A million versus a billion

Posted by Mark Schenk - May 1, 2010
Filed in Communication

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We have been keeping in touch with Kevin Bishop in the UK since running our Influencing Change workshops earlier in the year. A useful idea when trying to achieve change is to make the invisible visible. Kevin has just sent us an excellent example of this.

One of the main issues in the United Kingdom election campaign has been around the economy and how to reduce the huge Government budget deficit. The recession has left a record £163.4bn (AUD$269.2bn) hole in the UK Government’s finances in the last financial year, as tax receipts dried up and public spending kept rising. This has meant that Britain’s national debt is now an eye-watering £950bn (AUD$1.565 trillion).

These are huge numbers to try and comprehend. What is the actual difference between a million, a billion and a trillion, and how do you make this somehow real for people (including me!)?

This explanation really helped me come to terms with these huge numbers, in a format I could understand. It says:

  • 1 million seconds is equal to 11 ½ days
  • 1 billion seconds is equal to 31 ¾ years
  • 1 trillion seconds is equal to 31,710 years


So the difference between a million and a billion is the difference between 11 ½ days and 31 ¾ years (11.5 days vs. 11,315 days)!

All figures were taken from this article.

Mark Schenk About Mark Schenk
Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. . Connect with Mark on:

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