Your Individual Currency

by breeve 20. February 2011 14:41

The economy of Germany after WWI could not have been worse. Squeezed by the allies and pinched by the communists, Germany was in desperate straits to get its economy back. Facing high unemployment and reparation, they turned to the printing press. What started as an attempt to juice the economy quickly lead to rising prices.

Worse, as time went on the prices began to rise faster. By 1923, 10 Million Marks would only buy ½ pound of meat, 4 eggs or 2 pounds of potatoes. Prices rose so fast that workers upon being paid would immediately run to the stores to spend it because holding it would render it worthless. So quickly did prices rise that a student was caught by surprise when he ordered two cups of coffee and was charged 5,000 Marks for one and 14,000 Marks for the other.

With the currency becoming worthless, people fled to hard assets like real estate and land. Sellers became hesitant to sell goods because they would be worth more later. Soon the 1 Trillion Mark note began circulating and by 1923 the exchange rate was 1 US dollar to 1 Trillion Marks.

If there is one thing Germany taught us during this period it’s that the value of paper money is only worth what can be purchased from it. Too much money chasing too little goods decreases the wealth of individuals and governments who hold it. And while Germany was printing, many saw their life savings rendered worthless as it sat in the bank.

Ultimately, a nation’s wealth lies not in how much paper money it can produce but in the goods and services that back the money. In other words, the wealth of a nation is dependant on work and production.

Countries may have their currencies but individuals have them also. Not dollars, euros, or yuan but imaginary currency. To keep it competitive, you must always be producing.

When I started my first job out of college and attended meetings, I quickly found my words didn’t carry any weight. If my words were my currency, no one was buying; and the reason no one was buying was my currency was worthless. My talk might have been good, but there was no work history and no successful projects to back the currency.

But nothing does more damage to the worth of your individual currency than to talk and not do. Just as a nation’s currency must be backed by goods and services, your currency must also be backed by doing. Run your mouth off long enough with no action will lead to hyperinflation. Soon you won’t be taken seriously much like the 1 Trillion German Mark.

Those with real currency that bites are doers. When they talk people listen. No one said it better than Theodore Roosevelt in 1891: “...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done.”

Theodore should know; he was one of the driving forces behind the success of the Panama Canal. But he wasn’t the only one listening to his advice. Take a look at the successful people in your organization. Trace their career. Chances are they have a history of success through hard work grounded in doing. At the top, there are no philosophers printing money only doers.

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I am a Principal Engineer with 13 years experience developing and releasing software products. I started developing in C/C++ then moved into .NET and C# and have tech lead multiple projects. I have developed products in Windows Forms, ASP.NET/MVC, Silverlight, and WPF. I currently reside in Austin, Texas.

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