Six years ago I entered my first contest. Winning it changed my life. I spent most of my professional career working as an accountant and though I was successful--I worked for big companies such as Price Waterhouse Cooper--it wasn't my passion. The work was boring. My duties were repetitive. The hours were long. As a single woman centering my world on a job seemed like second nature, but then, as life often does, my situation changed. First, I got legal custody of my niece and then I got married. My time wasn't just mine; it was my family's. I needed to use it more effectively. While I was pregnant with my second child I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. Then it dawned on me: I desired freedom. My time was my most valuable asset and I had to figure out how to spend less of it at a 9 to 5. Around this time my husband and I also started looking for our first home. He wanted a multi-unit, but I wasn't sold on it. I yearned for a single-family house-you know the picket fence ideal. My husband, a small business owner, broke down a simple concept to me: A single family home is a liability. If one of the owner's can't work the house is in jeopardy. A multi-unit has a stream of revenue that offers financial flexibility. I realized that being a savvy business school graduate wasn't the same as understanding how money worked. So I started to do some research. I came across Rich Dad, Poor Dad
by Robert Kiyosaki and was transformed. My eyes opened to how debt-riddled most people were. I committed myself to learning and implementing one concept from each of the money books I read. For example, I started paying myself first, which means sacking away savings each time I received any income. Another example is learning how to identify a liability versus an asset. However, I think the most important gem I received was learning how to program myself to find the money to pay for basic liabilities, or expenses, before purchasing them. My passion for financial independence was so strong that I submitted an essay for a contest at the Learning Annex in New York City. The prize was a one-year mentorship with Robert Kiyosaki and his team. I won. It was a hard time for me because I had a one-year old and a newborn baby--but I made it work. I talked to Robert once a month and also corresponded with his team. The best part of the experience was visiting the Kiyosaki estate in Arizona. My husband and I spent the day with the family; they gave us a tour of their properties and hosted us at a Diamondbacks (an MLB team) game--we all sat in the VIP section with the team owners. Throughout the whole experience Robert and his team stressed the importance of understanding how money works and learning how to build relationships. During that year Robert's team helped my husband and I form our corporation. They also shared invaluable insight on how to expand our businesses (a property management and vending machine company). Rubbing elbows with truly wealthy people exposed me to a different type of existence. They aren't flashy. They aren't all born into riches. They aren't geniuses. They simply understand how money works. Now I do, too. Here are three of Robert's tips that changed my perspective on life and wealth:
- Your income is the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
- Surround yourself with people you want to be like.
- Don't be intimidated by smart or successful people; they're usually willing to teach.