In our seemingly peaceful and ordinary lives, we often forget about the wars we fight each day. Misery and death loom constantly, even over places where shots and explosions are not heard. People in the most serene places live fearing the future. To experience this intimidation does not take violence or political motivation; poverty is a silent war.
It is a war people fight in Ethiopia every single day; it is the reason why some harm their fellow men out of desperation. Poverty is present even in the most affluent places. The rich live what they consider a hectic life managing their wealth, while the poor work like bulls to cope with rising inflation. Who, then, is truly rich? Robert learned this painful truth the hard way.
Rising from Zero Net Worth
Robert was certainly a victim of poverty. He endured months of living with nothing at all and having no place to call his own. The back of an old Toyota was the only roof over his head. As they say, “beggars can’t be choosers.” Poverty enveloped Robert to the point of defeat, but he never quit.
Robert’s father made sure that his children received the best education available. In a sense, Robert could count himself quite lucky for having a father with so great a work ethic and high hopes for his children. Getting a good education and a stable job is not bad advice, but what makes it unwise is total dependence on educational attainment, so much that that discounts one’s ability to make enough money - as Robert would later teach in his book.
After completing tertiary education and entering the Vietnam War, Robert counted on his country to take care of him. When the time came that he needed his government’s help, he received nothing. He could not sell his Air Medal, either. He was in such grave need of cash that he did whatever he needed to attain it.
Then, in a night of deep contemplation, it dawned on him that it was not cash that he needed. Cash runs out fast - he had to acquire something that would last and continue earning high value over time. He could only think of one thing which fit the category: property. If he converted his cash into tangible assets, there was a possibility that he would make a profit and even multiply his initial capital.
Robert, in his deep and serious need of cash, stumbled upon the solution to his problem: rather than looking for ways to save money, why not learn to properly generate income and manage wealth? He did not need his degree for self-sustainment - all he needed at the time was boldness and practical math.
By unlocking the key to financial security, Robert became a multi-millionaire. The most basic expression of his lesson is that success in business is neither incidental nor brought about by luck; according to him, those who want to be successful must work hard and be capable of simple mathematics. Analytical skills and practical math were very basic [and important] factors in reaching what he thought was impossible to attain.
The Principle behind “Cash is Trash”
Despite filing for bankruptcy twice and persevering, Robert holds true to this statement. Call it irony, but Robert realized his greatest wealth when he had reached his poorest state. Lack of money is a perennial concern to those who consider cash their only vehicle to security. Robert finally broke free from that frame of thought, and it finally enabled him to sleep soundly at night and wake up with great anticipation each morning. Rather than cash, his properties now do the hard work for him. He is officially done living the life of a pay check–to–pay check employee.
His success also eventually earned him the credibility to teach others how to handle finances. Although his advice cannot be applied in the same way by all individuals, we can determine by analysing his net worth that whatever he is doing certainly works. As human beings are, by nature, insatiable, Robert’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” became a sort of “financial bible” for those who wish to commit and acquire wealth.
By default, Robert’s book targets teenagers [hence the catchy title]. Simply put, the book aims to educate young people about finances and show them how to “think like a winner.” We must first think like a millionaire before we can become one. That’s exactly what Robert set out to do, and he is most inclined in sharing his discovery.
In the business world, sharing trade secrets is condemned and ill-advised. Robert, however, did the opposite. He felt compelled to deliver people from poverty, which many have suffered from generation to generation. He believed it wicked to prolong their woe, and continues to this day in his crusade against poverty - our greatest and fiercest enemy.
Early Biography: Living with “Poor Dad”
Robert Kiyosaki has two dads—one is poor, the other is rich. Robert’s Poor Dad is his biological father, Ralph H. Kiyosaki. Robert is one of Ralph’s four children. The family came from a long line of Japanese-American immigrants who later inter-married to American natives in Hawaii. Robert was born in Hilo, Hawaii, on 8 April, 1947.
Since Robert was a child, he looked up to his Poor Dad’s accomplishments in the realm of academics. Ralph was an erudite educator with a doctorate degree - a respectable man in many ways. He valued work very highly, and his dedication was well-received by the education sector in Hawaii. It was only fitting that Ralph was named the head of education for his passion for teaching and impeccable qualifications.
Ralph’s children were greatly influenced by their father, perhaps more than anyone else. They grew up in a well-tended home where education was highly-regarded. As a result, Robert and his siblings were brought up to do all that they did in the name of academic excellence. Ralph fervently believed that education was the key to success.
During the frequent moments that the family gathered around the dinner table, their father would habitually reiterate the value of education and earning good grades in order to obtain a good job. It was a common topic for the Kiyosakis, and young Robert hung on to every word his Poor Dad said.
But, accomplished as Ralph was, his earnings as an employee could barely support the household’s basic needs. Although a respected family, the Kiyosakis were nevertheless plagued with financial problems.
Meeting His Rich Dad
In spite of the family’s financial struggles, Ralph would not compromise his children’s education; he wanted them attend only the best schools in Hawaii. When Robert finished elementary, his father sent him to Hilo High School, one of the most prestigious secondary institutions in the state. It was at Hilo High School where Robert met his best friend - the son of whom he would later call his “Rich Dad.” Unlike Ralph, Robert’s Rich Dad was, interestingly, a high school dropout. Unable to finish secondary studies, his Rich Dad nevertheless started his own business and eventually became one of the richest men in Hawaii.
A paradigm shift in Robert’s definition of success took place in the back of his mind. His Poor Dad was so determined to having each of his children get an impressive education that he was prepared to give every penny he earned to support their schooling. His Rich Dad, on the other hand, did not even have a high school diploma in his rise to success.
When interviewed on PBS, he compared the two most influential figures in his life, saying:
"Well, it’s exactly as you said. I had a rich dad and a poor dad. My real dad was a head of education for the state of Hawaii, very hardworking, honest, well educated, a great guy. The head of education, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor for the state of Hawaii. But the problem is, no matter how much money he made, he was broke at the end of every month and the end of the life. That’s why I call him my poor dad. And my rich dad was my best friend’s father, and he was a man [who] started with nothing, but he wound up to be one of the richest men in Hawaii. So both dads started teaching me–My rich dad started teaching me at age 9 just by playing Monopoly. He said the formula for great wealth is found on the Monopoly board–four green houses, one red hotel. And my poor dad, the schoolteacher, kept saying, put that stupid game away. Stop wasting your time. Go back to your books. Study. Get good grades. Get a job. Different men."
What his Poor Dad advised in order to become successful, his Rich Dad never did and succeeded nevertheless. His best friend’s father quickly Robert’s other mentor, second to his own father. Both men did their best to teach Robert the lessons life taught them, but at the end of the day, it was still up to Robert whose advice he would heed when major decisions had to be made.
Joining the Military
One of his bigger decisions was the course he would take in college. Like many other teenagers, Robert initially had a hard time deciding, although he was sure about one thing: joining the military. After spending much time choosing between the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, Robert chose neither. Instead, he enrolled in the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and graduated from college at King’s Point, New York, in 1969.
By the time his tertiary education was finished, his only brother volunteered to join the Air Force. Not knowing what to do after graduating, he decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps. With the belief that a man’s courage can only be measured by his endurance at training camp, Robert enlisted in the Marine Corps.
Robert gives great credit to his training at the marine base for his success. He believed that a person will never be prepared to have success unless he/she encounters challenges and difficulties. To be successful is to overcome the worst that life throws your way; the training he endured was rigid and terrifying, certainly unlike anything he had previously encountered.
One of the ten questions posed to Robert in a regular column of Time Magazine was from Stephen San Roman of Laredo, Texas. The question was: "At one point, you were living out of your car. How did you remain confident that you would be able to retire rich?" To this, Robert replied: "Confidence comes from discipline and training. I spent six years in the Marine Corps. Military training teaches you that there are four strengths: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. What happens for most people, since they lack that discipline, they crack under pressure. That discipline and training kept me going."
Robert’s training made him not only a better deck officer, but it prepared him for the hard life he never expected to face. In retrospect, Robert now encourages everyone to welcome challenges because they train us how to sustain hardship, hone our survival skills and overcome adversity in all its forms.
Amidst the Vietnam War in 1972, Robert volunteered to join American forces. At that time, Robert was earning a high salary working for Standard Oil's tanker office. As an aside, both Ralph and his wife [Robert’s mother] were formerly anti–war Peace Corps volunteers. It was highly unlikely that the Kiyosaki brothers would take part in the war which both of their parents resented. But Robert, like his brother, was already of age, and their parents could not legally reverse his decision.
Robert’s decision was even harder for his father to accept because it meant losing his well–paying job, which was conveniently a "non–defense vital industry." Robert had no reason, except maybe of lunatic nature, to invite tragedy.
Nothing talked Robert out of his decision, so he followed through, much to Ralph’s dismay. When Robert left for Vietnam, he not only lost his job, but also disappointed his father. He fought in the Vietnam War not because he “likes war, but because it was the right thing to do.” It did not sit well with him to look on at the war and see his fellow Marines fall while he did nothing. He did not train for nothing, and he did not join the American forces for nothing.
From 1972 to 1973, Robert did an excellent job flying helicopter gunships, which earned him an Air Medal. After three years, Robert ended his service in the Marine Corps and decided it was best to return to a normal life. After all, nobody stays the same after witnessing war, and Robert was far from immune to both its trauma and after-effects.
He wanted a complete change of environment. Instead of heading home to Hilo, Robert found himself in New York in search of a steady source of income. In some ways, he was back to square one. It did not help, either, that his Poor Dad lost his position as head of education in Hawaii after losing his gubernatorial bid. Ralph’s political move cost him his hard-earned job.
Getting into Business
With nothing good awaiting him in Hawaii, Robert continued his job search in New York. Luckily, he soon found a job at Xerox Corporation, a photocopying and printing company, as a salesman. But Robert, unlike before, had no intention of spending further years as an employee. His main motivation for joining the rat race once more was simply to save enough capital for his own business. This time around, Robert decided to heed his Rich Dad’s advice and set aside his Poor Dad’s ideology.
Two years at Xerox Corporation gave Robert enough savings to start a “surfer” wallet business. He was the first to introduce the wallets, which used nylon and Velcro for locks. They were inspired primarily by Robert’s stint at a sail school. As sailors, he and his classmates all used “surfer” wallets which they created themselves from sail cloths.
It took only two years for Robert and his two partners to amass millions of dollars in profits. Unfortunately, Robert was not used to handling so much money and he was, for a time, blinded by greed and self-gratifying needs. He purchased cars and dated high–maintenance women and, before he knew it, his first business venture had gone bankrupt.
Without losing heart, Robert soon returned with a vengeance and started a t-shirt licensing business for metal bands. Even Robert himself was surprised by how quickly he gained his money back. However, like his “surfer” wallets, demand was soon curbed by a new emerging genre that overshadowed metal t–shirt licensing.
He had now experienced true failure for the second time. His bad luck in investments, though, still did not affect his love life. Kim, his current wife, came into his life when he was entirely broke. Kim’s best friend, coincidentally, had been Robert’s ex–girlfriend from many years prior, and Robert asked her relentlessly to set up a date for him and Kim in his apartment. He tried to impress her with his convertible Mercedes and succeeded not because he was “rich,” but because they shared the same passion - making money.
However, Robert’s financial stress continued to worsen until he could no longer afford to pay rent. They were forced to leave their high-class abode and managed to get by with the help of friends who offered places for the couple to sleep. The Mercedes was long gone and all they had was an old Toyota whose back also became their place to sleep when no one could house them.
So difficult was Robert’s state that it eventually took its toll on his relationship. He and Kim fought often and separated several times, only to get back together soon after. Robert finally came to his senses after a time of self–evaluation and, remembering his Rich Dad’s claim that being poor is only a state of mind, he started making true progress towards financial recovery.
Speaking for Money and You
Poverty taught Robert, many things, and one of them was how to handle cash. Now older and much wiser, Robert partnered with Kim and they joined “Money and You,” an organization that teaches the work of Buckminster Fuller. Ephemeralization, or “using technological advancement to achieve more with less,” is among the many disciplines taught. Marshall Thurber, founder of the organization, left the seminar business in 1985 for Robert and Kim to manage.
“Rich Dad, Poor Dad” hits the Shelves
Seven more years passed before Robert decided to retire in 1997 at 47 years old. Retiring, however, did not mean resting. When he left Money and You, Robert penned “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” with Sharon Lechter, and they searched eagerly for a publisher. After a number of unsuccessful attempts, they decided to publish the book independently.
Not abandoning business altogether, Robert, Kim and Sharon Lechter started Cashflow Technologies, Incorporated. The company published “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” which became a bestseller soon after Oprah Winfrey included it as a “must-read” in her Book Club.
He was able to patent “Rich Dad” as a result of the book’s success - and that’s when he had an epiphany. The Rich Dad patent made millions for him; if he could make that much money using the “passive” method, then he might as well become more aggressive. The “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” series soon began, followed by the board games “Cashflow 101” and “Cashflow 102.” Robert considers them “passive income,” or patented ideas which make money.
Aside from board games and books, Robert and Kim also made money by conducting seminars and acquiring real estate properties, which provided Robert with what he calls “portfolio income.” The pay check is what Robert termed “earned income,” the easiest form to attain, yet the most highly-taxed. All of these new-age financial teachings (and more) are available to everyone in his talks, books and seminars.
Co-authoring a Book with Donald Trump
It's no surprise that real estate magnate Donald Trump developed an interest in Robert’s business outlook. He became so intrigued that it led to the two co-writing a book entitled "Why We Want You to Be Rich: Two Men, One Message." The Amazon described its CD Edition as such: "The world is facing many challenges and one of them is financial. The entitlement mentality is [an] epidemic, creating people who expect their countries, employers, or families to take care of them. Trump and Kiyosaki, both successful businessmen, are natural teachers who share a passion for education. They have joined forces to address these challenges, because they believe you cannot solve money problems with money. You can only solve money problems with financial education. Trump and Kiyosaki want to teach you to be rich. Why We Want You To Be Rich was written for you." (Source: Amazon)
On Network Marketing
Donald Trump has been very vocal about his views on Network Marketing, which Robert also happens to recommend. Robert was initially sceptical about Network Marketing, considering it too risky and prone to saturation. He later changed his mind and explained in his article with Trump that if someone has the connection, then he/she better make use of the influence to gain income. He mentioned the following as primary benefits of the networking business: paying less in taxes, meeting other entrepreneurs, having more time for yourself, having people to mentor you to enhance your productivity, and taking advantage of an already-established system. He himself learned through experience when he joined Amway, a direct-seller of health products.
Robert’s True Wealth
There’s no doubt that Robert Kiyosaki is going to live a millionaire’s life, as long as he keeps his own teachings in mind.
All throughout Robert’s sleeping on his friends’ floors and in the back of his old Toyota, Kim stayed by his side and helped him move forward. Although Robert’s Poor Dad and Rich Dad each influenced him profoundly, it was Kim who stayed with him through the times he had nothing. What many people do not see is that, even more than Robert’s Rich and Poor Dads, it is his for–richer–and–for–poorer wife he’s most thankful for.
Organisations and Campaigns Supported
- Yahoo Finance
- Money and You
- 1969: Graduated "Deck Officer" from the US Merchant Marine Academy
- 1972: Awarded the Air Medal
- 1977: Started his own company that sold wallets
- 1980: Started a licensing T-shirt business and real estate company
- 1997: Launched Cashflow Technologies, Inc.
- 1997: “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” became a New York Times Best-seller
- 2002: Purchased a silver mine
- 2011: Owner of over 1,400 apartment housing units
- 2012: Nominated for the 2012 Small Business Influencer Awards in the Experts category
- His books have sold over 26 million copies
- “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” “CASHFLOW” and “Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing” have all reached #1 on the Top 10 Bestsellers Lists of The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the New York Times
- Created the games “Cashflow 101” and “Cashflow 102”
- Introduced the E.S.B.I. principle