Interview: Mirela Sula
When she was about ten years old her mother told her, “Kim, if you don’t want to spend your life in a kitchen, then don’t learn how to cook. And if you don’t want to be a secretary, then don’t learn how to type.” In Kim’s words: “This was when we still used typewriters and I took mom’s advice to heart. To this day I’m a terrible cook, and I’ve never been a secretary”.
Her father has been another great influencer for her. In the 1960s he marched with Martin Luther King. As a young girl seeing her dad, a white man, march with King in support of civil rights; it had a profound impact on how she views people, the world and equality. It was a character builder for her.
Today, her business mantra seems to be: “A man is not a financial plan” as she says for the “Wife.org”. I had the chance to meet Kim during the Women Achievers Congress in London, with three of her entrepreneurial girlfriends who came with her from the U.S. They are all powerful women experts in business and money. In this event they talked entrepreneurship, investing, and personal development. It’s incredible what can happen when you bring together a group of like-minded and dynamic women who want to learn, grow and make their lives even better for themselves and those close to them.
Kim believes that every woman has a gift, a genius, to share with the world. Some women know what it is and for some it’s hidden within. This event was about bringing out and growing that genius. It is about every woman being a “Rich Woman” – rich in all ways possible.
In this exclusive interview she has shared with us even more – how she became who she is today and how women can achieve their dreams to become financially free.
You are well known in the business world – a field that has been mostly dominated by men. What is the formula of your success?
I have never gone into a business venture with the idea of “making money” as the #1 purpose or goal. Even as an employee—fresh out of college—my main interest was in what I was learning.
Our companies have always been mission-based and mission-driven. I truly am the eternal optimist and believe that every single person can make a positive difference in the world. The most successful entrepreneurs see a problem and set out to solve it.
The problem The Rich Dad Company set out to solve was the lack of financial education in our school systems. The solution was not to demand that schools start teaching financial education. They have no interest in that. The solution was to create our own education and offer it, for free or at a low price, to people around the world. If we do a good job of solving the problem, then money will be plentiful.
Kim Kiyosaki – “I have never gone into a business venture with the idea of “making money” as the #1 purpose or goal. Even as an employee—fresh out of college – my main interest was in what I was learning”.
More and more women are undertaking business initiatives – Do you think that women are making good progress in business?
The good news is that, in the United States, women-owned businesses are the fastest-growing sector in the world of business. I see this trend throughout the world.
The surprising news is that of these women-owned businesses 68% earn less than $25,000 per year. And, of these women-owned businesses, 90% have only one employee – the female owner. What this says to me is that more and more women are pursuing entrepreneurship and if we, as women, really want to make an impact in the business world then we need to plan bigger.
How do you remember the beginning of your story in business?
Independence is one of my core values. I saw money as a means to becoming independent. I got my first job in high school because I hated asking my parents for money. I worked throughout college so that I did not need to depend upon others for my tuition.
I knew I wanted my own business because after being fired (not once, but twice!) from my first job after college, I realised I truly hated being told what to do. As long as I worked for a paycheck someone was going to tell me what to do, when to do it, and dictate the rules I would have to play by. That was not for me.
More and more women are pursuing entrepreneurship and if we, as women, really want to make an impact in the business world then we need to plan bigger.”
On my very first date with Robert he asked me, “What do you want to do with your life?” I immediately responded, “I want my own business.” He said that he had started several businesses and that most of his friends were entrepreneurs. I decided this is where I want to be, and two months later I had my first business up and running.
How has Robert Kiyosaki influenced your journey of being a successful woman?
The greatest gift Robert has given me is that he believed in me more, at times, than I believed in myself. And he has pushed me to go beyond where I thought I could go.
It is often said that “behind a successful man is always a strong woman” – is this true in your relationship?
I’ve never liked the concept of “behind a successful man…” It implies to me that the ‘strong woman’ is hiding, not stepping out. When someone makes that comment to me I reply, “…and sometimes next to that successful man… and sometimes in front of him.” To me, when one person is always out front and the other is always behind, it doesn’t lead to or support a strong relationship.
Kim Kiyosaki – “Women need to take charge of their financial lives. They need to know what they have, where it is, and how to grow it”
What makes your relationship special?
One experience that had a huge impact on our relationship was when we left everything behind in Honolulu and took a leap of faith to build a business together in San Diego, California. That was in 1985 – thirty years ago! In about three months we were flat broke. We were homeless for a short time, sleeping on people’s floors and in an old beat-up Toyota. The stress was enormous. We’d argue. My self-esteem took a tremendous dive.
There were definitely times we both wanted to quit. We wanted to quit on our dream and we wanted to quit on each other. But we didn’t. We kept going. And we finally got through it and built our business, a business that grew to 11 offices in seven countries. Because we didn’t quit, we each got stronger individually and we got stronger as a couple. That was a big turning point for us.
How do you separate the work and private life of being together?
We don’t. It’s through our work and our investing that we learn together and grow together. We have a LOT to talk about and the conversations are rarely boring. I see many couples that grow apart over the years, with less and less in common. We don’t want that kind of relationship. Most of our friends and the people we spend time with are people we work with. I have a rule: If I don’t enjoy having dinner with someone, then I certainly don’t want to do business with them. Our work life and our business life is one happy blurry line.
There were definitely times we both wanted to quit. We wanted to quit on our dream and we wanted to quit on each other. But we didn’t. We kept going …we each got stronger individually and we got stronger as a couple.
In your book ‘Rich Women’ you say: “When it comes to money, men and women are different” – What are these differences (for those who haven’t read your book yet).
When it comes to money and investing the “How-to’s” are the same: ‘How to buy and sell a share of stock’ or ‘How to analyse the numbers of a rental property’. What is different are the issues that many women face when it comes to money. For example, most women were not taught much at all about money. In fact, many of us were actually taught to depend upon someone else for our financial well-being—a husband/partner, a family member, an employer, or the government.
But the statistics for women, especially as we get older, are staggering. Due to divorce or death of a husband many women find themselves facing a financial crisis. The reality is that 90% of women—at some point in their lives—will be solely responsible for their financial lives. And too many of us are not prepared. That’s why I wrote Rich Woman and It’s Rising Time!… to shake up, encourage, and educate women to the fact that being dependent on someone else for your financial security could easily be a recipe for disaster. And to show women that any one of us can be financial secure and free if we choose to be.
What would you say are your best business successes and why?
Without going into detail on the specifics, I can wholeheartedly say that my greatest successes in business and investing came from my biggest mistakes. In school we are taught not to make mistakes, so many of us come away from school scared to death of making a mistake, petrified of failing. Mistakes, especially for an entrepreneur, are how we learn. A mistake only shows you something you didn’t know. With each mistake I make, as long as I’m paying attention, I get smarter.
My best cash-flow-producing property today came as a result of a huge screw-up I made. The Rich Dad Company is stronger today than ever because we, as a team, make a ton of mistakes. We have plenty of failures—and we learn from them! And as a result the individuals grow and the company gets better.
Where do you believe the wealth creation will be from in the future?
Muhtar Kent, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, once said that the “The next giant economic growth wave won’t come from the Internet or China or India, but from empowering women.” I have to agree with him.
According to you, why should women become investors?
- Women need to take charge of their financial lives. They need to know what they have, where it is, and how to grow it. To blindly turn that responsibility over to someone else—a husband/partner, a financial planner or advisor—is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do today regarding her financial security.
- The rules around money today have changed. In my parents’ day, Mom and Dad could actually save enough money for retirement. Today, given the low-to-no interest rates on savings, and the fact that many of the developed nations are printing (and printing and printing) money, the money you are saving is actually losing its value by just sitting in the bank. It’s almost impossible today to save enough money to carry you through retirement. The #1 fear in America is running out of money during retirement, and unfortunately, that is happening to many retirees.
- You work so hard for your money. Wouldn’t you want that hard-earned money working for you? As some point in your life you may want to take a break, or even retire (which I believe is highly overrated). If you’re the one working hard and your money isn’t, then you may have to keep working hard…forever.
Investing is having your money work for you. A retirement account or mutual funds are not investments. They are savings plans. In 1994 my husband, Robert, and I were “financially free.” Many people thought we must have had millions of dollars set aside. We did not. We did not have a large stock portfolio, mutual funds or a retirement plan. We simply had $10,000 coming in every month in cash flow from our investments, primarily rental properties. The beauty of it was that we had only $3,000 a month in living expenses. At that point we were free— free to do whatever we chose. We chose to start The Rich Dad Company.
Today we have cash-flowing investments in business, real estate, paper assets, and oil & gas. Our money is working hard for us so we don’t have to…if that’s our choice. It’s all about freedom.
“Investing is having your money work for you. A retirement account or mutual funds are not investments. They are savings plans.”
You were the key speaker at the Women Achievers Congress in London – can we know a bit more about it?
The women presenting at this event and I were extremely excited about The Women Achievers Congress! This is a women-only event, which is unique in itself. This was an opportunity for women to spend two full days focused on themselves, their dreams, and the life they want to create for themselves. As women, we tend to put everyone else first: our kids, partner, parents, boss, friends, etc. There comes a time where you ask, “What about me?” These two days are all about “you!”
Who is Kim Kiyosaki?
Like many college freshmen, Kim planned to go to school, graduate, get a job, work, and begin the steady climb to the top of some corporate-ladder. She figured that college would be the ticket to a more secure life. It took several years before Kim made her first investment in a tiny house in Portland, Oregon with $5,000 she didn’t have and made her $25 per month in cash flow. After that, there was no turning back. From these humble beginnings to self-made millionaire, Kim’s knowledge grew with every deal. And she now shares that knowledge as an internationally-renowned speaker, author (Rich Woman, Good Deal Bad Deal), entrepreneur, real estate investor, radio show host, and the founder of RichWoman.com