Additional Titles









The Difference Between Wealth and Profit









PART 1 of 2


By Marilyn M. Barnewall
June 13, 2010

I’m going to share APES with you.

No swinging through the trees or grunting or scratching hairy chests (or anything else) is required. APES does not live in a jungle or a zoo. It’s a Syndrome. I got to name it because I discovered it in the 1980s: The Active Passive Energy Syndrome (APES).

While a banker and later a bank consultant, I for 20-years researched what was supposed to be a banking topic (and it was) and found answers to many of life’s questions that don’t involve business and finance. APES is both complex and difficult. Its greatest danger lies in what appears to be its common sense simplicity. Because of its subtle complexity, people think they “get” it far sooner than is possible. At various stages along the research path, I thought I got it, too – only to find the path led much further than I realized.

It will take over a page of definitions to make it possible for readers to follow research results. It’s one reason I don’t discuss APES in articles. I encourage you to read on because APES explains why your country is being torn asunder. Actually, the explanation is quite simple – once you understand the terminology that emerged from 20 years of data.

The terms “Active Investor” and “Passive Investor” came from this research (so does another term I coined, “upscale”). The original research design was to determine what motivates affluent, successful people to make investment decisions. It achieved that – but don’t stop reading because you’re not a major investor. All human beings are investors… in life. That’s what APES discovered.

The research proved that all human investments are motivated by two basic human needs, regardless of socio-economic status. The word “investor,” the data told me, refers to financial investments, but the same motivators also influence buying a pound of bacon – or, spending time, energy or money on any endeavor. Whenever time, energy or money is spent, it’s an investment – marriage, children, career, study, currency, stocks and bonds – political views – are all investments. Thus, all people invest.

This “project” taught me the importance of definitional clarity of words – and the dangers of no clarity. Those who are regular readers know I’ve written about this important subject. I’ve also written about the importance of identifying the difference between issues and problems. Now you know why. Both are valuable lessons I learned from this long-term endeavor.

How easily we are misled when we do not have a firm understanding of the words we (and others) use! How easily we are diverted from real problem solving when we allow our thoughts to be absorbed by issues. Issues can’t be solved. Problems can. Americans are focused on issues, not problems. It’s why I decided to talk about APES.

As an aside, the research results were published by the American Bankers Association and sold to American bankers for $5,000 per copy. Lafferty Publications (London/Dublin) then contracted with me to sell the book worldwide. The research has never been challenged and the programs implemented using it were and are successful.

We need a quick definition of “wealth.” Wealth, for the purposes of this study, has little to do with money and everything to do with character. Money may make wealth more fun, but wealth, as referred to herein, is character. Please understand that these definitions didn’t come from me, but from the research. I resisted but they kept hitting me over the head until I understood what was being said.

What do “Active” and “Passive” mean?

Actives come by wealth (character) by actively managing the risk of their own assets (assets include time, sweat, and tears). When we manage our own assets, we must demand the right to control the risks we take – or, we foolishly play someone else’s game and let them make the rules as the game progresses – a good way to lose in any endeavor.

Passives come by wealth… well, passively (with minimum personal risk). They risk the assets of other people to gain wealth (including character) or, they inherit it. In the financial world, they risk the funds of stockholders, partners, taxpayers, and other funding sources outside of themselves. In other endeavors, they risk other people’s time, sweat and tears and all of the physical, emotional and spiritual strength supporting each.

If you understand Passives are liberal and Actives are conservative, it makes clear the total lack of current political understanding about managing business risk and why people aren’t responding to all of the cash being thrown into the marketplace. Passives do not understand risk management – they think “risk taking” and “risk management” are synonymous – they are not. Government, run by Passive Liberals, decided it will tell businesses which risks it must take and when and how to take them. Businesses (especially independents) aren’t buying it – nor should they. Big businesses are run by Passive liberals who cede to group demands. Independent businesses that employ a large majority of Americans are run by Active conservatives who will not.


Research results clearly show there are two basic motivators in life: Power and control. Though erroneously used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.

Control happens internally – is exercised over self. Power happens externally – is exercised over others.

We are used to hearing things like “Government is trying to control inflation.” A more accurate statement is that government (or the Federal Reserve System) is exercising power over monetary policy to contain inflation. It is impossible to “control” that over which one has no “power.”

If a complete stranger comes to your door and demands you come outside and wash his car, most people will close the door in his face (before calling the police). A stranger who holds no power over you cannot demand anything of you. If he brandishes a weapon or comes to your door with a knife at the throat of your next door neighbor, he holds power over you. He can “control” your behavior through an exercise of “power.”

Control and power are very different.

The driving force of Active conservatives is control. The driving force of Passive liberals is power. Not only is the meaning of the words different, so are the people motivated by one or the other.

Example: Liberals, motivated by power, are drawn to politics, the greatest circus tent for power clowns in the world. Conservatives, motivated by control, are not attracted to power-dominant professions. They mostly seek to control their own destiny. They avoid the power politics at major corporations – and in government. Power politics involves exercising power over others in an “acceptable” manner. When liberals dominate society, political correctness does, too. Conservatives avoid becoming politicians. They do not enjoy exercising power over others. They will fight to keep others from exercising it over them.

Why are liberals motivated by power? Why are conservatives motivated by control? Children, based on their early environment, inwardly determine their risk management skills. They learn fight or flight on the basis of personal prices paid for putting their toes in the water of risk management. Some people manage risk well and others do not. Some people emerge from childhood secure, others emerge insecure.

Who needs power more, a secure or an insecure person? An insecure person needs power (or access to it) just as children need adults to check under the bed – to get rid of unseen threats and gremlins.

I coined the term “Passive Investor” to describe people motivated by power. The word “Passive” refers only to this group’s adverse reaction to risk management. It does NOT define personalities. Passives are often strong, dynamic people – almost all politicians from the President on down are Passives. So, too, are almost all corporate executives (including dynamic guys like Lee Iacocca).

Why are so many politicians of both political parties Passive? Actives aren’t attracted to positions of power. Passives are. It has little to do with the terms “Republican” and “Democrat.” All those words tell you is that Republicans (like most corporate executives) are fiscal conservatives and Democrats are fiscal liberals.

Why are there so many abuses of power when Passives (liberals) control things? When something is an integral part of the personality, there is always an equal and an opposite element present. For Passives, there is always respect for and abuse of power. For Actives, there is always respect for and lack of respect for others relative to individualist control of self destiny.

Actives/conservatives need to control risks because only fools take risks on playing fields they do not control. Actives don’t take risks, they manage them. Conservatives are not attracted to careers at major corporations and other large institutions like government because of the power politics played. They are America’s shopkeepers and risk-managing independent business owners.

Why do Passives/Liberals so hate capitalism? Capitalism is an economic system requiring the management of risk. There is a big difference between managing risks and taking them – but Passives have little understanding of risk management. Actives manage risks, Passives view risk as something to be taken (and avoided).

Why are Liberals so attracted to socialism/communism? They are forms of government that promise to assume all of life’s risks. That sounds like a sweet deal to an insecure person drawn to power like a magnet.

Why are the supporters of capitalism, Actives/Conservatives, so committed to freedom and the economic system that makes it possible? Without freedom there is no control of self destiny.

If you confuse risk management with risk taking, you may think Wall Street’s boys must be Actives. “Look at the risks they take!” Actives do not take risks. They manage them. What’s the difference? Control. Do Wall Street brokers control the risks they take? Only at executive management levels – and they are playing with OPM (other people’s money), not their own – typical Passive behavior.

To Passives, big equals powerful which equals safe. They invest in and work for big companies. Big and Passive/Market investors go together like water and rain. Actives primarily invest in themselves, not the stock market over which they have no control. Passives find “big” safe – at educational institutions, labor unions, government, businesses, banks, media, airlines – and brokerage firms. So, now you know why our schools were overtaken by security-driven Passives who are risk management averse: Teacher = Power. School=Big=Safe.

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The power to which Passives are attracted provides protective-like security that removes the need to manage risk.

I told you it’s a complicated subject. It still fascinates me. So far, we’ve covered about 1/1000th of the many ways in which APES can be applied.

Article Two discusses additional behavior modes of these two groups. For part two click below.

Click here for part -----> 2,

� 2010 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved

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Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career in 1956 as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 years (plus) as a banker and bank consultant, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking, the first book written about private banks, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the American Bankers Association and trained private bankers in Singapore in 1991. She has authored seven banking books, one dog book, and one work of fiction (about banking, of course). She has served on numerous Boards in her community.

Barnewall received her degree in Banking from the University of Colorado Graduate School of Business in 1978 and was named one of America's top 100 businesswomen. She was a founding member of the Committee of 200, the official organization of America's top businesswomen. She can be found in Who's:Who in America (2005-08), Who's Who of American Women (2006-08), Who's Who in Finance and Business (2006-08), and Who's Who in the World (2008).

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After 20 years of listening to 5,000 people subtly tell me otherwise, my definitions changed. As I listened to people talk about wealth, it became apparent they were talking about more than money. They were talking about the character required to earn it.