Monday, October 15, 2012

She left out the part about encouraging you to get your family to risk their finances by co-signing your loans

But other than that, Helaine Olen pretty much nails it.
Robert Kiyosaki, author of the bestselling Rich, Dad, Poor Dad series of financial advice books, is offering his fans yet another lesson in how the rich are different than you and me: they file for bankruptcy not because of ill health or unemployment related issues, but instead as a strategic business move.

Rich Global LLC, one of the corporate arms Kiyosaki has done business under, filed for bankruptcy protection in August, after it was ordered to pay just under $24 million to the Learning Annex and its chairman Bill Zanker.

Kiyosaki was one of the small-time wealth guru mountebanks who made it to the big-time in the aughts by telling his forever falling behind audience that they could get ahead, they just had not learned how. The shtick behind the Rich Dad books was that Kiyosaki was sharing secret money-making strategies of the wealthy with his wage slave readers. The tips ran the gamut from ridiculous to illegal and downright hurtful and included advocating for insider trading, arguing for the purchase of multiple real estate properties with little or no money down and telling followers they could purchase stocks on margin via unfunded brokerage accounts.
Kiyosaki is among the worst but he's not all that unrepresentative. If you feel up to it, the next time you're in a big bookstore take some time to browse the business section. Here and there, you'll find something interesting and intelligent or at least, helpful, but for the most part you'll encounter three profoundly embarrassing genres:

 1. The you-too-can-be-rich books like Rich Dad, which tend to target the financially vulnerable and deliver, more often than not, ruinous advice;

2. The guru books. These are predominantly buzzword-rich seminar fodder in the Tom Peters mode with the occasional pseudo-profound business fable thrown in (and no, I didn't make up the term 'business fable'). These are less sleazy than the first category (they primarily target people who are already in business rather than the desperate and dunemployed), but the advice is not that much better and their cost to society may be greater. Directly and indirectly, American business wastes a tremendous amount of money and what might otherwise be productive man-hours on these bozos.

3. The be-like-me books, where someone with a completely inapplicable success story tries to convince you that you can somehow get similar results by following his or her lead. These are probably the least harmful of the bunch. They can also provide some of the most amusing examples.


  1. I think you miss category #4, which is some variation on "spend less than you earn", often broken into a large number of steps. Also of marginal value but rarely actively harmful.

    1. I may have sold the helpful category short. Writers like Suzie Orman give some good advice about finances, but it is worth noting that they often have to be better salesman than the frauds if they want anyone to take that advice.