Steve Harrison interviews one of our most famous clients
Steve Harrison: Hi! Steve Harrison here with a really special interview. You ever heard of the book, Rich Dad Poor Dad? Well, with me is my friend and one of my most famous clients, Robert Kiyosaki. Robert, great to be with you.
Robert Kiyosaki: Steve, honored to be here, and welcome to the office you helped build!
Steve Harrison: Wow. Well, thank you. I tell you, it’s just wonderful to be here and your team has been great. I know people are looking at what you’ve achieved—I mean, over 30 million copies sold! And people are saying, “Hey, how could I have even maybe a fraction of that kind of success?” Over the years we’ve known each other, you’ve had a different approach to being an author. How would you describe that approach?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, first of all, the story of Rich Dad Poor Dad is a true story. My Poor Dad was a PhD, Stanford, University of Chicago and Northwestern. You know what they say, “The cobbler’s kids have no shoes.” In my case, my father was a superintendent of education for the state of Hawaii, one of the most corrupt states in the union.
And I kept flunking out of school because I can’t write. So, when people say to me, “You’re an author,” I think, “Who are they talking about here?” It’s really a kind of miracle I even wrote a book because the process of writing was so painful for me. I flunked out my sophomore year of high school, and my dad, the head of education, was saying to me, “Son, I’m sorry, but you have to join your sister”—my younger sister’s class. And then I flunked out again in my senior year.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t write. The teachers didn’t like what I wrote. And so, there’s always been this battle in me about how teachers teach. And my dad, Poor Dad, was a great guy, a fabulous man. He just said, “Son, don’t worry about it. Just get through the process.” So, he fired the teachers. And that caused huge outrage amongst all the teachers: “How dare the superintendent of education’s son, who flunked out of school, ask his father to fire the teachers!” I never did. My father says a teacher’s job is to teach, not flunk. And he is a great educator.
Steve Harrison: Was he alive when you wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad?
Robert Kiyosaki: No, because if he was alive, he’d probably die faster.
Steve Harrison: Yeah, I was wondering how he might feel about being called Poor Dad!
Robert Kiyosaki: I’ve caught a lot of flak for it because I grew up in Hawaii. I’m fourth generation Japanese American. And you know, in Japanese culture you respect your father, no matter what. And I love, I respect my father. The reason he lost his job at age 50 was because—as Forbes magazine called Hawaii, “the People’s Republic of Hawaii”—is one of the most corrupt states in the union. Even the Supreme Court justices had to resign because of the corruption.
My father, who I respect, Poor Dad, he stood up to the corruption. He stood up to the governor and all the guys that have a crony—what’s going on today all over the world, crony capitalism, everybody’s stealing money from everybody. And my dad, being an honorable man stood up to him. And he was fired.
So, I had to wait until all the dust had settled to write the story. Now, all the Japanese cultural people, they said, “Oh, you disrespected your father.” I said, “I paid an honor to my father for being a brave man.” Most people, as you know, don’t stand up to the corruption we all know is rampant, not only in the United States but through the world.
So, I wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad in honor of my dad because our system is broken today. It’s corrupt. Everybody’s taking money. It’s just disgusting. That’s why I love and I respect my dad. But the people in the outside of it never saw it that way.
Steve Harrison: For people who are new to this book, Rich Dad Poor Dad: You had two dads. You said Poor Dad was the one who was traditionally educated, had a PhD, and was an academic.
Robert Kiyosaki: Yeah, Stanford, University of Chicago. I mean, he was the creme de la creme.
Steve Harrison: And Rich Dad?
Robert Kiyosaki: Never went to school. He was my best friend’s father. The whole story actually begins in the fourth grade when I was nine years old. I went to a really rich white kids’ school. And across the street were the kids who were like me: colored, Asian, Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese.
But for some reason, I went to the rich white kids’ school, directly across the street from each other. And all these kids are rich. They had nice bicycles and they belonged to the country club and the yacht club. And my family didn’t.
So, I raised my hand and said, “Hey, when am I going to learn about money?” And my teacher, bless her heart, says, “We don’t teach you money at school. After all, the love of money is the root of all evil.” And I said, “Well, it may be evil for you, but why are they richer than me?” When you’re nine years old, you ask these questions.
I went home and said, “I’ll ask my dad, my Poor Dad.” I went to ask him. So, Poor Dad says, “I am the head of education here. I am told what I can teach, and money is not a subject.” And I’m nine years old thinking that’s really a strange thing to say. As a kid, it didn’t make sense.
And that’s where the whole story began. My Poor Dad says, “Why don’t you ask your best friend, Mike. Go talk to his father because he is someday going to be a very rich man.” And I said, “Why is that?” He said, “Because he’s an entrepreneur and I’m an employee.” I went, “What’s the difference?” He says, “Well, entrepreneurs must know about money, employees don’t.” And again, as a kid, nine years old, this doesn’t make any sense to you.
And so, when I was nine, I went and knocked on my Rich Dad’s office door, and he wasn’t rich yet. He was building his empire. He drove a dump truck, if you imagine that. So I knocked on his door. And I asked him to teach me about money, which, after some persistence, he did. I had to work for free. He says, “You have to work for free because if I pay you, you’ll think like an employee.”
There was this whole beginning of me seeing another side. All coins have three sides: heads on one side, tails on the other side, and the edge is where you stand and look at both sides. I was looking at the mindset of a poor man, my highly educated Poor Dad, and the mindset of my Rich Dad.
And so I worked for free. My dad, Poor Dad, got upset. But I persisted. And then my Rich Dad started teaching me about money playing Monopoly. I didn’t understand this. Why are we playing Monopoly? He says, “Well, there’s many, many ways you can get rich. But on this gameboard called Monopoly is one of the better systems, one of the formulas.” I said, “What’s the formula?” He says, “Four green houses, one red hotel.” It was like the lights went on. “Is that all I have to do?” He says, “I don’t know. You’re different than I am.” But that’s what he does.
So my Rich Dad had his four green houses. He was really doing it. I saw his green houses. My Poor Dad said he was what he called a slumlord. Then 10 years later, when I was at school in New York, I returned to Hawaii. And my Rich Dad had his big red hotel, smackdab in the middle of Waikiki Beach. And that’s when my whole life kind of changed. I said, “This is different. This is real financial education.” This is what my Poor Dad said, “Go to school and get a job” stuff.
Steve Harrison: And the book clearly shows the difference, and shares tips and principles from whole new perspective.
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, I made it simple. I mean, Rich Dad Poor Dad is a book on accounting. More specifically, it’s a financial statement, income expense, asset-liabilities, statement of cash flow. That’s where financial education begins. But most people, even PhDs, leave school, and they don’t even know what a financial statement is.
Steve Harrison: I saw you said in one of your books, smart people make things more complicated.
Robert Kiyosaki: Yeah, but they don’t know what’s real. When I go to my banker today and I can borrow hundreds of millions of dollars and other people can only get a credit card, it’s because I have a financial statement. So, my financial statement is my report card when I’m an adult. And the average person who graduated from PhD programs doesn’t have a financial statement. They don’t have a report card as an adult.
Steve Harrison: As you say yourself, you didn’t do very well in English class. Although you enjoyed it, you didn’t consider yourself a good writer.
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, I have the proof, I flunked out twice.
Steve Harrison: When you started to write Rich Dad Poor Dad, what was difficult?
Robert Kiyosaki: It was when people said, “Do what you love.” I hate writing. It was one of the hardest things I had to do. I was already rich. I was now about 40-something years old. I never needed a job. I didn’t have a 401(k), no stocks or bonds. I didn’t need the government to pay me anything. I was a true capitalist.
And I moved to a little town called Bisbee, Arizona. I sat out in the desert for about two years. I just sat there with nothing to do, no television, no radio. And I just wrote, because I had nothing else to do. Otherwise, I’d watch TV. But that’s why Rich Dad Poor Dad came. And one night I was sitting all by myself, I didn’t know what to say because the story of money is a very complex subject. It is the most complex subject in all of humanity. There is no subject more complex than money, more intertwined than money—Bloomberg, Wall Street, all these guys, hedge funds and all this.
So, how did I simplify it enough so a nine-year-old kid could understand it. I said, “How did I understand it?” I’m sitting in the middle of the Arizona desert in Bisbee, Arizona. It finally came to me. I had a Rich Dad and I had a Poor Dad. And so, all it was is a story of what my Poor Dad said versus my Rich Dad.
And I’ll say it again, there’s no financial education in schools. Why is that? Why do we give smart people like my Poor Dad a PhD who knows nothing about money?
Steve Harrison: And just the way you said it, you said, “How can I communicate money to a nine-year-old?” So, in a way you’re writing that book—
Robert Kiyosaki: For me.
Steve Harrison: For that nine-year-old boy.
Robert Kiyosaki: The hardest thing I had to do was “dumb it down” so I could understand it. And it was my Rich Dad who never went to school. He dumbed it down enough for me and his son to understand why the rich are getting richer. What is financial education? Not that garbage they teach in school about saving money, having the government take care of you through a pension plan, or a 401(k) and stocks. That’s fake money. You see, the real education is you don’t need that paper money.
Steve Harrison: It might surprise people to know Rich Dad Poor Dad was not your very first book. Tell us about your first book.
Robert Kiyosaki: My first book was called If You Want To Be Rich & Happy Don’t Go To School. And it made the bestseller list. It was amazing. God bless this guy. He’s a publisher. I took it to him. He was with Simon & Schuster. His name was Robert Asahina. He called me up and he says, “I want to talk to you about Simon & Schuster publishing If You Want To Be Rich & Happy Don’t Go To School.” I thought I hit the jackpot, first book and all this.
So, I’m in New York City. I go up the elevator. I sit down and Asahina sits down. And he says, “Pretty good book. But I’m not going to take it.” I said, “I flew all the way from Arizona for you to tell me you’re not going to take it.” “Yeah, I wanted to tell you face-to-face.”
He said, “You haven’t told me what you know. The moment you tell me what you know, you’ll have an international bestseller. It’s kind of a mishmash inside. But when you tell me what you know, you’re going to have a bestseller.”
And I love that guy. I trash publishers. I trash everybody. But I really thank him because he was the guy that kind of forced me into the desert to sit down and just sit there and write and trash it, sit down and trash it. And then one night it came out, I had a Rich Dad and I had a Poor Dad. That’s what I knew.
Steve Harrison: In your view, why should someone write a book?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, there’s many different reasons. The funniest one I hear is so when you give a speech, you can leave it behind. I said, “Okay, there’s different reasons.” But I think the most important reason is for the process you go through. It’s who you become in the process. It’s like going to the gym every day and not make it and all of a sudden, you get stronger.
For me writing a book was a really clarifying process on my own personal life, but more importantly, who I write for and why I write for them, and why I keep going. If you’re just writing a book to make money, don’t do it. But really write to support your fellow human being.
Steve Harrison: Okay, so let me have you think about this. Maybe I don’t know how many times you’ve been interviewed about the actual writing process, but I have a lot of people who struggle with just writing the book. Was there anything that helped you? Clearly, you went off and were able to focus on it. Anything that helps you in the writing that you would suggest to somebody who’s stuck, who’s got a third of a book done and they feel like giving up? They’re wondering, “Hey, is anybody going to care about this?” I don’t know, anything helped you with that?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, by the time I started writing Rich Dad Poor Dad, I was a student of R. Buckminster Fuller, who invented the Geodesic Dome, a hardcore socialist. So, I studied with Bucky for three years. And Fuller always taught me, “It’s not about how much money you make, but how many people do you serve?”
So, what kept me going in the writing was the way I could serve more people by writing a very simple book called Rich Dad Poor Dad, not to make money, but to serve my fellow humanity. It was just my mission: “How do I serve the most people?” And the best way I could serve them was to write a very simple book using pictures to explain why the rich get rich and why the middle class is shrinking, and why the poor are getting poorer.
Steve Harrison: Now, there have been people who have vehemently disagreed with you. Does that bother you?
Robert Kiyosaki: Truthfully, it does.
Steve Harrison: Because I mean, let’s face it, a lot of authors I talk to, they are afraid, when they’re honest, about criticism. But some people thrive on it.
Robert Kiyosaki: I hate it. Let me just go back to my teacher, Dr. Buckminster Fuller, who said what kept me going was the more people I serve, the more effective I become. I was already rich. It was just to serve my humanity is why I did it. And I wrote that book and it was published in 1997. It had to be self-published because every educated person like my Poor Dad turned it down.
That’s the reason most people quit. They don’t love their humanity enough. It’s called self-interest. I care more of what you think of me than what I think of me. And those are the people who quit. And every time I meet people who quit, as a former US Marine twice to Vietnam, I have no use for those people. It was Jack Nicholson, in A Few Good Men…
Steve Harrison: Right, yes. You’re that kind of guy!
Robert Kiyosaki: He said, “You can’t handle the truth.” The truth is the reason you can’t write is because you’re more interested in your own self-preservation.
Steve Harrison: But you have a righteous anger about society, about the education system, about what’s going on.
Robert Kiyosaki: Try going to Vietnam and getting spit on when you come home. Try that. I lost so many friends out there. And I come back and all these college kids are my peers, calling me a “baby killer” and all that. I serve my country and they were cowards. So, that’s kind of how I see the world.
Steve Harrison: I love you also said you honored your poor father by being courageous. Writing a book is an act of courage. It is seeing it through and then of course, promoting it, which we can talk about. So, can I ask you this question? Because you did tell me once you wrote the book to sell the game. So, tell people about the game Cashflow and how the book came into your thinking as an entrepreneur.
Robert Kiyosaki: I developed this Cashflow board game. Because in financial literacy, there are six major words. Literacy is speaking the language of money, financial literacy. It’s income expense, which is called P&L, and second is asset and liability, a balance sheet. But third, there is a statement of cash flow. What determines if something is an asset or a liability is not the definition of the word, but which way the cash is flowing.
If I buy a house and the cash is flowing out of my pocket, it’s a liability. If I buy a rental property and the cash is flowing into my pocket, it’s an asset. Unfortunately, most of these academic types, when they teach accounting—and I’ve been to a number of accounting classes taught by academic types—they don’t know what they’re talking about because they’re pure academics.
I met this one academic who told me, “What’s the definition of an asset?” He says something that lasts more than a year. I said, “Toilet paper lasts more than a year; is that an asset?” And they couldn’t answer me. So, I go back to why I got thrown out of school several times—because I always questioned the teacher.
In flight school, I had real teachers. I loved Marine Corps flight training. All the teachers were real. They’d just come back from Vietnam. We’d strap in and we’d fly for real. They said, “This is not the way it’s done in war. This is how we do it.”
But I go to school and I have people who have no idea what they’re teaching. My accounting teacher had never been an accountant. And I thought, “Well, how can you teach me accounting when you’ve never been an accountant?” Thrown out again. So, as you can tell, I’m very pro-education. I just don’t like the current system of labor unions and all that.
Steve Harrison: This is where you brought your entrepreneurial instincts in and said,
“Hey, I remember playing Monopoly. There ought to be a game to teach kids”—to teach that nine-year-old, right?
Robert Kiyosaki: I built the Cashflow game. The trouble is I couldn’t sell it. So, being an entrepreneur, you just have to come up with more than one answer. I tried several things. And that’s when I was sitting out in Bisbee, Arizona, the middle of desert. And I said, “I think I’ll try a book. I have a Rich Dad and a Poor Dad.”
So, this book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, was written as a brochure to sell the Cashflow game. And then what happened, thanks to you guys, Steve Harrison and Associates—you guys grew me to become a bestselling author. Because every New York editor, who was like my Poor Dad, PhDs, they didn’t like what I wrote. It’s the same reason I flunked out of school, because the English teacher didn’t like what I wrote. They disagree with you. So, you guys, thank heavens, guided me through the process of getting publicity and speaking to an audience that wanted my message.
You see, academia does not like my message. They believe in going to school, getting a job, have the government give a paycheck, and that’s my Poor Dad. I don’t want nothing to do with that world! So, that’s why what you guys did helped me. I created the board game, nobody would buy it. So, I wrote this book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, as a brochure, a catalog, a way of getting what they call publicity.
Steve Harrison: What happened next?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, the reason Cashflow needed help was because it’s a tough game. It’s about accounting, income, expense, asset and liability, statement of cash flow. They call it “Monopoly on steroids.” So, I needed something to kind of soften the blow. That’s why I wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad, sitting in the desert of Arizona. It didn’t sell either. That’s when my wife calls Steve Harrison, and you guys really guided me, which is one of the most important things about education. You want to know that the person guiding you is real.
I’ll say this to my finance guys: Most guys giving financial education are fakes. They’re not real. They’re not rich people. They’re called financial planners, stockbrokers, real estate brokers. They’re not rich people. And so, when you take advice from fake people or fake teachers, you’ll get in trouble.
Immediately when we contracted with you guys to help us out, I knew you guys were real because we were reaching our audience. Look, academics don’t like my message. And I’m quite happy with that. But I do have a target market. And the most important thing Steve Harrison and Associates did was guide us to our target market, somebody who wanted to hear what I had to say, away from all those PhD editors and book editors who were like my Poor Dad more than my Rich Dad.
Steve Harrison: Because you found they didn’t really like your writing.
Robert Kiyosaki: Yeah, because I make it simple. And I draw pictures.
Steve Harrison: But the people liked it because you became a New York Times bestseller as a self-published author.
Robert Kiyosaki: One of the only guys who ever made it that far. And then after I made the New York Times Best Seller List, thanks to your help, this person named Oprah Winfrey called. And as I say, the rest is history. And so, my mission was just to elevate the financial well-being of humanity. It was to serve, but I bypassed the school system. I had to bypass academia.
Steve Harrison: That is a very good point. I think a lot of people are writing a book and maybe do need to bypass, and marketing and publicity allows you, social media allows you, good marketing allows you to do that. If you had to guess, how many media interviews do you think you got that first year when we were working together?
Robert Kiyosaki: All it took was really about 30 to get me launched. See, you guys are for real. There’s real and fake in my world today. There’s fake news, fake media, fake people, fake politicians, and fake financial advisors. The way I know you guys were for real, there was results immediately. And you got me straight to the radio and television and print who wanted my message.
If I went through a traditional New York PR firm, they don’t know what you guys brought me to. So, for all of you listening out there who dream of writing a book, question number one: Who is your target market? And why do they want it? And how do you reach them? It’s called “Marketing 101.”
Steve Harrison: There’s also something else I think really helped you, which is one of the things I teach my clients: Can you identify a group of people who will really get behind your philosophy? They’re just absolutely on fire, right?
Robert Kiyosaki: They’re called “viral” on it. In 1997, I was writing for what people now know. The people now are realizing the lack of financial education is their downfall. I wrote for them. And that number is increasing every single day. Who is your target market?
Steve Harrison: Robert, we’ve talked about writing books. Let’s talk about promoting. What’s your philosophy about that?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, that’s why I say I’m a bestselling author, not a best writing author. And I’ve met a number of authors. I’m not a salesperson. I don’t want to promote my book. Well, if you’re not going to promote your book, don’t bother writing the book. I mean, who do you think you are? William Shakespeare? Do you know what I mean?
At the start, you’ve really got to promote. And the best way to promote is not advertising, but what you guys do: public relations. That’s knowing who my target market is and how do I reach them? Is it by podcast? Is it by radio? Is it by print? Is it by endorsements and all this?
Steve Harrison: Like today, I know you’re feeling under the weather. You’ve been traveling for six weeks. Why are you sitting here doing this interview with me?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, because we’re friends. And the biggest thing about money is you take care of those who helped you along the way. Without you guys, I’d never be here. That, plus it is my mission to get the message out.
But a lot of people, when it comes to money, it’s about the money. Not about supporting the mission, the message and the people that helped you. A lot of people forget who helped you get there.
Steve Harrison: That might catch people by surprise. You’ve stressed income, money, Rich Dad—and here, there’s another side of Robert we’re hearing, which is more of the mission side.
Robert Kiyosaki: It’s the spiritual side.
Steve Harrison: Agreed. Tell me more. Was that Buckminster Fuller?
Robert Kiyosaki: It’s called military education.
Steve Harrison: Well, we’re going to go from military education into spirituality. Is that where we’re going?
Robert Kiyosaki: That’s what the military is about, the traditional education and military school. In 1965, the University of Hawaii wouldn’t accept me because my grades were so bad. I mean, even a dead man can get into University of Hawaii. But they turned me down because my grades were so bad.
But for some reason, the United States Merchant Marine Academy accepted me. So I went to the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. The first word they teach you is, “What’s your mission? What is the mission of the United States Merchant Marine Academy? You are in the Marine Corps. What is the mission of the United States Marine Corps?” When I went to the MBA program, it’s, “How much money can I make?” The academic system is really off-base right now.
Steve Harrison: How would you describe your mission?
Robert Kiyosaki: To elevate the financial well-being of humanity. And I have to stay outside the school system to do that because the school system will kill my message. That’s why I designed the Cashflow game because then it could be people teaching people, except most people really don’t know about money and don’t care that as long as they work for it.
And if you read lesson number one here, it is the rich don’t work for money. When people say it seems strange you would be not talking about money—yeah, because I don’t need a job! I don’t have to work for it. Now, you want to keep working all your life and paying taxes, then you do what they taught you in school. My mission is to say, “Look, you don’t need money to be rich. You need financial education.” That’s what the Cashflow game is people teaching people. We bypass the school system.
Steve Harrison: Well, that’s what’s awesome today. You can reach your audience through publicity, really good marketing, social media, podcasting, different things.
Now, I remember when your book first came out, I hadn’t really seen many books with a purple cover on them. Where’d the purple come from?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, as I said, I always ask for help. I was never a smart kid. So, I found a graphic designer and we started talking and he says, “Oh, this purple will look good.” What do I know? Purple, red, pink, green. I didn’t know. I said, “Okay.” Then this other friend told me, “Purple and gold are the color of royalty.” Now, did I know that? No. But I had a good mentor.
Steve Harrison: An expert.
Robert Kiyosaki: The expert, yeah—somebody who does the real thing, not one of these fake graphic artists or real graphic artists, who’s in the business every single day.
Steve Harrison: You know a lot about branding, and I’m curious because sometimes authors do wonder if they should put themselves on the book cover or not. And you did morph, so Rich Dad and many of your books now have you on the book cover. Why?
Robert Kiyosaki: I don’t know why, because I’m a very shy person. I don’t want my picture on the cover. But somebody had a good idea and said, “Put your picture on the cover.” I said, “Okay.” I’m a real estate guy. I’m not here to talk about my picture on a cover. Somebody thought that was a good idea. I respect my teammates and they put it on there. Not all ideas work, but I must respect my teammates. That’s what they teach at the academy and the Marine Corps, “respect,” another spiritual word. You see, respect is a very high spiritual word. So is the word “courage.” It’s a very spiritual word.
Steve Harrison: Respect to your teammates, and I think over the years, and trust. All of this is a perfect segue to my next question, which is: You have been in business with your wife for how many years now?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, we’ve been married 31 years, so it’s 34 years.
Steve Harrison: With Kim, what have you learned? What advice would you have for people who are husband and wife working together?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, obviously marry the right person. This may sound like BS to most people, but I really sincerely believe if you’re spiritually aligned with your purpose, then god—I don’t mean the religious “God,” I use “god” as the general overall director, small g, little o—god will always send the right people to you if you’re doing your spirit’s work. When you’re spiritually in sync with your work, you’re always in the right place at the right time.
Steve Harrison: How has Kim helped you in the publishing part of the business, the author part or the speaking part?
Robert Kiyosaki: She is the backbone. She’s more beautiful on the inside than on the outside. And she’s pretty spectacular on the outside. She’s kind. They call us the beauty and the beast. You can tell who the beauty is. But she has been the best gift. I met her almost to the day I decided I was going to quit my job and go on a spiritual mission. So, I believe god, the general overall director, said to me, if I hadn’t made that decision, I don’t think she’d be here. That’s my belief. I can’t prove it. But that’s my belief.
Steve Harrison: Tell me about predictions. You made predictions in your books, and that’s dangerous. But your predictions—now, we look back and say, “Boy, he really knew what he’s talking about.” Were you at all nervous about making the predictions?
Robert Kiyosaki: It’s all stupid. No, but my teacher was Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller, one of the greatest geniuses of our times, and he was best known as a futurist. I studied with him for three years and he taught me how you predict the future. Then he passed away July 1, 1983. And posthumously, his book came out called Grunch of Giants, which we call the elites today. And they ripped us off. That rip us off every single day.
So, I could make predictions from what I knew and you can see the consequence. It’s not that obvious, but when you print money to pay bills, you’re in trouble. And we’re now printing trillions of dollars to pay for a debt that made the rich richer. This cannot be sustained.
But you’ve really got to care about your fellow human being more than yourself. And I think that’s lesson one in being a bestselling author.
Steve Harrison: And realize the people watching you, who may vehemently disagree—we’ve got people probably watching, they’re like, “All right,” they voted for whoever. and you said something. This is a very good illustration. I remember you said one of the things you wanted to do when you did interviews is to draw the line in the sand and dare people to step over it.
And I look at the success. I mean, look, you’re sharing things that are going to be ticking some people off and other people are going to say “Amen.” They’re going now to buy the book, right?
And there’s a marketing principle there. I heard Dan Kennedy once said, “If you’re not offending people a certain segment, you’re probably not saying much.”
Robert Kiyosaki: Dan Kennedy is a great guy. He offends people.
Steve Harrison: He knows how to do that.
Robert Kiyosaki: I’m a student of offending people. And before I’m a Marine. But you’ve got to say something today.
Steve Harrison: Let me ask you this. People might look at you and say, “Well, he’s probably always been good at telling stories or speaking.” Were you just kind of naturally good? You tell great stories in your books. You’re a very good speaker. Was this just kind of natural or did you have to work at it?
Robert Kiyosaki: No, I trained for it. As we’ve talked about earlier, I’m not a best writing author. Most of those editors in New York said, “You really suck as a writer.” And I said, “Guys, you’re like my English teachers.” You know what I mean? But I’m a bestselling author. There’s a difference between writing and selling.
I was not a natural salesman because, being Japanese, I’m really shy. I went to work for Xerox to learn how to overcome my fear of rejection. Then after I did that, I had to learn how to public speak. And so, I’ve taken classes. I repeat, I practice, I make mistakes.
I’m the most boring guy I know. I put myself to sleep most of the time!
And I wanted to learn how to be a stand-up comedian. You want something that’s tough, be a stand-up comedian. That’s even tougher than being a writer. Because you’ve got to make people who are unhappy laugh. Holy moly, that’s hard. I tried it several times. And I just bombed.
Steve Harrison: Even today you were sharing with me one of the reasons you travel is you get out there. You’re working on a new book. And you’re speaking and you’re trying out your material before you put it in the book, which I think is big.
Robert Kiyosaki: Right. Practice, practice, practice.
Steve Harrison: In Brazil, how many people walked out on you?
Robert Kiyosaki: About a thousand.
Steve Harrison: A thousand people walked out on you.
Robert Kiyosaki: That joke didn’t work. Yeah, we learned by making mistakes. I went, “Okay, I screwed up here. I need to correct.” And I really thank them for walking out because they taught me a valuable lesson. I corrected the next couple of days, and got a tremendously different result, more effective, better.
Steve Harrison: If we were sitting here doing an interview about the book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and I was asking you what’s one of the most important pieces of advice in the book you really want people to know...
Robert Kiyosaki: Oh, I don’t know about the book. I wrote the book in 1997, and the stock market crashes every 10 years, massive crashes. The baby boomers are about to get wiped out because they’re in the stock market. They’re being set up. And that breaks my heart. So, that’s why I write and I speak because I care more about them than I care about myself.
But I say to every writer: You’ve got to know your market and care more about them than your own self-protection because that’s ego. If you’re more worried about yourself, you’re egotistical and not being a servant to your fellow human being. I don’t care what you think of me personally.
Steve Harrison: I mean, that’s probably one of the reasons you’ve sold over 30 million copies.
Robert Kiyosaki: And I still get criticized. But thanks, at least you read the book!
Steve Harrison: One thing I know you really teach is the power of having a team. It’s critical to your success. Tell me about that approach. As an author, tell me about your team—what you’ve learned, what advice you give.
Robert Kiyosaki: Let me back up a little bit because there’s a lot of people teaching entrepreneurs today, and really what they’re teaching is to be self-employed.
You see, there’s two kinds of entrepreneurs. This is from Bucky Fuller again. If you can do your job by yourself, like a doctor or a lawyer, you’re self-employed. A true entrepreneur cannot do what they do by themselves. Very big difference. So, our schools are pumping out self-employed entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, massage therapists, and all that. You don’t need a team. You need financial advice, but you don’t need a team.
On what we call the B and the I side, big business and professional investors side, you have to have a team. That’s really the biggest difference. The reason most academics have problems with a team is because in school, that’s called cheating. During test time, I was always asking for help. And they’d say, “Well, that’s cheating.” And I said, “No, I was being cooperative.”
That’s why I stress the fact I went to see you, Steve, to ask for help. Many academic types have this kind of a subconscious belief they have to be the smartest and do it on their own. That’s why most attorneys and doctors are pretty arrogant. A lot of them as a class of people are pretty arrogant. They have to know all the answers. They’re the A students. Since I was a dummy, I’m not ashamed of asking for help. But that’s called cheating.
Steve Harrison: I often say to people, when you’re lost and you’re asking for directions, people come and help you. And actually, it’s a benefit. You’re humble, and people now can be the expert and they want to share their advice.
Robert Kiyosaki: Yeah, but you got to be careful who you take financial advice from, that’s especially true.
Steve Harrison: But let me ask you this: When you write your books, some people go with a very detailed outline and get really clear on the concept, others just start writing and seeing what comes. What’s your process?
Robert Kiyosaki: Both. I sketch. I do it all. And then one day it’s enough, I call it “the vomit factor.” I’ve outlined, I’ve sketched. And now, it’s time to just write. Steven Pressfield calls it The War of Art.
Steve Harrison: Yeah, it’s a great book.
Robert Kiyosaki: For those who want to be writers, it’s Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art. That guy is a great author. I wish I could write as good as he could. That’s why I talk to him all the time. He says, you just sit there in front of a blank screen and then let your spirit take control.
Steve Harrison: Have you ever talked your book—maybe talked and recorded and had it become a transcript or had someone interview you to help get the book going?
Robert Kiyosaki: I tried different methodologies. But the Pressfield method, The War of Art, is still the best one for me. I sit down there in front of a blank screen and go sip coffee and then it starts to come out. But when I talk, something’s lost in translation. I’ve tried them all. I still have a person who helps me write business papers, but not books.
Steve Harrison: And how about doing research? Do you do all your own research?
Robert Kiyosaki: Yeah, I do quite a bit of research.
Steve Harrison: One thing I was impressed with and noticed—I can’t remember, was it your blog or your podcast?—but I remember you were writing a new book and getting feedback in your community. Talk about that, because that’s exactly how you started writing your book, by getting feedback.
Robert Kiyosaki: It’s a way of involving your audience. Like I said, who is your target audience? So, the book was called Conspiracy of the Rich. I’d write something and they’d give me feedback. This next book I’m working on is called Fake Money and Fake Teachers. It’s going to be a similar methodology. My job is to make what I know simpler, using more pictures.
You see in school, I was one of those kids who was always doodling. I’m more of an artist than a writer. I think what makes me successful is I just take financial statements and I doodle. I’m constantly doodling. So, I’m pretty more right brain than left brain. And I think that’s kind of my forte or my “schtick,” as they say.
As a writer, you’re going to find your schtick. My way doesn’t work for everybody. You’ve got to find your way. I mean, I disrespected writers when I was getting flunked out. Now, when I find great writers, I just thank them. I thank them because of great writers.
Look at this. I even carry a Montblanc pen dedicated to William Shakespeare. I mean, these guys, if you couldn’t reach the level of Shakespeare in these guys, you’ve done something. And I don’t think I’m there. But it’s something I aspire to.
Steve Harrison: And since he’s the one who said brevity is the soul of wit, that’s a good reminder.
Robert Kiyosaki: Every time I hold this pen, whole “Willie” comes through me.
Steve Harrison: I love it. I love it. So, you’re known as the author and speaker who really encourages people to generate cash flow, passive income. Do you think people who are maybe dreaming of writing a book—is that something that could help them? Is that an endeavor worth pursuing?
Robert Kiyosaki: Absolutely, because I talk about assets versus liabilities and the balance sheet. My books are assets. Every time I write a book now, thanks to Oprah, I sell it to 50 publishers throughout the world. So, let’s do the math here. One book, let’s say 50 publishers. They pay me a $10,000 fee to publish my book, to print my book.
Steve Harrison: Overseas, each publisher in a different country, right?
Robert Kiyosaki: Yeah, yes. Spanish, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Thai and all this. So, 50 books times 10,000, which is low, and I get $500,000 plus royalties. The $500,000 is straight income. But the royalty is a passive income.
Steve Harrison: I really like the Spanish title for your book, Padre Rico. I just thought,
“This is better in Spanish!”
Robert Kiyosaki: Again, I want to suggest to people: It really starts with your mission, to care for your audience. Who are they? Why do they need to hear from you? Don’t waste their time. If they’re going to read your book, you’re taking their time. That’s why I write straight for that target audience. And my target audience are not those editors in New York. They’re not them. I had to get past them, which is why you guys came in. That’s why it’d be humble enough to ask guys like Steve Harrison, “So how do we get past those idiots in New York?”
Steve Harrison: Well, now, give me your perspective because you started off, you self-publish and we got you all this publicity work together, you hit the New York Times, you sold a quarter million copies, then Oprah. Then a publisher—we won’t name them—a publisher contacted you and bought the rights to your book. So, now you were being published by a traditional publisher. You’re an interesting case because you’ve done both. You’ve published it yourself and you’ve had a major publisher. So what advice do you give people thinking about how to publish their book?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, it depends upon your skill level. I’m an entrepreneur. If you’re a college professor, you might not be an entrepreneur. So, you have a skill deficit. It’s called self-assessment, saying, “What am I good at, what am I not good at?”
I was already pretty good at sales. I was number one for Xerox in the nation. So, I could sell them. But I still ask for help. Just because I’m successful in one field selling copiers doesn’t mean I can sell a book.
So, again, it goes back to humility. Humility is the key to learning. So, for those who are considering writing and all this, don’t be like those silly accountants and attorneys and doctors who think they’re the geniuses of earth. You may be really good at grooming dogs, but you don’t know anything about selling a book. Be humble. That is the key to learning.
Steve Harrison: I love your Montblanc pen. I think it’s awesome. I’ll tell you a funny story. I was in Scottsdale, Arizona, okay, where we are here, with my son, and he had actually just gone through a summer selling books door to door.
Robert Kiyosaki: That’s the best.
Steve Harrison: It’s tough work. It’s tough work.
Robert Kiyosaki: Tell your son, congratulations.
Steve Harrison: He’ll be very impressed. I did it when I was in college and learned a lot about getting people to pay attention and explain the benefits of the book and everything.
So, he had won an award and we’re here in Scottsdale, Arizona. And I said, “You know what, I’m just kind of in the mood.” I said, “I think, as a father, it’d be a great gift to go in and buy my son a Montblanc pen.” Just kind of the father in me wanted to do that.
So, we go into the store and I said to him, “You know what? I mean, you want to see good salesmanship? A Montblanc pen! You’re going to hear some wonderful stories about the pen and everything else.” And we go in and the guy says, “Yeah—these pens really aren’t any different. I mean, there’s nothing really that special about them.” And my son was like, “Dad, where was the story? Where was the great enthusiasm about the product?” He was turned off because he didn’t have a good salesperson.
Robert Kiyosaki: Correct. My Poor Dad, the PhD, was the same way. He despised salespeople. But he didn’t mind his paycheck, you know what I mean? Whereas my Rich Dad said to me, “Sales equals income.” If you don’t have enough income it’s because you can’t sell. There’s a direct correlation.
Steve Harrison: It’s funny because one of the things I found is a lot of people have a concept of sales that’s dishonest or slick rather than loving service. In other words, you really can serve people by selling. This guy didn’t really. He’s got these beautiful pens. I want to give my son a keepsake and he didn’t just explain the history of Montblanc and all the wonderful things and how people have handed these down. I just wanted an experience, andhe didn’t want to be there.
I’m interested in your take on this: I have a lot of people who are therapists, or they have a message like you—they’re on fire about something. A lot of times, they have a negative view of selling. And yet, if they look at it as, “Hey, I can serve that radio talk show host by getting in touch. I can serve that audience by speaking. I can serve by having that person buy my book. I want to be the best I can at persuading them in communicating the benefits of it.”
Robert Kiyosaki: Just hear this: Sales equals income. You know what I mean? Why I have so much money is because when I came back from the Marine Corps, I went to my Poor Dad and he says, get my MBA. And my Rich Dad says, “That’s not going to make it better.” He says, “You got to sell.”
So, I joined Xerox not because I like copiers, but because I’m shy. I’m Japanese. I’m very shy. I had to learn to overcome my fear of rejection. So, every day was, “Hi, get out of here. Hello.” One day I went back to my Rich Dad, I said, “I’m going to get fired because I can’t sell.” And Rich Dad said one really important thing: “How many sales calls do you make a day?” And I said, “On a good day, three.” He says, “That’s why you’re failing, because you’re not failing fast enough. If you want to be successful, step up your failure rate,” which is totally counter to academics.
So, I got a job “dialing for dollars.” I leave Xerox, walk up the street of Honolulu and get on the phone, dialing for dollars for the charitable organizations asking for money. My goal was to fail 30 times a night. So, the more I got rejected, kind of the happier I got because I was failing faster. And voila!
Steve Harrison: Here we are.
Robert Kiyosaki: The Xerox sales went up because I was overcoming my fear of rejection. And guess what? I made more money. It’s that attitude towards sales, sales equals income. If a person doesn’t have income, it’s because they can’t sell. There’s some kind of mental psychological black.
Steve Harrison: Talk about that fear, fear of rejection, fear of whatever. You were telling me earlier you’re a real big proponent of doing the thing you fear. Most people get held back by their fear.
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, “fear” stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. We all have fear. But the key is how you address that fear. Most people back off. And the way I address it is the Marine Corps way: Let’s get excited about it.
When I talk to people about this crash one or two years out—it’s going to change the world. It’s the biggest crash in world history. A lot of people take that fear and they say, “I don’t like what you’re saying,” which is why they walk out on me. And other people say, “God, this is going to be exciting.” Because I don’t know if people know this, but you make more money in a crash than you do coming up.
I shorted. I bought put options on Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company. Well, as soon as I found out how crooked their leaders were, I just shorted. I mean, I put options on Petrobras, I made a fortune going down. And everybody else was complaining because it was going down rather than, “Oh, I could have made a fortune on it.” It’s just training. It’s education.
Steve Harrison: In your journey as an author or speaker, what was something uncomfortable beyond selling? Was there anything that caused fear or you having to get outside your comfort zone?
Robert Kiyosaki: Every day. I mean, when I have 4,500 people and a thousand walkout, the hardest thing is to stand there and watch them walk out and not stop. That’s where courage comes in. But that’s why I respect my Poor Dad. He knew he was going to get fired. But he still took on the very, very corrupt government of Hawaii.
Steve Harrison: So, what do you tell yourself when you’re on the stage and people are just frowning or walking out? They’re offended by your message. What do you tell yourself then?
Robert Kiyosaki: Stand. Hold tight for a while. This too will pass. And who are left are those who want to listen to you.
Steve Harrison: Do you enjoy doing your podcast?
Robert Kiyosaki: Sometimes. I am very shy. I’m a very private person. But I do like to speak to those who will listen. And I’m redoing my bestseller book called Rich Dad’s Prophecy, saying the biggest financial crash was coming in 2016, it’s happened. It’ll cure the bond market in 2014.
If you want to see my predictions, I’m on CNN telling Wolf Blitzer just before that 2008 crash of Lehman Brothers, “This baby is coming down,” and Wolf has never invited me back. They don’t like it because I disturb Wall Street. There’s so many people trapped in these 401(k)s right now. And I’m concerned for them. I am just really concerned. This is all over the world. That’s why I speak out. I don’t care what Wall Street thinks of me, but I do care for my fellow human being who right now is realizing they may not ever be able to retire. Because that 401(k) will go poof.
Steve Harrison: So, if somebody is thinking about doing a podcast, what would you say if a friend of yours said, “Hey, I’m thinking of doing a podcast to promote myself as a speaker and author.” Any advice?
Robert Kiyosaki: Just do it.
Steve Harrison: Anything helped you in terms of doing it better, easier, especially if you’re not comfortable? You’re pretty shy and as you say, now you’ve got to be the personality.
Robert Kiyosaki: Hire a coach. Have somebody who will give you feedback. For a thousand people walking out, that was feedback, sweetheart. It was a great thing. But most people who are A students think that’s bad. It’s really fantastic. Because you’re getting raw feedback.
Steve Harrison: Can we talk about your business of being an author and speaker? You got the book and the book helps to sell the game. But you also have other revenue streams. And from the book, as you said, it’s an asset. And we’re always teaching people to have a business beyond the book. So, give us a sense, give us some inspiration. What’s possible? How have you taken Rich Dad Poor Dad and what are some other income streams you’ve created?
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, this book here, lesson number one is, the rich don’t work for money. I never wanted a job. My objective was to get to the point. This is when they walked out to me. I said my objective was to get where I never needed money. I never needed a job. And then I could go to what we call “the Midas touch,” just make money out of nothing.
Today, if I need money because I’m an entrepreneur, I can just make it. But that’s when they want to know, “Tell me how to do it.” I said, “Well, I’ll tell you how to do it. But this is how I do it.” And they got very upset. They got frustrated.
Anyway, I bought income streams. I say it in there also, I write about Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s. If you’ve seen that movie, The Founder, with Michael Keaton, it’s right in there. McDonald’s business is real estate. The Rich Dad business and all of my businesses are real estate.
That’s why I played Monopoly as a kid—four green houses, one red hotel. I’m still playing Monopoly. I have 6.500 green houses, five major red hotels, oil wells, businesses and all that. I don’t work for money, I work to create assets. The book is just one of the many assets.
Steve Harrison: And don’t you have a seminar business?
Robert Kiyosaki: Yeah. And those are all licensed out.
Steve Harrison: When you were in the desert of Arizona writing Rich Dad Poor Dad, did you have any idea it would be so big?
Robert Kiyosaki: Heavens no. Like I said when people say, “Do what you love,” I hate it. I hate writing. I really do. That’s why The War of Art by Pressfield is a very important book for any writer to read, because he hates it also. It’s a painful process. I sit down there, I write and I’ll throw the whole thing away. I’ll write and I’ll throw it away. I’ll write and I’ll throw it away. But every time, I’m getting clearer. It’s a painful process, for me.
Steve Harrison: And what has being an author brought you?
Robert Kiyosaki: A whole new set of friends, some degree of fame, some degree of notoriety, but also a lot of attacks, especially from the academics, and especially from Wall Street. They don’t like my message. And I don’t care what they think of me. I do care what I think of my audience.
And you watch in a few years, a lot of people—as you already know, the middle class is gone. It’s not coming back. And people still say go to school, get a job, save money. Why would you save money when the Fed is printing money? Why would you save money when there’s negative interest rates? Why would you work for money when our schools teach you nothing about money?
I sit there in disbelief of the naiveté of not only the American people but also the world population. And they want me to tell them what to do. I said, “Look, that’s what you go to school for. They tell you to get a job, save money, work hard, get out of debt and invest for the long term in the stock market.” I’m saying, that’s the most dangerous thing you can do today. And that’s why Wall Street, the academics, and intellectuals come after me.
Steve Harrison: And also why millions are attracted to your message-
Robert Kiyosaki: Correct. I know my audience.
Steve Harrison: You know your audience and also, I think when you attack sacred cows...
Robert Kiyosaki: I love doing it.
Steve Harrison: …as you love doing, it gets you media attention, but also it does bring people to you. I’ve seen this all the time. I remember having lunch with John Gray one time, the author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. I thought he’d probably be sick and tired of talking about relationships. But he spent the whole lunch talking about relationships.
What I love about you is you are totally congruent, as I find all my successful clients are. With you, this is such a passion for you. It’s a righteous anger. It’s a forthrightness. It’s a determination. Just coming here into your office and seeing all you’re about and hearing that you’re also mentoring your employees here. It’s wonderful.
Robert Kiyosaki: Well, thank you. It’s called being real.
And that’s why I was saying my next book is called Fake Money and Fake Teachers. Because the reason people are going broke is because our money is fake after 1971, when Nixon took us off the gold standard. And fake teachers, they’re not required to do what they teach.
Like I said, the best teachers I’ve ever had was just before I went to Vietnam, real teachers who stood up. These are 25-year-old guys who said, “What they taught you in flight schools? Now let me tell you how it’s really done in Vietnam.” I’m alive today because I had real teachers.
Steve Harrison: Well, thank you for being a real teacher to us today. We really appreciate it. This has been a lot of fun.
Robert Kiyosaki: Thank you for your support, because you really taught me a lot about the business of books. Thank you.
Steve Harrison: You’re welcome. This has been such a delight to learn from you and hear your passion, hear your wisdom. And I just so appreciate you being with us today. This has been fabulous.
Robert Kiyosaki: I appreciate you, and I wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad for this time. We’re reaching a crucial time right now. We’re really going to choose where humanity goes.