Archives for posts with tag: Exchange

Are you a taker or a maker? There are those of us who make stuff, and those of us who take stuff.

You can look at this at two levels. At the first level it’s simple commerce, the transaction between buyer and seller. A manufacturer makes something and the customer or consumer takes it, for an agreed price. It’s a fair exchange, in most cases, otherwise it often ends up being the last exchange between those two parties.

In the wider sense there are those that make something. They create something, they offer it up. It might be their time in the form of volunteering. It might be a form of social enterprise to benefit the community. They might invent something that they give away. Then there are those that take that something. They use it, consume it. Sometimes they thank the maker, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they don’t pay it back, in other words make something for somebody else to take and give back. They leave a debt to the community, they’re in debit. The makers create something for the community, they’re in credit. Sometimes the makers object to this and stop making. Sometimes they don’t and carry on making.

So the question remains: are you a taker or a maker?


There are two types of business-to-business client. I found this out in my first job after my MBA in the 1990’s when I worked for a design and marketing agency and had to get out there and sell.

The first type of client is the type that respects your work, trusts your expertise and domain knowledge, and generally takes your advice.

The other type of client is the type that wants it done his or her way, tells you what they want, because they know better, even though what they want may not be the best for them. They respond to what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.

The one factor that affects this division is the amount of experience and and expertise you have with regard to your client’s industry. The less you have, or can demonstrate, the less likely they’ll be inclined to take your advice and the more command and control their approach becomes.

You know the saying: ‘you get the clients you deserve’. Clients also get the agencies, suppliers or delivery partners they deserve.

The term ‘client’ is also problematic for me. We used it in the agency and some companies still use it, depending on their sector. It puts the customer on a pedestal. I agree that everything stems from the customer, and that we all should be customer-centric, but when you elevate your customer to almost divine status it makes it hard both to have a peer-to-peer relationship that’s based on trust and to strike a fair deal. Then you have a vendor/supplier-client relationship that’s unequal and approaches that of a slave-master relationship. That’s what the term ‘client’ feels like to me.

It’s hardly the most profound thing in my blogging history when I say that a lot of money can be won or lost in the zero sum game of currency exchange.

Not just in the business world, where some astute planning, hedging and plain old organisational skills can mean a major bottom line difference.

It can be equally important in an individual sense as well, but it seems to me that with every transaction the loser is always the individual, who always seems to get the thin end of the currency wedge.

The only time I had to move a significant sum of money between currencies was when I sold an apartment for a modest low-five-figure profit. I had to work really hard with the receiving bank to get a dealer rate, which made quite a big difference to the rate I was originally offered.

If you have money to start with, this can become less of a problem and you have much more control in the negotiation. I knew a chap who took advantage of very good exchange rates to buy all the US dollars he needed for living expenses over a two-year degree course over there. He had the money to do that. Few do.

In other every-day transactions, like making electronic purchases with a euro card in the UK, you’re taking a hit every single time. There’s an inter-bank rate, then there are the rates applied when the bank or payment authority either buys from you or sells to you. These can vary prodigiously from the inter-bank rate. This is, of course, where the bank makes its money, but it’s hard not to feel like a hostage in the whole process.

Ecommerce companies like Amazon make a fortune this way, as do the airlines on their in-flight rates.

This seems to be one of the few areas remaining where the consumer finds it hard to exert power in the relationship. You’re starting to see more and more currency transfer websites offering much lower fees than bricks-and-mortar banks to change money, which is great. But you’re still a hostage to the rate they offer you.