What’s your currency? And at what value do you exchange it for, in return for the currency of others? What are key markers for that currency? How, through interactions, do you value others’ currency and does this necessarily have to be in relation to yours? Are you fixed or floating in your endeavors and does that give you a higher or lower valuation?
More so since the end of the MBA, I’ve been preoccupied with measurements of value. But while it could be said programs like MBA condition a person to be mindful of the ‘How?’, the questions I’ve found myself reflecting on more, have to do with the ‘Why?’ of value’ and, somewhat related, implications of this on ‘Who’ is considered powerful and who possesses the power of influence on others.
Our day-to-day lives are rife with minor and major negotiations, from trying to decide where to enjoy a meal to potentially life-changing decisions such as relocation and salaries. In coming to terms with the heuristic and cognitive approaches to negotiations, I have developed a deep appreciation for the process and the challenge of viewing negotiations as opportunities to create value, as opposed to prideful conquests to claim it. That being said, I am still far from convinced that Negotiations can be studied down to a science. The next few notes, will instead look at the art of Negotiation as the determination of one’s currency on a floating market, alongside its many variables: culture; information availability, access and asymmetry; influences of deception; gendered stereotypes. This is part of a somewhat personal project I’ve been reflecting on, with the hope of gaining a better (or at the very least, more critical) understanding of the perceptions of power and its impact on the creation of shared value.
Even if we all serve one God, the African God would be stronger.
Or is it my white gods, the ones I worshipped
Until they cast me into a well of mirrors
Veiled in my own blackness
– No, the African God is the strongest,
All the others are placeholders.
Your wig – placeholder;
Your diploma – na placeholder;
My new obsession with all things natural –
Placeholders for a later time when I can say
I have tried and tested;
The truth according to now – placeholder.
One looking outside, the other within,
Searching indiscriminately, finding disharmony
I wish to block out,
Wipe out all the placeholders,
The shame holders,
The she should, we would, cans and coulds,
Obliterate myself into meaningless particles of nothing,
So that the gods may mould me into something else.
Over the years I’ve been able to convince myself that money was not important to me. It would never feature in the way I perceived others, it would never dictate who I saw as ideal friends or future life partners, it was just money and it certainly wouldn’t feature, in any way, my definition of myself.
And then I decided to get an MBA and with it came a loan. My understanding of the value of money changed the day I graduated. With a customary life insurance policy I had had to opt into and no concrete job prospects in my field of choice, for the first time, the value of my life became measurable. My life now had a value which was effectively worth more with me dead than alive. For example: if I walk out of my parents house where I currently live while figuring out next steps (At times, euphemistically referred to as ‘between consulting engagements’), and I am hit by a trotro (local minibuses that make up the majority of Accra’s transit system), my parents get nothing, but the alumni loan fund that funded my MBA gets approximately $10,000. Just like that. Continue reading “Notes on Money Part I”