As punk legend Ian Drury once rather succinctly put it in one of his songs: “There ain’t half been some clever b*stards.” Abraham Maslow was one such clever chap.  His Hierarchy of Needs has stood the test of time and appears somewhere in almost every business school’s sales, marketing or organisational behaviour curricula and most people have a passing knowledge of it.

My father used to simplify it further.  Before I share that with you, I have to say I don’t know if my Dad was familiar with Maslow’s theory, but he – my Dad – was always full of insights and was a classic mentor in the sense that someone who has already figured something out could give you the inside track on an important aspect of life.

Anyway, back to the simplification. My Dad used to say: “Paul,” for that is my name, “people are essentially motivated by two guiding principles. These two are fear and greed.” The more I thought about this, the more I came to the conclusion that he was annoyingly – and rather depressingly – on the money. You can distil how people behave down into two primary – and primeval – driving forces.

The words fear and greed don’t appear anywhere in Maslow’s handy pyramid – and how business consultants love the safe refuge of shapes like pryramids, triangles, funnels and 2 x 2 grids – yet what my Dad had done is cut through the pyramid and produced two possible avenues for explaining why folk do the things folk do.

Oversimplified? Possibly, but there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. Just try it yourself. You could view it as a touch cynical or pessimistic, but it works. Forget the 7 deadly sins, you need 1 of them – greed – with the F of FUD thrown in for good measure.

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