As he climbed into his pickup truck, outside of his little convenience store, he said, “Keep working boys, but the sooner you forget about needing a paycheck, the easier your adult life will be. Keep using your brain, work for free, and soon your mind will show you ways of making money far beyond what I could ever pay you. You will see things that other people never see.
Mike and I picked up our things from the store and waved goodbye to Mrs. Martin. We went back to the park, to the same picnic bench, and spent several more hours thinking and talking.
We spent the next week at school, thinking and talking. For two more weeks, we kept thinking, talking, and working for free.
At the end of the second Saturday, I was again saying goodbye to Mrs. Martin and looking at the comic-book stand with a longing gaze. The hard thing about not even getting 30 cents every Saturday was that I didn’t have any money to buy comic books. Suddenly, as Mrs. Martin was saying goodbye to Mike and me, I saw something she was doing that I had never seen her do before. I mean, I had seen her do it, but I never took notice of it.
Mrs. Martin was cutting the front page of the comic book in half. She was keeping the top half of the comic book cover and throwing the rest of the comic book into a large brown cardboard box. When I asked her what she did with the comic books, she said, “I throw them away. I give the top half of the cover back to the comic-book distributor for credit when he brings in the new comics. He’s coming in an hour.”
Mike and I waited for an hour. Soon the distributor arrived and I asked him if we could have the comic books. To which he replied, “You can have them if you work for this store and do not resell them.”
Our partnership was revived. Mike’s mom had a spare room in the basement that no one used. We cleaned it out, and began piling hundreds of comic books in that room. Soon our comic-book library was open to the public. We hired Mike’s younger sister, who loved to study, to be head librarian. She charged each child 10 cents admission to the library, which was open from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. every day after school. The customers, the children of the neighbourhood, could read as many comics as they could in two hours. It was a bargain for them since a comic costs 10 cents each, and they could read five or six in two hours.
Mike’s sister would check the kids as they left, to make sure they weren’t borrowing any comic books. She also kept the books, logging in how many kids showed up each day, who they were, and any comments they might have. Mike and I averaged $9.50 per week over a threemonth period. We paid his sister $1 a week and allowed her to read the comics for free, which she rarely did since she was always studying.
Mike and me kept our agreement by working in the store every Saturday and collecting all the comic books from the different stores. We kept our agreement to the distributor by not selling any comic books. We burned them once they got too tattered. We tried opening a branch office, but we could never quite find someone as dedicated as Mike’s sister we could trust.
At an early age, we found out how hard it was to find good staff.
Three months after the library first opened, a fight broke out in the room. Some bullies from another neighbourhood pushed their way in and started it. Mike’s dad suggested we shut down the business. So our comic-book business shut down, and we stopped working on Saturdays at the convenience store. Anyway, rich dad was excited because he had new things he wanted to teach us. He was happy because we had learned our first lesson so well. We had learned to have money work for us. By not getting paid for our work at the store, we were forced to use our imaginations to identify an opportunity to make money.
By starting our own business, the comic-book library, we were in control of our own finances, not dependent on an employer. The best part was that our business generated money for us, even when we weren’t physically there. Our money worked for us. Instead of paying us money, rich dad had given us so much more.