Advice for Teens: Everyone is a genius at something. Discover your own type of intelligence and learning styles and find your own road to success.
Little Brown for Young Readers
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Financial Intelligence: A New Way of Learning
You Are Smart
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: You are smart! I wanted to make sure you know that from the very beginning. When I was growing up, my dad always told me that everyone is born smart—that every child has a special kind of genius. I loved that idea. Even though I didn’t always do well in school, I kind of knew the reason didn’t have to do with me. I wasn’t stupid. I just learned in a different way than the way teachers in school expected me to.
My father taught me to have a good attitude about learning. He taught me to find my best way of learning. If I hadn’t done that, I might have flunked out of high school or college. I probably wouldn’t have been prepared for my financial life. And I wouldn’t have had the confidence to be who I am today.
We all learn differently. The trick is to find the way you learn best. When you do that, you’ll discover your own personal genius.
A genius is someone who excels at something. But a genius isn’t necessarily good at everything. In fact, a genius usually has a special ability in one area while being pretty average in others.
Did you know that Albert Einstein, who thought up the theory of relativity (E=mc2), never did well in school? He wasn’t good at memorizing things, yet he grew up to become one of the greatest mathematical thinkers of all time. His brain focused on ideas rather than facts. Facts, he said, could be found in books, so he never felt the need to keep facts in his head. He wanted his head clear to think creatively.
School asks us to keep facts in our head, but when we’re out of school, we usually just need to know where the facts are kept so we can look them up or know whom to call when we need them!
The way our performance is measured in school has very little to do with how intelligent we really are or how successful we can be. The way we perform in school is usually just a measure of how well we take tests! It’s not a true measure of the genius you were born with.
Everyone Is Born a Genius
Take out your notebook again and write a list of people you know. Try to get to twenty names. Include people from school, family members, even teachers. Put your name at the top of the list. Next to each name write down what that person is good at, no matter what it is. Do you have a friend who can’t sit still and is always tapping his foot to some beat that’s inside his head? Write that down. Can your sister do the crossword puzzle in ten minutes using a pen without even once glancing at the dictionary? Write that down, too. Can you fix almost any computer problem? Put it in the book. This exercise helps you do a couple of things. It’s the first time in your financial journey where you’ll be asked to try to see something that you didn’t see before—to look at something in a new way. Seeing talents in others you hadn’t really recognized leads you to see your own talents. Knowing what your strengths are is one step toward success. Knowing how to detect other people’s strengths is also a great skill, since creating a solid, reliable team is critical if you plan to build a business or be an investor someday.
The Myth of IQ and Intelligence
I remember that every once in a while in school, we’d have days when we were given all sorts of tests. The tests were described as “standardized.” I was always puzzled by that idea. Every person is unique, so why were we all being evaluated in a cookie-cutter kind of way? The truth is that no two people are alike.
Later I found out that the tests were measuring our IQ, which stands for “intelligence quotient.” An IQ number is supposed to represent a person’s ability to learn facts, skills, and ideas. But a person’s IQ really boils down to this: It’s a number that shows the relationship between a person’s “mental age” (as measured on a standardized test) and his or her chronological (real) age. Then this number is multiplied by 100 and the result is your IQ. When I was growing up, people thought that an IQ stayed the same for a person’s whole life. How limiting! Fortunately, that thinking is changing.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of reading and research about intelligence, especially about the way people learn. IQ can relate to academics, but it can also relate to other things, like sports. When I was young, I had a high baseball IQ. My friend Andy had a very high academic IQ. Andy had an easier time learning in school because he learned by reading. I learned by doing something first and reading about it later. One formula worked for Andy, and another one worked for me. We each developed our own winning formula.
Everyone Has a Special Learning Style
In those IQ tests in school, only one type of intelligence was being measured: a person’s aptitude, or talent, for words. But what if someone’s not a word person? I don’t especially like to read, so does that mean that I am stuck with a low IQ? Today, the answer is no. In 1983, a psychologist named Howard Gardner published a book called Frames of Mind (Basic Books). In it, he describes seven different types of intelligence, not just one. He also argues that people’s IQ can change.
Dr. Gardner’s list of intelligences, which he also calls learning styles, has created a new road map for learning new skills and information, whether it’s rocket science, threading a needle, or financial literacy.
What’s Your Learning Style?
Take a look at this list. As you read it, think about what methods best describe your learning style. Circle the number that matches up for each of the learning styles: 1 is least like you and 5 is most like you.
This is not a test. I repeat: This is not a test! There’s no good or bad answer or high or low score. This is just a way to think about how you learn most comfortably.
• Verbal-linguistic intelligence If you always have a book tucked in your backpack, circle 5. This type of intelligence has to do with reading, writing, and language. It’s also called being “word smart.”
1 2 3 4 5
• Numerical intelligence If you’re one of those people who can do a math problem in your head, circle 5. This intelligence is found in people who easily grasp data and numbers. They’re also usually calm and rational thinkers.
1 2 3 4 5
• Spatial intelligence If doodling helps you listen in class, or if you’re always seeing things that you’d like to photograph, circle 5. This intelligence is used to see patterns, designs, and space—and is found in many artists, architects, and choreographers who can visualize a two- or three-dimensional object or event and make it real.
1 2 3 4 5
• Musical intelligence Are you tapping a pencil or drumming your fingers right now? Head for the number 5. This type of intelligence is especially tuned in to sounds, rhythm, and rhymes.
1 2 3 4 5
• Physical intelligence If you love PE in school, or if your room looks like a sporting-goods store, you’re physically intelligent—someone with awareness of how to use your body well, like many athletes and dancers.
1 2 3 4 5
• Interpersonal intelligence Do friendships seem effortless to you (mark 5) or endlessly complicated (mark 1)? Do you always (or never) know what your friends are thinking—or are you somewhere in between? Mark it down. This intelligence refers to the way someone gets along with other people, which is also called “being people smart.”
1 2 3 4 5
• Intrapersonal intelligence If interpersonal intelligence is “being people smart,” intrapersonal intelligence is “being self-smart,” or self-aware. It’s also called emotional intelligence, because it relates to the way you handle your emotions, such as fear and anger. Do you understand your own reactions to difficult situations and can you control them? Do you think before you talk back? Are you patient with your own shortcomings and do you take care of your self-esteem?
1 2 3 4 5
Recently Dr. Gardner has come up with an eighth intelligence:
• Natural Intelligence describes a person’s sensitivity to the world around him or her. If you enjoy being outdoors every weekend or are involved in school or community groups working for the environment, circle 5.
1 2 3 4 5
I’ve talked a lot with a psychologist who taught innovative learning at Arizona State University about various learning styles and how they help us achieve personal and financial success. Listening to her thoughts, I’ve added one more intelligence:
• Vision is what determines who will be a leader and who will be a follower. Great leaders can see how a situation will play out and take action in response. Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England during World War II, was one of the world leaders who was against the Nazis from the start. It’s as if he could see the terrible things that would happen if they stayed in power. Those of you with crystal balls, mark 5.
1 2 3 4 5
Do you notice a pattern to your numbers? Where did you rank yourself highest?
If you ranked yourself a 4 or 5 in verbal-linguistic intelligence, it’s likely that you are comfortable with reading and writing as tools for learning. If you ranked yourself a 4 or 5 in physical, musical, or natural intelligences, it’s possible that you may have great success in “learning by doing”—using on-the-job training such as internships or being involved in school and community clubs. If you ranked yourself a 4 or 5 in spatial or numerical intelligences, you may benefit from learning through drawing, making charts and diagrams, building models, or working with your hands. If you ranked yourself a 4 or 5 in interpersonal or verbal-linguistic intelligences or vision, you may learn best by talking with friends or grown-ups about their experiences, by debating, or by performing. You’ll find your intrapersonal intelligence useful in any type of training, since it will help you maintain your patience and self-esteem in the face of challenges.
It’s also possible that you ranked yourself high in several areas. That means that you’ll be comfortable with “mixing and matching” different activities that work with your learning styles.
But what if you didn’t rank yourself high in any area? Are you doomed? Not at all. This exercise was designed to help you start to think about how you think. People who think about the future, who have “vision,” for example, are likely to become good business leaders. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are now. If you don’t feel you have vision now, don’t panic. You can “pump up” any area if you’re determined to exercise your brain, just like Rich Dad told me to do when I was a kid.
If you’re stronger in one area than others, there’s a lot you can do to balance out. Here are some suggestions. What other ideas can you come up with?
• Talk about money at home and with your friends to develop your verbal-linguistic and interpersonal intelligences.
• Read about it! Lots of magazines about money and finance show how money works in real life, rather than in textbook math problems. The more you learn now about how the experts manage and invest their money, the more inspired you’ll be to manage your own. (Verbal-linguistic and numerical intelligences)
• Write about it! Use your Rich Dad Journal to explore ideas about the role money plays in your life now and in the future. (Intrapersonal and verbal-linguistic intelligences and vision)
• If you get an allowance, take it seriously. Think of it as part of your income. Make up an invoice for your parents. Figure out ways to earn it and invest it. Manage your own money rather than treating your allowance as a handout. (Numerical and interpersonal intelligences)
• Do your own audit. Once a week, do an accounting of where your money has gone. (Numerical intelligence)
• Decide to become responsible for your future. Create a positive attitude about money. Envision the future for yourself. (Intrapersonal intelligence and vision)
Finding Your Winning Formula
Unfortunately, the style of learning that is taught in school may not always be the style you are most comfortable with. The ways in which we learn—which might be a combination of learning styles—add up to our winning formula.
Let me return to the example of my friend Andy and me. As I said, I loved to play baseball. I had a high physical intelligence. I also loved to learn about players’ statistics. I had a pretty good numerical intelligence. After I had learned all I could about the game from playing it, and had learned all I could about the players from other kids (interpersonal intelligence), I then turned to books to get more information. This style, of trying things out first and then reading about them later, has become my winning formula—one that I use to this day.
My friend Andy’s winning formula began with books. His strength was verbal-linguistic. He loved to read about and study things before he tried them out. He might have made a good manager for a baseball team while I would have made a good player. We were very different and we each figured out what worked best for us.
Developing Your Financial IQ
Are you beginning to see that any fears or stumbling blocks you may have about money may have to do with how you learn? If verbal-linguistics is not your thing, then, like me, you’ll learn by doing and seeing. Later in this book I’ll talk more about learning by doing, and you’ll see some concepts explained through pictures and diagrams. Reading this book will also help you develop your intrapersonal intelligence by exploring your goals and fears—and by building your self-esteem.
Rich Dad Q&A
What do learning styles and winning formulas have to do with getting rich? I’ll bet a lot of people who are voted “Most Likely to Succeed” every year in your school yearbook are the people with the best grades. While some of those people will eventually become successful, some of them may not. And it may very well be because they never learned financial intelligence. Many of them will be surpassed in wealth by people like you who are determined to find financial freedom. Discovering your learning style and your personal genius is the first step to having confidence—confidence that allows you to see and pursue opportunities, and to take risks.
The road to a high financial IQ is to work on your money skills using the intelligences that work for you—and work to develop the others so that your whole brain is working full-steam. Try a few different learning styles on for size. It might not be until the second or third try that you feel you’re working with the right combination.
Take out your Rich Dad Journal and make a list of all the activities you do after school and the subjects you do well in. Chances are you’ll see a connection between what you do well in and what you enjoy doing. You may also find that there are one or two intelligences from the list that your activities relate to. These are your strengths. The next step will be to find a way to leverage your strengths into financial success by finding financial opportunity.
Put Your Brain in Motion Say this sentence: “I can’t afford the things I want.” Now say: “How can I afford the things I want?” One statement stops you from thinking. The other revs your brain and gets you thinking. If you said the first sentence to me, I’d think you’d made up your mind that you won’t ever get what you want. But if instead you asked, “How can I afford the things I want?” I would think you were serious about finding solutions. I would view you as positive and forceful. When Rich Dad was my mentor, he would say, “My brain gets stronger every day because I use it. The stronger it gets, the more money I make.” This book will put your brain in gear.
Tomorrow, listen to yourself as you talk to people throughout the day. How do you sound to others? Determined? Tentative? Do you believe what you are saying—or do you sound like you don’t believe in yourself?
The best way to get what you want is to believe you can get it. Thoughts are powerful. You can make things happen if you set your mind to it.
Here’s something you can do to track your belief in yourself: Write down on a piece of paper or index card one statement that describes how you feel about money. It could be something like, “I’ll never be rich.” Use the piece of paper or index card as your bookmark and check in on your feelings about this statement as you read this book. In the middle of the book, you might write on it, “I will be rich.” By the end of the book you might very well cross off the other two sentences and write, “I am rich.”
All right, you may not really be rich yet. The point I’m making is that turning a thought around can create a mindset that will make something happen. That intention teamed with the financial education you’ll get from this book is a powerful combination.
Next up: Rich Dad’s secrets about money.
Copyright © 2004 by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter