Why I wrote Money Farm.
Life often has plans for us that we are unaware of. That is certainly something it taught me. Had I had my way I would have continued being a travel adventurer and photographer for my whole life. However, being on a ship that almost sunk in Antarctica makes a person consider a more ‘safe’ life. When you look death in the face it forces re-evaluation.
When I completed that contract I returned to England to study a Masters Degree in Media with a specialism in psycho-analysis and character. My timing was immaculate: I arrived just when the media industry was in depression and the digitisation of photography was gaining momentum. With a highly competitive photographic market, and no easy way into media, I took a job temping in finance. I had been an expedition leader and now I was sitting amongst sludgy office types who feared remote places. They talked about dieting whilst eating chocolate. These people were the ‘ants’ in the financial system. They were the stable workers who made everything work. They were not these greedy million dollar bonus types, instead they were lucky to get five hundred pounds bonus and that bonus was their incentive to remain in the most monotonous jobs you could ever imagine. The kind of job that would make most people go mad. Licking a wall five thousand times a day would have been more satisfying!
I was lucky, I was a temp. I could jump around and learn new systems and new roles in a variety of financial establishment. So I took my opportunity. Many times I was bought in for data clean ups, or system defect analysis. Over time I developed quite an insight into systems and since I was creative, I could see systems, patterns and linkages within most things. In the meantime, my huge aspiration was to make films, become famous (to feel egotistically special) and write children’s books. Strangely no opportunity arrived. While I was at University my tutor suggested that I wrote books, so I wrote on a daily basis. I had learned forming habits and persistence would lead to success.
Well my working life was boring and I needed a literary escape so wrote all manner of ‘fun’ stuff for enjoyment. I realised I needed a proper job to support my hobby and I needed stability so I could apply concentrated focus to writing. I then took a role supporting bullion trading pre-Lehman Brothers. There were aspects that were exciting like the physical settlement of gold. I had the opportunity to look at trending and analysis and pay attention to how the gold market followed patterns. It was during this time that the Money Farm title popped into my head. As much as I was enjoying my learning, I resented the fact that I was ‘stuck’ in a financial institution. I had always been an adventurous butterfly and now I was in a metaphorical jar. My escape resulted in writing out my frustrations. My ridiculous dreams of being a film director had fallen by the wayside and there I was watching the world shifting lumps of metal around for a huge price. It was at the end of 2007 when things started to become interesting. I began to see sudden surges in price and people urgently buying gold. There were tremors and rumour in the market. I raised my concerns to my manager and they were dismissed. The surge in the movement of gold volumes was assumed to be down to an Indian holiday, Diwali. I knew that wasn’t the reason so sought out more evidence. It was then that I realised it was time to leave finance. The fluctuations in the market were pointing at something huge.
Two months later I literally jumped on a cruise ship full of millionaires and billionaires. My rational thinking was that millionaires and billionaires on a ship would remain safe. I was wrong. The richest people on the ship had their money invested in Lehman. I watched the world’s wealthy be rich one day and fly home with nothing the next. It was quite a phenomenon. It was during this time I met a little German billionaire-ess who shared her passion for trading with me. She was unassuming and looked like a granny. She sat me down and taught me her investment system. I realised then, that since I was amongst the worlds’ wealthy, I could learn from them. Strangely this ship went to Antarctica and we were hit by a huge wave which annihilated the front of the ship. This was my sign that once my contract was up I had to return home. All the time I wrote. Even when I was exhausted. I was compelled and what these rich people taught me was belief, circumstance, persistence and attitude led them to where they were. They worked, they suffered but they continued against the odds. It was not an easy road for any of them, other than those who inherited, or the wives who had hunted their men. However, the sacrifice many of the women made of themselves to be with a rich man was an interesting observation in itself.
Once my contract was complete, I returned to England just as the jobs market dried up. I had a year working as a freelance photographer, not knowing where my next payment was coming from. To say I felt unsettled was an understatement. At that time I lived in an area close to Boscombe. This is an area in Bournemouth Dorset, renown for poverty, drug addiction and alcoholism. Boscombe itself is beautiful and I actually love it there; however, I was provided with the time to be amongst those whose life had dealt them very different cards. There was a particular café in Roumelia lane, which has the best coffee and the best lasagne. I would go there and listen to how the recovered addicts returned to wellness. So many of them had been born into absolute poverty and almost had no chance of survival. The stories bemused me. How did some people land in lives that took them to greatness where others took them to self-destruction? A few months before I had heard about wealth, progression and success and now I was listening to people whose parents had locked them in sheds and starved them. Their sense of self-worth was so devoid that it made me so angry. How was life fair?
During that year I returned to a stable job, I worked, wrote and absorbed all I could about society, systems, psychology and psychoanalysis. I mentally hovered up because I had to understand ‘why’. Obviously there was no answer. At the end of that year I had a personal crisis whereby, my relationship combusted, I was made redundant, my grandfather died, I had extreme food poisoning and my back went. It is during these times, when we are forced to stop, that we realise we are chasing our tales. While in my bed, I kept writing as a distraction and an escape. The truth was I needed a stable job, there was no one to support me other than me and all the patterns I was experiencing were coming from me. So in that state I resolved to find the best way to heal myself, would return to finance and I would write a book on money because I had seen all aspects of it. Extreme wealth, extreme poverty and the institutionalised version. So within two weeks I was back working in finance and resolved that I would not leave the financial institutions until I had completed the money book. Also while I was writing this book I ‘had to’ learn everything I could on economics, behavioural finance, persuasion techniques, the psychology of wealth and at the same time I intended to find the best way to physically heal ‘stress symptoms’ so that I could cope without physical collapse. In addition, I taught creative writing evening classes, so that I could be amongst fellow creatives and kept the creative side of me alive. I know that is nuts – but I love watching people learn and grow.
Seven years later – I have worked again in numerous financial companies, I am now a business analyst – a job that I love. I work on the analysis of financial incidents and how we rebuild the system and fix them. It is like being a healer – I look at the illness within the system, the symptoms and find ways to adapt, adjust and stabilise. This provides me with beautiful sense of purpose and contribution.
All the while, I tried to figure out alternatives for the Money Farm. A few years ago, when there were demonstrations against capitalism, I ended up having a chat with some of the leaders of the ‘sit in’ and asked them about alternatives. When they said they did not have an alternative, I wondered how you demonstrate against the system you reside within without moving to something new. That thought haunted me and kept rearing its ghostly head. The strange thing was that to create the book, everything that I learned for self-healing contributed to how I approached the finance. What I learned is that wealth really is a mind-set and a sense of feeling. To feel rich one has to feel it inside. The richest people can feel poor even when they have everything. The focus on the physical healing enabled me insights into the biological system, which I applied to the writings in the book and how I ‘heal’ and track the system. Also, and since I am saying it how it is, originally I had this heady idea of being ‘rich, being successful and world literary domination,’ – this is me being an egotistical dick, however, none of that matters. I have loved the writing and the journey. When I completed Money Farm I was in a state of shock. I had figured out how I was going to solve things and had figured myself out. In truth, I was not going to release it because I felt that I was at a point in my life whereby I write because I love the space and time to digest my thoughts. Why put Money Farm out into the world when you are already content and enjoyed its creation? Well – it was one of those discussions with friends where you get a ‘kick-in’ and they tell you that it is selfish not to share it. Imagine. So Money Farm has been born to digital consumer machine and I genuinely hope it inspires people to see beyond the financial illusions and take the journey into self. That is all I can wish for you – that one can grow, and become the best you and that in itself will be the key to your happinessJ