Bob Goldman




Millionaire 101

I don't want to be a millionaire.

I was looking forward to trips in my private jet, which would take me from the front gate of my MacMansion to the backyard swimming pool I would fill with gold bars, but once that extra 5 percent millionaire's tax kicks in, all the fun of being filthy rich is going to vanish. If I can't be a capitalist pig, I don't want to be a pig at all.

If being a millionaire still appeals to you, though, here's good news -- Michael Ellsberg has just published a new book, "The Education of Millionaires," which promises to make any numbskull ridiculously rich, even if the numbskull in question didn't go to college.

In fact, going to college is a definite drawback for Ellsberg, since he and the multiple millionaires he interviews prefer to get their education in the "real world," and not in classes on the minor Renaissance poets in the ivy-clad halls of ivy-league colleges. (Ellsberg admits to attending Brown University, but, heck, anyone can take a wrong turn.)

As author Ellsberg proclaims on page one -- "If you want to succeed now, then you must educate yourself in the real-world skills, capabilities, and mind-sets that will get you ahead outside of the classroom."

If you're not going to waste four years on a college education, where will you get your learning? In the first terrible, low-paid position you can snag. The strategy is to get on your feet by taking any job you can get. Once you are employed, you immediately start goofing off, or, as Ellsberg describes it, you "create more room for experimentation."

By successfully slacking off on your job, you'll have "space" to experiment with all the great new ideas you'll have for businesses you can start -- businesses that will surely make you a millionaire. If you can't think of any of these ideas, don't sweat it. The education you didn't get in the classroom is about to be supplanted by the education you will get from leaching off all the successful people you meet.

Of course, the leeching comes later. First, it's up to you -- the impoverished, under-employed failure -- to provide succor for the wealthy, successful people who will become your mentors. "Be the water beneath them," Ellsberg writes, "pushing them up the fountain."

You could also be the mop that wipes them up after the fountain overflows. Be whatever you want, really. I still don't understand the fountain metaphor, though Ellsberg uses it repeatedly, also suggesting that when meeting "wealthy, connected powerful people," you should "get under their fountain." Fine and dandy. Just be sure to wear your poncho.

Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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