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.

Getting Over It …

Cruel Truth

If I ruled the world, things would be different …

If I ruled the world, this poster would be prominently displayed and regularly considered in the executive suites, offices, cubicles, corridors and inside bathroom stalls of every organization, profit and non-profit, and every meeting place for groups without a building of their own, everywhere.

If I ruled the world, this saying would be translated into every language, taught in every school, and lifted up in religious places as a piece of non-theological knowledge.

Not a home on the planet would be missing this message hung on the wall of whatever room the family or residents gathered in most often.

…. Well, I do not rule the world or even have complete domination of my own house.

Therefore, all I can do is share this clear and powerful thought with as many people as I am capable of sharing.

Well, I guess I can also try to live within the message of this message, which is that we gain little by ignoring or minimizing what lies before us.  Better to face reality and deal with it to the best of our ability.

How are YOU doing with that “Facing Reality and Dealing With It” part? …

Feeling like I have done my part in the Heartland ….




Image:  Courtesy of (excellent source of unusual photographs)

Not So Tiny Bubbles …

Bubbles - MorguefileI recently participated in a creative visualization exercise designed to lower my stress levels and put me into a state of comfort.

As part of this exercise, we were all to visualize bubbles floating in the air, coming closer and closer …

Standard visualization to make one feel more relaxed and cut their focus on external distractions and minutiae.   Of course, I started wondering something completely different, as I imagined those very shiny, incredibly light, and oh so delicate bubbles bobbing around in my head.

This insistent question kept surging to the top of my consciousness:

Are the bubbles moving toward me or am I moving toward the bubbles?

This is important:  If I am moving, I am in control.  If not, I am uneasy.

I do not remember if I ever attained the level of relaxation that the facilitator desired for me, but I certainly had fun considering the deeper implications of whether the bubbles or I were in motion.  

I may even develop a theory of behavior or cognitive process based on who or what is doing the moving.

I smell a book deal …

 … or maybe I was just engaging in passive resistance to someone else telling me what to do.

Either way, the bubbles were pretty and made me smile.

Comments welcome … or not … do as you please and feel completely relaxed in the Heartland ….


What We Seem …

Very Few of Us - morguefile

For all our talk of authenticity and genuiness as positive and desired traits, we often fall rather short of being truly transparent and open.

... and this is not necessarily a bad thing.

While openness creates strong relationships and enhances leadership, we might want to think a little before we become completely open.

I don’t know about you, but I know parts of me that I will never knowingly or willingly share with anyone else, regardless of the relationship or situation.  My thoughts are not consistently charitable or kind, my inclinations can be more emotion-driven than is good for me, and I do not always act in my own best interests … and that’s just the stuff I WILL share.

Caveat:  You may be thinking right now “Why doesn’t he get some help for these afflictions?”, which is a reasonable question to ask, but more complex to answer than you expect.

One of my favorite Tolkien sayings is “All who wander are not lost“.   In the same way, all who keep things private are not hiding something.   

I believe that we must deal with some things completely on our own, without the help of others.    In a paradoxical twist, I also believe this is MOST doable when we are already in the habit of seeking regular help for what ails us cognitively, emotionally, and physically.

Gist of this Post:  

Reflect on what you share and what you keep within yourself …

Adjust what needs adjusting for a healthy balance …

Deal with what you need to, either with another or alone …

By the way, the Tolkien line quoted above is from a fascinating poem in the The Lord of the Rings.  Here’s the complete poem, of which the first line is the title:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.[1]

Setting out my Frodo and Company Trilogy DVDs for the chilly evening ahead in the Heartland ….



Book Review: The 3 Gaps by Hyrum W. Smith

promo_02The 3 Gaps:  Are You Making a Difference? is a short book and far from the most detailed or comprehensive one I have come across lately.  However, it might just be the most personally useful book I have ever read ….

Many books engage me to some degree.  I find myself rating books based on a measurement I call the Head-Bob … the more my head bobs up and down in agreement, the better the book. 

It’s a crude method, but surprisingly accurate. 

I found my head moving quite a bit as I read this one, and felt very engaged, both in the content and in the possibilities for my own growth.

Hyrum W. Smith makes a bold promise to the reader wrapped around the basic intent of the book:

Inner peace comes from having serenity, balance, and harmony in our lives achieved through the disciplined closing of the Three Gaps.”  (pg. 7)

Inner peace is no small thing, especially these days.   This got my attention early on, mainly for what is missing:   no mention of business success, career skyrocketing, or even becoming a better manager or partner … not that those type of successes are not implied and most probably will derive from a careful application of Smith’s formulas.

The usual measures of success are not the end goal … Inner peace is the true measure of success here.

share_18The 3 Gaps includes three main sections and none of these areas of focus will be new to you:   Beliefs, Values, and Time.   What is different is how Smith addresses the relationships between each and the clear way in which he helps us understand what we need to do to close our gaps.

For example, here’s his straightforward description of the Beliefs Gap:

“ … the gap between what you believe to be true and what is actually true:  Your Beliefs Gap” (pg. 8)

Each section presents in a similar direct way and in some depth.   With a little work, each of these three main sections could be a small book in itself.

For example, Smith pulls no punches with this very powerful observation as he begins the discussion on how we might use our time more effectively:

“ … we all have the same daily allotment of twenty-four hours that our ancestors had.   What has changed is the amount of stuffy we’re trying to cram into those same hours.”  (pg. 64)

share_19Each section also includes a practical list of actions to bring our beliefs, values, or time choices into alignment.  Each list is clear, powerful, and useful … as an example, here’s the three steps for closing the Values Gap:

Identify your Governing Values (pg. 40):

In this step, Smith asks us to consider this question:  “What would I cross the I-beam for?”  You need to read the whole description of the “I-Beam Exercise” to get the full impact, but I would wager that when one takes this exercise seriously, it will affect the direction of your life.  Your response to the exercise begins the process of determining your Governing Values – those core things in your life that matter above all else, even your own life

Write a Clarifying Statement Describing Exactly What Your Governing Values Mean to You (pg. 42):

Once identified, we describe and clarify our Governing Values.  This important step in the process is often missing from other values exercises, where we name a general term, but do not do the harder work of clarifying what that term specifically and deeply means to us.

Prioritize Your Governing Values (pg. 43):

Another important step where we make some hard choices about which values are more important.  In my experience, this is the hardest step for most, because every decision to elevate a value means another value moves lower on the list.   Psychologically, we interpret a lower rating as devaluing, even when all the identified values are strongly held.


Smith writes clearly and simply.   Warning:  The book starts with a heartbreaking story of personal loss that is hard to read or imagine living through.   Throughout this book, you will find a higher percentage than usual of personal and gripping accounts from the author and others who have faced horrific challenges to their bodies and spirits.   The stories are often challenging, but give us clear illustrations of what is possible for the human spirit.

Smith does not flinch from the hurt in life, but offers us a solid plan to deal with and move past pain, suffering, and loss.


The 3 Gaps expands nicely on one important idea:  Your choices about your Beliefs, Values, and Time, when aligned individually and with each other, will result in more positive and more effective living.

You will find value in this book if …

…you help others engage in positive change.

…you help others learn how to help people grow and change.

…you face a personal or professional challenge.

While many of the actions and recommendations are not unique or new, Smith has collected a powerful set of messages in one concise book.   The brevity makes this an easy read, while the content makes it a powerful read.



promo_01Hyrum W. Smith, distinguished author, speaker, and businessman. was one of the original creators of the popular Franklin Day Planner. In 1983 he co-founded the Franklin Quest Company to produce the planner and train users in the time management principles the planner was based on. Hyrum stepped down as Chairman & CEO in 1999 and served as Vice-Chairman of the Board until 2004.

For four decades, he has been empowering people to effectively govern their personal and professional lives. Hyrum’s books and presentations have been acclaimed by audiences world-wide. He combines wit and enthusiasm with a gift for communicating compelling principles that inspire lasting personal change.

Hyrum is the author of several nationally-acclaimed books, including The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, What Matters Most, The Modern Gladiator, and You Are What You Believe.