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The Key to a Street-Smart Education? Knowing Your Network

The Education of Millionaires

The lucky among us learn to succeed modestly on other people’s terms; a rare few learn how to use the world, instead of being used by it. One reason, according to Michael Ellsberg, the author of the forthcoming The Education of Millionaires, is that's precisely what school prepares us for:

" … most of us have focused our education, in the classroom and beyond, on much lower- leverage knowledge: How to follow orders and be obedient little schoolboys or cubicle jockeys. How to do as we’re told....We’ve basically just trained ourselves to be cogs in a machine."

Michael, our first guest on The Social Capitalist series, sought out and interviewed America's self-made, self-educated millionaires and billionaires to discover that one thing they had in common that distinguished them from others. Using rather than being used by the world is less about one particular talent than it is a process of a particular kind of learning that gives these movers and shakers access to what Ellsberg calls higher-leverage knowledge and skills.  

It's a process of street smart self-education that involves connecting with the people who do what you want to do. Actually, not just connecting, but knowing and engaging with them on a deep and personal level. In trying to explain what that engagement means, both the entertainment impresario Russell Simmons and the marketing maven Seth Godin told Ellsberg that it meant creating "flow:" as in not a singular transaction or exchange but a constant current of interactions and information and shared experiences with a particular network.

The more flow you have with the right people, the more experiences you gain access to, the more higher-leverage knowledge you learn (sometimes called street smarts), and soon you've developed a skill set and intuitive sense that allows you to recognize opportunities within your field that others overlook, and a confidence to act where others take pause.

Social capital, it turns out, is the real world classroom where achievement is really learned. 

Which network of people is providing your self-education? How much flow is there?

For more on the nitty-gritty tactics and strategies of these self-educated entrepreneurs, listen to the podcast, and then be sure to pick up Michael's book, The Education of Millionaires.

Before joining Ferrazzi Greenlight to oversee the online business and the development of intellectual property, Tahl Raz was the cofounder and CEO of Jewcy, a multi-platform media company encompassing an online magazine, live events, off-Broadway theatre, and branded me Read more



Posted 7:08pm
on Sep 07 2011

This is a great article and much needed information for my generation. Thanks for the aspirational insight, keep up the GREAT work :)

Posted 1:04am
on Sep 08 2011

Wow! I was on that call. And just wanted say that it really was eye-opening. As someone who as the gift of "pulling in" all the right people, I have definitely not been developing my relationships let alone using any really solid strategies or methods to enhance my social network.  This was really insightful and it's now about really engaging people on a deeper personal level. Thanks!

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