Leadership lessons from Big Data: How to pay your way to efficiency in a world of free access

“Download this app for free.” I’m sure you often come across this sales pitch online. I used to fall for such, but now I know that there’s no such a thing as a free app. I now understand that once you start using it, you have already paid for it.


Surveillance capitalism suggests that for every app that you download, you pay for it one way or another. Aren’t you surprised that you are always asked for permission for the app to access your picture, videos, messages, microphone, etc? Basically, you are being requested to part with your privacy. That is the price. And that is Life.


So, what self-leadership lesson do we find in the “secret” mechanisms of big data and surveillance capitalism? Think about it for a minute… If there is no free app, what is it that you think is free in this life? Is education free? Is socialising free? Is dating free? Nothing is for mahala. You have to pay your way through this life, whether in gold, platinum or personal data, it matters not. Effort (payment) is required if efficiency is to be attained.


In my upcoming book, The R Is Silent: Seven Fees You Pay for Every Free Lunch, I deal with the psychology of paying dearly for stuff you imagined you could gain at no charge. I have grown to learn that success itself is never free. You have to make things happen in order for you to become successful in any field you choose to impact. In order to be an efficient professional, you must always be ready to pay the price.


The million dollar question is, do you know what price you need to pay?

  • Is it reading more about your field?
  • Is it registering for a particular course relevant to your field?
  • Is it going for some specialised training related to your field?
  • What price is required for you to pay in order for you to succeed in what you are pursuing?
  • Is it working with people that you don’t wish to work with?
  • Is it trusting others with your ideas?
  • Is it saving money every month until you have enough to buy stock or pay for whatever it is you need in order to get to work?
  • Is it hiring workers who are not your ideal type of employees?
  • Is it hiring a speechwriter or at least getting a result-orientated coach that you pay every month?


If you are willing to part with your privacy in order to enjoy using an online app, why do you think you can succeed without parting with something? There is no such thing as a free app. And there is definitely no such thing as free success. You need to part with your “free” time and work for the life of your dreams. You need to part with ignorance and consciously learn more about your field than the next competitor. You need to part with taking people (potential customers) for granted. You must understand your customer more than your customer understands himself or herself. For you to succeed in anything meaningful that you do, you need to part with something. This is the Unwritten Law of Parting. 


Success demands that you part with something. Sometimes success demands that you part with some people and some habits. In whatever you do, whatever relationships, friendships and associations you are involved in, learn to value usefulness and to discard uselessness. You must calculate what is useful and what is useless. That which is useful is that which is helping you to succeed. That which is useless is that which is preventing you from succeeding. Don’t compromise. Those who find you useless will not hesitate to discard you. Do the same. Discard.


The Unwritten Law of Parting demands that you part with some stuff and some venues and some activities and some people and some attitudes. Your success rests in your ability to part. If you cannot part you will remain stuck in a rut. Garner the courage to part. Sometimes, all you need is to part with stupidity. Anything that you keep on doing that is standing in your way to knowing success is a sign of stupidity. Being able to part with such things is a sign of wisdom. Be wise. Part.


There is no such thing as a free app. And there is definitely no such a thing as free success. The R in Free is silent. You will pay for every opportunity that you seek and get. You must learn to pay your way to efficiency.


Hunter Moon is a social media marketing consultant and public relations, strategist. A proponent of personal leadership, growth and development, Hunter is a publisher, author, keynote speaker and media go-to guy. He is currently working as the chief information officer at global organization, Transdisciplinary Agora for Future Discussions (TAFFD’s).