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In which I grudgingly admit that Robert Kiyosaki may sometimes know what he is talking about

November 19, 2007

When he gives financial advice, I usually do not agree with Robert “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” Kiyosaki. He says things like this:

The 401(k) is the riskiest of all investments,” Kiyosaki tells his audience. “They tell you to diversify. I call it de-worse-ify.

He recommends investing in real estate as a better option to a 401(k). That does not make a whole lot of sense to me as those two investment products don’t really seem to be substitutes. I think his books oversimplify to a fault. Much of his personal financial success seems to come from finding products people want to buy, namely books and tapes and board games and seminars that give his simple investing ideas. I wonder how much of his personal wealth is directly from his own investment strategies and not from selling his products.

Turns out, Kiyosaki is probably a much better manager than he is financial guru. When he talks about effectively managing his own employees, I may have to admit Kiyosaki has some good ideas. In a recent Entrepreneur magazine article, he argues:

[W]e need to stop looking at employees from an Industrial Age point of view. In the Industrial Age, employees were rewarded for things like seniority. In the Information Age, seniority is death via obsolescence. In the Industrial Age, a senior employee had more experience. In the Information Age, experience can be a liability.

Later in the article he recounts a conversation he had with some of the younger employees at his firm. Kiyosaki argued that email was going to become obsolete someday, and they told him he was crazy:

The fact is, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m so obsolete that I don’t have an e-mail address. All I know is that e-mail will be obsolete, just as labor unions are obsolete and the idea of seniority is obsolete. I was challenging younger employees to predict their future by predicting their own obsolescence. By taking the conversation into the future, it brings two generations together: old guys like me and the young leaders of tomorrow.

As it turns out, Kiyosaki may be right. Slate details a study that shows teenage email use was down 8% from the previous year, even as email use across all age groups increased. Project this out to the future and in ten years, those teenagers will be a part of the professional workforce and may not have as heavy a reliance on email as our generation does. The workplace and the technology used will always evolve, and those who refuse to accept that things didn’t stop changing when they arrived are in for a big surprise.

With so many people who refuse to see that as the workforce changes, so do their expectations and the way the need to be managed, I am glad to see that Kiyosaki has embraced the idea.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Keri permalink
    November 20, 2007 10:32 am

    What form of communication is replacing it?

  2. November 20, 2007 10:39 am

    Instant messaging, text messaging, social networks like facebook and myspace, sites like twitter, all sorts of things.

  3. Keri permalink
    November 20, 2007 12:58 pm

    Well, that’s sort of the same thing in my book – e-mail, text, instant messaging. All typing messages. I guess that is an evolution as well. My parents would think they are night and day – I know this from trying to get my dad to use gchat while he’s at work so I can talk to him. I tried to explain that it is less intrusive, less time consuming, but faster than e-mail. Type as you are available, but keeps the entire conversation there for you – weird having to explain that. He said he can’t type very fast so he’d rather just talk to me – and this man loves the new gadgets. My mom doesn’t even use e-mail. My grandma, however, would prefer I e-mail her than call her because she’s always out and doesn’t have a cell phone.

    Odd how the generations have adapted.

  4. andy permalink*
    November 20, 2007 1:02 pm

    I’m just waiting for written language to be shunned in favor of the comeback of hieroglyphic style picture-words.

  5. November 20, 2007 1:11 pm

    I think that’s sort of his point. So many younger people see the technological changes as a one-time evolution. People are either on one side or another of a great technology divide. The truth is that it isn’t that static. Technology is still changing. I had to look up what Twitter was, which shows that I’m already not adapting as quickly as younger people are.

  6. andy permalink*
    November 20, 2007 2:05 pm

    When I first heard about Twitter, I stopped and thought “what the fuck is Twitter and why would anyone want this?”

    And I’m only 23.

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