Category Archives: People

Remember that business is about people – and not just your customers

A great post at Engadget UK by Caitlin Layshon provides a sobering insiders view on the Zavvi and HMV collapses.

Caitlin brings home brilliantly the point that whilst we discuss the clear failings of HMV and other high street companies to evolve and adapt, the brutal reality is that it is peoples’ livelihoods and families that we are talking about. When a business closes, peoples’ lives are affected. It is tempting to say that unless you have been through this you cannot appreciate it, but I’m sure most people can – it is just that the reality is worse than you think. The initial fears of cashflow and paying bills quickly give way to longer term concerns about careers, mortgages and house. Over the longer term falling personal confidence can make finding a new job harder. In far too many cases, failure to find another job can lead to depression and other health related issues.

Online posts of former employees shows that whilst the closure or move into administration was shock, it was rarely a surprise. Staff and employees on the front line of the company are more aware than most about the problems and challenges facing the company.  They may not know the details of the corporate debt status, but they know when products are not selling and customer numbers are falling.

But despite seeing this, how often are employees involved in helping change (actually meaning save) the company?

I don’t mean passively involved, by losing overtime and benefits, but actively involved by sharing feedback and ideas about how to improve?

How often are frontline staff made a real part of the business? Able to help save their own store, incentivised to boost sales, motivated to improve customer service?

By the time the administrators are appointed it is too late. For them, it is all about the Benjamins – or should that be Fry’s, Darwen’s or Nightingales? – It is about corporate financial restructuring. Only the balance sheet matters. Nothing else. People are merely a line on the balance sheet, as dispensable to administrators as any other ‘asset’ or liability. If the numbers don’t add up – the stores close and the people lose their jobs. Simple as that.

And we wonder why businesses fail.

We wonder why companies that don’t involve their employees, fail to utilise their passion, energy and ideas too often struggle?

This isn’t rocket science.

Retail is about the EXPERIENCE as much as the product. Your employees are not only important to this, but critical. You cannot have a great retail experience without great employees who are passionate about the company, but too many companies treat people as resources … assets to be consumed and replaced as needed.

Think of a great retail or service company.

It is hard think of a great retail or service company that has poor customer service.

If they have poor customer service, they are not a great company. Simple as that.

So, if a retail company wants to be successful, then it needs to have excellent customer service. This will not happen if the employees feel disconnected from the company. They need to involved, aware, engaged.

The extreme example of retailing as an experience is Apple – which has the highest sales per square foot, but many smaller retailers survive because of their excellent local service. My local butcher can quickly check the order book what Turkey size I have ordered for the last two years. I cannot imagine Tesco ever doing that. Specialist retailers such as REI and Wholefoods in the US lead the way in truly showing what experience retailing can be. The UK High Street story is much more mixed, with poor service unfortunately being the norm. I don’t think I’m unusual in being able to shop in a Town Centre and not once see a smile, eye contact or any attempt to engage in conversation. Although I may be asked whether staff can help on entering a store, this more often is a pointless formality rather than driven by a true willingness to want to help and serve.

The blame doesn’t lie with the employees though, but with companies paying minimum wage, operating low trust cultures with little or no empowerment and spending next to nothing on training. All of these say one thing … ‘you don’t matter’. The companies couldn’t be more wrong.

Not only do employees matter – they are the most valuable part of a retail experience.

2013 is going to see a brutal culling of the UK High Street. This is not good news for anyone, but my personal experience is that few of the companies that have failed recently had anything other than poor or indifferent service. You may disagree, but a quick read of comments on news sites shows similar experiences from many other shoppers. If High Street stores are to remain viable, a number of strategic changes and investments may be required – but at the top of all of these should be customer service.

And a few quick tips for business executives and leaders who want to reform their customer service: 

  1. Spend a day on the front line. Make all execs spend time serving customers. No exceptions.
  2. Give the difference between your daily pay and average shop pay to the staff in the store. Buy coffees, cakes or donate it. But give it.
  3. Listen to what your employees are telling you.
  4. Then act on it.
  5. Establish a way for front line employees to tell you when something isn’t working.

This may not be enough to save a failing business model, but it will help show the Caitlins of this world know that you did CARE, did listen and did want to fix this.

You also show your customers that THEY MATTER, and you appreciate their custom.

That’s enough to get my business.


The art of envisioning, trade secrets and ideas to make it work

I can imagine the advert now … with the soft soothing voice over the gently fading corporate images …

“Worried about all this new technology?

Wondering how social media and enterprise mobility can help your business?

Want to understand how to use the iPad to reinvent your business?

Then what you need is someone to make sense of all of this, 

someone to help you understand the ‘Art of the Possible’

What you need is an Envisioning Workshop.”

Available from all good design/technology/service companies NOW. 

And so the sale continues.

Yes, the sale. It is all about the sale. Not the art of the possible or anything like it, but the sale.

The harsh reality is that most envisioning workshops are thinly disguised sales tools, delivered by someone whose view of the future only extends as far as their next bonus (that will come from selling you loads of hardware or software you probably don’t need) and will probably not deploy even if you buy it.

At first it may be hard to spot, as the facilitator, envisioneer, or futurologist (if they use that last term, throw them out) focuses on identifying relevant industry and technology trends, but before you realise this you will be focusing on solutions … and guess where these come from?

Yes! The people delivering the envisioning session. It is their technology which provides the answers and solutions to these trends.

You think they understand your company … they are using a tried and tested process to reel you in. Most of what you are being told will be told to every customer, regardless of industry. And those trends that they talk about?

It is their technology that helps you benefit from these.

What a lost opportunity though. What a missed chance to actually spend some time thinking about how to really improve your business. I am not saying that Envisioning Workshops have no value. In fact I am a big fan of them – when done properly – but not when used as a sales tool to simply sell more technology regardless of whether it is really needed or not. When done like this, it is little more than a tech-bandaid to a bleeding organisation.

Perhaps the problem is with the name … Envisioning Workshops.

Maybe they should be renamed to be more accurate of what they are:

  • Workshop to better understand how our technology can help your business, but only if you buy our products
  • Workshop to look at how your business environment is being affected by changing technology trends that we can help you solve if you buy our products
  • Workshop to talk about cool new stuff and scare you into thinking everyone else is using this and you are being left behind, so you buy our products

Do you see the common thread???  … technology, and the technology from the supplier who did the workshop

The underlying assumption behind most envisioning workshops is that new technology is the answer before you even start. This risk with this is that it becomes limited by what we know technology can do today, ideas become framed within what we know is achievable (and for technology companies what is predictably deliverable and available). You cannot sell what doesn’t exist, so you sell what you have and promise what you don’t. Whilst this may be more advanced than the company has today, it may not be the best option or strategy. More importantly though, it is likely to exclude non-technology changes.

Cisco tells you the answer is Cisco

Oracle tells you the answer is Oracle

Microsoft tells you the answer is Microsoft (although unlike the other two, Microsoft does have the technology breadth to actually delivery on their visions).

… and so on.

What did you expect though … Microsoft to tell you that iPads are the answer? Oracle to recommend SAP?

So, if technology is not the correct focus what should be?

Simple answer: People.

Instead of focusing on technology problems and technology opportunities, focus on people.

Look to the problems and opportunities facing people (that may, or may not include their interfaces with technology), but is never about the technology on its own devoid of a human problem.


  • The reasons that people cannot do what they want
  • The processes and practices that stop people doing what they want
  • The things that customer want to do, but cannot do today
  • The pain that people experience using technology
  • The fear that people have with new technology
  • The things that users, customers or sales people would love to do, but cannot today
  • The things that people dream of doing

When you do this, you will quickly see that there are plenty of problems and opportunities with existing processes and services that we could address. We don’t need to look to the future because we have enough now. We don’t need to guess what is coming next to be successful, because if we fix these issues we will be well placed to embrace the future rather than fear it. Whilst technology may be a part of the solution, it also may not – in fact the best answer may be to eliminate technology that isn’t working, or to simplify overly complex technology. This approach – human centric envisioning – is in stark contrast to the technology dominated norms that we have today.

So how does human centric envisioning differ?

human centric envisioning …

  • focuses on people, their interactions and human values
  • emphasises the value of collaboration and shared understanding and working
  • looks to holistic understanding of problems, seeing them as they impact people, not as abstract concepts
  • sees the role of technology as enabling people
  • recognises that elimination or simplification is preferable to increasing complexity
  • knows that low tech can be more effective as high tech
  • embraces service design tools and design thinking to understand processes from a human viewpoint
  • recognises that the future is a progression of what we have today, anchored in human values not an abstract concept or utopia
  • understands that technology can be a major enabler to people, but recognises that it brings risks and that there are downsides too
  • sees human values (the value of personal relationships, importance of family, importance of trust etc) being broadly constant over time
  • doesn’t care who makes the technology, so long as it does what it needs to do
  • embraces privacy and respects the rights of individuals

This list could go on, but you hopefully get the idea.

The purpose of human centric envisioning is not to develop a roadmap for technology (that will undoubtedly be wrong – they are always too optimistic and assume everything works first time), but an understanding of how we want to evolve and improve how we work and potential areas that technology may be able to play a role – both now and the future. Because it is founded upon human values not technology releases, it has greater longevity and can be used to not just plan our future, but rethink our today.

The outcome is not a business case for shiny new things, but a shared understanding of what we need to address, why this matters, and who cares.

A manifesto of what we want to be and how we want to work, a definition of our aspirations and goals.

Technology may play a part in this understanding and the solution, but it equally may not.

The outcome may be a set of actions that do not involve technology, that eliminate broken processes, simplify inefficient tasks or introduce more people into an organisation.

Helping people work better, reducing problems, improving collaboration and ultimately making life better … that is something worth spending time on. That should be the goal for your envisioning workshops. Not to mention that many actions will not involve a big technology price tag.

So the next time you are invited to an envisioning workshop, before you attend – ask what the workshop is trying to achieve and what the measure of success is. If it is clearly a thinly veiled technology sales process, decide whether you want to support this, or politely decline and spend your time helping your organisation and your colleagues, not those hoping to generate revenue from it.

If you do attend, challenge technology determinism when you see it. Challenge assumptions. Stay true to what you know from your experiences today, and keep the discussion grounded in the real world. A good facilitator will embrace this and use your energy to keep the discussion valuable to your company. A thinly veiled sales guy will wish you would be quiet and want the day to end as quickly as possible, and wish he hadn’t promised something he couldn’t deliver.

Design to evolve

If you are ever asked to design any technological solution/product/service, here is a quick tip …

Assume that what you design is wrong.

That is not to say you are wrong.

You may design a great solution, but if it includes technology, it will be a solution for today; a solution designed with today’s mindset, today’s products and today’s expectations from services. The more technology included, the greater the risk of premature ageing.

Instead of defining a solution for today, think about how you can design for the future.

How can you design a solution that can be adapted, upgraded, changed, replaced?

The way to do this is to assume that things will change. If you had to replace or upgrade key parts, whether software or hardware could you easily and cost effectively do this?

Can users do this? Can end users modify the solution to improve it or do you want to maintain complete control?

If you can do this, you start to change the solution from a single standalone solution to a system. An upgradable, living system that can evolve. If you do that, you start to change the economics of the solution or product too. If you can extend the lifespan, you can positively impact the cost of ownership and start to potentially justify a higher price. More importantly you can quickly respond to competitive changes, avoid retooling factories for minor improvements  and ultimately and lower costs. If you can engage users, you can start to build a community of supporters who can create on top of your work and evolve from having a system into having an ecosystem and ultimately a platform.

Before you get carried away though, never lose sight of one vital question – how do you maintain quality? If your name is on the box, if you are taking the money and selling the service, then quality is your problem. So the decision is not simply about opening up everything, it is about allowing managed evolution. It is a balance between having inflexibility which you have ultimate control over (but which could be poor), or ultimate freedom, which could mean that you are left selling a product or solution that others are deriving the majority of the benefits from.

If in doubt over any area, one quick tip: Focus on human needs. Not sanitised artificial segmentations, but real human needs. These are the enduring attributes of people; their behaviours; their relationships; their wants; their loves. Though technology has changed, these attributes haven’t.





Instead of wasting time arguing with customers, spend your time fixing the product

You have two choices in product development, argue with customers or sell them what they want to buy, because it does the function they want to do.

Simple as that.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a product, a service or an experience.

Build/do/provide something the customer values, and will pay for.

It is amazing how many product managers and marketers, argue with customers. Seriously, they do. They argue about missing features, bugs, prices, support models and a range of other factors.

If you find yourself disagreeing with customers about what is needed, it is time for a reality check.

You could be ahead of the market, but you are more likely to be wrong.

If in doubt about which this is, look at sales growth and profit for you vs. the competition.

  • Flat sales growth means that existing customers are not excited enough to be telling others to buy your product.
  • Low profit means your product isn’t worth what you think it is worth.

If the competition is making more money, growing market share faster, you are wrong.

You can complain, you can explain, but you are then arguing with customers (and that doesn’t work).

Time to start listening to customers.

Once you have done that, the hard bit comes, deciding what to do first.

Quick tip. Start by solving the pain that no one else is, and turn the pain into pleasure.

And a final tip from Benjamin Zander; when the customer tells you what you really don’t want to hear. When they ask for the feature that you have just dropped, when they ask for the feature the competition does better … smile and say, “thank you”.

By talking to you, they are telling you that they want you to succeed. This is not the same as saying that they will buy the product, but that they do want you do at least give then the option.

The Emperors New Clothes are still being made

Can I humbly give Product Managers a quick piece of advice?


Stop lying about what your product can do for me if you know it doesn’t do it.

Just tell me the truth.

Instead of telling me it can do something it can’t, or something it can do, but does badly, instead pick something that I really care about and do this brilliantly. If you don’t know what that thing is, talk to me. Watch my life, understand me, heck – ask me. Professor Keith Goffin and Dr Chris Van Der Hoven from Cranfield University offer some techniques in their article that discusses why products fail.

When you think you have found it, ask me, if you have solved a problem I have, or met an undiscovered need that I didn’t know about, I will get pretty excited about it. However raw, if the idea and concept is good, then you will quickly know because I will want it NOW!!!

I will want to buy it.

I will want to know when it is available and what it costs.

A quick test for this … write down in 10 words what it is.

Real words, not marketing’ese. Simple words.

Core functions first, state the blindingly obvious.

Think about the most basic way that you can sell the idea and the product.

If you cannot do this, then go back and refine it, keep looking, keep searching. Don’t pick that last thing that was moderately interesting and build that, look for the problem I have, or the thing I want to achieve.

It you think you have found something, make it as real as you can. Build a prototype, a mockup so I can start to imagine this in the real world, in my life. This doesn’t have to be a polished machined prototype, a cardboard mockup today is better than a polished prototype in 6 months. Whatever you have, communicate the story of what it does. Storyboards, wireframes, mockups, prototypes – whatever you need to show the idea as live as possible, as real as you can, do that.

Then iterate and make it better. And better. And better.

Set a timeframe, a quality bar, and a budget, then iterate until you pass this. You will have to deal with these trade offs, but that is what a Product Managers life is about. It is all about compromise. Product success comes from making the right judgement about the balance.

If you do this well, when you come to launch, you can tell me the truth.

You don’t need to lie.

You can tell me with confidence what your product does, and why I should care.

If you have done your job well, I will want to buy the product or service.

And I will.

It is that simple.

Of course, if you lie to me, I will find out.

I will tell others that you lie.

I won’t buy from you again.

And neither will others.

Your choice.

You can try and sell the Emperors New Clothes, but you will be found out, and after that no one will trust you again.

… and no one will buy anything from you, because they cannot trust you.

So the next time you go into that product planning meeting, that product marketing review, tell the truth.

You can lie, but you will be found out.

Freedom, education and the failure of politicians

Part 2 of a two part series on debt and freedom.

Part 1 is Freedom vs. debt and the dangers of financial heroin.

Is all debt bad? Should you never buy things?

I’m not arguing that you don’t buy things, but flip this around.

Instead of saying,’how can I borrow to buy this now?’ instead ask, ‘how can I increase my income to buy this sooner’.

If you can’t increase income, then wait.

Are there exceptions to this?

Yes. If you follow business school logic, then you should borrow money to finance asset purchases to increase income. I’d agree to a point. For me, it is about the level of the investment vs. the loss of freedom. Prudent borrowing for significant increases in income make sense. Large unproven investments don’t. This is common sense. Betting a company using borrowed money  (we often call these mergers) is dumb. Most mergers fail, most don’t deliver promised value, so again, minimise risk and buy smaller assets at a pace you can assimilate them. This worked for Cisco, and hundreds of other leading companies. Big takeovers are painful, risky and divert attention from being a great company.

Personal finance writers say that mortgage debt is good debt. I agree to a point. It is debt, but you need somewhere to live, but the basic rules of evaluating debt vs. freedom still apply. Be prudent. Big debt reduces freedom. Very big debt is stupid. House prices may rise, but not for a while. You may see the price rise, but we are more likely to see inflation rise and you lose the house. Better have a smaller house and be confident you can keep it, then a large one that you risk losing (big houses cost more to run, so the total cost of ownership is much higher).

For me though, there is one other type of debt that is OK. One type that individuals, companies and countries should borrow for:


It doesn’t matter whether you are an individual or a country, investing in your capability to be better at what you do, to raise the level of what you do is a great thing. The benefits for you personally, for society and ultimately for humanity are all positive. The challenge here is not the absolute value (education is rarely a wasted investment), it is the timescale of the payback period. Longer is better, it gives you time to earn and pay back without risking freedom. Shorter payback periods risk freedom (which is bad), so the right decision can be to not invest. This means that the decision needs to favour the decision to invest, but at a level where the loss of freedom is managable.

When I see application levels in 2012 for Universities in the UK falling, then we have the mechanism wrong. People are making the decision that the debt is not worth the loss of freedom (in many cases they are correct). What we should see in times of economic austerity (and by the way, this is here for a generation), is the foresight from politicians in particular to take the long view and change this equation so that investing in yourself, in raising the bar for the individual, for society is a good thing. The introduce mechanisms and payment models (business models in the commercial world that incentivise this). Today, they don’t.

Why does this matter?

Because this is how you increase income and total value. Whether as an individual, a company or a country. If we want to fix the finance problems personally and as a country, we need to be able to increase our income. This requires investment. For people this means education. We still need to cut expenditure, so most of the cuts are right, but NOT in education. It is education which raises our ability to generate income. There are a host of other factors too such as removing red tape, reducing the cost of running businesses, and these are also correct, but they are essentially the same thing – increasing freedom. Don’t focus on micro-policies, look to bigger ideas which shift the equation.

Reducing costs for businesses, reducing red tape all increases freedom. This is good. If debt and freedom are linked, then changing one side impacts the other.

Should we prioritise education over health spending, over defence, over social security, over any other demand on government?

My view is simple, yes.

All of the others are costs. Costs should be cut, the only thing you should invest in is assets, that is things that grow in value – and people are the ultimate asset.

Investing in education is the best way to grow personal and national income. Cutting spending reduces outgoing (debt), but has a number of other consequences, namely a reduction in demand and a reduction in confidence. Not just consumer confidence, but ambition. It is the loss of ambition and confidence that is the problem. People can live with cuts and austerity and falling service if they can see the long term end goal is better, and worth it. We put up with house renovations, painful exams, visits to gym, diets and all other personal sacrifices because we focus on the end goal.

Once we lose ambition, we don’t seek to grow, we seek to minimise our losses. We accept where we are and we make this best of it.

This is the complete opposite of what is needed.

The same principles apply to people as they do to a country.

The problem this time is that if we don’t have the long term positive vision, it is hard to see the benefit of the cuts, and this is why cutting without a vision of a long term positive goal is wrong. Reducing debt is good, no doubt about it, but this should be to meet a long term benefit. Simply cutting without defining the benefits, or making any investment will make our problems much worse. It should have balance in this. We are not saying cut this to protect that. We cut everything, we cut across the board. The result as I said is a loss in confidence and opposition to the cuts. This  worsens the effect of the cuts as the loss of confidence at a consumer and business level amplifies the impact.  At a human level, for the poorest and least educated in society (the most vulnerable) the impact is crushing. Not painful, not challenging, but crushing.

It destroys people. It destroys their ambition; it destroys their confidence in themselves and it destroys their health.

And this is where politicians are failing us.

Cutting is easy. You see where the expenditure is going and cut it. Simple as that.

It really is that simple. Start with the big numbers, cut these.

Find lots of smaller ones that are less visible and cut these harder.

For contentious cuts, simply promote those as policy changes over the longer term. They are still cuts.

The skill is not cutting, but reducing expenditure whilst not harming our future, and in this we are failing. Falling growth rates (second recession is predicted), plummeting consumer and business confidence and a loss in applications to University (and a host of other indicators) show this.

Cutting is one side of the equation. The other side is being completely missed.

We are not defining our end goal, we are not defining what we are cutting for. We are not investing in our ability to grow income and get out of this position.

If confidence remains low, then continued cuts will not only reduce expenditure, but will impact our ability to generate revenue. This decreases income – the very opposite of what is needed. For companies, it commits them to a slow and painful decline. For people it locks them into poverty and low-wage incomes.

Take any job, any field and think about this:

Doctor, mechanic, designer, teacher, driver, builder, telephone sales, writer, engineer …

  • Don’t invest, don’t learn, don’t grow = static income, then falling income. Ultimate end goal can be unemployability.
  • Invest in yourself, be better at what you do, produce better goods, deliver better services, increase quality = sustained, then growing income

This is the same for businesses.

It is the same for countries.

So don’t simply argue against the cuts. They are needed, but challenge politicians to do their job and lead. To show how we will prosper over the long term, how we will increase personal and national income and attain a sustainable, then secure position. Cuts alone will not work.

If the politician is  devoid of ideas, then share yours. Contribute. Share ideas at online forums, policy groups, consultations, surgeries, anywhere your voice can be heard. Challenge them not to cut, but to grow. Challenge the logic and challenge the vision.

And if none of this works, stand against them. Nothing is as effective in getting the attention of a politician than the prospect of an informed candidate with ideas and popular support standing against them.

Freedom vs. debt and the dangers of financial heroin

You want freedom? Then have no debt.

It is that simple.

Your level of freedom is inversely linked to your level of debt. As one goes up, the other goes down.

Every time. No exceptions.

This applies for individuals, start-ups, big or small companies and countries.

Greece is losing control of its economy and its freedom because it has unmanageable debt.

People across the world are losing homes because they cannot pay their bills and their debts continue to grow.

Small businesses close daily as banks close credit lines, refuse loans and change credit terms at will.

The message is clear – all the time you are in debt you restrict your freedom.

High debt levels = less freedom, regardless of who or what you are.

Once the lender loses his confidence in your ability to pay (e.g. Greece) you have no choice to do what they want. You might think you do. You don’t. Defaulting on debt is the start of a ride down a very nasty razor-blade coated slide.

You do what they say or suffer the consequences. Pain either way.

Instead of teachings kids about buying things, supporting rabid consumerism and teaching about brands, we should teach about independence and personal security. We should teach why happiness is not buying lots of things but the opposite, buying what you need and buying what matters. I’m not going all Buddhist on you – as you may be happy with products bought on debt, but you will not be secure. If Maslow was right, then you need to get the security bit right before the buying a new TV bit right.

We should teach kids how finance works. How banks make money and how people lose their homes.

I don’t mean at 16, I mean at age 7. Get the basics in at the start.

We should teach teenagers why payday loans with APR rates in the thousands are pure evil. They are. There is no debate on this. They are predatory and evil. They are financial heroin. It may solve a gap in your life, provide some quick fix, but extended use will screw up your life.

We should teach business studies graduates to admire and respect stable businesses, with positive cash flows, able to suffer business cycles rather than go begging to bankers (or more likely go bust). Building business quickly is good, but there are different ways to do this. Borrowing money, whether from a bank, from Venture Capitalists (VC) or from your parents reduces your freedom to make decisions. Whilst a VC may take a less active role, they will often have a final decision on major choices that you have. This continues through to shareholders. Go public, get the cash, but lose control. You are no longer in control of the ship. Business schools teach the parable of the person who built his company, took it public only to be ousted. Look to Steve Jobs for a pretty recent case of this.

How did Steve avoid this when he returned?

He kept control and kept control of the cash. Sensible investment, never risking the security of himself or the company.

Whether you are a person, a business or a country, the message is the same:

The more you borrow, the less freedom you have.

Freedom may not matter in these terms, but if we use some other terms such as choice, liberty, security, then they should matter.

For a person, you may think this is restricting what you can buy. It isn’t. It is restricting you on being able to leave a job that you hate. It restricts you from taking that trip of a lifelime. It restricts you from retiring, from taking extended time off, from giving to what you care about. It is in these terms that we need to focus, not on new cars, big TVs and short extravagant holidays paid for on plastic.

The paradox of course is that the more you spend on these things paid for by debt, the less freedom you have.

Again, it is the same with businesses. Forced to deliver earnings to meet quarterly shareholder and analyst expectations, many companies are unable to make the changes, investments and shifts that would secure the long term future of their company. Just as the individual focusing on the short term risks their long term security, so does the company. Being beholden to shareholders who demand predictable and regular quarterly results is no more fun for the CEO than it is for the individual working in a job they hate to meet the credit card bills for the products they have long forgotten about, worn out or discarded.

So a piece of advice for the next time you want to buy something using debt, ask yourself.

‘What is the true price I am paying for this? Not the cost, but the price in terms of loss of freedom?’

This is Part 1 of a 2 part Series.

Part 2: Freedom, education and the failure of politicians