Happy, successful and……broke!

Dalibor Šumiga Behavioral marketing/Neuromarketing, Marketing

There is a large number of motivational speakers on the market, more and less known, who talk about success. But, have we tried to define what we actually perceive as success and who is even qualified to talk about success?

At a large number of lectures you can hear lecturers telling their story – unsatisfied with the workplace atmosphere they quit, started their own business and are now happy and fulfilled.


People are always seeking for inspiration, and exceptional speakers always have the power to move the masses, sometimes in the wrong way, which we can see almost on a daily basis, history itself also filled with  examples. This means that the wrong message can cause great harm to the listener. Therefore, the key question when talking about motivational speakers, is how do we actually define success?

My theory is as follows:

01) business success is defined by profit

02) personal success  is defined by happiness, health, free time, social status, time spent with your family, time devoted to hobbies

Why is business success defined only by profit? Because business is performed by exchanging certain goods or services for other goods, services or money. Therefore, the story is very clearly monetized. If you’re not creating profit for your company, how can you say you’re successful?

Personal success is a different story, someone can be happy even with a very low salary, but loving what she or he does, always leaving from work at a normal time, exercising every weekend, playing with the kids or pets, having a hobby they can devote themselves to. Great, but that person cannot talk about business success if they can barely cover their monthly bills.

The problem is that business success is very often talked about by people who confused their personal success for business success.

Very simple, an eloquent person who doesn’t understand that business success is exclusively measured by profit, can inspire another person to follow their path – quit their job, start their own business, decide to work only with people who understand their vision. Inspired by a story that’s actually  filled with holes because you didn’t ask the right questions, when it’s too late you realise it’s hard to be happy when you’re hungry, even if you do have time for hobbies, family, a healthy life…

Maybe the motivational speaker left an impression of being happy, but you never asked him or her how their happiness was measured and now you’re in trouble for taking the wrong advice.


In a world where even the basic living needs (food, a roof over your head, healthcare services) depend on money, you simply cannot ignore its importance.

But being poor isn’t only a physical state….

An interesting research was conducted in India on a sample of 464 farmers coming from 54 villages who make a living from sugar cane farming.*

The harvest of sugar cane happens once a year which means that farmers receive a paycheck for their work once a year.

A team of researchers tested the cognitive abilities of farmers before and after the harvest and the research showed that examinees had significantly smaller cognitive abilities before the harvest. So, poverty isn’t only the lack of money but also of cognitive ability – when faced with fighting for your own existence you can’t be altruistic or creative or concentrated in the same capacity as when your financial situation is under control.

The next time you hear any person talking about their business success, ask them if they feel successful and how they measure their success. If they start telling you about how liberated they feel.