Confession of an ashamed marketer: I was wrong

happiness is here and now

Marketing and Economics used to be everything I knew that was true about this world. I was, and still am, a well-trained and high-skilled marketer. During the first years of my career I marketed a wide range of things: massage sticks for athletes, chemical coating for sewer pipes, expensive fashion for kids, a new way of mobile payments and everything in between. Finding smart and new ways for people to buy more and faster at the highest possible price was what I loved to do. I was so focussed on doing this, that I had no idea what the implications were of my individual actions.

I remember vividly that one day my mother asked me: ‘Steven, if you are only focussed on selling more than the competition, when and where will this ever stop?’. It took me only a second to reply that I did not know what she was talking about. What could she possibly mean? The whole thing that keeps our economy growing and our level of wealth going up is that people keep buying, right? I basically ignored her remark and went on doing what I did best for another two years or so: selling great products. Even when I took the picture that I used for this blog post during the Occupy movement in Amsterdam I could not understand the things that were on all those signs right in front of me. I was still proud that I was making the world a better place by keeping the economy going and showing people that buying the things I knew they needed would result in happier lives for everybody.

And then…

…somewhere in 2012 I realised that I was participating actively and enthusiastically in a very strange story. A story that I believed in with everything I had. A story that could actually be resulting in the exact opposite of what I was striving for: the story that is our modern monetary economy. I discovered that it is a story where everybody is being persuaded by people like me to spent money they don’t have on things they don’t need to create impressions that don’t last on people they don’t care about with products that are destroying and trashing our planet. All in order to keep the economy going.

Once I was able to see the direction where this story was taking us I decided to change my life. I was able to acknowledge that my mother (and many other people) had been right all along and make the confession that I had been wrong. Because everything that I had believed in and that I thought I was, was so deeply rooted in my old belief system, it took (and is taking) a lot of effort to start seeing the world with new eyes. But confessing this has helped me to take a different perspective and suddenly I could see things very clearly and they profoundly changed the way I look at life, business, our world and my role in it. I realised four very important things:

1. The economy is not a thing
2. All money is created out of debt
3. We live on a finite planet
4. Happiness doesn’t come from stuff

1. The economy is not a thing
The economy is not real, we created it! This was one of the discoveries that shocked me the most. We talk about it, fear it and worship it like it is a real, living thing. But it is not! The economy is a human invention and we set the rules by which it operates. All the problems we are now facing economically are man made but they are not real. The planet is still filled with food, water and air. The system we designed makes us think otherwise but it is not true! It has taken a form and complexity over time that makes it almost impossible to manage but is still a human invention. And this invention served us for a very long time but it does not anymore! And because it is our invention, we can and (we should) change it. It is time start asking questions like: what is an economy actually for? Does it’s current for still serve us? When is it enough?

“Economies of scale demands that we don’t share, and that we all have one of everything.. Do we really need one of everything?” Mark Boyle

Check this short video on this topic:

2. All money is created out of debt
Every dollar, euro, yen or peso that circulates on this planet was created out of debt. Somebody had to borrow it from a bank and sign off on paying back this loan with a certain amount of interest. And because all money is created with a certain amount of required interest, this debt can never be repaid. The interest was simply never created. The amount of debt that has to be repaid will always be higher than the amount of money that is in circulation. This means that everybody (governments, companies, private people) is basically enslaved by banks to pay of a debt that can never by fully repaid. This is the reason why we go to jobs we don’t like, fight wars we don’t want and can never be satisfied with what we have right now.

“Money, in itself not feeding, sheltering, nor loving us – has become more meaningful, more valued and more sacred in our lives than trees” Mark Boyle

Pretty hard to believe right? This video explains more in depth about how money is created and what is doing to us because of this:

3. We live on a finite planet
We are going to be nine billion people soon, if we keep growing our ‘economies’ at the rate we currently do (and all the ministers of economic affairs, managers of banks and big corporates want us to), we will burn down our system completely. You simply cannot grow infinitely on a finite planet. If we want to continue and maintain our current living standards on this planet, we already need one and a half Earths to support all our needs (let alone another Earth to dump all our waste). We have reached a tipping point in our development as a species on this planet. After more or less 10.000 years on Earth we have failed to establish an equilibrium we need to survive and if we are not going to do so rapidly, our existence here on Earth might end sooner than we all want it to. Not in a couple hundreds of years but in our lifetimes. We are approaching the point where Thomas Salk is turning out to be right when he said:

“if all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish”.

Tim Jackson wrote a great book on this topic: Prosperity without Growth. This is a presentation by him:

4. Happiness does not come from stuff, it comes from within, it is here and now
How often do you find yourself present in the current moment? Engaged in actively enjoying what is NOW, not what was or what will be, but what IS right now? Because of people like me, we are always longing for something that lies in the future to bring us happiness: new shoes, a new job, a new car, whatever. We forget to be present and realise that this moment, right now, will never ever come back. It will quickly dissolve to be the past and nothing but a memory. But life is now. It is not in the future, not in the past. It is is now. The beautiful, problem-less and peaceful now. There is no stuff involved in happiness, all it requires is to be present.

“The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is” Eckhart Tole

Now what?
So where does all of this leave me? Well, I am still the well-trained and high-skilled marketer that I used to be. Only the angle that I am taking now is a different one. No longer am I involved in persuading people to buy stuff they don’t actually need and make them long for long term happiness. I have decided to start focussing on telling a different story. A story where people will understand that money and our economy are not real and that everyone of us is empowered from within and that our every day decisions determine what this world will look like. We are in control. I believe that as humanity we are awakening to to the simple concept that ‘more for me is less for you’ and that a ‘gift based economy’ is possible.

Although I am still far from reaching these goals I am trying through big and small endeavours to make my way towards this new reality. Working Wonderfully is helping people to start living and working on their own terms, see money for what it really is and create more meaningful lives for themselves and those around them. Digital Nomadz is giving me the perspective, consciousness and worldview to understand the size and complexity of all the problems we are facing as humanity and this blog gives me the chance to share my personal thoughts and challenges with the world and converse directly with you:)

Thank you for reading and I would love to hear your response to my confession.


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I am a Digital Nomad. Travelling the world while leaving a trail of small acts of awesomeness. This is my personal blog. Contact me at

3 thoughts on “Confession of an ashamed marketer: I was wrong”

  1. A courageous story which i acknowledge completely!
    And for me tomorrow i am going to make pictures of birds and enjoy every moment of it. I will share your story on FB!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Wim! Hope you enjoyed the birds and the special moments in the presents that derive from this!

  2. Hi Steven, I’ve coincidentally came across your presentation on ‘noaberschap and techniek’. I would like to ask you some questions regarding this topic. It is possible to come in contact with you? Hope to hear from you soon.


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