Your Character Comes Before Software
By Paul Suplizio
IRTA’s first Executive Director and member of the Barter
Paul Suplizio recently provided his thoughts to Shera Dalin and
Karen Hoffman, who are authoring a book on barter. Here’s what he
told them, reprinted with Suplizio’s permission.
trade exchange (barter club) is based on TRUST and the character of
the owner/manager is the ultimate guarantor of the value of the
Consider the following. You recruit members, add them to your
software and web site, and open your barter exchange or club for
trading. One of the members makes a sale to another member and is
therefore in possession of trade dollars. Those trade dollars have
no value whatever unless the member can spend them for something he
or she needs. Whom does he look to for purchase opportunities?
You are the person they look to supply those opportunities. You are
the person who must broker those trade dollars into something of
value for him. The instant you allow the creation of one trade
dollar, you become trade-broker-in-chief for every one of your
members. It’s an awesome responsibility that cannot be shirked off
by telling your members, “Just look at the web site and find what
They may find junk and not what they need at the web site, then
what? In whom do they place their trust to be able to exchange their
trade dollars for needed products/services? It is you, and if you
are an easy-going type that doesn’t go out of your way (when people
are pestering all hours of the day), you are going to fail that
trust and your exchange will fall apart.
Members will sit on their trade dollars and trading will
collapse—only you can fulfill their trust that they will get
something they want in exchange for what they gave up. So if you go
into managing a club, you better be prepared for the
responsibilities of being a trade broker the rest of your days, and
you had better be prepared to redeem the trust the members placed in
you when you promised that their trade dollars would be valuable,
because you and you alone are responsible for redeeming their trust.
If you don’t want that responsibility, running a barter exchange or
barter club is not for you. Barter is not for sissies.