Michael was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After high school he attended the University of Texas at Austin, earning his B.A. with Highest Honors (Phi Beta Kappa, Dean’s Distinguished Graduate). He graduated in 1991 from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor for the Harvard Law Review.
After law school Michael spent a year traveling throughout the United States, interviewing hundreds of people in their twenties about their hopes, their ambitions, and their concerns about the future. His research became the basis for his book, The Twentysomething American Dream.