We live in a world of continuous marketing, where we are constantly told what we don’t have, what we need, and why we need it.

A huge amount of emphasis is placed on ownership of products, from power tools to the latest electronic gadget, to our choice of car on our driveway, with all choices implying a social standing or status. It’s no surprise that so many of us become compulsive shoppers, in a bid to keep up with the virtual Jones’s of this world!  But does this make us happy?

Undervaluing the best gift

Most of us aren’t even coming close to acquiring what we really want. We’re overlooking the best gift anyone can receive in the modern world – the luxury and enjoyment of TIME.

Ask your employees to recall something significant they achieved or participated in at work last year. Ask them to reflect for a moment on what the year 2017 brought them. What they will visualise is an experience; visiting an unusual venue; being in a unique environment; absorbing a different atmosphere or indulging in a shared activity.  Research from San Francisco State University[1] found that people who spent money on experiences rather than material items were happier and felt the money was better spent. The thrill of purchasing things fades quickly but the joy and memories of experiences, from epic adventures to minute encounters, can last a lifetime.

The question to be asked is should we rely on instant gratification to drive performance or create  inspiring memories  that will make a lasting impact? Firstly we must acknowledge that the two are not the same thing; to get one you may have to trade off on the other. In other words, if you wish to maximise the likelihood of experiencing pleasure in the present means you minimise the likelihood of creating a great memory to look back on in the future.

Travel illustrates this example perfectly. Sit on a beach in Mexico for a week and you’ll almost certainly enjoy a decent amount of experienced, in-the-moment pleasure. But it’s not likely to lead to many memories, especially if you’ve sat on a lot of beaches before. On the other hand, perhaps you would have enjoyed an experience that would stay with you for life had you taken a privately chartered schooner to Capri from Sorrento, stopping en route for a relaxed swim off the back of the boat, before on the return journey enjoying a surprise rendezvous with speed boats that lead to an exhilarating fast ride back to base.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman[2] is a Nobel Prize winner and one of the founders of behavioural economics. Kahneman cites travel as a great change-inducing experience. As travel provides an ongoing supply of new and novel experiences, it is an almost perfect memory-making activity.

Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us. When we look to motivate and encourage employees to improve their performance and succeed we can help by creating the right atmosphere. Events set engagement as the foundation, provide a platform for improved learning  to equip staff with competitive advantage.


“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin



  • [1] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2014.898316?journalCode=rpos20
  • [2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/inside-the-consumer-mind/201210/how-memories-experience-influence-behavior