'Rich Dad' author visits Thunderbird to teach Afghan women

October 17, 2008

Entrepreneurs who think of their business as their job have the wrong mindset and risk burnout, co-author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” Sharon Lechter told a group of Afghan women entrepreneurs Oct. 16 at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz. Lechter, who is a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, taught a full-day class on finance to the women who came to Thunderbird for two weeks of intensive business education through a program called Project Artemis.

“Many of us think of our business as our job,” Lechter said. “I want you to reprogram that. Your business is not your job. Your business is an asset, and that asset can grow and give you financial freedom.”

Lechter said that entrepreneurs who see their business as a job tend to become overwhelmed when the daily pressures mount. “They get tired,” she said.

That’s because having a job is fundamentally different from owning a business. People who roll out of bed every morning and go to work don’t get paid when they stop showing up. Instead, they work for their employer so they can pay their bills. They work for their banker so they can pay their loans. And they work for the government so they can pay their taxes.

A business, meanwhile, can grow as an asset and generate income for a person even when that person decides to stay home or do something else.

“The only time you’re really working for yourself is when you’re working for an asset,” Lechter said. “That’s why we teach people to start businesses — because your business is the asset, not you.”

She said this understanding guided her when she self-published “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” in 1997 with co-author Robert Kiyosaki. As the book grew into a bestseller, the authors continued to reinvest their profits until $5,000 became $5 million in one year. Today, the book has been translated into 51 languages in 110 countries, and more than 28 million copies have been sold worldwide.

Lechter, a certified public accountant, spent the day at Thunderbird teaching the Afghan women the basics of financial strategy and accounting. She was joined by Diane Kennedy, another accountant who wrote “Loopholes of the Rich.”

Thunderbird launched Project Artemis in 2005 as a way to help Afghan women provide for their families and benefit the Afghan economy. Each woman who participates in the program is assigned a Thunderbird alumna as a mentor. These mentors help the Project Artemis graduates apply their Thunderbird training when they return to Afghanistan. The 2008 Project Artemis class includes 14 fellows. The group includes an Afghan architect, two doctors and several small-business owners. Follow the progress of the women in a daily blog.