Rich Dad Poor Dad is a book written by American businessman, author and investor Robert Kiyosaki in 2000. It advocates financial independence and building wealth through value investing, real estate investing, starting and owning businesses, as well as increasing one’s financial intelligence to improve one’s business and financial aptitude. Read the first chapter here
“I’ll pay you 10 cents an hour. “
Even by 1956 pay standards, 10 cents an hour was low.
Michael and I met with his dad that morning at 8 o’clock. He was already busy and had been at work for more than an hour. His construction supervisor was just leaving in his pickup truck as I walked up to his simple, small and tidy home. Mike met me at the door.
“Dad’s on the phone, and he said to wait on the back porch,” Mike said as he opened the door.
The old wooden floor creaked as I steppedacross the threshold of this aging house. There was a cheap mat just inside the door. The mat was there to hide the years of wear from countless footsteps that the floor had supported. Although clean, it needed to be replaced.
I felt claustrophobic as I entered the narrow living room, which was filled with old musty overstuffed furniture that today would be collector’s items. Sitting on the couch were two women, a little older than my mom. Across from the women sat a man in workman’s clothes. He wore khaki slacks and a khaki shirt, neatly pressed but without starch, and polished work books. He was about 10 years older than my dad; I’d say about 45 years old. They smiled as Mike and I walked past them, heading for the kitchen, which lead to the porch that overlooked the back yard. I smiled back shyly.
“Who are those people?” I asked.
“Oh, they work for my dad. The older man runs his warehouses, and the women are the managers of the restaurants. And you saw the construction supervisor, who is working on a road project about 50 miles from here. His other supervisor, who is building a track of houses, had already left before you got here.”
“Does this go on all the time?” I asked.
“Not always, but quite often,” said Mike, smiling as he pulled up a chair to sit down next to me.
“I asked him if he would teach us to make money,” Mike said.
“Oh, and what did he say to that?” I asked with cautious curiosity.
“Well, he had a funny look on his face at first, and then he said he would make us an offer.”
“Oh,” I said, rocking my chair back against the wall; I sat there perched on two rear legs of the chair.
Mike did the same thing.
“Do you know what the offer is?” I asked.
“No, but we’ll soon find out.”
Suddenly, Mike’s dad burst through the rickety screen door and onto the porch. Mike and I jumped to our feet, not out of respect but because we were startled.
“Ready boys?” Mike’s dad asked as he pulled up a chair to sit down with us.
We nodded our heads as we pulled our chairs away from the wall to sit in front of him.
He was a big man, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. My dad was taller, about the same weight, and five years older than Mike’s dad. They sort of looked alike, though not of the same ethnic makeup. Maybe their energy was similar.
“Mike says you want to learn to make money? Is that correct, Robert?”
I nodded my head quickly, but with a little intimidation. He had a lot of power behind his words and smile.
“OK, here’s my offer. I’ll teach you, but I won’t do it classroom-style. You work for me, I’ll teach you. You don’t work for me, I won’t teach you. I can teach you faster if you work, and I’m wasting my time if you just want to sit and listen, like you do in school. That’s my offer. Take it or leave it.”
“Ah… may I ask a question first?” I asked.
“No. Take it or leave it. I’ve got too much work to do to waste my time. If you can’t make up you mind decisively, then you’ll never learn to make money anyway. Opportunities come and go. Being able to know when to make quick decisions is an important skill. You have an opportunity that you asked for. School is beginning or it’s over in ten seconds,” Mike’s dad said with a teasing smile.
“Take it,” I said. `
“Take it,” said Mike.
“Good,” said Mike’s dad. “Mrs. Martin will be by in ten minutes. After I’m through with her, you ride with her to my superette and you can begin working. I’ll pay you 10 cents an hour and you will work for three hours every Saturday.”
“But I have a softball game today,” I said.
Mike’s dad lowered his voice to a stern tone. “Take it or leave it,”
“I’ll take it,” I replied, choosing to work and learn instead of playing softball.
By 9 a.m. on a beautiful Saturday morning, Mike and I were working for Mrs. Martin. She was a kind and patient woman. She always said that Mike and I reminded her of her two sons who were grown and gone. Although kind, she believed in hard work and she kept us working. She was a task master. We spent three hours taking canned goods off the shelves and, with a feather duster, brushing each can to get the dust off, and then re-stacking them neatly. It was excruciatingly boring work.
Mike’s dad, whom I call my rich dad, owned nine of these little superettes with large parking lots. They were the early version of the 7-11 convenience stores. Little neighbourhood grocery stores where people bought items such as milk, bread, butter and cigarettes. The problem was, this was Hawaii before air conditioning, and the stores could not close its doors because of the heat. On two sides of the store, the doors had to be wide open to the road and parking lot. Every time a car drove by or pulled into the parking lot, dust would swirl and settle in the store.
Hence, we had a job for as long as there was no air conditioning.
For three weeks, Mike and I reported to Mrs. Martin and worked our three hours. By noon, our work was over, and she dropped three little dimes in each of our hands. Now, even at the age of 9 in the mid-1950s, 30 cents was not too exciting. Comic books cost 10 cents back then, so I usually spent my money on comic books and went home.
By Wednesday of the fourth week, I was ready to quit. I had agreed to work only because I wanted to learn to make money from Mike’s dad, and now I was a slave for 10 cents an hour. On top of that, I had not seen Mike’s dad since that first Saturday.
“I’m quitting,” I told Mike at lunchtime. The school lunch was miserable. School was boring, and now I did not even have my Saturdays to look forward to. But it was the 30 cents that really got to me.
This time Mike smiled.
“What are you laughing at?” I asked with anger and frustration.
“Dad said this would happen. He said to meet with him when you were ready to quit.”
“What?” I said indignantly. “He’s been waiting for me to get fed up?”
“Sort of,” Mike said. “Dad’s kind of different. He teaches differently from your dad. Your mom and dad lecture a lot. My dad is quiet and a man of few words. You just wait till this Saturday. I’ll tell him .you’re ready.”
“You mean I’ve been set up?”
“No, not really, but maybe. Dad will explain on Saturday.”
I was ready to face him and I was prepared. Even my real dad was angry with him. My real dad, the one I call the poor one, thought that my rich dad was violating child labor laws and should be investigated.
My educated poor dad told me to demand what I deserve. At least 25 cents an hour. My poor dad told me that if I did not get a raise, I was to quit immediately.
“You don’t need that damned job anyway,” said my poor dad with indignity.
At 8 o’clock Saturday morning, I was going through the same rickety door of Mike’s house.
“Take a seat and wait in line,” Mike’s dad said as I entered. He turned and disappeared into his little office next to a bedroom.
I looked around the room and did not see Mike anywhere. Feeling awkward, I cautiously sat down next to the same two women who where there four weeks earlier. They smiled and slid across the couch to make room for me.
Forty-five minutes went by, and I was steaming. The two women had met with him and left thirty minutes earlier. An older gentleman was in there for twenty minutes and was also gone.
The house was empty, and I sat out in his musty dark living room on a beautiful sunny Hawaiian day, waiting to talk to a cheapskate who exploited children. I could hear him rustling around the office, talking on the phone, and ignoring me. I was now ready to walk out, but for some reason I stayed.
Finally, fifteen minutes later, at exactly 9 o’clock, rich dad walked out of his office, said nothing, and signaled with his hand for me to enter his dingy office.
“I understand you want a raise or you’re going to quit,” rich dad said as he swiveled in his office chair.
“Well, you’re not keeping your end of the bargain,” I blurted out nearly in tears. It was really frightening for a 9-year-old boy to confront a grownup.
“You said that you would teach me if I worked for you. Well, I’ve worked for you. I’ve worked hard. I’ve given up my baseball games to work for you. And you don’t keep your word. You haven’t taught me anything. You are a crook like everyone in town thinks you are. You’re greedy. You want all the money and don’t take care of your employees. You make me wait and don’t show me any respect. I’m only a little boy, and I deserve to be treated better.”
Rich dad rocked back in his swivel chair, hands up to his chin, somewhat staring at me. It was like he was studying me.
“Not bad,” he said. “In less than a month, you sound like most of my employees.”
“What?” I asked. Not understanding what he was saying, I continued with my grievance. “I thought you were going to keep your end of the bargain and teach me. Instead you want to torture me? That’s cruel. That’s really cruel.”
“I am teaching you,” rich dad said quietly.
“What have you taught me? Nothing!” I said angrily. “You haven’t even talked to me once since I agreed to work for peanuts. Ten cents an hour. Hah! I should notify the government about you.
We have child labor laws, you know. My dad works for the government, you know.”
“Wow!” said rich dad. “Now you sound just like most of the people who used to work for me. People I’ve either fired or they’ve quit.”
“So what do you have to say?” I demanded, feeling pretty brave for a little kid. “You lied to me. I’ve worked for you, and you have not kept your word. You haven’t taught me anything.”
“How do you know that I’ve not taught you anything?” asked rich dad calmly.
“Well, you’ve never talked to me. I’ve worked for three weeks, and you have not taught me anything,” I said with a pout.
“Does teaching mean talking or a lecture?” rich dad asked.
“Well, yes,” I replied.
“That’s how they teach you in school,” he said smiling. “But that is not how life teaches you, and I would say that life is the best teacher of all. Most of the time, life does not talk to you. It just sort of pushes you around. Each push is life saying, `Wake up. There’s something I want you to learn.’ “
“What is this man talking about?” I asked myself silently. “Life pushing me around was life talking to me?” Now I knew I had to quit my job. I was talking to someone who needed to be locked up.
“If you learn life’s lessons, you will do well. If not, life will just continue to push you around. People do two things. Some just let life push them around. Others get angry and push back. But they push back against their boss, or their job, or their husband or wife. They do not know it’s life that’s pushing.”
I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Life pushes all of us around. Some give up. Others fight. A few learn the lesson and move on. They welcome life pushing them around. To these few people, it means they need and want to learn something. They learn and move on. Most quit, and a few like you fight.”
Rich dad stood and shut the creaky old wooden window that needed repair. “If you learn this lesson, you will grow into a wise, wealthy and happy young man. If you don’t, you will spend your life blaming a job, low pay or your boss for your problems. You’ll live life hoping for that big break that will solve all your money problems.”
Rich dad looked over at me to see if I was still listening. His eyes met mine. We stared at each other, streams of communication going between us through our eyes. Finally, I pulled away once I had absorbed his last message. I knew he was right. I was blaming him, and I did ask to learn. I was fighting.
Rich dad continued. “Or if you’re the kind of person who has no guts, you just give up every time life pushes you. If you’re that kind of person, you’ll
live all your life playing it safe, doing the right things, saving yourself for some event that never happens. Then, you die a boring old man. You’ll have lots of friends who really like you because you were such a nice hard-working guy. You spent a life playing it safe, doing the right things. But the truth is, you let life push you into submission. Deep down you were terrified of taking risks. You really wanted to win, but the fear of losing was greater than the excitement of winning. Deep inside, you and only you will know you didn’t go for it. You chose to play it safe.”
Our eyes met again. For ten seconds, we looked at each other, only pulling away once the message was received.
“You’ve been pushing me around” I asked.
“Some people might say that,” smiled rich dad. “I would say that I just gave you a taste of life.”
“What taste of life?” I asked, still angry, but now curious. Even ready to learn.
“You boys are the first people that have ever asked me to teach them how to make money. I have more than 150 employees, and not one of them has asked me what I know about money. They ask me for a job and a paycheck, but never to teach them about money. So most will spend the best years of their lives working for money, not really understanding what it is they are working for.”
I sat there listening intently.
“So when Mike told me about you wanting to learn how to make money, I decided to design a course that was close to real life. I could talk until I was blue in the face, but you wouldn’t hear a thing. So I decided to let life push you around a bit so you could hear me. That’s why I only paid you 10 cents.”
“So what is the lesson I learned from working for only 10 cents an hour?” I asked. “That you’re cheap and exploit your workers?”
Rich dad rocked back and laughed heartily. Finally, after his laughing stopped, he said, “You’d best change your point of view. Stop blaming me, thinking I’m the problem. If you think I’m the problem, then you have to change me. If you realize that you’re the problem, then you can change yourself, learn something and grow wiser. Most people want everyone else in the world to change but themselves. Let me tell you, it’s easier to change yourself than everyone else.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“Don’t blame me for your problems,” rich dad said, growing impatient.
“But you only pay me 10 cents.”
“So what are you learning?” rich dad asked, smiling.
“That you’re cheap,” I said with a sly grin.
“See, you think I’m the problem,” said rich dad.
“But you are.”
“Well, keep that attitude and you learn nothing. Keep the attitude that I’m the problem and what choices do you have?”
“Well, if you don’t pay me more or show me more respect and teach me, I’ll quit.”
“Well put,” rich dad said. “And that’s exactly what most people do. They quit and go looking for another job, better opportunity, and higher pay, actually thinking that a new job or more pay will solve the problem. In most cases, it won’t.”
“So what will solve the problem?” I asked. “Just take this measly 10 cents an hour and smile?”
Rich dad smiled. “That’s what the other people do. Just accept a paycheck knowing that they and their family will struggle financially. But that’s all they do, waiting for a raise thinking that more money will solve the problem. Most just accept it, and some take a second job working harder, but again accepting a small paycheck.”
I sat staring at the floor, beginning to understand the lesson rich dad was presenting. I could sense it was a taste of life. Finally, I looked up and repeated the question. “So what will solve the problem?”
“This,” he said tapping me gently on the head. “This stuff between your ears.”
It was at that moment that rich dad shared the pivotal point of view that separated him from his employees and my poor dad-and led him to eventually become one of the richest men in Hawaii while my highly educated, but poor, dad struggled financially all his life. It was a singular point of view that made all the difference over a lifetime.
Rich dad said over and over, this point of view, which I call Lesson No. 1.
“The poor and the middle class work for money.” “The rich have money work for them.”
On that bright Saturday morning, I was learning a completely different point of view from what I had been taught by my poor dad. At the age of 9, I grew aware that both dads wanted me to learn. Both dads encouraged me to study… but not the same things.
My highly educated dad recommended that I do what he did. “Son, I want you to study hard, get good grades, so you can find a safe, secure job with a big company. And make sure it has excellent benefits.” My rich dad wanted me to learn how money works so I could make it work for me. These lessons I would learn through life with his guidance, not because of a classroom.
My rich dad continued my first lesson, “I’m glad you got angry about working for 10 cents an hour. If you had not gotten angry and had gladly accepted it, I would have to tell you that I could not teach you. You see, true learning takes energy, passion, a burning desire. Anger is a big part of that formula, for passion is anger and love combined. When it comes to money, most people want to play it safe and feel secure. So passion does not direct them: Fear does.”
“So is that why they’ll take a job with low par?” I asked.
“Yes,” said rich dad. “Some people say I exploit people because I don’t pay as much as the sugar plantation or the government. I say the people exploit themselves. It’s their fear, not mine.”
“But don’t you feel you should pay them more?” I asked.
“I don’t have to. And besides, more money will not solve the problem. Just look at your dad. He makes a lot of money, and he still can’t pay his bills. Most people, given more money, only get into more debt.”
“So that’s why the 10 cents an hour,” I said, smiling. “It’s a part of the lesson.”
“That’s right,” smiled rich dad. “You see, your dad went to school and got an excellent education, so he could get a high-paying job. Which he did. But he still has money problems because he never learned anything about money at school. On top of that, he believes in working for money.”
“And you don’t?” I asked.
“No, not really,” said rich dad. “If you want to learn to work for money, then stay in school. That is a great place to learn to do that. But if you want to learn how to have money work for you, then I will teach you that. But only if you want to learn.”
“Wouldn’t everyone want to learn that” I asked.
“No,” said rich dad. “Simply because it’s easier to learn to work for money, especially if fear is your primary emotion when the subject of money is discussed.”
“I don’t understand,” I said with a frown.
“Don’t worry about that for now. Just know that it’s fear that keeps most people working at a job. The fear of not paying their bills. The fear of being fired. The fear of not having enough money. The fear of starting over. That’s the price of studying to learn a profession or trade, and then working for money. Most people become a slave to money… and then get angry at their boss.”
“Learning to have money work for you is a completely different course of study?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” rich dad answered, “absolutely.”
We sat in silence on that beautiful Hawaiian Saturday morning. My friends would have just been starting their Little League baseball game. But far some reason, I was now thankful I had decided to work for 10 cents an hour. I sensed that I was about to learn something my friends would not learn in school.
“Ready to learn?” asked rich dad.
“Absolutely,” I said with a grin.
“I have kept my promise. I’ve been teaching you from afar,” my rich dad said. “At 9 years old, you’ve gotten a taste of what it feels like to work for money. Just multiply your last month by fifty years and you will have an idea of what most people spend their life doing.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“How did you feel waiting in line to see me? Once to get hired and once to ask for more money?”
“Terrible,” I said.
“If you choose to work for money, that is what life is like for many people,” said rich dad.
“And how did you feel when Mrs. Martin dropped three dimes in your hand for three hours’ work?”
“I felt like it wasn’t enough. It seemed like nothing. I was disappointed,” I said.
“And that is how most employees feel when they look at their paychecks. Especially after all the tax and other deductions are taken out. At least you got 100 percent.”
“You mean most workers don’t get paid everything?” I asked with amazement.
“Heavens no!” said rich dad. “The government always takes its share first.”
“How do they do that.” I asked.
“Taxes,” said rich dad. “You’re taxed when you earn. You’re taxed when you spend. You’re taxed when you save. You’re taxed when you die.”
“Why do people let the government do that to them?”
“The rich don’t,” said rich dad with a smile. “The poor and the middle class do. I’ll bet you that I earn more than your dad, yet he pays more in taxes.”
“How can that be?” I asked. As a 9-year-old boy, that made no sense to me. “Why would someone let the government do that to them?”
Rich dad sat there in silence. I guess he wanted me to listen instead of jabber away at the mouth.
Finally, I calmed down. I did not like what I had heard. I knew my dad complained constantly about paying so much in taxes, but really did nothing about it. Was that life pushing him around?
Rich dad rocked slowly and silently in his chair, just looking at me.
“Ready to learn?” he asked.
I nodded my head slowly.
“As I said, there is a lot to learn. Learning how to have money work for you is a lifetime study. Most people go to college for four years, and their education ends. I already know that my study of money will continue over my lifetime, simply because the more I Find out, the more I find out I need to know. Most people never study the subject. They go to work, get their paycheck, balance their checkbooks, and that’s it. On top of that, they wonder why they have money problems. Then, they think that more money will solve the problem. Few realize that it’s their lack of financial education that is the problem.”
“So my dad has tax problems because he doesn’t understand money?” I asked, confused.
“Look,” said rich dad. “Taxes are just one small section on learning how to have money work for you. Today, I just wanted to find out if you still have the passion to learn about money. Most people don’t. They want to go to school, learn a profession, have fun at their work, and earn lots of money. One day they wake up with big money problems, and then they can’t stop working. That’s the price of only knowing how to work for money instead of studying how to have money work for you. So do you still have the passion to learn?” asked rich dad.
I nodded my head.
“Good,” said rich dad. “Now get back to work. This time, I will pay you nothing.”
“What?” I asked in amazement.
“You heard me. Nothing. You will work the same three hours every
Saturday, but this time you will not be paid 10 cents per hour. You said you wanted to learn to not work for money, so I’m not going to pay you anything.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“I’ve already had this conversation with Mike. He’s already working, dusting and stacking canned goods for free. You’d better hurry and get back there.”
“That’s not fair,” I shouted. “You’ve got to pay something.”
“You said you wanted to learn. If you don’t learn this now, you’ll grow up to be like the two women and the older man sitting in my living room, working for money and hoping I don’t fire them. Or like your dad, earning lots of money only to be in debt up to his eyeballs, hoping more money will solve the problem. If that’s what you want, I’ll go back to our original deal of 10 cents an hour. Or you can do what most people grow up to do. Complain that there is not enough pay, quit and go looking for another job.”
“But what do I do?” I asked.
Rich dad tapped me on the head. “Use this,” he said. “If you use it well, you will soon thank me for giving you an opportunity, and you will grow into a rich man.”
I stood there still not believing what a raw deal I had been handed. Here I came to ask for a raise, and now I was being told to keep working for nothing.
Rich dad tapped me on the head again and said, “Use this. Now get out of here and get back to work.”