Spotlight: Robert Kiyosaki

Niki D'AndreaNovember 4, 2021
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Photography by Brandon Tigrett
Photography by Brandon Tigrett

Wealth Guru

Robert Kiyosaki loves to talk about money – and people who have money. Based on his own upbringing, Kiyosaki’s bestselling financial literacy book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, illuminates what wealthy fathers (in this case, the father of his best friend) teach their kids about money that working-class fathers (his own dad) don’t. The book, which transformed Kiyosaki into something of a folk hero to wealth-building dad types across the U.S., has sold more than 32 million copies since its publication in 1997 and earned the public praise of such media magnates as Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith. Originally from Hilo, Hawaii, Kiyosaki has lived in Phoenix since 1994. The 74-year-old entrepreneur talked to us about his affinity for former President Donald Trump, skepticism about COVID-19 mitigation efforts and new, updated edition of his financial board game. 

Your board game, CASHFLOW, came out in 1997 but was recently updated. How is it different from Monopoly?

One thing about the CASHFLOW board game, and what Monopoly lacks, is a financial statement. A financial statement is what my Poor Dad lacked. He had a Ph.D., but my Rich Dad had a financial statement. So, when my wife, Kim, and I created the CASHFLOW board game, the most important thing was not the board game, but the financial statement. It’s the only game that teaches you the basics of accounting – income statements, balance sheets, statements of cash flow. If you control that, you control your life. 

How has the pandemic affected the economy? 

This COVID thing crushed small business. Small businesses were 50 percent of the GDP. By crushing small business, they crushed the gross domestic product of America. I see friends who are never coming back. They’re old guys like me, and they lost their businesses… So, they killed the small capitalists… and what they did was start printing more money. I can’t even keep track of it anymore, how many trillions they’ve printed. So, that adds a debt and puts a drag on GDP. The economy is slowing because a guy like [presidential chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony] Fauci, he says, “Shut down small businesses, shut down churches.” [Editor’s note: After contracting 3.5 percent in 2020, U.S. GDP has grown 6.6 percent in 2021 through June, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.]

You co-wrote Why We Want You to Be Rich with Trump in 2006. Why do you want us to be rich?

If you look at what’s going on in the news today – racism and all this other stuff – it’s about poverty. It’s really about poverty of the mind, the pocketbook and the spirit. Guys like me make billions, and people can’t even get a $15 an hour job. So, that’s my concern. That was Trump’s concern, too. We joined forces as guys who invest on the fast track, not the rat race. Dave Ramsey and I are good friends, and he says, “Live debt-free,” and I would say for 95 percent of the people – great advice. Other people say, “Invest in the stock market, have a 401(k), go to school and get a job” – great advice. But that’s for the rat race. The fast track is where the capitalists hang out. 

What are your favorite things about Arizona?

One of the reasons I love the state is, Arizona’s still a bunch of cowboys running around the place. Try to round them up and put a lasso around them and they’ll fight you. So, that’s what I like about Arizona – the spirit of the cowboy. 

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