The Most Important Thing I Have Learned
Interview with “Rich Dad Poor Dad” Author Robert Kiyosaki
July 24, 2012
I had the opportunity to interview Robert Kiyosaki, author of the #1 bestselling personal finance book of all time, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, on the radio. His “Rich Dad” series of books has been translated into 52 languages and sold 28-million copies in 109 countries.
Robert was great. Straight-shooter. Salty (almost had to beep him once – but I was laughing too hard to do it) and hilariously funny. If you ever get a chance to see him speak – do it.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.
I wanted to see what shaped his attitude in life. Because he has one. Powerful, true, ingrained.
LITTLE-KNOWN FACT ABOUT ROBERT KIYOSAKI
STEVE: I was going to start off with, “What’s it like to sell 28-million copies of Rich Dad Poor Dad?”‘ but I won’t. Probably bore you to tears. I’m a Vet and know that you are as well. When I learned you served as a marine helicopter gunship pilot in Vietnam, winning an air award medal, it intrigued me.
How did that time, that job, that place shape not only your business and leadership style, but also prepare you for the battlefield of business and life?
ROBERT: Being a gunship pilot we had a life expectancy of about 30 days because we got shot down so quickly.
“The most important thing I learned is that there’s no second place. “
For most of my life, I was kind of a screw-off—average in school, average in sports. I remember the day at Camp Pendleton in California when they strapped the missiles and guns onto my helicopter; it kind of sunk in that there was no second place anymore. Then one day I was flying my first actual mission in Vietnam, and I realized the school days were over. There were rounds coming up at us and I thought, “These guys are trying to kill us.”
Then, my crew chief taps me on the helmet and said;
“Hey lieutenant, you know what sucks about this job? There’s no second place. Either he’s going home or we’re going home, but we’re both not going to go home today.
“You better make up your mind who goes home today.”
Thank God we came home, the other guy didn’t, unfortunately. Once you learn that, it kind of takes the complacency out of your butt.
I decided if I was going to do something, I wasn’t going to do it average anymore; I was going to do it as if my life depended on it. I think that gives me the competitive edge.
BS DOESN’T DECIDE
I was a C student all the way through school. I failed out of high school two times because I just didn’t care.
I still have a Bachelor’s of Science degree that stands for BS, but other than that, it had nothing to do with my education.
It depended on how well you wanted to live your life.
IT’S YOUR CHOICE
If you want to live like a schmuck, that’s your choice, but it’s not my choice.
STEVE: How did you translate those experiences into leadership? You said the Marines changed your whole perception of leadership.
ROBERT: I went to four years of military school also, and they don’t teach you much except how to lead.
The first thing they teach you is,
What’s the mission?
It’s the most important thing of any military officer.
The next two things are,
Can you take orders?
Can you give orders?
In other words, can you follow and will other people follow you?
That was impeccable discipline.
One of the reasons people aren’t successful is NOT because they didn’t go to good schools; they just lack cojones as my Mexican friends would say. They lack discipline.
Discipline simply means doing what you need to do in spite of the fact you don’t want to do it.
That’s all it takes for success; you have to be disciplined.