In the context of the Talent Exchange, which of these statements are conceptually true and which are false?

“I’ve got two hundred Talents left”

“I’ve run out of Talents”

“He now owes me five hundred Talents”

“I gave him a hundred Talents in exchange”

“I borrowed two hundred Talents”

“I transferred seventy Talents to his account”

“I got it for free”

Answer: they are all false!

As has been said many times before, Talents are a unit of measurement; not a count of ‘coins’ or discrete objects. Talents don’t exist, so we can’t apply quantitative descriptors as we do when we talk about money.

Saying you have “run out of Talents” is the same absurdity as saying you have “run out of kilometres”. Running out of Talents is another way of saying you are seriously incapacitated or dead!

Talents are a measure of the value provided by one party to another (or received by one party from another). As ‘value’ is an abstract concept, it has both objective and subjective components – often expressed as ‘exchange value’ and ‘use value’. Talents thus measure the amount of effort or energy put into something provided, or the ‘use’ the recipient derives from what is received.

It is important to avoid using “money language” in the Talent Exchange because it affects how we relate to one another and influences our outlook on life. If we see others as a source of money (or Talents) then what we provide is geared towards maximising that amount of money. This frequently involves dishonesty or exaggeration about the ‘use value’ that the recipient will derive from receiving our service or product.

When something is sold in the Rand economy, the amount of money in the seller’s purse, wallet or bank account goes up. The purpose of the trade is fulfilled and the product or service has been exchanged for money. The transaction is complete.

When something is provided in the “Talent economy”, there is no expectation that the recipient will give anything in exchange. The Talent amount entered in the database is merely a memory of how much value was given/received; it is not a ‘payment’. There is no ‘movement’ of Talents from one account to another and no completed transactions. Life is a continuous, open-ended cycle of giving and receiving. Those who have received are obligated to give and those who have given are entitled to receive.

This might all seem academic but if we free ourselves of the “money-mindset” we begin to see that giving and receiving is a social activity, not a closed, private one where the parties attempt to benefit themselves at the expense of the other.

Social giving and receiving is different from working for money. The former binds and reminds us that we are dependent on each other while the latter reinforces the idea that life is a dog-eat-dog existence.


“I’ve got two hundred Talents left” – “I’d better start doing something”

“I’ve run out of Talents” – “I must do something so I can get what I need”

“He now owes me five hundred Talents” – “Let me enter that trade”

“I gave him a hundred Talents in exchange” – “I received a hundred Talents of value”

“I borrowed two hundred Talents” – “I’ll spend an hour mowing her lawn”

“I transferred seventy Talents to his account” – “I entered the trade as buyer”

“I got it for free” – “He gifted me”