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mod (Andy) note: "Blast from the past - Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from October 2011. If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.

You guys know I love this stuff. It's no secret that you need a college degree to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. But what if you just want to be filthy rich? College is expensive and may even stifle your creativity. On top of that, PayPal founder Peter Thiel will even pay you $100,000 not to go. Enter Michael Ellsberg, author of The Education of Millionaires, a book about all the people who blew off school and became enormously wealthy. The gist of the book? Work on your soft skills more than anything else. It's something I've said my whole life: The guy who knows why something needs to be done will always make more than the guy who knows how to do it.

I know the average banker can quote the bible of higher education chapter and verse. But there really is a better way for some people, and I'm living proof of that. While I'd prefer balls and brains in equal measure, if I'm forced to choose I'll take balls every time (no homo). Some fantastic networking tips here as well. Enjoy:

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Comments (33)

  • TL2C24's picture

    I like the message, but it was tough getting past how awful this guy looked. Not really easy to believe that this guy is "investing in himself" when hes strung out on a coke binge

  • blackrainn's picture

    On the whole, you're still MUCH better off going to college. Sure, there are exceptions, but there are exceptions with everything in life. 99.9% of the time the kid who goes to an Ivy is going to have a hell of a lot better life than the kid who drops out of high school or doesn't go to college (Mark Zuckerberg, Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. all went to pretty good schools and were all pretty darn smart). Simply thinking about whether or not one should go to college is reflective of intelligence in and of itself. A large majority of people who don't go to college don't do it because they are looking for some better choice- they simply either don't have the skills or they don't care enough.

  • UFOinsider's picture

    Fuckit. Do both. Contrary to popular belief, it's possible to be both book AND street smart.

    Cool post man, thanks

    Get busy living

  • Midas Mulligan Magoo's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:

    While I'd prefer balls and brains in equal measure, if I'm forced to choose I'll take balls every time (no homo).

    I do not think that we can accept this statement in its current format.

    On the post, the cult of college is too widely spread to defeat with any amount of great advice. It would take an organized study the likes of which could only be accomplished by top academic minds and a huge budget. In other words, a top school and top researchers would have to undergo a lengthy procedure of quantifying why college is a bad move for the overwhelming majority of those who go. I can't exactly the golden egg going after the goose.

    The sad reality will only get worse for coming generations of (specifically) American college kids. A day will come when the "smartest" students will be those who spend all of their free time working through junior high, high school and their college years, scrounging cash while attending community colleges and online schools (if at all) as only the creme-de-la-creme of collegiate society will be guaranteed a job upon graduation.

    Though the my preceding comments may not apply to many on WSO, they do to the vast majority of future American college students. This in turn will effect even those crabs who thought they could escape the bucket.

  • go.with.the.flow's picture

    The author graduated from Brown Eddie!, plus I think there is a survivorship bias in dropping out and making dough. I believe if we take out the normal distribution of all the population, people who went to college will be closer to the mean than the dropouts.

  • lucrativ's picture

    Me too, if I'm forced to choose, I'd take balls - definately no homo - over brains every day, simple because it takes the balls to take risky moves in life, i.e. Mark Zuckerberg, Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. dropping out of college to start a business they had no guarantee would be successful took some Goddamn balls to begin!!!

    By the way guys, look out for my new thread coming soon: OffShore Whores

    "Kept feeding him dollars 'till it all started to make cents."

  • LIBOR's picture

    College today is about learning soft skills. Academics are only a small portion of the learning experience that is college. For most American kids, its the first time they are away from their parents, and it requires meeting new people and really putting yourself out there. I learned much more from the social experience of college than I did from the classes.

  • RE Capital Markets's picture

    I think people are asking the wrong question when they ask "Is college worth it?" or "Is college necessary to be successful?" The real issue is the cost of college. If college wasnt as expensive as it is, this wouldnt even be a discussion.

    But to address the question "Is college worth it?", I think the answer is complicated. Sometimes you can argue it is worth it, sometimes you cant.

    Man made money, money never made the man

  • blackrainn's picture

    By the way, http://www.ellsberg.com/: "Ellsberg was born in San Francisco in 1977, grew up in Berkeley, and graduated from Brown University in 1999, Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude."

  • PIGS's picture

    Sounds like a whole load of quack aka I graduated from brown and dont know what to do other than write a book about how my ivy league uni didnt help me. Timothy Ferriss, u there?

  • Ari_Gold's picture

    I agree to a certain point. To preface, I did go to college, worked decent smart (wish I actually put in more effort in high school) and got in a decent top university pursuing engineering/comp sci background initially with a humanities double later on (because I enjoyed it). Looking to get a Top 5 MBA...

    I am trapped by the idea of golden hand-cuffs as most people (especially on this site). But I feel like I enjoy and thrive in more academic settings and questioning why are things the way they are.

    Many of us are told, college education equates wealth and success. This is from historical data. But I wonder if people actually misread the signals. College and wealth in the olden days (early 1900's) were correlated but college didn't "cause" more wealth. People who went to college (in the olden days) in general already had more wealth, "status", and connection that set them up for success. If the G.I. bill following WWII did NOT prompt so many to go to college and further education, would they have done just well? Was the U.S. ripe for success following our victories in WWII? I don't know.

    Most graduate (M.S., M.A.) are just not worth it. M.S. and M.A. used to be conciliatory prizes for those who pursued PhD programs without finishing it. Nowadays, they've become the money makers for universities. M.A. and M.S. are simple to setup, 1 to 2 yr in length with no need for dorms, no need to undergrad hand-holding and clubs, no need for one-on-one PhD dissertation attention from professors, etc. These program are guaranteed cash cows, especially with society obsession with credentials, race to the top (bottom) with credentials. I think we've reached the "operational effectiveness" for the value of the graduate credentials. The value proposition for most graduate educational credential outside of the professional degrees are just not worth it. But we live in this educational myth of further education equates greater gains.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Hug It Out

  • The Hundreds's picture

    Has anyone actually had a chance to read the book?

    And this dude really does look like he is on a coke binge.

  • Blake Donaghy's picture

    For me, the guy's credibility evaporated when he suggested how to create opportunities. Rather than submitting resumes and applying to jobs, according to this dude you should be "through these networking skills, going out finding organizations, companies....and just start adding value...just writing about them on your blog, start finding ways to connect them to potential customers or funders or donors".

    So, to be successful, I should find customers for existing companies (pro bono) and "write about them on my personal blog". Cool.

  • In reply to Blake Donaghy
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    Blake Donaghy:
    For me, the guy's credibility evaporated when he suggested how to create opportunities. Rather than submitting resumes and applying to jobs, according to this dude you should be "through these networking skills, going out finding organizations, companies....and just start adding value...just writing about them on your blog, start finding ways to connect them to potential customers or funders or donors".

    So, to be successful, I should find customers for existing companies (pro bono) and "write about them on my personal blog". Cool.

    No, you're right. BSD's love bending over backwards for junior bankers and banking wannabes with no quid pro quo. Pro tip: I know adding value isn't in the average banker's vocabulary, but you might give it some thought before the next time you approach someone to ask for a favor.

  • In reply to Edmundo Braverman
    Blake Donaghy's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    Blake Donaghy:
    For me, the guy's credibility evaporated when he suggested how to create opportunities. Rather than submitting resumes and applying to jobs, according to this dude you should be "through these networking skills, going out finding organizations, companies....and just start adding value...just writing about them on your blog, start finding ways to connect them to potential customers or funders or donors".

    So, to be successful, I should find customers for existing companies (pro bono) and "write about them on my personal blog". Cool.

    No, you're right. BSD's love bending over backwards for junior bankers and banking wannabes with no quid pro quo. Pro tip: I know adding value isn't in the average banker's vocabulary, but you might give it some thought before the next time you approach someone to ask for a favor.

    Eddie - we are talking about two different things man. In the context of relationships and networking, I absolutely agree with you: people need to approach such situations humbly and with the mindset to offer as much as you can to the other person. This is networking 101 and I fully subscribe to it.

    It was the application part that I had a problem with. This guy attempts to provide advice on how to create opportunities with companies and, although the mindset should be the same as for networking with people, I'm pretty sure the execution needs be a bit more involved/realistic than simply writing about them on a blog.

  • StyleT's picture

    I think the appropriate argument would be towards graduate school. I think that a bachelor's degree is pretty much needed in society today. However, the big question is for MBA's.

    I remember I took a billionaire quiz on Forbes and I put that I wanted to get a Masters degree, it said that I would be in a higher tax bracket and be resigned to an Upper Middle Class lifestyle.

    Turns out, most billionaires have a bachelor's degree (If that).

  • In reply to StyleT
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    StyleT:
    Turns out, most billionaires have a bachelor's degree (If that).

    School teaches you to conform, which is what an upper-middle class lifestyle in the suburbs is all about.

    Becoming a first generation billionaire is all about creativity, and conformity is the death of creativity.

  • In reply to Edmundo Braverman
    Ari_Gold's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    StyleT:
    Turns out, most billionaires have a bachelor's degree (If that).

    School teaches you to conform, which is what an upper-middle class lifestyle in the suburbs is all about.

    Becoming a first generation billionaire is all about creativity, and conformity is the death of creativity.


    100% agree. I am struggling with this right now.

    But isn't that what banking and consulting to an extend is. More of following what worked in school.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Hug It Out

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    Banking and consulting are conformity in motion. You'll never find a more conformist segment of the population. I think bankers actually give Trappist monks a run for their money.

  • In reply to Edmundo Braverman
    UFOinsider's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    Banking and consulting are conformity in motion. You'll never find a more conformist segment of the population. I think bankers actually give Trappist monks a run for their money.

    I spent some time as a pre-seminarian in a monastary. It's a tough call, but the monks at least get sleep.....

    Get busy living

  • koske's picture

    To say Uni or COLLEGE as you say in America call it is a complete waste of time is completely false.

    Don't get me wrong, there are definitely soft skills that you need and have to learn on your own to prosper in life. Your university degree only takes you so far. The guys who get to the top, all have intangible skills in the sense of networking, relationship management etc that set them apart from everyone else.

    At university, you learn a way of thinking (analytically, critically etc) that can only be achieved if your are challenged and in a program that pushes back when you push it. What I mean by that is in-order to get the full experience and your "moneys worth" you have to really be interested in the program that your in, and not be one of the masses who enrolls to major in in mixology

    There are exceptions to every rule (ie. the guys mentioned above, Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg, etc etc) but like one of the other guys said above "these guys went to good schools to begin with". So what the leads me to think is that these guys were in this mind frame of thinking critically and analytically already and had a good enough idea and execution plan (which is 90% of the battle if you ask me, since anyone can have a good idea but the way you execute it, makes or breaks your success).

    - My two cents and how I view the University system.

    P.S
    From what I see, it is worth every penny to go to an Ivy, even though the education you get is comparable to other non ivey schools could be argued, but the real value of going to an Ivy is not in the calibre of the education but in the network and alum your exposed to......

    - Only time will tell....

  • Autistic Lurker's picture

    It's debatable whether I need college education to brew beer because I've been brewing since 2005 ( in quantities from 23L to 1000L of beers depending on the setting) but I could use the 100 000$ to open my brewpub and serve microbrewed beers to all of you millionaires.

    cheer
    A.L.

  • BTbanker's picture

    Good luck establishing credibility as a HF manager without a college diploma.

    College, like banking, is a right of passage. It proves that you are ready for the next step in life.

    I wouldn't be prepared for what banking entails right out of high school. I'm pretty sure I'm ready for the 100-hour weeks, since I only get 3 hours of sleep every night. I take double the course load of most people, lead in multiple extra curriculars, and work an internship simultaneously. None of which I did in high school, and even got worse grades. Banking is going to be a fucking 2-year vacation, and PE/HF is going to be retirement.

  • moneymogul's picture

    The problem with assuming that college/banking are the ultimate form of conformity is that you're also assuming that your career ends at 25 years old. Assuming you aren't the conformist dope who will have a wife (with a 50%+ chance of divorcing you) with a kid or two by 26/27 and a mortgage, you'll have a lot more flexibility, skill, knowledge, and overall ability to take intelligent risks later on in your 20's if you are truly the type of person who lives by his own rules.

    Zuckerberg is an anomaly, not because he's super intelligent - I'm sure he's a smart guy - but because he was very young when he cashed in on his programming ability and large amounts of luck. Lots more big name companies and eventual billionaires that were founded by older people.

    "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." - Jobs

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