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About Face

Bringing in help to grow? Beware of hidden agendas.

Years ago, when Steve Jobs recruited John Scully from Pepsi, Jobs asked him, "Do you want to change the world or sell sugar water to kids?" Scully moved to Apple and--almost immediately--fired Jobs. Apple's fortunes took a dive under Scully. Today, Jobs is back on top, and Apple is once again changing the world.

There's a saying that you'll repeat the lesson if you don't learn from your mistakes. Although I studied Jobs' mistake, I didn't learn the lesson and wound up hiring my own Scully. He, too, was swayed by my vision for changing the world. And like Mr. Sugar Water, once hired, our new leader asked the three founders of my company to leave the premises. Within a year, sales at The Rich Dad Company had plummeted. No new products were introduced. Expenses skyrocketed as he hired "senior management"--all with large salaries. The new executive team ceased almost all communications with the old company staff. A them vs. us culture began.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when my best and most loyal employees began to leave. When I questioned our new leader about the departures, he showed me a list of the next group of old staffers he was pressuring to leave. My partners and I agreed: It was time for a change.

I've made the same mistake several times in my business life: thinking that someone who went to business school or came from a large corporation had the skills and savvy to be an entrepreneur.

That reminds me of the age-old question: "Are entrepreneurs born or are they made?" I still don't know the answer. But what I do know is that if you're going to grow your business, you need to be careful about who you bring in to do the growing. Entrepreneurs and employees are very different people. Jobs is truly a model for success--and a model virtually any entrepreneur can follow in some way.

Today, nearly two years since the departure of our short-lived leader, The Rich Dad Company is back on top. We have new strategic alliances, including one with Donald Trump, and a show on PBS, as well as a new show and a Rich Dad franchise opportunity in the launch phases. Sales are up nearly 20 percent across all product lines, and expenses are down. Most important, morale is high again. Workers are happy. Why? Because we sharpened our focus on what's really important: serving those who want to learn through financial education.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the Rich Dad series of books, is an investor, entrepreneur and educator whose perspectives have changed the way people think about money and investing.


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This article was originally published in the August 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: About Face .

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