Today, Sharon Lechter is a phenomenal, life-changing author, businesswoman, motivational speaker, financial literacy activist, and philanthropist. But, naturally, she didn't start off life this way.
Sharon was born in San Diego, California as a Navy Brat and moved around with her family. They ultimately settled in Florida where she graduated with an accounting degree from Florida State University. After having experienced the backside world of entrepreneurship with her parents, she knew money and assets but decided she was not going to be an entrepreneur.
She initially worked for an accounting firm, but quickly learned she was working way too hard for someone else and that's when the entrepreneurial bug bit her. She had a fabulous offer to go with another company, so she listed out the pros and cons and then suddenly wrote – Why Not? This developed into her personal philosophy.
You see, Sharon says when you ask someone why you're waiting for someone else to give you an answer. When you ask yourself why not, you dig deeper within yourself. Why not do something different? Why not take the path less traveled? Why not solve a problem or serve a need? Why not? That's the essence of being an entrepreneur.
The decision to move to the new company turned out to be the worst and best decision of her life. Upon arriving, Sharon found all kinds of corruption. Needing time to decide what she should do, she took a few days off. When she came back, there were attorneys there related to some on-going lawsuits the company was involved in, and she ended up meeting the man who became her husband. They're celebrating 38 years of marriage this year. So, out of your worst decisions can come your best choices.
The first global brand that Sharon was involved in was in the late ‘80s when she met the inventor of the first talking book – a book with a sound strip down the side. She helped drive that company from $1 million to $9 million to $23 million and sold it in 1991 when they moved their family to Arizona.
Their oldest son went to college in September of 1992 and returned in December and announced he was $2,500 in credit card debt. She was upset with him...but more upset with herself as she thought she had taught him about money. It was at that moment that she decided to dedicate the rest of her career to financial literacy, financial education.
Fast forward a few years. A gentleman walked into her husband's office wearing flip-flops, a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts with an idea for a game on a piece of paper. His name was Robert Kiyosaki.
Kiyosaki went to see her husband because he was an internationally known intellectual property attorney. Sharon volunteered to help Kiyosaki commercialize the game because she felt it was something that needed to get out to the public.
Kiyosaki asked Sharon to partner with him, and they created the Rich Dad Company that she led as CEO for 10 years. The brochure that was designed to market the game was called Rich Dad Poor Dad, and it became a product. They never intended for it to be their primary product, but it became very popular in its own right. They thought their brand was CASHFLOW. The world said, no, no, your brand is Rich Dad.
When Sharon and Kiyosaki wrote the Rich Dad Poor Dad book, they had no intention of writing more books. But their followers wanted more. That brought the trifecta – Rich Dad Poor Dad, Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant, and Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing. Again, they thought they were done, but the world thought differently. All-in-all, they wrote 15 books together. After that, Sharon launched another series called Rich Dad Advisors which included 10 more books by subject matter experts, including some by her husband on intellectual property and using other people's money. The series exploded, and she experienced true viral success – before the Internet, before Amazon.
Sharon attributes the success they had to the right message at the right time.
One of Sharon's philosophies has always been, "If you're going to do something, do it well and do it to the maximum impact you can." And the most significant thing Sharon has learned during her career is that if you're going to do it well, you have to play big. To play big, you have to align yourself with big players.
In March 2007, Sharon decided she and Kiyosaki were headed toward different paths, and it was time to separate. And while the next 18 months turned tumultuous, she knew it was time to go. She knew that sometimes you have to close one door for another to open.
Late in 2007, she got a call from President Bush and was asked to be on the first President's Advisory Council for Financial Literacy – an opportunity she would not have had if she had still been with Rich Dad. A few months after that, she got a call from The Napoleon Hill Foundation. It was an excellent time to receive that call because it was 2008 during the economic downturn, and reinvigorating the teachings of Napoleon Hill was desperately needed.
Sharon knows full well that one person can make a difference. While on the President's Advisory Council, fueled by her son’s experiences getting into debt when he went to college and the knowledge that other students were falling into the same situation, she was very vocal in her support of the 2009 Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act that prohibits credit card companies from soliciting students on campus. The passing of that bill has made it harder for credit card companies to target kids who haven't really been educated in finances yet. Sharon advises that many people say to do what you’re passionate about, but sometimes your passion comes out of what you’re angry about.
Sharon's best advice to budding entrepreneurs is, "Stand in your power." Stand in your own power, define who you are, and then earn the right to play big. Secondly, identify your niche, your area of expertise, become an expert and then take that expertise to become an authority in that field.
Today, Sharon is building her new brand, the Play Big Movement. In this movement, Sharon teaches how to be number one in your field – how to live your legacy and how to create maximum impact.
You can learn more by visiting her website www.sharonlechter.com.
Janine Holman is a freelance writer, photographer, and travel blogger - founder of Life Beyond Awesome – a site of travel journeys for adventurers, foodies, and lovers of luxurious things. Her stories cover both local and international travel and focus on diving into cultures and communities and the people who make them thrive. She invests time in learning how to best travel on a dime – being money smart and maximizing travel dollars while still enjoying the luxurious side of life (spas, restaurants, quaint places to stay, etc.). Janine covers all kinds of topics and is known for being adventurous, enjoying the outdoors, and embarking down the path less traveled. Most of all Janine enjoys sharing her life’s adventures and showing others how they too can design a Life Beyond Awesome.