Book Review: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Books · Oct 21, 2019

More than 20 years ago, in 1997, Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter released their book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” which became an immediate success. This book is about personal finance, entrepreneurship, business, investing and economics and it has become some kind of a bible for a lot of people. Having sold more than 32 million copies in 109 countries, Rich Dad Poor Dad might be considered one of the most popular books about economics.

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I read this book when I was 15 years old and I have to admit - it had a huge influence on the way I see the world. It shaped my world view quite a lot, but now, after getting an economics degree and reading many other books on finance, economics and investing for almost 2 decades, I’m not so sure that the influence that “Rich Dad Poor Dad” had on me was actually positive.

That is why today, long after this book’s release, I’ve decided to revisit it and review it once again.

Table of Contents

What is This Book About?

Robert Kiyosaki was born in Hawaii in a middle-class family. His parents were great, but they weren’t rich. As a child, Robert wanted to find out why some people have a lot of money, and others don’t, what causes that and how to get rich? His own dad didn’t know the answer to this question but he knew someone who might help: a rich neighbor whose son was Robert’s friend.

So, Robert went to see his neighbor and asked him:

“How to become rich?”

The answer he received was interesting:

“You have to make money”

That is what his rich “dad” told him. Robert started to call his friend’s father “rich dad”, although he already had a real dad, who he called “poor dad” in his book. So, the rich dad started to give Robert lessons on why some people are rich, and others aren’t.

These financial lessons that he learned as a kid have helped him to achieve so-called “financial freedom” later and then he started to spread his knowledge and philosophy around the globe. Many people enjoyed his books (he wrote many books throughout his career and one of his books is even co-written with Donald Trump) and they say that those books were helpful and some go so far as to claim that those books were life-changing for them.

Main Ideas, Philosophy, and Summary

Robert Kiyosaki’s books tend to be pretty short and easy to read, but some people would like to see a shortlist of his ideas.

Here is the core of Robert Kiyosaki’s philosophy:

  • Rich people and poor people think differently.
  • The main reason why some people are rich and others aren’t, is not in their IQ but so-called “Financial IQ”.
  • Financial literacy is very important and it has to be mastered as early as possible.
  • Poor people tend to get poorer, rich people tend to get richer.
  • There are no special tricks, magic or secret knowledge, but there are certain rules and principles that help people to get rich.
  • Poor people work for money, rich people make money work for them.
  • It’s easier to change yourself than everyone else.
  • Don’t let money run your life.
  • A job is only a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

You can find some other Robert’s wise quotes here.

As you can see, those ideas are not that complicated and it can be hard to argue with them.

His philosophy is very individualistic, it’s motivational and, for some people, it’s indeed helpful. It’s interesting how the idea of creating a passive income and achieving financial freedom hasn’t lost its importance even today. For instance, millions of people can lose their jobs as a result of increasing automation so Robert Kiyosaki’s thoughts are as pragmatic as ever.

Some of the author’s ideas can be even called trivial and I have friends who I recommended some of the Kiyosaki’s books to and some of them said that these books are too simple. They said that everything in these books is extremely obvious. Well, if it’s that simple and obvious, why aren’t they rich already and why they keep ignoring these simple ideas?

The Magic of Robert Kiyosaki’s Books

I have read a few of his books, I think two or three in total because after a while it’s true that everything Robert says seems a little bit repetitive. You rarely see some deep new ideas there, however, the first book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, was a revelation to me.

I have read this book when I was 15 years old and it really changed me.

The magic of this book was in its simplicity, the ideas there were so straightforward, so easy to understand, so simple, that I couldn’t come up with any arguments against them. It was a little bit shocking to me when I, as a kid, came to adults with this book and told them about it, I was shocked because it seemed that all the adults agreed with these ideas, however, they all seemed to ignore them in their real life.

“It's all good, but I have to go to work, I don't have time to read”

This is the answer I would often get when I told an adult about the book. Anyway, I took some of those ideas deeply and carried them for 15 years, and I think they were helpful after all.

The Effect Of “Rich Dad Poor Dad” Book

This book can have a strong and somewhat dangerous effect on a person, especially if it’s a young person. In some sense “Rich Dad Poor Dad” is a revolutionary book, it speaks against society and its traditions. It can have a similar effect as The Matrix movie has, it can change a person. That is why you may see some critical reviews of the book and some people even calling it a cult.

I think that generally, the effect of the book is positive, but there is a risk that a person who just finished it would get some wrong points out of it. For example, he might think that traditional education is totally worthless and that any regular job is stupid. This is not what Robert Kiyosaki said exactly is the book, but it can be interpreted in this way by some people.

Can Robert Kiyosaki’s Book Help Everyone?

There are a few problems with the book that Robert Kiyosaki didn’t mention. His “poor” dad in Hawaii is not actually poor, according to the world’s standards, because Hawaii is a part of the United States (maybe not the most prosperous part, but still). It’s true that many of the ideas in the book are universal and they can be applied in many countries, but I don’t think that it’s fair to say that the conditions, the economic situation, infrastructure, and the financial environment are the same in all those 109 counters where this book is sold.

Another reason why this book doesn’t magically make people rich is that knowing all the main principles from there is not enough, you have to actually apply them in real life and do it every day, for the whole life. There are many smart people who know a lot, but to became financially successful you have to apply that knowledge and be willing to risk your current state to have a chance to achieve the next level. And, even if you do so, you might not succeed after all because there is always an element of luck involved.

➤ Read also: Why You Should Start Investing Early?

Also, you have to understand that “Rich Dad Poor Dad” is a very general book with broad ideas, it’s more like a self-help philosophy and motivation rather than a detailed guide on how to became wealthy. Robert says that you have to study boring accounting, but he doesn’t teach much of the accounting in the book, except for some very basic principles. So, to get the most out of the book you would have to learn more, much more, and read other books in a specific field you’re operating in. If it’s real estate - you should know everything about real estate business, if it’s another field - you have to master this field, etc. This book itself is not enough, it’s just the start of the journey.

Criticism

Recently, I came across an interesting article about the book written by Robert Farrington. He titled it nicely: “THE ULTIMATE HYPOCRITE”, and I have to admit, he has some valid points.

Firstly, as it turns out, there is no rich dad at all, Robert Kiyosaki made him up, which makes his book not a realistic story, but a fiction.

Secondarily, Robert Kiyosaki’s company went bankrupt quite recently. I remember that he mentioned somewhere that for a rich person “bankruptcy is just a tool/step” and it doesn’t mean that everything is going horribly in the business, it’s just a tactical move or something, but I don’t think that a bankruptcy is a good sign for a business, and especially for a business of someone who is teaching finance and investing.

Also, in 2012, Forbes found that Robert Kiyosaki never had any documentation of the wealth he supposedly amassed. Such criticism isn’t pleasant and it can damage the magical aura of the book but, in conclusion, I think that the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” is still a very good work that can help and motivate people to move towards a better life.

Conclusion

You don’t have to read Cashflow Quadrant, Rich Dad’s Prophecy, Rich Dad’s Success Stories, Rich Dad’s Escape from the Rat Race or any other Robert Kiyosaki’s books, but “Rich Dad Poor Dad” is worth reading.

If I had to rate this book now I would still give it a high mark of ★ 7 / 10

Have you noticed that rich people rarely publish books where they express their opinions on how they got rich? When we read a story or an article on “how to get rich” we often read it from a person whose job is to sell information (books, lectures, etc.).

Sure, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and other billionaires wrote some books too but they got rich before writing any books and not by selling the books on how to get rich. Somehow, they don’t say things like “you can do it too, anyone can”, instead they’re telling their personal stories from which you can extract some helpful lessons, but you’d probably realize that they are different people that lived under different conditions and you can’t just repeat their way step by step in order replicate their success.

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