Myth Dad, Pyramid Son

On a recent road trip I listened to four audiobooks. One is overrated, another poorly written and ignorant (conflation of mathematical proof and statistical confidence was most galling to me, but there’s plenty to go around), another well written and wrongheaded. The fourth isn’t exactly any of those things (apart from overrated), but then it didn’t feel much like a book. More like a book adaptation of an infomercial, read aloud.

That would be , a garrulous stream of self-help cliches, financial pep talks, tall tales, and pitches for other books and products. (I may have listened to another book in the series–I gather they’re all pretty similar, and I heard tiresome stories of “Rich Dad” in any case.) Author has the annoying habit of presenting the obvious as deep wisdom (e.g., “everything has a price”, now that was new to me) along with obvious lies (I completely lost respect for the enterprise when Kiyosaki quoted “Rich Dad” as saying that one can consistently obtain 20% to 50% returns at low risk).

It turns out that “Rich Dad” is probably made up. Apparently the most specific answer (and telling) answer Kiyosaki has given regarding the identity of Rich Dad is “Is Harry Potter real? Why don’t you let Rich Dad be a myth, like Harry Potter?”

So that covers myth, what about pyramid? Apparently Kiyosaki got his start with pyramid organization . He seems to have learned well, for Kiyosaki’s franchise of selling products that offer little more than selling Kiyosaki and his products would (do?) make perfect fodder for network sales.

It is possible a liar and network marketer could have valuable and unique insights, but Kiyosaki doesn’t seem to present any. I don’t hold being an excellent salesperson against him, indeed I think selling is undersold, but then he doesn’t advise people to learn or earn by selling, as far as I can tell.

I wasn’t going to write about Kiyosaki, but was inspired to by reading links posted by Jim Lippard on Kiyosaki today (I did not previously know that “Rich Dad” is a fabrication).

My theory is that Kiyosaki is an excellent salesperson and many who read his books and perhaps have never thought about money before or have, and are dense or frustrated, take his cliches as amazing insight. Take this from a commenter on one of the posts Lippard links to:

As mentioned, defining wealth as how long you can live without working was a new way of thinking of things for me. In 10 years of Money Magazine subscriptions, I’ve read a billion different mutual funds articles, but nothing about generating or even measuring passive income.

Think of things in terms of assets vs. liabilities was a new concept to me.


I don’t have a theory explaining why anyone smarter than me would find anything valuable in Kiyosaki.

I wrote a distantly related post on real restate returns in September, 2005.

25 Responses

  1. Gordon Mohr says:

    Kiyosaki has also somehow insinuated himself into PBS pledge drives, which now feature barely-disguised infomercials from him and various other self-help hucksters.

  2. Gordon Mohr says:

    Also regarding the ‘well-written but wrongheaded’ Bait and Switch: there’s a really good refutation of Ehrenreich’s outlook in her earlier Nickled and Dimed in a 2004 issue of Liberty, How To Be Poor.

  3. gurdonark says:

    I’m always intrigued which of the “get wealthy” gurus will achieve best-seller status. I see a fair number of “here’s a sensible investment regime which will,with middle-class income, lead one to a reasonably risk-adjusted chance of prosperity by retirement” which, though workable and
    sound, sit unread, while “Your inner spiritual calling is to be rich” type works flourish. Financial materials, like pop songs, seem to need “hooks” to sell, and yet the best bubble-gum hook is rarely the best pop song.

    Perhaps one can earn 20 to 50% returns in places with 3rd world inflation, ignoring real return. It’s all about one’s assumptions :).

  4. Why not pledge time all the time? No more expensive programming, just infomercial-like material pitched using bigger words and with a portion of proceeds going to charity, so as to flatter and retain the smug (and above average income) audience?

    gurdonark, good analogy (first paragraph), and very funny (second).

  5. “he doesn’t advise people to learn or earn by selling, as far as I can tell.” I don’t remember what was in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, but “Guide to Investing” certainly emphasizes the value of learning to sell. He says he got a lot out of learning to sell at Xerox, and recommends sales as a good place to start for would-be entrepeneurs.

    What do I have configured wrong in Blogger so I don’t hear about blog posts that link to mine? I only saw this linkback because I read your blog. (In following the links I noticed a couple of older posts that also link to my previous Real Estate blogging.)

    These books are shelved in non-fiction because they are advice, not because they are history. I don’t treat the advice from Kiyosaki’s rich dad as being more authoritative than the rest of what Kiyosaki writes. I assume the stories have been changed for didactic purposes. What’s the problem with that?

  6. Glad to hear Kiyosaki tells readers to learn to sell.

    I don’t know that Blogger notifies of incoming links, though I’ve only set up a couple test blogs there. Incoming links can be displayed in a blogger template. Presumably your blog predates that feature, so you’d need to add something to your template or upgrade to the “new” blogger, which is quite a bit slicker.

    Changed, of course, there’s always editing. Made up is a different story.

  7. Len T. says:

    Make 20-50% on real estate? Sure. Buy a $100,000 property with 20% down that appreciates at the national average of 6%. $6,000 divided by $20,000 equals 30%. Many people are doing that in their sleep (literally). Commit yourself to becoming a little educated about the subject, like you did to prepare for the work that you do every day, and it’s reasonable to expect to do even better. Learn how to buy more of those properties, and how to get the cash out to live on, and still keep the properties. A good place to start might be the book, “Equity Happens” by Helms and Gray. I, along with hundreds of others, learned how to apply the principles taught in the book. Our results are living proof that they work. Len T.

  8. Len T., where are you getting an $80k loan at 0%?

  9. Len T., and how are you avoiding transaction costs, maintenance and property taxes?

  10. Ben Tremblay says:


    Ohhhhh thank you. It hasn’t been an easy day. It’s been a good day, but not easy. Ending it with a good chuckle (Truth: I’m still laughing out loud!) is a real pleasure.

    thanks for this

    “Buy low; sell high!” … 25c please.

  11. gagan says:

    Rich dad poor dad is a simple book. but explains some things which every one should know . Its popularity proves it , has been a best seller. Even Kiyosaki is known all over as a successful man. Its not a an investment guide or anything like that . Network marketing is one of the many ways to get a residual income . I see nothing wrong in network marketing , its a very powerful business model .

  12. Kana says:

    gagan, popularity doesn’t prove anything. If it did, Paris Hilton would actually be a person of significance and not the waste of air, space and time that she is. I actually enjoyed RDPD for its anecdotes. Curious that if it is “not…an investment guide or anything like that”, why is it stocked in the investment section of the bookstore?

  13. I like pseudo intellectuals and critics says:

    Mike said:


    I don’t have a theory explaining why anyone smarter than me would find anything valuable in Kiyosaki.

    I say: Nothing personal, but you are a PERFECT example of an arrogant pseudo intellectual. I am not a pro kiyosaki, nor am I against him. But that is the lamest and most arrogant thing I have ever read in my entire life. Again, nothing personal. =)

    P.S. I enjoy reading works of pseudo intellectuals. They are quite funny.
    And this is the most hilarious thing I have ever read. LOL

  14. Writer says:


    I agree completely!!

    pseudo: not genuine but having the appearance of


  15. I like…/Writer:

    You could at least use different IP addresses if you want to have a pretend conversation.

    In any case if I wrote the lamest, most arrogant and most hilarious thing you have ever read, thank you very much! One would have to try very hard to write something so extraordinary.

  16. Nothing personal Mike says:

    It wasn’t pretend. I let my little bro read it and let him write. We were just having fun picking on you. If I WAS pretending a conversation I at least would wait weeks later so I could attempt to fool you.haha =)
    But dude, really I have nothing against you.
    I even agreed with the other things you said and you are OK. But that statement is just plain arrogant, you know. In case you missed it, I just thought you should know. I’m not trying to make you look bad or anything.
    Anyways, take care Mike.

  17. Nothing personal Mike says:

    To everyone if you feel let down by opinions, I only have one thing to say.
    Go to and read reviews on rich dad poor dad.

  18. But Then One says:


    personally I think the problem is this. The book is inspirational, NOT technical. People are saying RDPD has no value well of course! It MOSTLY brings inspiration to the average person. And THAT is valuable. How many best-selling technical books out there can create this kind of drive for an average person to study investing? How many did John T Reed inspire to establish financial education? Though, I believe he writes substantial technical books.

    He inspires us to look where we are and choose our own path.

    He just encourages financial education. He still values professional education.

    Please respect the family’s decision not to expose the identity of Rich Dad. If I was rich dad I probably wouldn’t let anyone know me. Why would anyone want that much publicity?

    I think he does not undervalue risks. There is always risks. One is risky, the other is not risky but both still has risk. And obviously having financial education is MUCH LESS RISKY, than having none.

    He prefers to teach, which I think is more satisfying to him btw, instead of solely continuing his career. What’s wrong with that?

    Just look at the testimonies of people who gained from that book. I see a lot. I personally know living testimonies. Never mind the opinions of those who misunderstands the purpose of the book.

  19. raskolnik says:


    I don’t have a theory explaining why anyone smarter than me would find anything valuable in Kiyosaki.

    kiyosaki has a name for people like you. go find it! you’ll find it valuable

  20. In my opinion after reading RDPD and The cashflow quadrant, they’re excellent motivational books. After reading them though, I had some suspicions that “Rich Dad” was a fictional character. After some searching on the net about Kiyosaki, my suspicions were definitely confirmed. Initially, it’s a little annoying that we’re being lied to about “Rich Dad”. It’s also a bit annoying that nobody can confirm any of his real estate transactions, nor any of his corporations that he says that he started with his friends and investing partners. he does appear to be a fraud regarding his true past.
    However, his books do stimulate financial thinking and motivation, along with pushing the basic concept of “attaining money making assets that bring you an income” instead of “working for the man”. As a small business owner myself, I can attest to some of his thinking and support his ideas of “building financial intelligence” and “getting out of the rat race and getting on the fast track.

  21. Mike Miller says:

    I’d like to know if Robert Kiyosaki ever was a distributor for Amway or Quixtar. He has lots of cds endorsing Quixtar and other network marketing companies. That doesn’t mean he ever sold products. I’ve heard from two different blogs saying he got his wealth from Amway, I’d like to see his compensation for training Amway people versus his compensation for selling the rich dad name. He constantly talks about how he endorses the educational team part of network marketing and what it can do for building residual income. If anyone has any truthful information please let me know.

  22. gubmintmole says:

    I’ve always heard all the testimonials of RDPD, and read some of RK’s boasts about how he made so much money in real estate, but NO WHERE have I ever read a step by step description of HOW he searched for the property, how he financed the property, how he sold the property, etc.

    If he really did all this stuff in the past, why not share specific examples?

  23. Dan says:

    Mike is on the money. The fact that the book is “inspirational” is no excuse. In many cases, it will “inspire” folks to do all they can to follow the steps laid out by Kiyosaki — which are non-specific, overly optimistic, and in some cases border on unethical and illegal. His book (which I’ve read on the advice of family and friends) reads like an instruction manual with very little consideration of the prevailing economic environment at that time that these “deals” are supposed to be undertaken. As an informed reader, I have nothing against Kiyosaki — because I’m not foolish enough to fall for his advice. But I am deeply offended and concerned about those folks who take his advice without true understanding of its impact.

    A fantastic salesperson with a poor product is a dangerous combination.


  24. Assume=Ass-You-Me says:

    “but then he doesn’t advise people to learn or earn by selling, as far as I can tell.”

    This shows why people like you never get anywhere and start up hater blog posts about people who are far more successful than you’ll ever be.

    He worked for Xerox to learn how to sell, just as his Rich Dad advised him. Maybe if you had the balls to ask him for an interview, stop by the Rich Dad offices, or even read his books, you would’ve already saved yourself from this false and embarassing assumption.

    And he never worked for Amway you idiot.

    Would love to compare your financial statement to his. He makes more money from his real estate and oil & gas partnerships than he does from the Rich Dad company.

    Gets your facts straight before making an ass out of yourself.

  25. Zeke says:

    I commented here when I was a young and crazy teenager under the name “gagan”. Reading my comments again, I can’t believe how stupid and unreasonable I was. That was my reaction with my first encounter of criticism about the first book I loved.

    Now I really do see how unrealistic and misleading the book is.

    Thankfully, I’ve read a lot more books such as The 7 Irrefutable Laws of Small Business Growth and The E-Myth Revisited. I now consider criticism really useful in selecting the books I’ll read in the future. I simply hope I’d be able to discern good criticism from bad.

    Thank you for writing this article years ago and for your response.

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