Micael Widell

Rich dad, poor dad – the story that formed my views on making money

/ books

Rich Dad, Poor Dad tells the story of the author's upbringing, and what he learned about money. Robert's real dad was the poor one, preaching work security, that money is hard to come by, and the importance of building a good career at a respectably company. Robert's best friend's dad, who acted as a mentor and a second father to him, was the rich dad. Rich dad preached entrepreneurship, investing what you earn, building assets and letting them work for you. The two dads make an intriguing contrast, embodying and explaining two common but conflicting perspectives on how to make and manage money.

This is the second time I read this book, and the reason I wanted to re-read it is because I think it takes a great approach to using storytelling in a non-fiction book to teach the reader something. Robert Kiyosaki has had to take some shit for making up the two dads that the story revolves around, while writing it as though it was a true story. But I think that is a bit besides the point. As I view it, the story of his upbringing and the two dads is just a tool he uses to make the story more interesting to read. If I were to write a non-fiction book I would likely want to try the same approach; teaching a subject or an idea using one or several stories.

There are more non-fiction books following a similar narrative approach that I would like to re-read in the coming weeks. The first two books on the top of my mind is Sophie’s world and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I remember from my last reading that they used a fictional storyline as a device to make the book a really interesting page-turner. Both of them were books that I had a hard time putting down, and my hypothesis is that it is because they are written as stories as opposed to the classical way of writing popular science or non-fiction. I think this is also the reason why writers such as Neil Strauss and Malcolm Gladwell has enjoyed such popularity and success – both of them also use the story as a device to deliver the opinions or facts they want to teach.

I especially remember reading the book Emergency by Neil Strauss, in which he retells his exploration of the survivalist subculture – how he initially picks up the interest, and how he descends deeper and deeper into the world of survivalism and prepping. I read the book in one sitting.

But the narrative approach to writing a self-help or popular science book is of course not the only reason I love Rich dad, Poor dad. I love it because it enlightened me on how money works in our society, and how it can be made. It made me go from the kind of economic ignorance that most people unfortunately live their lives in, to truly understanding sound principles of accumulating wealth that the rich people in this world are leveraging. I am also very thankful that I came across this book at a young age. I am quite confident it has adjusted, if not changed, the course in my life for the better.

If I had to recommend one book for the average 18 year old to read to get advice on life, Rich Dad, Poor Dad would be in the upper part of my shortlist. The book has really shaped my values on money, and I found myself nodding and smiling a lot while re-reading the book. The only negative thing about the book is Kiyosaki’s focus on American real-estate, which was how Kiyosaki was making most of his money when writing the book. But as long as you just see all the references to the american real-estate business world as examples to illustrate more general economic principles, you will be fine.

Below are some of my favorite passages from the book, which kind of summarize the spirit of what you will learn by reading it.

Let the money work for you – build your asset column

It was at that moment that rich dad shared the pivotal point of view that separated him from his employees and my poor dad—and led him to eventually become one of the richest men in Hawaii, while my highly educated but poor dad struggled financially all his life. It was a singular point of view that made all the difference over a lifetime. Rich dad explained this point of view over and over, which I call lesson number one: The poor and the middle class work for money. The rich have money work for them.


We learned to make money work for us. By not getting paid for our work at the store, we were forced to use our imaginations to identify an opportunity to make money. By starting our own business, the comic-book library, we were in control of our own finances, not dependent on an employer. The best part was that our business generated money for us, even when we weren’t physically there. Our money worked for us.


An asset is something that puts money in my pocket. A liability is something that takes money out of my pocket. This is really all you need to know. If you want to be rich, simply spend your life buying assets. If you want to be poor or middle class, spend your life buying liabilities.


So only if you really have the desire to own your own company do I recommend it. Otherwise, keep your day job and mind your own business. When I say mind your own business, I mean to build and keep your asset column strong. Once a dollar goes into it, never let it come out. Think of it this way: Once a dollar goes into your asset column, it becomes your employee.


The old-money people, the long-term rich, build their asset column first. Then the income generated from the asset column buys their luxuries. The poor and middle class buy luxuries with their own sweat, blood, and children’s inheritance.


“What pattern?” I asked. “The pattern of get up, go to work, pay bills; get up, go to work, pay bills. People’s lives are forever controlled by two emotions: fear and greed. Offer them more money and they continue the cycle by increasing their spending. This is what I call the Rat Race.” “There is another way?” Mike asked. “Yes,” said rich dad slowly. “But only a few people find it.”


Fear keeps them in this trap of working, earning money, working, earning money, hoping the fear will go away. But every day they get up, and that old fear wakes up with them. For millions of people that old fear keeps them awake all night, causing a night of turmoil and worry. So they get up and go to work, hoping that a paycheck will kill that fear gnawing at their soul. Money is running their lives, and they refuse to tell the truth about that. Money is in control of their emotions and their souls.”


Instead, I recommend to young people to seek work for what they will learn, more than what they will earn. Look down the road at what skills they want to acquire before choosing a specific profession and before getting trapped in the Rat Race.


My highly educated dad always encouraged me to land a good job with a strong corporation. He spoke of the virtues of “working your way up the corporate ladder.” He didn’t understand that, by relying solely on a paycheck from a corporate employer, I would be a docile cow ready for milking. When I told my rich dad of my father’s advice, he only chuckled. “Why not own the ladder?” was all he said.


Life is much like going to the gym. The most painful part is deciding to go. Once you get past that, it’s easy. There have been many days I have dreaded going to the gym, but once I am there and in motion, it is a pleasure. After the workout is over, I am always glad I talked myself into going.

Saving money

“I still pay myself first. Even if I’m short of money. My asset column is far more important to me than the government.” “But,” I said. “Don’t they come after you?” “Yes, if you don’t pay,” said rich dad. “Look, I did not say not to pay. I just said I pay myself first, even if I’m short of money.” “But,” I replied. “How do you do that?” “It’s not how. The question is ‘Why?’” rich dad said. “Okay, why?” “Motivation,” said rich dad. “Who do you think will complain louder if I don’t pay them—me, or my creditors?” “Your creditors will definitely scream louder than you,” I said, responding to the obvious. “You wouldn’t say anything if you didn’t pay yourself.” “So you see, after paying myself, the pressure to pay my taxes and the other creditors is so great that it forces me to seek other forms of income. The pressure to pay becomes my motivation. I’ve worked extra jobs, started other companies, traded in the stock market, anything just to make sure those guys don’t start yelling at me. That pressure made me work harder, forced me to think, and all in all, made me smarter and more active when it comes to money. If I had paid myself last, I would have felt no pressure, but I’d be broke.”

Perspective on money

I’m not interested in just teaching you to make a pile of money. That won’t handle the fear or desire. If you don’t first handle fear and desire, and you get rich, you’ll only be a highly paid slave.”


Most people never see these opportunities because they’re looking for money and security, so that’s all they get. The moment you see one opportunity, you’ll see them for the rest of your life.


I have several friends who have generated over a billion dollars in their short lifetimes. The three of them report the same phenomenon: Their friends who have no money have never come to them to ask them how they did it. But they do come asking for one of two things, or both: a loan, or a job.

Good and bad investment strategies

Smart investors don’t time the markets. If they miss a wave, they search for the next one and get themselves in position. This is hard for most investors because buying what is not popular is frightening. Timid investors are like sheep going along with the crowd. Or their greed gets them in when wise investors have already taken their profits and moved on.


It often takes great courage to not let rumors and talk of doom and gloom affect your doubts and fears. But a savvy investor knows that the seemingly worst of times is actually the best of times to make money. When everyone else is too afraid to act, they pull the trigger and are rewarded.

Thanks Gage Skidmore for the header photo of Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich dad, Poor dad) licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

back to the list of all my texts