The Education of Millionaires

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Recently I conducted a web conference with Michael Ellsberg, author of the book The Education of Millionaires. Our topic of conversation was: "What they don't teach you at Harvard Business School."

Many of the people who were interested in listening in couldn't make it live. Fortunately, Michael was able to record it and graciously posted it on his website. Here's the download link:

http://www.ellsberg.com/what-they-dont-teach-at-harvard-business-school-teleconference

Michael has stirred up quite a controversy with his book -- a book that argues that the keys to career success begin after formal education ends. It is based on two years of research interviews with nearly 50 millionaires and billionaires who never graduated from college.

The educational establishment feels extremely threatened by the premise of the book. In fact, the former President of Brown University wrote an editorial for TIME attacking the book.

In addition, Michael recently wrote an editorial that appears on the front page of the New York Times Opinions section arguing for "Why Drop Outs Will Save America."

In addition to listening to the recording of our conversation, I would recommend you get a copy of Michael's book. There are two chapters in particular that are very much worth reading for current and aspiring management consultants -- one on sales, the other on personal branding.

The sales chapter quotes me extensively and includes a sales demonstration that is in many ways priceless.

You see, three or four years ago, Michael hired me to help improve his wife's business. During that consultation session, which was recorded with my permission, I role-played being the salesperson for her business, while she pretended to be a tough prospect.

It was a perfect roleplay. I was completely on fire. She tried to not buy, to not say "yes." Yet in a span of ten minutes, I "closed" her, despite not really knowing anything about her industry, her product, or her customers.

I didn't push. I didn't make any claims. Yet, she could not help but say "yes," even though her job was to throw at me every possible reason why she shouldn't buy (because this was what was happening when she was trying to sell her prospects on her business).

Immediately afterwards, her eyes lit up and she responded by saying, "Okay... what the hell just happened?!?  How did you do that?"

It was that effective, and unlike any sales conversations she's ever had. She was absolutely amazed, but for the life of her could not figure out what I just did, until I explained it to her.

Incidentally, that approach to sales is an advanced version of how consulting firm partners "sell" (without actually appearing to sell) consulting work to clients.

Is is extremely subtle.

Fortunately, that conversation was recorded, transcribed, and with my permission included in the sales chapter of Michael's book. Those few pages are worth studying very carefully... phrase by phrase.

You will want to pay close attention to what I say to figure out why I said it.

You will also notice what things you might expect me to say that I deliberately did not.

While the sales chapter included my perspective on sales, I personally found the chapter on personal branding to be extremely interesting. It gave a clear voice to a trend that I intuitively felt was important, but never thought about asconsciously or clearly as Michael explains.

There's a great quote in the book: "The resume of the future will be Google" -- meaning in the future (especially outside of / after consulting), employers and clients will throw out your resume and just Google you.

In fact even when you're a consultant with a big firm, your clients will still Google you.

What will they find?

If you Google my name, you'll find that out of the first ten results, nine of them are about me.  Needless to say, on a planet with now seven billion people, I am not the only "Victor Cheng."

I will tell you candidly that is not an accident. Personal branding has been something I started focusing on nearly four years ago-- though I did not use that term at the time and did so in a somewhat disorganized fashion initially.

Personal branding is something you should be thinking about early in your career to either actively build your brand internally within a consulting firm, or externally with the public at large.

Even if you are not inclined to start your personal branding efforts immediately, it's useful to be aware of the principles behind it so you can start thinking about or lay the foundation to build your personal brand a step or two later in your career.

Michael's book introduces you to this paradigm shift and gets you focused in the right direction... especially if it is something you've never really thought about.

Here's the link to Michael's book on Amazon:

The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late

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1 comment… add one
  • Chuck Rylant Feb 7, 2012, 2:28 pm

    This was a fantastic book full of great resources. This is the type of information I wish I had when I was young.

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