people will actually read.

–> How to find the best material to write about.

–> Paying your dues as a writer adequately, but not *overpaying*!

–> How to get the feedback you need, while avoiding the feedback you don’t need. Knowing whose advice/feedback about your writing take seriously, painful as it is, and whose advice/feedback to say “Fuck off!” to.

–> How to become a better writer.

–> How to find writing mentors.

–> How to deal with the fact that most other people who are as smart as you, and who are not writers, are probably making more money than you.

–> Dealing with the greatest writing-killer the world has ever known: perfectionism

–> Gaining the courage to share your writing with an audience, before you know it’s perfect. (If you waited until you *know* it’s perfect, you might start sharing some of your writing in the old age home. And then, only because you’ve given up on waiting for things to be perfect!)

–> Career guidance for writers. If you’re going to spend all this time developing the skill of stringing words together, you might as well figure out how to make some dough from it. (No, not how to sell your writing. That’s the *worst* way to try to get paid for your writing skill.)

–> Mental Health and Sanity 101 for writers (You’re going to need it!)

Note: my own focus, for 20 years, has been non-fiction, so that’s where my perspective comes from. I have *zero* credibility on how to write fiction (create characters, plot, etc), poetry, etc., so I won’t be talking about fiction specifically. But I do think a lot of the stuff I mention above applies to fiction and poetry writers as well.

So, here is:

How to Live the Writer’s Life
A Course on All the Topics Above
by Michael Ellsberg

–> Four recorded class modules, 2 hours each

–> $150 for the series. 

–> One of the greatest components of the class, is the private Facebook group and community for the class, where you’ll meet all kinds of fellow travelers on the writing path, many of whom may become your writing buddies for life. *Here* you can share your writing, ask for feedback, ask questions and get advice from your fellow writers. Honestly, just meeting one good writing friend is worth the entire price of this course. This private group is currently alive and hopping with activity, with over 100 students participating.

I’ve also asked some of my friends who I consider to be *real writers* to join us for interviews. These are not just people who happen to have written (or had a ghostwriter write) a book as a business card for their business. These are not just people who happen to have a blog because, well, having a blog is the thing to do.

These are people who have *paid their dues* as real writers, over many years or decades, who identify as writers as a core part of their identities, who have achieved success as writers, and who are very well qualified to provide us guidance and wisdom on Living The Writer’s Life. You’ll have access to these bonus recordings as well.

This class is for you if:

  • You’ve been “wanting to write” for a long time but can’t seem to get yourself to do it. Other things always seem to take priority over your writing.
  • You “know you’ve got a book in you”- but that’s where it seems to stay- inside of you! And you want to get it OUT, into the world!
  • You feel isolated as a writer, and you long for community (a tribe) of writers on the same writing path as you
  • You feel a bit “weird” for being so obsessed with writing, almost as if it’s a guilty pleasure, and you don’t quite know how to fit this obsession in with the rest of your life, or with your family and friends
  • You’re finally ready to take your writing seriously, or take it to the next level

If any of these describe you, you’ll definitely want to be a part of this. I won’t teach this course again, so now’s your chance.

Ready to join us? Register here and you’ll get instant access to all the recordings, and the Facebook group, which is going strong.


(Be sure to click through the “Back to Michael Ellsberg” link on PayPal’s confirmation page, to get access to the Welcome materials for the course.)

Can’t wait to *see* you in the course!

To the writing life,

–Michael