Trading for Spider-Man: An Unexpected Business Lesson
At a young age I knew I wanted to be in business. I believed the business world symbolized an opportunity to find financial success (or at least not be poor). I valued the possibilities that it represented to me. Of course, most of my vision originated from my time playing the popular Parker Brother’s board game Monopoly. In third grade, my best friend Kris and I played the game at his house most Fridays after school. It was a very competitive experience and usually ended with one of us being mad at each other, but we loved the game. We always made up, usually over hamburgers and apple pies at McDonald’s, but took the business experience seriously. I loved the business themes present in the game — economics, real estate, finance, taxation, wealth management, and of course our custom rule of bartering. The experience of playing Monopoly over the weekend made me want to apply my new “business skills” each of the following weeks. Finally, one Monday morning, following a weekend game of Monopoly, I traded for Spider-Man and really set my business career into motion.
Third Grade at Holy Name School in Springfield, MA was an interesting time. I have always enjoyed learning and Mrs. Percy’s third grade classroom was no different. We used to have to do math flash cards and I would always be one of the first to finish. It was good times. We also had a daily snack period, which was absolutely incredible. As a husky seven-year-old I treasured my snack time. My mother usually packed me Bachman Pretzel Sticks, which were not as good as some of the other kids Dunkaroos, Fruit by the Foot, or Gushers, but my snacks usually came with a thoughtful note from my Mom. It was one random Monday morning that Timothy Florian came up to me and a trade was made. He had a Marvel Spider-Man action figure, however the hand suction cup feature was broken, and he didn’t want it anymore. I still thought the Spider-Man figure was awesome and didn’t have any of my own super hero action figures. I decided to offer him a trade just like in Monopoly. I would give up the only real asset I had, 5 days of my snacks for the Spider-Man action figure. The deal was probably too generous seeing he didn’t even want the action figure anymore, but I knew Spider-Man would be a great toy. Additionally, Timothy had an added stipulation for the deal. I would not receive the Spider-Man action figure until after the five snacks were paid, the following week. I agreed to the deal and for the next five days I gave him my Bachman Pretzel Sticks, Fruit Snacks, and Teddy Grahams. Every day that week I regretted that deal. I had given up something that was valuable to me and had nothing to show for it. It wasn’t until the following week when I received my “payment” that I realized not only did I make a great deal, but also learned a very valuable lesson. Success takes time.
The Spider-Man action figure that still sits on my desk is not just a representation of that deal in third grade, but also the actual fictional superhero. Spider-Man wasn’t always Spider-Man, it took time. Before he had superhuman strength, speed, and agility he was just Peter Parker. Even after he became Spider-Man he still had to develop his skills and his abilities until he transformed into the super hero we all know today. In life, sometimes you don’t see the immediate payoff for your efforts. I learned that you must make sacrifices in order to get the long term results that you want. After that week of giving up my snacks, the snacks were gone, however the action figure remained in my possession and still does almost 25 years later (as seen in this picture). In business you must develop your intelligence, intuition and instinct, call it your own “Spidey sense” and that takes time and discipline. Remember to have patience, dream big, and take the time to get those things you really want. The payoff is always worth it.
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