Born in Hilo, Hawaii, on April 8, 1947, Kiyosaki grew up and attended Hilo High School. Graduating, he then entered the Merchant Marines and from there enlisted in the Marine Corps. Kiyosaki served in Vietnam as a helicopter gunship pilot until his discharge in 1973. Returning to Hawaii he took on several jobs. For a time he sold Xerox copy machines, licensed T-shirts for rock bands, and Velcro wallets for surfers, only later to fall into bankruptcy and live with his wife out of their vehicle.
Looking to improve his situation, Kiyosaki involved himself in personal growth seminars, teaching primarily in New Zealand and Australia. He eventually took over the business, and with one of the original founders, co-founded Excellerated Learning Institute (ELI). The seminars he began offering centered on financial and business advice. In addition to these seminars, ELI created a board game called Cash Flow. The pamphlet included with the game was later to be revised and expanded into book form.
When ELI shut down business, Kiyosaki started another company called Cash Flow Technologies, focusing his attention on publications. By taking the pamphlet from the Cash Flow board game, Kiyosaki and co-author Sharon Lechter produced the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad and later published The Cash Flow Quadrant. The public enjoyed the more simplistic way of understanding money matters, so Kiyosaki co-wrote more books and created more board games and electronic games. He continues to give speeches, write newsletters, and pen a column for Yahoo Finance.