One of the topics we are covering now is cost of fixed assets. It is called depreciation. You can depreciate an asset, over its useful life (cause nothing and no one is immortal), by a fixed amount per period or by a percentage or by a factor. We call these respectively straight line, reducing balance and sum of digits. Not that you care if you have to never depreciate an asset in a company of course.

I realized there is something we have to care about and are familiar with, which depreciates … relationships (all kinds of). In school, at work, at home, funny how relationships are everywhere. Guess cause we are humans … well, they exist in the whole biosphere; scientists now know that trees communicate and build relationships with each other, underground, via their root systems. Maybe way more complex than us ….

Now these relationships – some essential, some unnecessary, some brief, some for the long haul. Some of these appreciate in value but most depreciate. And over time they are done. If you are lucky they have a scrap value and some no scrap value so better off being scraped asap! The ones which appreciate, are of course keepers. They will become vintage and worth even more! The cracks will be there, but you come to appreciate those cracks. Kintsugi, a word in Japan, which describes fixing back broken things by filling the cracks with gold … how meaningful, if we can do that for the keepers. Like that best friend in a faraway land, who accepts you despite all your flaws …

Students experience all sorts of relationships first time, at the same time they experience all sorts of formulas in finance for the first time! Cognitive overload much! A place of accelerated depreciation is probably project/group work. I often hear and see and feel strong emotions, as students talk about their group mates. To say ‘get along’ and ‘there should not be conflict’ is futile advice to give. It is not something even a teacher can abide by. Instead, I always say, ‘well, you don’t have to be best friends with everyone; just get the project done; that is the business goal here’.

So, they don’t have a perfect and easy time in group work; ok, great; it is a reflection of their future work life and life in general! They learn which relationships they like and which they don’t, which ones work for them and which ones don’t. Even those known as ‘team players’ (nonsensical term in my opinion … from the moment we are born, we are all playing teams …) have off days; and even introverts can be great relationship builders cause they play in teams from the day they were born …

Then there is of course the concept of an impairment test, done on intangible assets, where an auditor and finance manager working as a team, write off, a value, off the goodwill. Sometimes, some relationships need an impairment test. They should be written off to a zero in a moment of assessment and decision; after you have given the relationship enough chances, but the person losses all your goodwill …

But probably the most enjoyable relationships are the ones which you experience fully, and even if they eventually depreciate … they leave behind a scarp value which is priceless and stays with you … I am reminded of Sheryl Crow‘s song My Favorite Mistake


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Over Kiran Aswani

Exploration of human nature has been a lifelong interest, and gathering the knowledge and deeper understanding of the world, a constant pursuit. Having lived on four continents and having been exposed to so many places and persons, I find myself even more curious, and with a heightened awareness. In Fontys, I teach finance and accounting in the International Business program. My blog is an exercise in critical thinking, looking at the intersection between finance-education-life.