Guest Post: “I Quit” by John Perkins


John Perkins was Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm where he advised the World Bank, United Nations, the IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Since then, his books have sold more than 1 million copies and been printed in over 30 languages.  He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications. He is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofits devoted to establishing a world our children will want to inherit. His new book, The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, can be found on Amazon.


It has been nearly twelve years since the release of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. People have wondered how the publication of that book has affected me and what I am doing to redeem myself and change the EHM system. They have also questioned what they themselves can do to help turn the system around. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is my answer.

In the excerpt below, I had just learned that the president of my company, MAIN, who was my personal mentor, had been fired. I slowed down to reflect on the things my job had entailed. I had to admit that it was about more than oil, profitability, and global empires. It was about real people, real families, and how I had exploited  – enslaved- them. I hope you enjoy this short glimpse into chapter 25 of the book and the events that became my confessions.

I’d like say a special thanks to John E. Smith for his support of my new release and for his willingness to post this on his blog. I hope you’ll connect with me on Twitter and Facebook!

share_02I Quit

In late March 1980, still smarting from the firing [of Bruno Zambotti], I took a sailing vacation in the Virgin Islands. Although I did not think about it when I chose the location, I now know that the region’s history was a factor in helping me make a decision that would start to fulfill my New Year’s resolution.

I entered Leinster Bay, nestled into Saint John Island, a cove where pirate ships had lain in wait for the gold fleet when it passed through this very body of water. I nudged the anchor over the side; the chain rattled down into the crystal clear water and the boat drifted to a stop.

After settling in, I rowed the dinghy ashore and beached it just below the ruins of an old sugar plantation. I sat there next to the water for a long time, trying not to think, concentrating on emptying myself of all emotion. But it did not work.

Late in the afternoon, I struggled up the steep hill and found myself standing on the crumbling walls of this ancient plantation, looking down at my anchored sloop. I watched the sun sink toward the Caribbean. It all seemed very idyllic, yet I knew that the plantation surrounding me had been the scene of untold misery; hundreds of African slaves had died here—forced at gunpoint to build the stately mansion, to plant and harvest the cane, and to operate the equipment that turned raw sugar into the basic ingredient of rum. The tranquility of the place masked its history of brutality.

The sun disappeared behind a mountain-ridged island. A vast magenta arch spread across the sky. The sea began to darken, and I came face-to-face with the shocking fact that I too had been a slaver, that my job at MAIN had not been just about using debt to draw poor countries into the global empire. My inflated forecasts were not merely vehicles for assuring that when my country needed oil we could call in our pound of flesh, and my position as a partner was not simply about enhancing the firm’s profitability. My job was also about people and their families, people akin to the ones who had died to construct the wall I sat on, people I had exploited.

For ten years, I had been the heir of those earlier slavers. Mine had been a more modern approach, subtler—I never had to see the dying bodies, smell the rotting flesh, or hear the screams of agony. But I too had committed sin, and because I could remove myself from it, because I could cut myself off from the personal aspects, the bodies, the flesh, and the screams, perhaps in the final analysis I was the greater sinner.

I turned away from the sea and the bay and the magenta sky. I closed my eyes to the walls that had been built by slaves torn from their African homes. I tried to shut it all out. When I opened my eyes, I was staring at a large gnarled stick, as thick as a baseball bat and twice as long. I leaped up, grabbed the stick, and began slamming it against the stone walls. I beat on those walls until I collapsed from exhaustion. I lay in the grass after that, watching the clouds drift over me.

Eventually I made my way back down to the dinghy. I stood there on the beach, looking out at my sailboat anchored in the azure waters, and I knew what I had to do. I had to take responsibility. I knew that if I ever went back to my former life, to MAIN and all it represented, I would be lost forever. The raises, the pensions, the insurance and perks, the equity… The longer I stayed, the more difficult it was to get out. I could continue to beat myself up as I had beat on those stone walls, or I could escape.

Two days later I returned to Boston. On April 1, 1980, I walked into Paul Priddy’s office and resigned.


During the 12 years since the publication of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the world has changed radically. I am excited to share with you how economic hit men and jackal assassins have spread to the U.S. and the rest of the planet and what we all can do to stop them and to create a better world. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an expanded and updated edition that includes 15 explosive new chapters. It also provides detailed strategies each and every one of us can employ to avert the crises looming before us. To learn more please visit, and join me in moving not just into ‘sustainability’ but also into ‘regenerating’ devastated environments.

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down? …

Thumbs - MorguefileFast Company just announced their annual list of the 10 Best and Worst Leaders of 2015 …

As you might imagine, this list has some controversial selections, including one prominent presidential candidate and a slew of business folks.   Some are well-known names, while others might have many of us going “Now just who is this person again?“.   

All wield power and influence … and in that respect, I guess all are considered leaders.  


The article does not include any criteria to show how the decisions were made to include or exclude people or how they wound up on one list or the other, so this is worth some thought.

I do not doubt that the staff of Fast Company are well-equipped to make such decisions and the people who I am familiar with are accurately placed on either the Good or Bad list. 

However, I do wonder whether they just got together and contributed their individual favorites or had some type of standardization.   That might introduce some objectivity into the process.


Challenge:  Read the article HERE and respond with your thoughts, either by answering one or more of the questions below or shooting off in new directions:

Whose inclusions on the lists, good or bad, surprises you?

Who did Fast Company miss adding to the lists?

What do you think the criteria should be for being named a Best or Worst Leader?

Bonus Question:  How does that criteria change as we move from the business world to politics to science and technology … or does it?

Wondering about the usefulness of such lists, which proliferate at this time of year, in the Heartland ….


Related Links via Fast Company:

2015 Unicorn Naughty List: “Unicorns” are start-ups valued at one billion dollars or more – NOT your one-man shows, Mom N’ Pop stores, or garage enterprises

2015 Silicon Valley Nice List:  Companies that went the proverbial extra mile, in a business sense.

Image:  Adapted from

Strange Bedfellows …


Mismatched - GratisographyI guess I don’t watch enough television … or maybe I just don’t watch the advertisements …


Recently I saw a television spot for Geico Insurance, but at the end of the spot, a blatant plug for Helzberg’s Diamonds was added in.  Apparently these two products have enjoyed a business relationship for several years, of which I was not aware.

The commercial was well-done, using high production values and with an affirmation of loving commitments, a bit of humor, beautiful beachfront scenery, a heart-warming wedding scene … and a talking Gecko … and a sidekick crab.   I thoroughly enjoyed it and still find a smile every time I have seen it since that first sweet moment.

However … 

The combination of products struck me as somewhat incongruent.  It was like seeing an attractive young woman with unexpected facial hair. 

I could see matching diamonds and wedding caterers or car insurance and an automobile dealership, because those products are closely related.   But diamonds and car insurance?  Seems a stretch to me, but I am relatively naive regarding the ways of the world.  

What is your reaction to seeing incongruent or very tenuously connected products matched up in ads?

How do you feel about seeing two products touted in the same commercial, even if they are closely and logically related?

How do you like television commercials in the first place?

Wondering why this little triviality caught my attention  today in the Heartland ….



Guest Post: Shelley Row, author of “Think Less, Live More”

Think Less, Live More - Shelly RowJohn: Today’s guest post is by Shelley Row, whose new book, Think Less, Live More, just squeezed its way to the top of my very crowded reading list.  

Read on for some evidence of why I shuffled my order:


The 1996 Summer Olympics were approaching fast. Atlanta hummed with construction. I was part of a team that designed and built the Transportation Management Center or TMC. The work engulfed the city, all of the surrounding counties, the state department of transportation, federal transportation agencies, MARTA (the transit operator) and a significant quantity of consultants as well as many independent contractors.

We needed unprecedented cooperation to achieve the goal: to complete an operational TMC by July 19th for the opening ceremony. The goals was SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound), but this goal had something going for it that many other SMART goals did not have: it was intrinsically motivating.

SMART goals are practical, logical, rational and…sometimes, lackluster. Complete the proposal by September 1, launch the app by January 1, write a blog by Monday. Well, okay this one is for real.

The statistics on the success rate for achieving goals is dismal. According to the University of Scranton, only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are realized. It’s no wonder enthusiasm is lacking if the goal has no link to your natural motivations or self-identity. Goals that are too much from the head need conscious, concerted thought to push them forward. And that means mental energy – a scarce resource. On the other hand, goals that are connected to deeper meaning are more self-motivating. How can you as a manager and leader, tap into this strong motivational force? Here are three ways you can make that connection.

Intrinsic individualized motivation. Dr. David Rock and Elliot Berkman, who are researchers in the neuroscience field have a theory of goal pursuit called AIM (Antecedent, Integration, Maintenance). The Integration element includes a method to find and link to intrinsic motivation. It has to do with asking, “why.” Here’s how it works.

Start by stating the goal. For example, complete the TMC for the Olympic opening. Then ask “why.” My answer may be: “It feels as though I’m part of something bigger; I feel pride; I feel important and successful when working on this project.” Notice that the “why” answers speak to an internal motivation that, in my case, connect to my value system. This type of goal is self-motivating because it comes from inside.

Now consider another goal: Launch a new product by September 1. Again ask “why.” The corporate response might be to make more money or be the first to corner this market. That is intellectually understandable but not very emotionally compelling. As a leader, help individuals connect this company goal at a deeper level. As a further example, keep asking “why” until you find the intrinsic motivator. Examples of intrinsic motivators include:

  • Status – I feel important working on this product launch
  • Success – I feel successful to achieve this big goal
  • Charitable – I’m contributing to something that will help others
  • Creative – I love using my creativity in a new way

Intrinsic motivators are part of an individual’s value system and can be linked to how they self-identify. Once you have that connection, the company goal is more likely to be sustainable and achievable because of increased meaning.

Approach or Avoid Alignment. Goals can be stated to be either approach oriented or avoidance oriented. For example:

  • Approach: Meet the product launch date
  • Avoidance: Don’t miss the product launch date
  • Approach: Make my husband happy
  • Avoidance: Don’t upset my husband (ok…so this one is real, too)

Research shows that individuals have a natural preference to either an approach or avoidance framing. Stating a goal so that it is congruent with the natural preference can make the goal more motivating. In my case, I am approach-oriented for big, audacious, life goals; however, for many day-to-day goals I am avoidance-oriented. Which of these approaches are your preference?

As an exercise, write down a goal in both formats and notice which one feels more motivating for you. There is no right or wrong answer. One way may simply work better for you than another. Once you know which one it is, consider addressing the goal that uses that phraseology. While it is straightforward for you, it may be difficult to discern it for others.

I tend to lean toward an educational approach. Educate staff to understand the neuroscience behind approach and avoidance goals. They will quickly understand the difference between the goal statements and they are likely to grasp the differences in motivational intensity and see the value. Once you understand this approach, use congruent approach or avoidance goal statements.

Cut through the clutter. Lastly, when goals are aligned with intrinsic motivators people tend to notice new opportunities that align with the goal. Research shows the more important a goal is to a person’s self-identity, then it follows an object that is in alignment with the goal has higher perceived value. Subsequently, when bombarded with daily, on-the-job distractions, the opportunities aligned with the intrinsically motivated goal will stand out from the crowd. And conversely, you are less likely to notice situations that are not in goal alignment. This is good news because this tendency assists with focus in an era abundant with distractions. Plus, you are more likely to recognize opportunity when it comes.

In retrospect, we achieved our goal of opening the TMC in time for the opening ceremonies. That goal created a bond between all of us that still endures. Each time I bump into one of the team at conferences, we smile at the memory and because it feels good all over again. Now, that’s a powerful motivator.

 This post was originally published at  on 8/2/15

Shellly Row shotShelley Row, P.E. is a high-energy, engaging speaker and coach working with top managers and leaders in data-driven fields who must make fast, insightful decisions using their infotuition®- the intersection of business pragmatics and gut feel. Find out more at

Some Wind Beneath My Wings …

promo_04David J. Greer is apparently quite the sailor … and he writes pretty good too:).

I have not thought of myself as an entrepreneur in the past, but this book just might change my life.


In this small volume, David has collected a large amount of business wisdom gained both through his own experience and that of many others, whose stories sprinkle like golden nuggets throughout the pages and chapters.

David also takes the time to briefly define terms and concepts that most of us have heard, some of us know well, and all of us need to understand to do business.

This is not a book for detail or nuance, which you can find in ample supply elsewhere.  For example, social media as part of Marketing Strategy (chapter title) is given only a few pages.  Others write entire books on this part of your branding and marketing efforts.

Basically, when you read this book, you will learn just about everything you need to know for overall business success in the modern environment.  


I am not always impressed by someone else’s story, because each person, including myself, has unique skills and attitudes, experiences and challenges, and environments to travel. That said, the stories in this book are particularly useful, because they are relatively short and focus on specific aspects of succeeding in your work.

share_08Stories by people like us, rather than the hallowed few who are at the very tiptop of a large corporation, are inherently more useful.  They ring true and use authentic terms.

The scope is probably larger than some might otherwise consider, so stretching occurs as we read about others who have overcome obstacles, faced challenges, and sailed the seas successfully.


Each chapter is organized in short chunks, so you do not feel like you have a ton of reading to get to the good stuff. Even better, each chapter is a mini-book in itself. I normally read from front to back … I’m a linear type of guy. Wind in Your Sails had me jumping around to those topics of particular interest and you can easily do this.

I absorbed the chapter on Corporate Strategy first, partly because it seems key to everything else and partly because I am in the process of creating a new professional identity, so this was of particular interest to me.   I was not disappointed.

You know a book is solid when the author quotes folks like Jim Collins, Chris Edmonds, and Guy Kawasaki.

If your experience is like mine, once you have dived into the most interesting parts, you will experience a distinct desire to read all the rest, even the stuff you normally would skip. The book is that good …


Perhaps most importantly, each chapter ends with a nice review and action steps.  If you are smart, you will pay special attention to these.

Beyond the  “company talk”, this book works as a primer for anyone trying to create a vision for their business, whether a corporate giant trying to corner the market, a mid-size company trying to gain traction, or a solopreneur establishing their name.

If you did not go to business school or need a solid refresher in how to manage your business effectively, put some strong Wind In Your Sails with David … you are in very good hands.

Sailing along happily on some new knowledge in the Heartland ….



David is the catalyst who gets you to fully live your dreams now. After time with him you feel equally scared and hopeful. Scared at the audacity of your dreams and hopeful because you have someone in your corner with the experience and desire to see your dreams become real.

Spend one hour reading his book, attend a one hour talk with him, or get one hour of 1-to-1 coaching and you will have 3 concrete action items that will shift and accelerate your business within 90 days.

David and his wife Karalee are committed to each other and their three children, spending time supporting them in the many and varied activities they are involved with. They live in Vancouver, Canada.