He was born in Poughkeepsie, New York to Chinese parents whose immigrated from Taiwan. He is a graduate of Yale University, where he was in Skull and Bones, and Harvard Law School and is a former lecturer at University of Washington. Liu served as a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later as the president's deputy domestic policy adviser. He was also an executive at RealNetworks. Eric Liu is an author, educator, and civic entrepreneur.
His new book Imagination First, co-authored with Scott Noppe-Brandon of the Lincoln Center Institute, explores ways to unlock imagination in education, politics, business and the arts.
Liu is also the co-founder of The True Patriot Network, a political action tank framed upon the ideas he and Nick Hanauer presented in their 2007 book, The True Patriot. The authors define true patriotism as country above self and explain how patriotism is lived every day in service to others, stewardship of resources, shared sacrifice, and other progressive values.
He wrote the 'Teachings' column for Slate magazine from 2002-2005. He is the author of Guiding Lights: The People Who Lead Us Toward Our Purpose in Life (2005), about transformative mentors, leaders and teachers, and Notes of a Native Speaker (1998), about race, identity and acculturation.
Guiding Lights is the Official Book of National Mentoring Month and has led to the creation of a broad civic campaign to highlight mentorship in all walks of life. He is also the founder of the Guiding Lights Network, a mentoring advocacy organization.
In The Accidental Asian, Liu explores identity, in particular, the meaning of his own American and Asian American identity. "I define my identity, then, in the simplest way possible: according to those with whom I identify. And I identify with whoever moves me".
Liu created a magazine called The Next Progressive and has often been cited as a spokesman for Generation X.
Liu also hosts an acclaimed television interview program called Seattle Voices. In addition to speaking regularly at venues across the country.