Would you like to know the real life identity of Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad? Kiyosaki kept it a closely guarded secret since the book Rich Dad Poor Dad was first published in 1997. Now, 20 years later, that book has become the best selling personal finance book of all time and its main character, Rich Dad, has emerged as the most influential financial adviser in history, changing the way millions of people look at the subject of money. And yet the author has never fully disclosed the identity of Rich Dad (although in a May 4, 2016 radio broadcast Kiyosaki interviewed Rich Dad's real life son Alan) and very few people know who the real life Rich Dad actually was. An estimated 27 million copies of all the Rich Dad book series are in print, in some 80 different languages and after reading, most people wonder to themselves, "Who was Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad?" You're about to find out.
Who was Rich Dad?
In the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, the author describes two very influential figures in his life; his highly educated biological father who worked in the education side of the government for the state of Hawaii but never amassed any wealth (Poor Dad) and his best friend Mike's father who dropped out of school at age 13 but through owning businesses and making savvy investments, became one of the richest men in Hawaii. Both "Dad" supposedly had similar income levels in the beginning of their careers but the difference was in how each thought about and dealt with the money they earned so eventually the businesses and investments Rich Dad owned catapulted him to becoming fabulously wealthy.
From books, speeches and interviews of the author, the following detailed description was compiled: Rich Dad lived just down the street from Kiyosaki in Hilo, HI, even having the same banker as Poor Dad. He work long hours building an empire of different businesses and investments that eventually included restaurants, a construction company, warehouses and a convenience store chain. He was six feet tall, weighed 200 pounds, was 5 years younger than Poor Dad and looked like Poor Dad only of a different ethic background. Rich Dad spent 3 years in the Army. Later in life, he gave lots of money to his church, to charities and to his foundation. In 1990, his son "Mike" (Kiyosaki purposefully provided a psuedo-name) took over Rich Dad's empire.
Controversy Over the Real Life Identity of Rich Dad
Once the book hit the New York Times best seller list, journalists began to descend upon the author. In an interview with Smart Money Magazine in 2002, when asked who his Rich Dad was, Kiyosaki replied, "Why don't you treat Rich Dad like Harry Potter?" This created a fire storm of controversy leading critics to believe that there was no real life Rich Dad, but instead he was a figment of Robert's creative imagination. Some critics even went so far as to demand the book be moved to the fiction side of the bookstore.
In a later interview with the Honolulu Advertiser Robert clarified that there was an actual person who was the original Rich Dad but others had also influenced the character created in his books. Then, in yet another interview on the topic, supposedly a journalist was given the contact information of one of the sons of the actual Rich Dad by Kiyosaki and this journalist spoke with a someone on a phone call that said that Rich Dad was his father but this call neither convinced the journalist of any authenticity and further that journalist had agreed not to disclose the phone number or the person he spoke with prior to the call.
That last interview was in 2003. Then, for another 13 years, nothing has been spoken about on this subject. Kiyosaki kept it a complete mystery citing a written agreement with the family of Rich Dad to keep him anonymous. Meanwhile, the general consensus is that Rich Dad is a completely made up character, a combination of all the influences in Kiyosaki's life and therefore Rich Dad was not actually a real person at all.
Initial Shock of the News
For fans of the Rich Dad books, the initial news that Rich Dad is a made up character would be quite shocking. It calls into question not only the advice of Rich Dad but also the integrity of the author as well. For die hard fans who were already aware of this topic, their typical response is so what, who cares, the majority of Rich Dad's advice is still really good, so move on. That's a valid argument. However, this Rich Dad character has made an impact on millions of people. Many have been inspired to start their own businesses or invest in real estate because of the advice Rich Dad supposedly gave to Kiyosaki. It hasn't been without its critics and certainly Kiyosaki himself has had his share of problems over the years, especially from the licensing of the Rich Dad brand to outside companies. Many wealth seekers have put their trust in Rich Dad's advice and fallen flat on their financial face. So whether good or bad, the impact of this Rich Dad has been enormous. If people are willing to turn their lives upside down, such as quitting their job to start a business, from reading the advice of Rich Dad, then identifying the real life Rich Dad seems like a reasonable pursuit.
Too Detailed to Be Completely Fake?
Many of the greatest fictional literary works in history were a combination of the author's brilliant imagination along with real life events or people that provided inspiration for that creativity. The incredible detail with which Kiyosaki has described Rich Dad over the past 18 years in books, speeches and interviews makes it very hard to believe that there wasn't at least one person in Hawaii that could have inspired this character. Kiyosaki has mentioned the teachings of Buckminster Fuller as having had a significant impact on his life, although he has also said Rich Dad was a capitalist and "Bucky" was a socialist, suggesting that these were two completely different people. Some have argued that Marshall Thurber was Rich Dad but a quick glance at his life reveals that this person's life and background would not inspire the creation of the Rich Dad character at all. The concepts in the Rich Dad series were also adapted from seminars taught by Keith Cunningham but he was the same age as Robert and they had worked together as well. So there is certainly a melting pot of different people in Kiyosaki's adult life that influenced him but none of them fit the bill for the real life Rich Dad.
There Really Was a Real Life Rich Dad
In 2009, a Hawaiian hotelier named Richard Wassman Kimi died, and the Honolulu Advertiser obituary read that, "Richard Kimi also enjoyed teaching and sharing his sales, marketing and business knowledge. One of his students was Robert Kiyosaki, author of the "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" books, who based his original "rich dad" on Kimi,' Alan Kimi said..."
Then, on May 4, 2016, Robert Kiyosaki himself conducted a Radio Show and interviewed Alan Kimi, confirming that Alan's dad was Kiyosaki's Rich Dad as well as confirming that a confidentiality agreement had been executed between Kiyosaki and Kimi as well as why the secrecy was so important to the Kimi family. In that radio broadcast, an interesting anecdote was how Robert almost declined his lifelong dream of appearing on the Oprah show because Oprah's producers demanded to know who the real life Rich Dad was. They eventually came to a suitable arrangement by having Alan Kimi talk to Oprah and her producers and confirm the identity and explain the importance of anonymity.
Richard Kimi was born February 3, 1925 and was the son of Territorial Senator William Kimi. Like many Hawaiians of Asian descent, he enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor was attacked. After the war, he worked in his family's business selling Army surplus goods but it wasn't turning a profit so he took the remaining unsold equipment and turned to construction. Him and his brothers built Kimiville, a low-rent housing project in Hilo. In the mid 1950s, he saw an opportunity to provide affordable hotel rooms for those arriving by boat and airplane into the small town of Hilo, HI. So despite the naysayers, he built the 30 room Hotel Hukilau to cater to the not-so-rich travelers to the big island of Hawaii. His budget conscious accommodations were a hit and he expanded, building Hukilau and Seaside hotels in Kona, Maui and Kaua'i, eventually buying the old Waikiki Biltmore hotel, now the site of the present day Hyatt Regency in Waikiki.
Kimi never wanted to build large hotels but instead wanted to serve local residents and those travelers that were on a budget. Richard was a pioneer in taking reservations via fax and tool free numbers. He was one of the first to put together air, room and car packages too. His organization Sand & Seaside Hotels is now run by his son Alan.
Alan recounted, "He always thought five to 10 years ahead," Alan Kimi said. "When we had meetings and said, 'This is what our quarter was and this is what our last six months were,' he said, 'I'm not interested. Just tell me five, 10 years what you guys are going to be doing.' We were really blessed to have him as a mentor."
For those who want to know the absolute truth behind Robert Kiyosaki, please read the following blog post which has compiled as meticulous of an account of Kiyosaki's life as you will find online. Inside the World of Robert Kiyosaki: The Full Rich Dad Poor Dad Story
There you have it, Robert Kiyosaki did have a real life Rich Dad and his name was Richard Kimi. He even had the word "Rich" in his first name!