Sunday, October 22, 2006

Action vs. Analysis

Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump have written a book on how to get rich. While both are very successful at making money, the Wall Street Journal was not impressed with the book:

The book, however, doesn't suggest conventional solutions. According to the introduction, saving money is "obsolete and bad financial advice" and "the 401(k) savings plan will not be adequate for approximately 80 percent of all workers." ....

Mr. Kiyosaki stresses that mutual funds are risky, while building your own business can be a predictable path to prosperity. Yet he also notes that 90% of start-up businesses fail within the first five years.

When I ask Mr. Kiyosaki about this apparent contradiction, he responds that starting a business isn't risky if you know what you're doing. "Most small-business owners have no financial education when they started," he says. "They weren't trained to be entrepreneurs."

Halfway through the book, all this talk about entrepreneurship gets particularly puzzling. Mr. Kiyosaki says that, in 1996, he started an oil company, a gold-mining company and a silver-mining company. The oil company failed, which would seem to be a sign of risk.

In the next paragraph, however, he writes that, "While there was some risk [in launching these companies], to me it was very little. I could mitigate the risk simply because I know we all use -- consume -- oil and gas."
It is likely that good instincts make a good businessman and Mr. Kiyosaki and Mr. Trump undoubtedly have these. The ability to organize thoughts into a coherent philosophy is separate skill, one that is apparently not their strong point.

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