By Robert T. Kiyosaki
There is a Need
Does school prepare children for the real world? “Study hard and get good grades and you will find a high-paying job with great benefits,” my parents used to say. Their goal in life was to provide a college education for my older sister and me, so that we would have the greatest chance for success inlife. When I finally earned my diploma in 1976-graduating with honors, and near the top of my class, in accounting from Florida State University-my parents had realized their goal. It was the crowning achievement of their lives. In accordance with the “Master Plan,” I was hired by a “Big 8” accounting firm, and I looked forward to a long career and retirement at an early age. My husband, Michael,followed a similar path. We both came from hard-working families, of modest means but with strong work ethics. Michael also graduated with honors, but he did it twice: first as an engineer and then from law school. He was quickly recruited by a prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm that specialized in patent law, and his future seemed bright, career path well-defined and early retirementguaranteed. Although we have been successful in our careers, they have not turned out quite as we expected. We both have changed positions several times-for all the right reasons-but there are no pension plans vesting on our behalf. Our retirement funds are growing only through our individual contributions. Michael and I have a wonderful marriage with three great children. As I write this, two are incollege and one is just beginning high school. We have spent a fortune making sure our children have received the best education available. One day in 1996, one of my children came home disillusioned with school. He was bored and tired of studying. “Why should I put time into studying subjects I will never use in real life?” he protested. Without thinking, I responded, “Because if you don’t get goodgrades, you won’t get into college.” “Regardless of whether I go to college,” he replied, “I’m going to be rich.” “If you don’t graduate from college, you won’t get a good job,” I responded with a tinge of panic and motherly concern. “And if you don’t have a good job, how do you plan to get rich?” My son smirked and slowly shook his head with mild boredom. We have had this talk many times before. Helowered his head and rolled his eyes. My words of motherly wisdom were falling on deaf ears once again. Though smart and strong-willed, he has always been a polite and respectful young man. “Mom,” he began. It was my turn to be lectured. “Get with the times! Look around; the richest people didn’t get rich because of their educations. Look at Michael Jordan and Madonna. Even Bill Gates, who droppedout of Harvard, founded Microsoft; he is now the richest man in America, and
he’s still in his 30s. There is a baseball pitcher who makes more than $4 million a year even though he has been labeled `mentally challenged.’ “ There was a long silence between us. It was dawning on me that I was giving my son the same advice my parents had given me. The world around us has changed, but the advicehasn’t. Getting a good education and making good grades no longer ensures success, and nobody seems to have noticed, except our children. “Mom,” he continued, “I don’t want to work as hard as you and dad do. You make a lot of money, and we live in a huge house with lots of toys. If I follow your advice, I’ll wind up like you, working harder and harder only to pay more taxes and wind up in debt.There is no job security anymore; I know all about downsizing and rightsizing. I also know that college graduates today earn less than you did when you graduated. Look at doctors. They don’t make nearly as much money as they used to. I know I can’t rely on Social Security or company pensions for retirement. I need new answers.” He was right. He needed new answers, and so did I. My parents’ advice...