The Craigslist Test of the Value of a B.A.: Introduction to The Education of Millionaires

OK, drumroll please. Here they are, the seven courses in The Education of Millionaires.

  • Success Skill #1: How to Make Your Work Meaningful and Your Meaning Work (Or, How to Make a Difference in the World, Without Going Broke)
  • Success Skill #2: How to Find Great Mentors and Teachers, Connect with Powerful and Influential People, and Build a World-Class Network
  • Success Skill #3: What Every Successful Person Needs to Know About Marketing, and How to Teach Yourself
  • Success Skill #4: What Every Successful Person Needs to Know About Sales, and How to Teach Yourself
  • Success Skill #5: How to Invest for Success (The Art of Bootstrapping)
  • Success Skill #6: Build the Brand of You (or, To Hell with Résumés!)
  • Success Skill #7: The Entrepreneurial Mind-set—Take Your Success into Your Own Hands

These seven courses, which correspond to the seven core chapters of the book, focus primarily on skills related to success in career, money, work, and business. Of course, for a truly integrated sense of success, in the fullest sense of the word, we all need to learn many practical personal skills as well. These include skills such as how to find and maintain a wonderful, loving relationship, how to sustain vibrant health, and how to navigate our spiritual beliefs in a world that seems to get more chaotic every day. It is possible to be a financial millionaire, and an emotional and spiritual pauper. All the money in the world provides little comfort if we are lonely, sick, or forlorn of love.

But I will leave those personal success skills (crucial as they are) for another book. Since this is a business book, I am focusing here on skills related to success in the realms of career, money, work, and business. The seven success skills I explore here are of course not exhaustive, even in the realm of career and financial success. But they go a long way.

My format in the single chapter devoted to each of these skills is quite simple. First, I provide some stories of successful self-educated people who learned and applied these skills, to great effect, in their own lives. Then, I give some examples of how I applied the same skills in my own life and the results I got. (I would never recommend to you something I hadn’t battle-tested in my own life.) Then, based on the experience of my interviewees, as well as my own experience, I give some practical tips about how to go about learning and applying that chapter’s skill in your own life.

Welcome to your own journey of self-education.

We’re about to dive headlong into the success skills. But before we take the plunge, I want to offer two minor disclaimers, in the interest of full disclosure and transparency.

Disclaimer #1: My Views Are My Own! (And Probably Not Shared by All of My Interviewees)

I should make something absolutely, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt clear: my opinions, controversial as some of them may be, are mine and mine alone; they are not necessarily shared by the people I interview or feature.

My interviewees all chose to share their amazing stories of self-made success for this book, for the benefit of us all. They chose to share these stories because they all believe that no matter where you are in your life, no matter what your age or your life circumstances, you can strive to achieve more in life, to make a greater impact, to aim for higher dreams.

This book would not exist without the generous participation of the many, many experts and self-educated people I interviewed. My interviewees are a diverse, brilliant, and cantankerous bunch, with a wide range of opinions on many topics, as well as a wide range of backgrounds. I am profoundly grateful for their participation, and am proud that I am able to share their cutting-edge insights and their moving stories.

I’m certain, however, that some of my interviewees will outright disagree with some of my own views, as well as some of the views expressed by other interviewees featured in this book. Thus, I want to emphasize that there is a gulf of difference between my interviewees having agreed to share their personal stories here, and their agreeing with everything or anything anyone else (including me) says in this book.

The interviewees I feature in this book are responsible only for their own views, clearly delineated by quotation marks, and for my general paraphrases of their views, both of which I have submitted to them to check for accuracy. (I edited all interviews for flow, readability, and space.) I repeat: interviewees’ participation in this book should not be taken as endorsement for any other aspect of this book other than their own views in quotation marks.

I give a hearty thank-you to all my interviewees for their participation in this book.

Disclaimer #2: I Interview Several Close Friends and Business Connections

The vast majority of the people I interviewed in this book were strangers to me before I interviewed them. However, several of my key interviews come from people who are very close to me. For example, I interview my wife, Jena. Another major source, Eben Pagan, is engaged to my close friend Annie Lalla, and I played a large part in introducing them.

Bryan Franklin, whom you met in the Introduction and about whom I write more in the coming pages, is one of my best friends. He officiated at my wedding ceremony. And I’ve done business with him in the past, both as a client and a vendor, and probably will again in the future. (Another company I mention in one of the stories, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, was a copywriting client of mine in the past, though is not at present.) Whenever I have a personal or business relationship with anyone else mentioned in this book, I will disclose that.

In no case did I receive any financial or other specified benefit for featuring anyone in this book. No pay for play, ever.

Except for a few massages and extra-special romantic nights from Jena.

(OK, enough caveats. Let the fun begin . . .)


Thanks for reading this Introduction. If you’re ready for more, then I humbly ask you to please pre-order your copy now. It’s available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Pre-orders make a HUGE difference to my success as an author, so if you found anything valuable or intriguing in the above Introduction, I’d greatly appreciate your support with a preorder. I spent two years putting in grueling hours on this book to make it as valuable as possible. You won’t be disappointed, I promise. Thank you!


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  • Reply E August 18, 2011 at 4:02 AM

    I left school when I was 15 yet my last two roles were Operations Manager. The only thing I lack is the inside language of business.
    Unfortunately it’s an employers market here in New Zealand where, like your friend Bryan’s experience above, there are 200 applications or more for every job advertised. The process of elimination is tertiary and industry qualifications. If you have neither, you’re instantly binned.
    Most of my roles have been with ‘Bryans’ who can see through the type and value life experience (of which I have a Masters) over letters after a name. The Bryans are always more honest in their communication, realistic in their expectations and thoughtful in their rewards and I will happily wait years between Bryans for these very reasons.

    I really enjoy your writing style and have had similar life experiences to you (sans TC!) so I’m looking forward to reading your book. Have you thought of releasing it as an audio book? That seems to be how I do all of my reading these days. (Truth is that audio books on my MP3 player makes the mundane events in life such as going to the gym and housework more entertaining!!)
    Can’t wait to see what you come out with next…

  • Reply Beth Barany August 18, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Not many people know this but I dropped out of college for a break of a year and a half. I lived and worked in Paris and started my writing career there, with persistence and more persistence, until the editor finally said yes to publishing one of my articles. But only after I came to his office to pitch him face to face. I did go back to finish my degree, well almost. I didn’t complete the final paper for many years. I learned more out of school than I ever did in school. And school never taught me how to succeed in business. Bryan did. Looking forward to your book, Michael.

  • Reply SG August 19, 2011 at 5:43 AM

    Good article Michael. Street smarts and book smarts, as well as smarts in general versus motivation to succeed, are entirely different things. I commented recently on this subject in a recent post:

  • Reply @BrianHoffstein August 26, 2011 at 6:15 PM


    As someone going into his senior year at Claremont Mckenna College, I can only say it feels like this book was written for me.

    I share many of the same sentiments you have expressed, and am very eager to explore in depth the ideas you mentioned in this introduction.

    I just pre-ordered the book to my kindle, and look forward to its release.

    Best wishes and good luck,


  • Reply Marian Schembari August 30, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    I cannot WAIT until this book comes out. It’s already epic.

  • Reply Genius Intelligence August 31, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    […] Posted by Donatas Kaulinis What are you writing about? Could you provide a link? The Craigslist Test of the Value of a B.A.: Introduction to The Education of Millionaires ? Michael … __________________ If you feel something important is missing from your life, somewhere you're […]

  • Reply Kashif September 2, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Adding to your point of Academic Intelligence vs Practical Intelligence, I think Home Schooling is the way to raise kids rather than sending them to schools with herd mentality.

    • Reply Stephen Sadowski September 10, 2011 at 5:59 AM

      I would have to agree with you with the small caveat that an unschooling approach to home schooling is optimal for releasing the creativity and boundless energy of youth. A great resource for kids that are stuck in high school is Grace Llewellyn’s Teenage Liberation Handbook, written in a similar vein to this one, i.e. succeeding outside of the walls of formal educational institutions.

  • Reply John Taumoepeau September 8, 2011 at 3:13 AM

    Awesome read……very though provoking. Where is education headed? Etc., Can’t wait for the book!

  • Reply I blurbed a book — The Education of Millionaires - UnCollege September 12, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    […] and order Michael’s book. If you’re not convinced with my enthusiastic endorsement, Michael has released the introduction on his blog for free.  If  you’re not convinced by the introduction, you can read the entire first chapter there for […]

  • Reply Clarence October 3, 2011 at 2:02 AM

    Man I have been reading about Micheal and this book for two days!! This information comes at a very pivotial point in my life. I have a BA in English (class of 07) and I have not been able to find a job. I decided at the beginning of this year to go back to school and
    get a degree in design. I planned to go for a bachelors in this because I was told that employers want to see it. But I found out that I have almost spent all of my federal loan money on my first degree. I will only be able to get a associates. I was hurt. Then I checked my facebook feed on friday night and I felt better, I began to read about this Micheal Ellsberg and his book I will get it No Doubt!!

  • Reply Occupy your life. | October 17, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    […] Start with Ellsberg. He defines the problem better than anyone I’ve […]

  • Reply Joe Magnotti October 12, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    Not sure I agree with what you say here. Back in 2002, the economy was in the shitter and that’s the only reason the MBA would apply for a $10 an hour data entry job. Agreed that the economy is in the shitter again, but now is the time to take advantage of talent at a reduced price. I would make the argument that Bryan’s case is a bad example — not that education means much, but a history of success is what I look for when hiring. You rarely find that with a HIGH SCHOOL dropout. He should have leveraged the situation and found a better employee at a reduced cost. In the end it worked out, but most of the time it won’t.

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