2 Times I Knew I Finally Made It
In early 2000, I was in the Australian outback, far from civilization, on vacation with some friends, roughing it in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. It had taken me nearly a week to get to the remote campsite in Australia.
One evening, my satellite phone rang. It was my wife Kim, who was back home in Phoenix.
“Guess what?” she asked excitedly. “Oprah’s producer called, and Oprah wants you on her program in Chicago.”
“That’s great,” I replied. “But why me?”
“She wants to talk about your story and your book, Rich Dad Poor Dad.”
“That’s good,” I said. “Keep me posted.”
“She wants you on her program in a few days.”
“In a few days?” I moaned. “I just got here. Do you know how long it took me? Two days of flying and almost four days of driving. Can’t we schedule it for a later date?”
“No. We’ve worked really hard to answer all their questions. The producer even called rich dad’s son to verify that the story of your two dads was true. They’re excited, and they want you now.” Kim paused before continuing, “Don’t pass this up. Just turn around. You’ll have new tickets waiting for you at the Sydney airport.”
Six days later, I arrived in Chicago.
Oprah’s program was televised from her own studio, Harpo Productions. A lovely young assistant escorted me from the green room into the studio where Oprah’s adoring fans were already seated.
The room was electric. Oprah’s fans were anxiously awaiting her entrance. For a moment, I forgot why I was there. I forgot that I was about to be on television with the most powerful woman in show business. I knew her television viewership was estimated to be over 20 million people in the United States alone, with syndication in over 150 countries around the world.
Gazing around, I saw two chairs in the middle of the stage. I thought to myself, “I wonder who the second chair is for?” My heart froze as I realized… the second chair was for me!
The room suddenly erupted with applause as Oprah took the stage. She was much more impressive in real life. After she said a few words to the studio audience and her television viewers, the assistant gently took my elbow and said softly, “Let’s go.”
I took a breath and thought to myself, “It’s too late to start practicing.” An hour later, the program was over. The crowd applauded, and Oprah said good-bye to the world. Once the television cameras were turned off, she turned to me, pointed, smiled, and said, “Rich dad, I just sold you a million copies of your book.”
An early Sunday afternoon in 2005, tens of thousands of people were attending a large real estate expo in Chicago. The convention hall was filled with exhibits and displays of wealth-building investments and opportunities. In smaller classrooms, instructors are sharing their knowledge about how the attendees can build their own personal fortunes. The cavernous hall was filled with a buzz that is contagious. People are excited about what they are learning and how they can alter their financial destinies.
Backstage, in the large room where the production crews were working, there was a different excitement. It was a quiet, electric excitement. A long, black limousine pulled up and people began to whisper, “He’s here! Donald Trump has arrived.”
Donald Trump walked between the two lines of admirers, smiling and nodding. It was a greeting reserved for royalty or heads of state. If it had been Hollywood, a red carpet would have been ordered.
The door of the green room opened. Those who can peek in see that Donald is talking to reporters.
Donald Trump emerged from the green room and walked over to where I am standing.
Donald turned to me and says, “Hello again. You’re introducing me?” I nod in response.
“Great, I see you’re still on The New York Times best-seller list:’ says Donald. “That’s amazing.”
Then he lowers his voice just a notch. “I want to talk to you about something. Have you got the time right now?”
“Of course,” I reply.
“You’re the number one personal-finance author, and I’m the number one business author. We should do a book together. What do you think?”
Stunned by the offer, I am speechless. Finally, I recover and feebly reply, “Great idea. Let’s do it.”
Knowing that Donald doesn’t care to shake hands, I risk extending my hand to see if he is serious about this book idea. He is, and we shake. Donald then turns to Keith, his imposing bodyguard, and says, “Give Robert my card.”
The Reality of the Handshake Set In
After a few weeks and working through many details. We finally had a meeting with Donald Trump himself to work on our book, Why We Want You to Be Rich.
Most people consider me to be very successful. I have made and lost millions of dollars following the principles chat I share in the Rich Dad books. But standing in front of Trump Tower the day we arrived for the book meeting, I suddenly realized how far I had come. It was an incredible feeling.
Millions of people knew “the Donald” as the tough guy who says, “You’re fired” at the end of the television show The Apprentice.
I’ve been asked often if he’s that gruff in real life. The answer is yes. My experience with Donald is that he’s being real whether he’s on camera or off. He never pretends to be Donald Trump. He is Donald Trump.
We wrote the book together because we were concerned with the collapse of the middle-class in America.
We stated that bad investments and mismanagement of our government were destroying the lives of many people. We wrote about the coming economic crisis and what people could do to not be victims of the crisis. We wrote about inflation making the lives of millions of people more difficult. And we endorsed the idea of financial education as one way to get out of the crisis.
I gained more than just recognition and credibility. I also became a better businessman and a better person just from working with Donald.
Here Are a Few of the Ways that Knowing Donald has Enriched My Life
- I got tougher. I know many people don’t like Donald because he comes across as a tough guy. That’s their problem. In spending time with him, I realized that I wasn’t as successful as I could be simply because I wasn’t tough enough. As a businessman, I often didn’t say what I wanted to say because I was afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, or of having my feelings hurt. Instead of being forthright, I would be polite.
- I became kinder and more respectful. One of my problems is that I’m very impatient and get angry too quickly. I believe Donald can be the same. Yet I saw him be patient, kind, and respectful in many situations that would have caused me to lose my patience.
When I asked him about this trait, he simply said, “One of the most important lessons my parents taught me was to treat all people with respect, even if I’m angry with them.” Today, in my dealings with people, I do my best to treat all people with respect — especially if I’m angry at them. Although I haven’t always been successful, I believe I’ve become a little kinder as a result.
- I got richer. My wife, Kim, and I have more than enough money. We consider ourselves rich. When we entered Donald’s world, however, we saw a whole new level of rich.
There’s a difference between being a millionaire and a billionaire. The Trump lifestyle— the penthouse, mansion, limos, and 727—gave me a firsthand glimpse into his world, and I began to understand why he constantly talks about thinking big. Just being around him, I began to think bigger and richer. I set my sights on becoming a billionaire and began redesigning my business to become a billion-dollar business. Today, I constantly remind my staff that my job is to make them millionaires — and their job is to make me a billionaire.
- I became less petty. One day, during a meeting in Donald’s office, I was complaining about someone we were doing business with. I didn’t like the way we were being treated. When I asked Donald about this person and voiced my concerns, he simply said, “Don’t be so petty. Sometimes you have to do business with people you don’t like. It doesn’t mean you have to be like them or like them.” From that, I learned to think bigger and, more importantly, to know the difference between paying attention to details and being petty.
- I was reminded of the value of collaboration and partnership, as well as the value of loyalty. I saw this repeatedly as we developed the concept for our book, discovered our shared concerns and our passion for teaching, and shared the stage for dozens of media interviews. Getting on Larry King Live and The Today Show is easy for Donald, but in booking a few of these interviews he insisted that we get equal billing. And when a show host mispronounced my name, Donald jumped in to correct him on national television. These simple acts spoke volumes.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily