An Open Letter to Robert Kiyosaki

 

In case you don’t know, Robert Kiyosaki is the author of the Rich Dad series of books on financial literacy, and he and his beautiful wife Kim are the creators of the board game called Cash Flow, a marvelous financial learning tool for young and old alike.  I am a fan of Robert Kiyosaki.  I met him and his wife in a bar in Pittsburgh, PA.  They are very genuine, down-to-earth, and friendly people.  They are for-profit educators, and they clearly have a passion for their subject.  And yes, I really believe Robert’s story about his rich dad and his poor dad.  I don’t think Rich Dad is a figment of Kiyosaki’s imagination.  So I am a believer.  I don’t make statements like that very often.  I have something to say to Mr. Kiyosaki, a disagreement I want to air with him.

Dear Mr. Kiyosaki:

If you are reading this, you already know we are kindred spirits and I admire what you do and share your commitment to financial education.  In a recent article you wrote that some of your best financial advice is to not be average.  That comment was the source of considerable outrage on the part of your readers, judging by their comments.  Perhaps they wanted your message gift-wrapped in softer language, but I couldn’t agree with you more. 

Very few people truly comprehend the mind-numbing reach and power of their government, and its insatiable appetite for their earnings and its religious zeal to dumb them down and control their lives.  Therefore they do not understand how much the odds are stacked against them in their endeavor to break free from the rat race.  They do not understand that to be average is to have no chance.

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Up until a few years ago, if you were to ask any young person on the streets of the European Union what he wanted to do when he was of age, a most likely response was ‘I want to move to America’.  In Europe it was hard to fail, but it was impossible to succeed in a big way.  Success as in break free, to rise above; to know that your life could embrace more than go to work to the same place at the same time and then come home to the telly at the end of the day, till the end of your days . . .   Success in Europe is measured by your ability to obtain employment with a large firm or the government, work as few hours a week, month and year as possible, protect prices and businesses mostly from themselves, and hope the rest of the world goes away. 

For over a century our intellectuals and thinkers have yearned to take us to the same place.  And our politicians don’t seem to care much one way or the other as long as they get to ride in the front of the wagon. . . . .whatever keeps their free ride intact.  These ideas and ideals have become firmly entrenched in our public school system, to say nothing of the Humanities Departments of our universities that promoted them.  America, like Europe before us, is being suffocated under a wet blanket of bad ideas and the false ideals of altruism and egalitarianism.  In our overweening and fanatical quest for equality, if we cannot bring the bottom up, we are committed to bringing the top down.  We have given up our freedoms in the name of ideas whose consequences we do not understand.  As George Orwell once said, “Some ideas are so preposterous only an intellectual could believe them.”  Until of course, they work their way into the culture at large and achieve acceptance by their sheer ubiquity and mindless repetition.  So yes, Mr. Kiyosaki, if we are average, we have no chance of breaking free. 

On the other hand, one man with courage constitutes a majority.  And this is where I disagree with you.  In your writings you always emphasize the value of cash flow.  I understand what you are saying, but I have observed even in playing your own game of Cash Flow that the only way to break out of the Rat Race is to hit it big with a lucky break,  which means either starting a business or buying an asset (real estate or stock) low and selling it high.  I think there were many, many people during the real estate bubble who were attempting to do just this; catch a wave in order to bootstrap themselves up.  A fortunate few did; most drowned.  The smart ones who caught a wave invested those gains in cash-flowing assets later to preserve their gains.  They knew enough to leave the party early and take their money with them.  In your own case, it would appear the wave you caught (or created) was your invention and successful promotion of your board games and your first book, Rich Dad Poor Dad.  Without knowing what to do with your ideas, your ride might have had very different results.

Luck does have a part to play.  Financial literacy has a part to play; you have to know enough to recognize a lucky break when one comes along, and some clue how to get up on your surf board and ride it.  Cash flow becomes your salvation later in the game, after you have gotten up. Courage matters; the courage to seize opportunities and build on them, or the courage to create opportunities where none appeared to exist.  There is risk involved, risk of failure, risk of drowning.  If you succeed in getting up, you may not change the world, but you can certainly change your life.  In that way you are the one person with courage who now constitutes a majority. 

Whether they succeeded or failed, I take my hat off to all those who tried.  And some of them now have the courage to dust themselves off and try again, a little smarter, and more aware of what they don’t know.  These ones are your, and my, best customers.  Let’s help them weigh the risks and direct their courage.  Let’s help them get up.  And sometimes that means they may find an undervalued asset that they need to buy low and sell high.  Financial literacy will help them get it right and know the risks.  I don’t think we should tell them to walk away from an opportunity.  They have to get up on their board before they can ride the wave of cash flow.  They have to establish reserves they don’t have in the present, and without reserves even a cash flowing asset can be a huge liability if anything goes wrong.  Yes, they are in a bad place and they are coming from behind, and yes, their chances of success are low.  Unless, of course, they’re not average.

Above all else, none of us can give up.  Without our dreams, we are nothing more than peasants under a new name.

I read your books, love your games, and I created the Greenville, SC Cash Flow Club.  I applaud your efforts and the way you lead the financial literacy parade.  If you send me your Fed-Ex-deliverable address, I will send you a coffee cup with a photo someone took of you, Kim, Tami, and I in Pittsburgh all those years ago.

Warm regards,

John Bechtel

 

 

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