The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late (Portfolio) by Michael Ellsberg
An interesting book, and it is interesting more for what it points you to than what it says. The author seems very smart and very well connected, and it is to these connections that the book bring the most value, my list of books to read next has just grown much larger. This is a book on self education, and how to make the most of what and who you know. Make sure you buy a copy.
He had by that time spent a decade of his life in passionate pursuit of learning things that would make him successful—sales, marketing, leadership, management, finance, and accounting—within the context of owning real-world businesses, with his own money at stake.
Have you ever stopped to ponder how utterly bizarre this state of affairs is? How in the world did we all get so convinced that academic rigor constituted a prerequisite, necessary, and sufficient training for success in life?
Sir Ken Robinson, author of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, has pondered this puzzling question a lot.
Libertarian critic of our current educational system Charles Murray makes the point another way: “We should look at the kind of work that goes into acquiring a liberal education at the college level in the same way that we look at the grueling apprenticeship that goes into becoming a master chef: something that understandably attracts only a limited number of people.”
Developing your practical intelligence will have far more impact on the quality and success of your life.
According to Gladwell, the main difference is that, in addition to his rocket-high IQ, Oppenheimer also possessed exceptional practical intelligence in navigating his way through the people who could influence his success in the world, “things like knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect.” Langan in turn possessed little of this kind of intelligence, and thus was never able to gain much of a toehold in the world of practical achievement. In his book, Gladwell shows that once a person has demonstrated passable logical, analytic, and academic skills, other factors have much more influence on real-world results—specifically, creativity, innovative thinking, and practical and social intelligence. To the extent that we develop these aptitudes in our lives, we tend to do so out in the real world, not in formal institutions.
I was earning money because I had become good at marketing and selling my copywriting services. There are boatloads of good freelancers who are broke, simply because they don’t know how to market and sell their services. Lifelong learning and professional development are necessities in the current career environment; this book is your guide to self-education for success in the twenty-first century. Yet, the lives of the people profiled in this book show conclusively that education is most certainly not the same thing as academic excellence.
The driving theme of the stories in this book is that, even though you may learn many wonderful things in college, your success and happiness in life will have little to do with what you study there or the letters after your name once you graduate. It has to do with your drive, your initiative, your persistence, your ability to make a contribution to other people’s lives, your ability to come up with good ideas and pitch them to others effectively, your charisma, your ability to navigate gracefully through social and business networks (what some researchers call “practical intelligence”), and a total, unwavering belief in your own eventual triumph, throughout all the ups and downs, no matter what the naysayers tell you.
The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late (Portfolio)
First, job security is dead, as anyone who has had a job recently knows. You’re going to have many different jobs, employers, and even careers in your life. So where you get your first, entry-level one—the single thing that a BA credential really helps with—becomes less and less relevant. Building a portfolio of real-world results and impacts you’ve created, over time, becomes more and more relevant. Second, the Internet, cell phones, and virtually free longdistance calling have created new opportunities for flexible, self-created, independent careers; this trend has been helped along by the gathering storms of millions of hungry, highly educated young men and women in India, China, Eastern Europe, the Philippines, and elsewhere, happy to do the work that entry-level Organization Men would have done in years past, for a fraction of the cost. This emerging competition has encouraged many people in the West to “think outside the organization” to create careers for themselves that can’t be outsourced, offshored, or automated.
More and more Americans of all ages are waking up to the reality that you don’t need a nine-to-five job to be a valuable, contributing member of society and to create wealth for yourself and others. Millions of small-business owners, entrepreneurs, computer programmers, graphic designers, independent consultants, writers, and freelancers make valuable contributions to society (creating four out of ten new jobs in the economy), outside the realm of working for a boss nine to five (or eight to eight).
Daniel Pink calls it “Digital Marxism: In an age of inexpensive computers, wireless handheld devices, and ubiquitous low-cost connections to a global communications network, workers can now own the means of production.”
Education is still necessary to learn how to do the great work that gets you paid. But these days, almost all of the education that ends up actually earning you money ends up being self-education in practical intelligence and skills, acquired outside of the bounds of traditional educational institutions.
Here they are, the 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 Resumes!) SUCCESS SKILL #7: The Entrepreneurial Mind-set versus the Employee Mind-set: Become the Author of Your Own Life
At the very least, we want to make a difference in our communities. This is what feels meaningful to us: making a difference, having an impact, living for a purpose. Yet, there’s a paradoxical aspect to “making a difference” and “having an impact.” The world doesn’t always care whether we want to make a difference or have an impact on it. In fact, it can be downright hostile to us when we try. The world doesn’t automatically open its arms to us just because we have good intentions.
The bigger the impact you want to make on the world or in your chosen field—the bolder your purpose is—the greater the risks you’re going to have to take. Which means, the greater the chance that you’ll end up making no impact at all.
I said, “Mom, Dad, look at all the basketball stars and football stars who go right from high school to the NBA, or the actors and musicians who don’t bother with college because their careers are already in motion. There have to be business stars, too, who don’t need to go to a four-year program to learn their field. If I go through four years of college, I’ll just be on a level playing field after four years—whereas now I have an advantage. Spending four years in school means I’ll be four years out of the business world. Everything changes like lightning in the Internet world, and they’ll have caught up to me.”
These types of family dramas and arguments, in my opinion, boil down to arguments about our sense of safety versus heroism in life. Safety and heroism are almost always opposed.
People tend to feel safer and more comfortable with the known over the unknown. An “impact” is a change in course, so if you want to make an impact in your field, you’re asking people to venture into the unknown. The more of a change of course your innovation or leadership represents, the more you are asking people to abandon safety and comfort, which is not usually something they’re willing to do without overcoming a great deal of resistance.
There may be entrenched interests who are quite happy with the way things are now and who aren’t interested at all in your “impact,” thank you very much. In fact, they may say you can take your impact and shove it! Try to rock the boat too much, make too much of a change, and these people may try to oust you from the organization, community, or marketplace, or even try to harm your reputation or career prospects. Anyone who has dealt with office politics knows this. Any artist or entrepreneur who has tried to do anything innovative knows this.
If you want to become wealthy or famous, which I presume you do if you’re buying and reading a book on success, then you’re going to need to make a difference in the lives of many people. (By definition, it’s impossible to become famous, and it’s also very difficult to become wealthy, if you impact the lives of only a few people.)
Making an impact on large groups of people involves leading them in some way. Yet, seeking to be a leader is akin to seeking what economists call a “positional good.”
Those who do end up leading often achieve leadership, amass wealth, fame, or support, or make an impact on the world, largely through the effects of word of mouth. Followers/customers/fans convert other people to followers/customers/fans, who convert more people to followers/customers/fans, until a big group—which business author Seth Godin calls a “tribe”—has amassed around that given leader, company, or artist. This is how most artists, musicians, actors, writers, and entrepreneurs who become famous and wealthy do so—through the viral-effects word of mouth. When word of mouth takes off, its effects are extremely rapid and dramatic (the “tipping point” that Malcolm Gladwell writes about). Yet, word of mouth is one of the least predictable things on the planet. No one really knows what the next word-of-mouth sensation will be.
At any point in your career, you’ll usually be choosing between one path that is safer and one path that has the potential to feel more meaningful to you, between one path that is more certain and one that offers more of a chance for a sense of purpose and heroism. It’s hard to be a hero if there’s no risk involved.
But, as Randy Komisar points out in his book The Monk and the Riddle, there are also a lot of unacknowledged risks to not following your passions, of sticking too close to the beaten path in the name of safety and predictability. These include: “[T]he risk of working with people you don’t respect; the risk of working for a company whose values are inconsistent with your own; the risk of compromising what’s important; the risk of doing something that fails to express—or even contradicts—who you are. And then there is the most dangerous risk of all—the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” He told me that, a lot of the time, people put off taking any steps toward living a more fulfilling life, with the idea of “keeping their options open.” Yet, according to Randy, the idea of “keeping your options open” is an illusion. Randy pointed out to me that the words “decision” and “decide” stem from the roots “cise” and “cide,” to cut off and to kill, also the roots of many other words related to cutting and killing, such as “incise,” “concise” (cutting out nonessentials), and “homicide.” Thus, a decision is to cut off, or kill, other possibilities. “People feel like, unless they’re affirmatively making a decision, they’re not making a decision. They think, ‘How can you fail if you’re not making any decision, not cutting off any possibilities?’ The reality is, you’re making a decision all the time. You’re making a decision not to follow a path that might lead you to fulfillment.
The real question is ‘What risks are you taking by those decisions you’re not making?’
You need to capture what you do, identify it, and codify it, so it can be taught to many, many people. First teach it to a team, and then beyond.
The Art of Earning a Living is the art of finding creative ways of bringing the spheres of money and meaning together and making them overlap significantly.
You’re going to have to create a solution unique to you and your circumstances.
STEP 1: Get on Your Feet Financially
The best way to get financially stable, once you have some kind of job—any job—is to exhibit the entrepreneurial leadership values on the job
The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late (Portfolio)
STEP 2: Create More Room for Experimentation This step (and all the rest) applies to groups A, B, and C mentioned above. (Presumably those in group A are already financially stable and thus have already completed Step 1.) The next step in Aligning Your Money and Your Meaning, once you’re financially on your feet, is to create more room for experimentation. Experimentation takes time. It takes money. And it takes room to fall and to fail.
It’s just so different—and better—figuring out how to make a difference in the world and find meaning in your life when your bills are covered and you have a secure roof over your head.
If you’re working seventy-hour weeks at a corporate job, however, there will be very little space left over for anything else but that. In this case, you should begin taking some risks at work. See if you can get buy-in from your boss to focus more on results you achieve, rather than focusing on hours logged. There are some great books on how to make this transition, including Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: No Schedules, No Meetings, No Joke, the Simple Change That Can Make Your Job Terrific by Cali Ressler and Jodi Thompson; Chapter 12 of Tim Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Workweek, titled “Disappearing Act: How to Escape the Office”; and also The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where, and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line by Joan Blades and Nanette Fondas.
STEP 3: With This New Space in Your Workday, Begin Experimenting!
Seth Godin recommends this path for many people. He told me: “For fifty thousand years, humans did what they were passionate about, and then they did something else to eat. I don’t think there’s anything written down to say that those days are gone forever. We don’t have a poetry shortage. There’s plenty of poetry. No one gets paid to write poetry. If you want to write poetry, write poetry.”
STEP 4: Striking Out on Your Own (for Those Who Want to Change Careers, Become Entrepreneurs. Whatever it may be, if you want to make a living from it and leave your current job, you’re going to have to do a deep dive into the success skills in this book, particularly marketing, sales, and networking. You’re going to have to wrap your own passions, talents, and purpose—the things you care most about and are best at—in the package of these fundamental success skills.
Seth told me: “People have this idea that either you’re a cog in the machine, just working for the man, or you’re out singing onstage, making your living that way. It seems like there’s a lot in between—there are a lot of people who may not have what it takes to become the next famous musician, but who are finding ways to make money with what they care about.
“Think about this restaurant right now. It’s not really like any restaurant in New York City that I’ve ever been in. Where did it come from? It’s not here because someone made chairs or china, which are available to everyone. It’s here because someone’s putting on a show. And they’re charging many times what they would get if they were selling it from a street cart. “I’m saying that’s ‘art.’ Someone didn’t just copy it. Someone had to take various components and put them together, to create something that was worth experiencing, and sharing, and talking about. On the back of that, you can build a business that makes tons of money selling food. “The art here, the experience of seeing it, that’s free. Anyone can walk in this place, look around, get it, and leave. The souvenir part—the experience part, the owning-the-table-for-two-hours part—that’s what they make money from. “McDonald’s fooled us into believing that the purpose of industry was to churn out standardized quantity at low cost. This place reminds us that, no, there’s an alternative to racing to the bottom. And that is, racing to the top.”
I was developing a valuable set of skills. Not editing/writing skills, which were already fine. I’m talking about the success skills in this book, particularly sales, marketing, and networking.
In his book The Monk and the Riddle, Randy Komisar advises you to ask a simple question about your current mode of income: Would you be willing to do this for the rest of your life? If the answer is no—if the thought of doing your current gig for the rest of your life makes you totally depressed—then you owe it to yourself (having only one life to live) to figure out what kind of pursuit you would be willing to live till the end.
WITHOUT FAILURE, THERE IS NO LEARNING
Indeed, if there’s one single trait that sets all the self-educated millionaires I interviewed for this book apart from other people, it’s their relationship to risk. And yet, I don’t believe the people I feature in this book simply took a bigger bet than everyone else and happened to get lucky and win. Rather, I’ve seen that they have systematically and intentionally developed a style of working that allows them to take lots of small bets—bet after bet after bet after bet—all the while making sure that they don’t get wiped out of the game if one or many of them go south. In other words, I believe that for most of the people featured in this book a trait even more important than luck was resilience.
I believe this is a distorted view of entrepreneurialism. Most of the self-educated people featured in this book took pains to make sure that their “downside was not so exposed,” to use the parlance of investing: they made sure that a failed business would not mean total ruin; it would just mean a few scrapes, a few good lessons learned, and up they are again at a new one. No biggie. They are calm, relaxed, and cool about failure, not hysterical and terrified, because they view failure as necessary for learning.
Here’s where the resilience comes in. For Mike, his failure wasn’t condemnation to perpetual ruin. He started out with the assumption that life has risk. Rather than see failure as something to be avoided at all costs (as most of us see it), he instead designed his life and mind-set around the inevitability of failure and how to cope with it. Instead of viewing his first big failure as ruin, he simply decided to view it as an opportunity for an interesting change in life plans.
To be sure, they aren’t banking their entire life future on one single dream or bust (say, becoming a rock star, à la David Gilmour). But rather than never try their hand at any dream at all, and sticking to a safe-but-boring course instead, they keep trying one dream after the next, maximizing their inner and outer resilience for the inevitable failures. They fail early and often, and turn courses on a dime, until something begins to gain traction.
What makes it different from, say, a gambling addiction, is that these people are masters of making sure they stay in the game when luck inevitably turns against them. Unlike a gambling addict, they have consciously cultivated a lifestyle of resilience.
These people are not addicts of gambling; they are addicts of learning in the real world. And learning in the real world involves failure. Lots of it. “People who have been successful are still as likely to get it wrong as right going forward. They just try more things,” Mike told me. “That’s the difference.” Mike’s advice for young people who want to combine their passion with their money? “Start with the passion and the drive. You’ve got to have that hunger. From that passion and desire, go actually do some stuff. Try some little businesses. Get some failure under your belt. Find out what works and doesn’t work, and don’t worry about the failures, worry about learning.”
One of the best ways to avoid this kind of horror-story scenario when reaching for your dreams, even if your business doesn’t end up working out, is to start a service business. Usually, overhead and start-up costs are low, you don’t need to borrow a lot (or any) to get started, and you can begin generating revenue immediately. Even if the business doesn’t work out, the consequences of failure are usually minimal,
“The very best things you can do when starting a new business,” Josh told me, “are, number one, keep your overhead as low as possible, and number two, make sure you’re getting recurring revenue as quickly as possible. If your revenue is semi-predictable, you can just grow and grow based on the cash that the business is throwing off, instead of having to get investments, loans, and so forth.”
The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late (Portfolio)
In his book, which he presents as a business education in a book without the need for $100,000 of debt (http://www.personalmba.com), Josh talks about a concept called “iteration velocity.” He quotes Google CEO Eric Schmidt: “Our goal is to have more at bats per unit of time and money than anyone else.”
“When creating a new offering, your primary goal should be to work through each iteration cycle as quickly as possible. Iteration is a structured form of learning that helps you make your offering better; the faster you learn, the more quickly you’ll be able to improve.”
In a blog post entitled “One in a Million,” Seth Godin writes, “The ardent or insane pursuit of a particular [risky] goal is a good idea if the steps you take along the way also prep you for other outcomes, each almost as good (or better). If ... bending the market to your will and shipping on time and doing important and scary work are all things you need to develop along the way, then it doesn’t really matter so much if you don’t make the goal you set out to reach.” Seth continues, “Does spending your teenage years (and your twenties) in a room practicing the violin teach you anything about being a violin teacher or a concert promoter or some other job associated with music? If your happiness depends on your draft pick or a single audition, that’s giving way too much power to someone else.”
I met with Elliott and the other cofounders and executives—all in their twenties—in Miami, where they were renting a group home together. The eight of them collectively choose new cities to live in every few months, all over the world, where they meet people to invite to their conferences and work remotely via laptop and cell phone.
“I attribute my success so far, 100 percent, to the people I’ve met and learned from. It’s not even a question. [Motivational author, and college dropout] Jim Rohn says, ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ And on a bigger picture, you are a reflection of the twenty or thirty people who give you the best advice. Everything is about people. It all starts with you surrounding yourself with great people who you can learn from.
I view life as learning. It’s all learning for me, all the time. I’m literally nonstop learning.
I read books every day. I talk to people every day. I’m always out looking for new people I can learn from.”
if you want to be successful, and make a huge impact in your life, find exceptional people to learn from, and surround yourself with them.
“This turned out to be the most significant decision in my business career—to find someone who is massively successful and go to work for him. Through that, I got into the world of marketing and sales. I discovered a lot of the past marketing and sales geniuses, like Claude Hopkins and Eugene Schwartz and John Caples and David Ogilvy, and read all of their books. I read Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which was very impactful on me.
Eben said, “Leadership is like a fountain. Imagine the leaders are the water near the top, ready to burst out of the fountain. The water about to burst out is being pushed up by water below it. If you want to succeed, find leaders who are doing amazing things in the world, and push them up. Find powerful people and help them reach their goals. If you’re of service to them, they will be of service back.”
And, while you may hope to get something in return, you must always do it with absolutely zero expectation of getting anything in return. The vibe has to be one of giving, not taking.
Some people spend their time amassing financial capital— cash, stock, bonds—and real capital such as buildings. In turn, I’ve noticed that many people I interviewed for this book spend an inordinate amount of time, effort, and money investing in the growth and maintenance of what I’ve called “connection capital.” Connection capital is anything that can help you expand your network of connections (your “tribe,” as Seth Godin calls it), and is not significantly used up in expanding this network. The two biggest forms of connection capital are (a) your already-existing connections and (b) your ability to give good advice.
Being able to connect people to each other is a massive asset, which in turn helps grow the amount of people you know, which in turn grows your ability to connect people. Get the snowball rolling, and it may surprise you how fast it grows.
Eben says that the three areas of life the majority of people spend most of their time worrying about are money, relationships, and health.
I’m going to teach you two questions that, if you put them into use at parties, events, and conferences, will change your life forever and will grow your network faster than you ever thought possible: 1. What’s most exciting for you right now in your life/ business? 2. What’s challenging for you in your life/business right now?
(If you feel you need to brush up on your own social intelligence—including your sense of tact—a great place to start is the book Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships by Daniel Goleman. I highly recommend this book: social intelligence is something we learn almost nothing about in our formal education.)
Here are several areas where you can often give valuable advice:
MARKETING AND SALES. I have found that most people who have built their businesses around marketing don’t know jack about sales. And most people who have built their businesses around sales don’t know jack about marketing. In particular, you should learn about direct-response marketing and copywriting,
FOOD, WEIGHT, AND NUTRITION. Most people who are successful in the worlds of business and money are highly driven. And many people who are highly driven ignore their health; their success so far has come at the expense of their health. If in the course of your life and self-education you have learned to overcome your own chronic health challenges, or have achieved your ideal weight or learned a lot about nutrition, fitness, and healthy lifestyles, you’ll often know a lot more about these topics than many successful businesspeople do—particularly
SPIRITUALITY, PURPOSE, AND MEANING. If you’ve thought a great deal about the more existential, philosophical aspects of life, and have come to some personal wisdom or understanding in these areas through your own life journey, providing support in these realms is often a great way to serve people who are more powerful and successful than you are. (See Success Skill #1 on connecting with your sense of purpose and meaning.)
HOBBIES, PASSIONS, AND CAUSES. You can often connect with influential people through shared hobbies and passions. Of course, this knowledge has been keeping golf courses running for centuries. I happen to have no interest in golf whatsoever, so I’m not going to write to you about golf. But I’ve found that cultivating a wide range of cool, hip, discussion-worthy hobbies maximizes your chance of being able to share with and give to amazing people you meet.
RELATIONSHIPS. In most cases I’ve seen, there’s not much of a correlation between success in business and money, and happiness in relationships. If anything, I’ve seen a negative correlation.
You should definitely read The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford, and Networking with the Affluent by Thomas J. Stanley, two of the best books on high-integrity, no-sleaze connecting I’ve read.
Another great resource, which adapts some of these strategies for the digital and social media age, comes from David Siteman Garland (http://www.therisetothetop.com). In his article “From Tim Ferriss to Seth Godin: How to Interview and Build Relationships with the Most ‘Influential’ People in the World,” he emphasizes the same point everyone else is making in this chapter—when you find creative ways to serve people you’d like to connect with, “ask for nothing [in return].... By doing [that], you will separate yourself from 98% of the pack.” He then outlines a specific, detailed process for finding creative ways to be of service to influencers on the Web. This is required reading for anyone interested in the topic of this chapter.
“The happier you are in giving,” self-made multi-entrepreneur Russell Simmons told me, “the more people are excited to be around you. You become ‘sticky.’”
However, if you start out making this trade of time and elbow grease in the hope of gaining teachings, make sure you’re able to convert those teachings quickly into connection capital (i.e., into a network of connections and the experience that allows you to give valuable, high-impact advice, thereby providing more value to your network, drawing in more connections).
For a simple reason. Relying on time and elbow grease and service as your main form of giving—potentially valuable as these gifts may be—severely limits your scope of giving. There are only so many hours in the day, and so many hours of elbow grease you can give before you conk out. In twenty-first-century business parlance, this form of giving is “not scalable,” or “not highly leverageable.” They reach their upper limit of scope quickly. In turn, connection capital is a highly scalable, highly leverageable form of giving.
By developing connection capital—that is, your “emotional bank account” of trust and goodwill among your already-existing contacts, and your bank of experience and knowledge from which you can give valuable advice—you can decouple the impact you make on others’ lives from the time you spend making it.
you can (and have to) learn on your own, educating yourself out in the real world: How to network and connect with powerful teachers and mentors (the subject of this chapter). How to start and manage a business. How to market and sell effectively (Success Skills #3 and #4). How to lead others. How to discover your sense of purpose and meaning (Success Skill #1).
In other words, he invested his other forms of capital (sales skills, financial capital) into connection capital—the ability to help people massively in the space of two minutes just by making introductions within his network.
You begin to see what separates him from nearly all other twentysomethings, indeed, from nearly everyone else in the working world: Elliott has decoupled his labor from his capital, and focused on building some pretty amazing capital for himself: a world-class tribe of people he helps and who help him. He has become a capitalist—a capitalist of giving and service to others.
The second form of connection capital—that is, the second form of giving that can expand your network of teachers, mentors, and guides in life—is as we’ve seen, advice giving.
Steve Pavlina expresses a similar theme in his book Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth.
Zig Ziglar, another legendary motivational speaker, author, sales trainer, and self-made multimillionaire (who dropped out of the University of South Carolina to pursue a career in sales), has said, “You can have anything you want in life, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
In Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, which is the best book ever written on the central importance of giving within a business context, Seth Godin writes: “It’s difficult to be generous when you’re hungry. Yet being generous keeps you from going hungry.”
What Simmons and Seth Godin and Run are suggesting is that affluence is perhaps better indicated by the amount of the flow. The more value that flows in and out of our lives, the more we and others benefit, and the more affluence is generated.
One thing I see in common among all the successful self-educated people I’ve met—which is different from the way most other people think—is that they tend not to see a contradiction between living a comfortable life for themselves and helping others.
Keith Ferrazzi (http://www.keithferrazzi.com) is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success: One Relationship at a Time and Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success—and Won’t Let You Fail. These two books are absolutely required reading if you’re interested in anything in this chapter—two of the best books on networking and connecting ever written.
“The right way to go about it is to be generous with the person you want to connect with. And in this case, the generosity is: you tell a story. Tell a story about how you drew inspiration from their teachings and their example, how it impacted your life, and all the ways you’re passing that gift on to others now. If you move me enough with what you’ve accomplished with my teachings and how you’re serving others, then yes, of course I want to help you. I’ve helped all kinds of young people who have reached out to me with their stories of the amazing things they’ve done applying the concepts in my books. When I invest my time and effort in helping a young person, the dividend I receive in return is their gratitude, and their success.”
Whether you’re a fast-food server or a cubicle jockey in a mindless corporate shit job fresh out of college, you’re not going to create anything better for yourself unless you make a fundamental shift: from viewing yourself as a passive follower of paths other people set for you, to actively taking responsibility for creating your own path toward success, however you define it. Thus, how much education you have doesn’t really matter ; what matters is whether you make this fundamental shift in mentality.
“In the end, I learned more from him than in all of my schooling. He was a salesman, to the bone. He taught me the importance of sales. What I learned from my grandfather was, the key to making money was to cause something to get sold. Whether you sell it yourself, or you employ someone to sell it and you get some of the money. He would always say, ‘The only way to make money is to buy something at one cost and sell it at a higher cost. If you do that, and you hustle, you make as much money as you want.’ “I asked him to take me under his wing, and he taught me not so much a skill set, but a mind-set. The mind-set that was: ‘You can do anything you want. The people who are professing to be experts, telling you what you can and can’t do in life and how to do it, are just a bunch of fucking jackasses. The model that society teaches you to become successful is highly flawed.’ And he used his personal story as the example of that, because he had no education past eighth grade.
In Kennedy’s words: “The breakthrough realization for you is that you are in the marketing business. You are not in the dry cleaning or restaurant or widget manufacturing or wedding planning or industrial chemicals business. You are in the business of marketing dry cleaning services or restaurants or widgets or wedding planning or chemicals. When you embrace this, it makes perfect sense to set your sights on marketing mastery. If you are going to make something your life’s work and chief activity and responsibility, why not do it exceptionally well?”2
Whenever Cameron Johnson has started one of his dozen-plus profitable businesses, many of which he’s sold for nice payoffs, he asks a few simple questions: “What do people in this industry need? What’s bothering them, hassling them, costing them money, keeping them from getting what they want? . . . [C]ustomers with needs come along every single day. There are always people and niches with unfulfilled needs. With this approach to business, you don’t need to rely on luck, timing, or the fickleness of fads and crazes—just on your own ability to observe and create. Choose a niche, find a need, and then see what could help those people do their job better.”3
In turn, if the product or service is designed to solve a specific unsolved problem or meet a specific unmet need, and if the message is targeted well, so that you happen to be someone with that unsolved problem or unmet need, you will be happy to hear about the product or service
The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late (Portfolio)
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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