Continuing with our year-long mentor series, we sat down with Robert Kiyosaki, a personal finance guru and acclaimed author of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series, who says if you want to reach your financial goals, you’re going to need a mentor who has experienced success in money.
KellerINK: Thank you for taking some time out of your day to answer our questions. Let’s start with a question some people might have on their mind, which is: ‘Why is it important for everyone to find a financial mentor?’
Robert Kiyosaki: If you want success, you need mentors who have experienced success.
In flight school, my first instructors taught me the basics of flying. The next level of instructors taught me advanced flying, which allowed me to graduate from flight school. My next instructors were combat pilots.
Each set of instructors were instructing on a completely different level of fundamentals and skills. The progression was intended to prepare me for the real world of war.
Learning to fly is not a do-it-yourself project. It is best to have the most talented pilots available to educate and train students, and give them the opportunity for hands-on experience before they go on to the next level.
Financial education is much like flight school.
One of the problems with traditional education is the absence of real-world experience. Most kids leave school with technical answers to problems but lack the skills needed to put their technical knowledge to good use. This means their most important instructors are the teachers or mentors they meet once they graduate.
One tragedy of this financial crisis is that many college graduates are leaving school but not finding jobs. It is this real-world experience that is crucial to a person’s lifelong learning and development and defines who they ultimately become in life.
One reason why so many students leave school and are unable to find a job is that they have been trained to be an employee. They lack the real-life skills to become an entrepreneur.
KellerINK: How do you find a financial mentor that will help guide you through that next step in life? Where should someone begin?
Robert Kiyosaki: What qualifies a mentor is success in real-world experience. If you want success in real estate, you need to start networking with people in that world. Ask around and talk to people. Find out who is doing well and then go after them.
Find a mentor who you can get along with. You’re not trying to find a friend. You’re just trying to find someone who you can communicate well with.
Don’t try to find an easy mentor or a gentle mentor. It won’t do you any good. My first mentor was my rich dad. He was a tough mentor but I’m better because of it.
My rich dad made me work for weeks with no pay just to teach me a lesson. He taught me things like how little control you have as an employee, even over your own money. How you should work to learn knowledge, not to earn money. Obviously, those lessons have stuck with me and now you hear me saying the same things.
The best mentors I’ve had have been tough. That’s because life isn’t easy. A good mentor prepares you for the real world in the real world.
KellerINK: Where do you struggle when it comes to finance, business or investing?
Robert Kiyosaki: While I do not currently struggle with my personal finances, I’ve definitely been there before – many times. If that’s you right now, remain diligent.
For me, I will say that business is the hardest, most challenging asset class to make money. Why? Very simply, it’s people. I’ve heard it said that business would be easy if you did not have to deal with people. I couldn’t agree more.
To address the challenges that running a business presents, I surround myself with people who have a proven track record in the different areas of business. To think that I know it all and can do it all myself would be foolish, and I’d ultimately watch our businesses be run into the dirt.
Be smarter than that; surround yourself with people smarter than you.
Nothing is as rewarding as building your own business and seeing it thrive.
KellerINK: Who are your financial mentors?
Robert Kiyosaki: I’ve had three overarching advisors in my life: Rich dad, Buckminster Fuller and the late Frank Crerie. In addition, I have advisors in each investment field that I have an interest in.
Ken McElroy is my real estate advisor and debt advisor. Garrett Sutton is my asset protection advisor. Tom Wheelwright is my tax advisor. Andy Tanner is my paper asset advisor.
I have experts that consult me in gas and oil and precious metals. I’m also fortunate enough to get to meet many of the people who write about and study the financial markets. I do not agree with all of them, but find it wise to know every side of an argument and idea.
KellerINK: It sounds like your life is filled with mentors, what other areas of your life do you have a mentor for?
Robert Kiyosaki: I have a mentor, or coach, for just about every single area of my life.
I hire a coach when something is important to me, and I want to achieve results. When I know I need to be pushed, held accountable, challenged to go beyond my resistance, my laziness, my limitations, I hire a coach.
I have coaches to help me clear stress. I have coaches to push me in the gym. I have mentors and advisors for my businesses and investments.
Professionals have mentors and coaches; amateurs do not.
KellerINK: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received on finances and investing?
Robert Kiyosaki: That’s easy. The difference between an asset and a liability is that an asset puts money in my pocket while a liability takes money out.
My home is not an asset even though an appraiser has said its value has gone up. A person’s opinion of my home’s value doesn’t cover my monthly expenses; it’s just one person’s opinion written on a piece of paper. Every month it takes money out of my pocket. It doesn’t put a cent in my pocket. It’s a liability.
KellerINK: If a young person you really cared about asked you, ‘What is the ONE Thing I can do in my financial life that has the greatest potential to make everything else easier or unnecessary?’ what advice would you give them?
Robert Kiyosaki: Understand what an asset is and what a liability is and use that knowledge to make wise financial decisions.
Making money does not have to be difficult. You have to understand and know the world of money first. Second, you must put that knowledge to use.
Don’t be the poorest, most financially literate person who never stuck their neck out because they were afraid. Apply your knowledge and reap the benefits.
KellerINK: What’s the best part of what you do?
Robert Kiyosaki: The best part of what I do is being able to witness the change in people’s lives around world. It is so humbling and motivating at the same time.