Exclusive Interview with Rich Dad’s Robert Kioysaki
Recently, I attended a book signing for Robert Kiyosaki’s new, best-selling book, “Unfair Advantage – What Schools will NEVER Teach You About Money.” The author of the number one personal finance book of all time, “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” investor, entrepreneur, educator, and co-host of the new radio show, “What Does It Mean to You?”, agreed to share some of his tips with the StartupNation audience.
Here’s what Robert had to say:
In “Unfair Advantage,” you mention that schools don’t teach us about money. Why not?
I believe the reason for this goes back to 1904 when John D. Rockefeller took over the education system in the United States with the General Education Board. And ever since then, the rich have controlled what is taught in our schools. Rockefeller’s purpose, it seems, was to find the brightest and the smartest people who had no financial education. Then, they would need a job and work for him. That’s my opinion.
Why is it important for people to read “Unfair Advantage”?
If you read Rich Dad Poor Dad, it was my story when I was nine years old. It’s very simply written about my poor dad, who was the head of education for the State of Hawaii with a Ph.D., and my rich dad, who was my best friend’s father. Unfair Advantage is me in my sixties now. I’m doing exactly the same thing I was doing when I was nine, but today, I’m doing it in the millions.
Decades have passed, but my financial strategies have never changed. In Rich Dad Poor Dad, which came out in 1997, I said that your house is not an asset. And rule #1 from my rich dad was that the rich don’t work for money.
Most people go to school to get a job and spend their lives working for money. As long as you’re physically working for money, you’ll pay more taxes than guys like me. Unfair Advantage is basically Rich Dad graduate school using 2010 examples.
With the high unemployment rates, many people want to start their own businesses. Other than read your book, “Before You Quit Your Job,” what advice do you have for these people?
“Before You Quit Your Job” covered what you should know before you quit your job because there are basically eight integrities to a business. And the reason nine out of ten businesses fail is because they may be good at seven of the eight, but it is number eight that gets you. A successful business needs all eight of the integrities of a business strong and working together.
Most people leave school too highly specialized. They don’t know anything about business, accounting, legal, or cash flow. And that’s where they get crushed.
My message to people is this… if you’re following the old advice of the middle class which is go to school, get a high-paying job, work hard, save money, get out of debt, and invest in a portfolio of stocks, bonds and mutual funds, you’re being crushed.
The reason you want to be an entrepreneur is to get out of the middle class. The middle class is being wiped out right now.
Is it a good time to start a business?
It’s not timing that’s the issue, it’s how you prepare. The fact is that it’s not that hard to be an entrepreneur. My next door neighbor’s little girl comes over, and she polishes shoes. She’s an entrepreneur.
The trouble is that most people go to school and look for a high-paying job. The problem with getting a high-paying job is taxes. If you work hard and make more money, you move into a higher tax bracket.
That’s not financially intelligent, and they’ll never teach you that in school. To me, that’s stupid. For the middle class, they are going to pay more taxes and struggle with rising inflation. How do you get ahead doing that?
How do business owners put the Unfair Advantage to work for them?
Unfair Advantage is about capitalism. And believe it or not, the tax laws are written for capitalists. The tax laws are telling you what to do. This is what the government wants you to do – provide housing and be an entrepreneur to create jobs. And for that, the government will give you huge tax breaks.
Looking back at your success as an entrepreneur, what would you have done differently to achieve a higher level of success faster?
I can’t say I would’ve done anything differently because every mistake I’ve made was someone showing me how stupid I was. The more mistakes I made, the more stupid I found out I was, and the smarter I became.
That’s why most people who do well in school are not good entrepreneurs. They’ve been programmed to not make mistakes… so I can only encourage people to be stupid and learn from their mistakes.
It’s called “Unfair Advantage #5”, the law of compensation. The reason I make so much money today is because I’ve made so many mistakes…. so start making mistakes. Mistakes are very good for entrepreneurs and very bad for accountants, lawyers and brain surgeons. You don’t want a brain surgeon making a mistake! It’s a different world for entrepreneurs.
Many people are in a really bad situation now. They are unemployed with huge credit card debt and are on the brink of losing their home and claiming bankruptcy. Plus, many of them are over 40. Is there hope for these people, and what do you suggest they do first to change their financial situation for the better?
They probably need to ask themselves why they got themselves into such a precarious position. And second, I’ve been there. I’ve lost. The most depressing day of my life was when they repossessed my Harley Davidson. I’ve had the IRS after me because I couldn’t pay my taxes. But all of those were fantastic learning experiences that made me smarter and wiser.
I think the best thing that happened to me was to lose my business at age 29. I’m glad I didn’t lose it at 49. It took me six years to dig myself out of nearly a million dollars of debt. I didn’t declare bankruptcy. I just paid everybody back. I rebuilt my business, and that’s when I got smarter, and I’m still getting smarter every day.
Today, I can make that money back faster. And that’s the attitude an entrepreneur has to have. Mistakes are a learning experience.
There are many financial scams out there. How do people find credible information and advisors to help you and avoid being ripped off?
It’s the same as finding the perfect husband or wife. You don’t know until after you get married! Cut your losses early, and figure out if you are the cause of the problem.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received and how did you use that advice to succeed?
I have a B.S. degree, and I’ve never used anything I’ve learned at school. When I found out I was not really good at school, I got through by cooperating. I always sat next to the smartest people in school. In the real world, that’s called cheating. Today, it’s called collaboration.
I’m extremely lucky to have very bright partners. That’s one of the most important things you can have.
You’ve got to be careful who you hang around with. I used to have a lot of friends, but they didn’t continue on as partners. They did not keep expanding their education. They were complacent. And today, I can’t even talk to them as we’ve become such different people. I kept moving on. I kept getting educated and growing.
And in 2009, one of the best things happened. One of the most influential financial groups in our hometown invited Kim (my wife) and me to be business partners. And that’s how I knew I was doing o.k. You know you are making progress because your friends change.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “Do what you love.” But I think you must do what you must do. A lot of people cannot do this. As an entrepreneur, I guide my business and my activities to get paid the most money and pay the least taxes.
What are your favorite media venues to get financial information you can use to enhance your financial education?
I read “The Economist” and other financial magazines so I’m abreast of what’s going on. I’m always taking seminars and classes.
What you’re going through now as an entrepreneur is incredible. That struggle you’re going through is one of the best things you can go through to learn. But don’t stop getting educated.
Get mentors and advisors and attend classes. Choose your teachers carefully, and make sure they have real-world experience. If you’re not changing, then you’re not growing.
Are there any additional tips you would like to provide specifically to the entrepreneurs out there trying to start and grow their businesses?
First, congratulations for the struggle. If you’re already struggling, you’ve taken the first step. You’ve got to be careful of your teachers, your partners and your friends. And you’ve got to do your part. If you’re stupid, people who are smart are not going to want to hang out with you.
You can’t stay still because the world is going too fast today. If you’ve already started, congratulations, but don’t stop now!
Thanks so much for your great words of wisdom Robert! For more tips to succeed, please check out “Unfair Advantage” and all of the information at www.richdad.com.
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