Quick, someone get me a Transformational Thought Leader!

Anyone who reads blogs or skims Twitter or even worse LinkedIn will end up reading a lot of motivational crap written by people who are primarily motivated by the prospect of persuading you to part with your money. It makes me feel that I’m not trying hard enough with this blog

How long does it take to be considered an expert? That’s a good question. I would reckon in my professional life it would be 20 years of doing the same (type of) job and being good at it. It’s a combination of practice, ability and deep understanding of the subject and how it interacts with other disciplines. It’s what you are called by others and how you are recognised.

How long does it take to become a self proclaimed expert in the wild west of social media? Since it’s something you call yourself, anytime at all. Been backing packing for a few months – travel expert. Been to Barcelona for a stag do – Spanish food/culture expert. Been up a Munro or two – you are now a sherpa!. Read a few personal finance blogs and regurgitated them online – personal finance expert. It’s what you call yourself and how you present yourself.

(We’ve) had enough of experts

Remember that prat who said that about Brexit. – well I’m sure he and his ilk listen to their own favourite experts – choose your advisors wisely. But giving advice must be a very good way to work without risking much or doing much. And based on what I see, there is something entirely confusing about the number of gurus, lifestyle coaches and so called experts out there – if you only read / follow / subscribe / signup / pay up then you too can benefit from their wisdom. Believe the hype and a motivational speaker or even better a transformational thought leader will definitely change your life and you’ll be different once the placebo effect has worn off.

You can do it too you know – don’t let inexperience or lack of ability or knowledge hold you back! Throw in a few buzz words, download a few certificates and pay for a few meaningless qualifications from the British Life Coaching Confederation and you’ll be better positioned than most in the crowded market of BS.

GFF’s Wisdom for Free

I think that RIT had it right in his blog. He saw that his industry was changing and likely he and his cohort would be superseded by cheaper, younger sorts (it happens). So he worked hard, saved hard and invested wisely. It was a long slog but he’s got the FREEDOM and INDEPENDENCE. It doesn’t ultimately make you any happier if you were miserable to being with and you still have 24 hours to spend a day but you are doing it all for yourself.

You can’t realistically start thinking at the age of 20 about FIRE or at least you shouldn’t because I think that it’s more of a pessimists promised land. Why work for 15 years at something you don’t like or love or enjoy when you could maybe just as easily go on the dole and have the same “frugal” lifestyle now and save yourself all the effort?

Better to think of FIRE as a bit like 12 years a slave with fewer beatings and less manual labour. That’s how I read the Escape Artist’s perspective or Simple Living in Somerset. Maybe the Shawshank Redemption is a good analogy – you are doing time now and there’s no parole but you’ve got a small rock hammer and you’ll work away bit by but to get out your way.

But whilst good advice is certainly helpful, there are no answers for the bigger questions on your financial life. Should I change jobs? Buy a house? By 4 more? What about risk? Should I get a side hustle? Move country? Move to the country? Prioritise pension over cash today? Marriage, kids, pets, childcare, career break / career suicide. There’s no blueprint for any of that and no one size fits all approach.

So don’t expect any answers from me. I’ve changed in the last 20 years from feeling certain about everything and being sure of myself, my beliefs, ideas and views to now not knowing, seeing the grey in what was once black and white. These motivational speakers are charlatans, adept at giving you the impression of what you want to feel but they are just on the take. Pity for them that their numbers are swelling all the time and the size of the pie isn’t keeping up. What the all do for money is anyone’s guess

Sucking at the teat

When I worked at one company, we literally paid an agency £500 for an Easter Egg hunt that was part of a team building that was supposed to foster a feeling of collaboration and unification, to show us that together we can achieve more and that if we learn to listen and open our minds we can achieve more!! The whole package cost thousands from a company that specialised in this type of “away day” activity. When I questioned the cost with the sales guy I was bullshitted and when the meeting was over I was publicly rebuked for challenging a guest to the company. (Later on I found out that my company had a special price for everything that it bought – a hidden gullible tax that iss paid when you divorce those who earn money away from spending the money. If we could increase profitability by just 1% we’d earn enough for everyone to have their own Easter Egg hunt!

That’s how it can work in companies and organisations. Sometimes there’ a lot of money leaking out – spent on pet/vanity projects like team building. In one company I worked at, the executive/management office spent £120,000 a year on coffee/tea and not from a café or anything but just the contract for maintaining and filling a few fancy Nespresso type machines. All the while, the proles in the factory drank Nescafé and Tetley. Turns out that the coffee company contract was owned by a spouse of management…

The same is largely true of coaches. In a large part it is vanity that makes them an acceptable form of corporate indulgence. For those outwith the C-suite, it’s like hiring a personal trainer. Maybe I’m a cynic but I don’t know if it works, if it’s worth it or if it’s even worth having. Feel free to disagree with me. I just feel that most if not all that you need is already out there for free – you just need to take the time yourself to find and digest it.

Thanks, GFF


  1. Aiming for FIRE is a bit like chipping away at the goal with a small rock hammer, although I’m fortunate in that I don’t feel like I’m doing time inside (ok, occasionally I do!) – but there’s light at the end of the tunnel behind the Racquel Welch poster! 🙂

    I’ve never been one for motivational speakers, although I have attended a number of sessions (run by work) and I guess I did learn something from each one. There’s no need for me to ever attend any more I don’t think, same as with self-help books – read a couple, read them all.

    No update from RIT since May 2020 – perhaps he’s waiting for the pandemic to blow over so he can relocate his family again (to Australia this time?)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some of my former colleagues have morphed themselves into career coaches offering to assist burned out IT folks get their mojo back. I occasionally glance at their motivational musings on LinkedIn and chuckle.

    I’d have a go at personal finance transformation expert but when I’ve tried that with friends and colleagues they haven’t liked the advice I’ve provided. Saving and investing is not as much fun as spending. I’d probably have tried a commission basis, something like a one off %age of the saving I could make them in the first year or so.

    Being an older fellow (48) I’m also perplexed about the existence of influencers and brand ambassadors.


  3. “These motivational speakers are charlatans …”

    Inspiration: develop a new career in charlatanry! Frexample, epidemiological modelling, climate modelling, …

    By the way, I sympathised with “had enough of experts”. I suspect that it reflects the lesson that all politicians learn eventually – economic predictions are almost all worthless.

    Liked by 1 person

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