In Greek mythology, everything King Midas touched turned to gold. And that’s what entrepreneur and best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki suggests is possible in his new book Midas Touch: Why Some Entrepreneurs Get Rich – And Why Most Don’t, co-authored with Donald Trump.
Kiyosaki has built his empire around financial education and books. He first shot to prominence following the success of his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series of books, which have held a top spot on the famed New York Times list for over six years. Trump is a magnate thanks to his property and casino interests and reality television show The Apprentice.
In Sydney this week, I spoke to Kiyosaki about how business owners can acquire the Midas touch.
Don’t go to school!
Fond of stirring the pot, Kiyosaki says that most entrepreneurs don’t get rich because they go to school
“Schools don’t teach you to be entrepreneurs, they teach you to be employees,” says Kiyosaki. “They also teach you not to make mistakes at school. But the only way I learnt to walk, or ride a bicycle or be a pilot is to fall down a couple of times. Most people that go to school come out risk averse, and rather than becoming entrepreneurs, they become bureaucrats.
“A bureaucrat is somebody who has managerial power but they have no fiscal risk. If they make a bad decision, they don’t pay for it.”
Be a generalist not a specialist
Kiyosaki also warns against specialising. “What makes a person successful is not mono-culture or mono-disciplines, you have to be a synergy of different skills sets,” he says.
He also warns that if you want to stay small, you should aim to be the smartest guy on the block. Drawing a parallel with accountants and lawyers, Kiyosaki says business owners in these professions rarely get rich because they are too specialised.
As a former combat pilot, Kiyosaki is not short on military analogies – in his book and in conversation.
“In the military, we’re taught to be generalists, not specialists. When I sit down with my team, I have accountants, attorneys … IT guys, graphic designers … I operate as a team,” he says. “In actuality, being a great entrepreneur means I can be the laziest guy and I can know the least. But I have to have a smart team.”
There is no doubt that Kiyosaki is smart, despite the fact he points out he flunked school. He also makes the point that you need the right people around you if you really want to make it big. “Because I was never smart, I have respect for people who are smart. A lot of time, I meet A-students and they think they are the smartest guys on planet earth. And that lack of respect will keep them small.”
The five elements of the Midas touch
Since all King Midas had to do was reach out his hand to touch something in order for it to turn to gold, Kiyosaki extends this metaphor in his book by associating the thumb and four fingers with key factors for entrepreneurial success.
1. Thumb: Strength of character.
2. Index finger: Focus, which he says is also an abbreviation for “Follow one course until successful”.
3. Middle finger: Brand, that is, what you stand for.
4. Ring finger: Relationships, surround yourself with good people and remember that you can’t do a good deal with bad partners
5. Little finger: Little things count. That is, do the little things that other entrepreneurs don’t in order to set yourself apart.
The book discusses each of these factors, with perspectives from both Kiyosaki and Trump. It’s for entrepreneurs who want to think big. If you want to break free from the “job” you’ve created for yourself, Kiyosaki’s concepts are not for small business owners that want to stay small.
The ultimate salesmen and a master storyteller, Kiyosaki built an empire starting with the story of his two dads: a rich dad, and a poor dad. Rich Dad, Poor Dad became a runaway success and one of the most successful financial education books ever published.
Kiyosaki points out that a spirit of selling has been fundamental to this success. “I’m a best-selling author, I’m not the best writing author. When I am writing, I am selling constantly,” he says. “If you can’t sell, you’re never going to be an entrepreneur.”