What the Kung Fu Panda Can Teach You about Becoming a Millionaire

July 16, 2008

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Last weekend we took my daughter to her very first movie: Kung Fu Panda

As we sat in the theatre, and the lights went down, I did not expect much from the movie. In fact I planned to spend the entire time studying my daughter’s face as she took in her first big-screen experience.

While I will always treasure her enjoyment of the movie, I came away with much more than just the experience. In fact, if you can believe it, I came away with the keys to financial success!


What the Kung Fu Panda can teach you about becoming a millionaire:

The movie opens with Po, a struggling panda who dreams of more than simply living out his life in the footsteps of his father. He knows in his heart that he is destined for more than the simple life that was given to him. He wants to be a warrior, a protector of the people.

Po’s dreams of glory are not unlike many of ours. We may not want to be the fabled protectors of the universe, but we probably do want to be independently wealthy in this lifetime. Personally, I want to be wealthy enough to have the life I choose, and for my daughter to have the life she chooses.

In the movie, Po stopped at nothing to move forward. He strapped himself to a chair propelled by fireworks, and dang the consequences, nothing was going to keep him from his goal! Being fat did not stop him, the fact that all his peers resented him did not crush him, nothing moved him from his dream.

In fact, no matter what the challenge, he faced it and refused to give up. That is the first thing the Kung Fu Panda taught me about becoming a millionaire.

I believe that there is an unlikely millionaire in all of us. Yes, you’re allowed to choke and gag at the sappiness, but it’s true, we all have these dreams of glory whether we voice them or not. We understand that we need more in our life than revolving debt, or even a huge house and a nice car.

Each day of our lives we are faced with choices: Save? Spend? What will my friends think if we go out to eat and I order soup and water? What will they think if I refuse buy coffee four days in a row to avoid the expense? Should I make a risky investment to encourage quick growth, or should I make a long term investment in the hopes of a slow steady return?

Now, I am going to tell you folks, Po got beaten up. A lot. You know what he did? He laughed it off. And he got up. And he kept going.

I’ve made poor stock choices. I’ve made more than my share of horrible financial decisions. (Anyone want to buy some $250 designer sunglasses?). I’ve run my credit cards up, and made late payments. I’ve had medical bills so outrageous I thought I was going to die just opening the envelope. But you know what else I’ve done? I’ve refused to give up too. And today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better still.

When Po was chosen as the Dragon Warrior, the hero of the people, destined to save the world from an unstoppable menace, he looked at himself, and he doubted himself.

How can I do this?” he wondered. ” I am untrained, sloppy, unfit in every way.

How many times have we said this to ourselves:

Save a million? I make 40k a year, how can I save a million dollars?

So what did Po do? Well, he started training. He learned the secrets of the masters. He learned what his motivations were, and how to encourage himself to do the impossible. That is what you and I are doing here each and every day. We are learning. We are training. Because we only get one life and one shot at true financial security. We are here to learn from the experiences of others, and when we are ready, to pass that knowledge on.

The most important secret of the Kung Fu Panda:

At last Po was ready for his final battle. At last, he was given the final key: A sacred scroll that many believed contained the power of the universe itself.

He opened the scroll.

And it was blank.

It held only a reflection of himself.

The last and most powerful secret of the Kung Fu Panda, is now passed on to you:

There is no secret ingredient to wealth.

The secret to being a millionaire is not a magical scroll, or a combination of inside stock tips, or even an ivy league education.

Work Hard. Learn from the masters. When you are knocked down, get up and keep going. The only difference between self-made millionaires and us is that they never gave up. They never stopped learning, and they never stopped applying their knowledge.

Never Give Up.

Have you ever refused to give up during a financial struggle?

Share your advice with us! You can use the comments section below.

*Kung Fu Panda Promotional Photo courtesy of Dreamworks Animation and Paramount Pictures.


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29 Responses to What the Kung Fu Panda Can Teach You about Becoming a Millionaire

  • Senthil

    Another secret to moving forward is to have or achieve the ability to see everything in a +ve light.

    “It’s said that the dragon warrior can see light in the deepest/darkest cave.”

    Translates to: See something good even in your deepest/darkest misery.

  • movie buff

    Jack Black is classic for sure; he’ll be forever famous for his work in School of Rock

  • Connie


    Thanks for your comment! How did your daughter like the movie? You were smart to go to the drive in – wish we had thought of that!

  • hank

    Ah – very informative and coincidentally the first movie my daughter watched as well! We went to the drive in, but you’ve got some good points in relation for sure!

  • Connie

    Thank you Kelly! I am really looking forward to it -I’ll be sure to link back.

  • Kelly from Almost Frugal

    This post has been chosen to be in the 69th Carnival of Money Stories at Almost Frugal, going live July 22nd, 2008. Don’t forget to link back to the Carnival!

  • Connie

    @BlueJeans000 – I think you are exactly right. Some of us (myself included!) Only learn by getting knocked around a little bit.

    It sounds like you have a black-belt emergency fund! That has been one of my biggest worries about America for a long time. When I see people using their credit cards or home equity to compensate for a lack of savings…well, it’s no real wonder that it’s coming back to bite us. Add greedy lenders to the equation and you have a recipe for disaster.

    Truthfully they should call these economic situations zits and not bubbles, because they are messy and nasty when they pop! (Sorry to be gross).

    Good for you that you pulled yourself up out of the debt cycle! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  • BlueJeans000

    Great article,

    Like Po most of us if not all of us learned our lessons from the school of hard knocks. I have to say my financial decisions are better now, then it was six years ago. At that time my rainy day fund was my credit card and it was used for more than just rainy days. I learned my lesson on the rainy day with my card maxed out.

    Now through vigurous kung fu training and money market fund, I just paid for a major car repair and still had money left over for another rainy day.

    So, there is no secret just stop spending money that you don’t have and save the money that you do have.

    Awesome comparisons and great movie =)!

  • Connie

    @Jack – I love Meet the Robinsons. The movies really quirky, but it has one of my favorite songs in it (Little Wonders). It’s all about reminding us that life is really lived in the little moments, not the big ones.

  • Jack

    I loved this movie and the message. Another good one is Meet the Robinson’s quote “Keep moving forward”. Truly the only thing you can do is pick yourself up and just persevere.

  • Connie

    Thank you for your comment Pete, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂

  • Pete @ biblemoneymatters

    Great post – i saw that movie and enjoyed it as well – Never thought of it in terms of personal finance though!

    There is no secret ingredient to wealth… work hard, and when you’re down pick yourself back up and keep going.. good ideas!


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