Kyle MacDonald sat at his desk and stared endlessly at a red paperclip. His mind went back to his childhood where they used to play a game called, “Bigger and Better,” where you start out with something small and then you trade it for something bigger and better.
“Hum, I wonder what would happen if I tried to trade this paperclip for something better.” he thought to himself.
He then proceeded to take a picture of the paperclip and posted it on Craigslist asking if anyone wanted to trade for it. Two women by the name of Ronnie and Corrina responded to the posting.
“Hey, this is pretty cool, we would like to trade with you. We have a pen shaped like a fish. Would you like to trade?” They asked.
Kyle jumped at the opportunity and was now the proud owner of a pen shaped like a fish, which was bigger and better than the paperclip. “How far can I go with this idea?” He thought to himself. He then posted the pen shaped like a fish on Craigslist again asking if anyone wanted to trade.
“Absolutely, my name is Annie and I have a doorknob with a crazy face on it.” said the Craigslist responder.
“Wow, this is even bigger and better than the pen shaped like a fish. How much farther can I go with this?” He murmured.
Kyle’s buddy Sean asked if he wanted to come over to his house for some burgers. Sean needed the knob with a crazy face on it to fix his stovetop espresso maker and wanted to trade his outdoor camping stove for it.
“We are moving liabilities into assets. We are creating value. We are improving each other’s lives, albeit on a small scale.” Kyle mentioned to Sean.
Sergeant David J of the US Marine Corp. called Kyle and said he had been looking for that exact model camping stove and had an electric generator he could trade.
Kyle made the trade but unfortunately, the electric generator he thought had value turned into a liability since no one came knocking on the door to make a trade. However, a few weeks later, a young man did want to create power out of this generator and offered an empty beer keg, an IOU to fill the keg with beer as well as a neon Budweiser sign.
Kyle then posted this Keg, an IOU to fill it and a neon Budweiser sign to Craigslist again and called it an “instant party.” “Do you want to trade for it” he wrote.
Kyle was starting to generate some publicity around this project. Newspapers and magazines were beginning to see the power of the story.
Michelle Parise, a famous radio and TV personality in Canada responded and said he wanted to trade his worst snowmobile for it. Kyle made the deal and considering it was the middle of winter in Canada, this snowmobile had more value than if it was in the middle of summer.
A snowmobiling magazine called “Snowriders West” called Kyle and said they would like to exchange two trips for two to the Canadian Rockies in exchange for the snowmobile. They said it would give their magazine some publicity and everyone wants to go to the Rockies this time of year. Kyle made the trip to Canada to do the trade and sure enough, they got more publicity and were interviewed on the national news. While doing the interview, Kyle was wearing a hipster shirt with the company logo “Cintas” on it. The head of Cintas saw Kyle on TV with their company shirt on and met Kyle and said, “I’d like to make you a trade. I would like to trade you a Cintas van for the tickets for two to the Canadian Rockies.”
Kyle accepted and wanted to keep moving forward. How far could he take this? He then received a call from a recording studio and they wanted to trade a recording contract for the van. He then asked if anyone interested in music wanted to trade for a recording contract. Jody, an aspiring musician in Arizona and owner of a duplex, asked Kyle if he wanted to trade the recording contract for one year of rent. Leslie, her tenant in the other half of the duplex wanted free rent and asked Kyle if he wanted to trade an afternoon with her boss, Alice Cooper.
Kyle then proceeded to trade an afternoon with Alice Cooper for a KISS motorized snow globe. He thought it was one of the most amazing things he had ever seen. It lit up and changed colors. He loved it. Unfortunately, the rest of the world had different opinions.
As Kyle later recalls, he got some comments from the internet.
“This is the worst trade that I have ever heard of, bar none.” said one commenter. “This is possibly the dumbest decision I have seen anyone make…. Ever. Except for the people on Jerry Springer. They make stupid decisions all the time.” Said another.
Kyle said this was the only time during the life of the project that he didn’t have another trade lined up. Every other trade had come along serendipitously. However, a man called Kyle and said, “Hi, my name is Corbin Bernsen, I am an actor, I am making a movie and I would like to offer a paid, speaking and credited role in a Hollywood film. Would you be interested in trading for that?” Come to find out, Corbin is a really well-known actor and also one of the largest snow globe collectors in the world with over 8,000 snow globes.
Following this trade, the Economic Development Officer of Kipling, Saskatchewan named Burt Roach gave Kyle a call and said, “We see that you have been doing this project and our town has a couple extra houses that we own, maybe we could trade a house for the role in the movie?”
Kyle responded. “Absolutely!”
Burt replied, “Great! Because we were thinking of having a large housewarming party, a huge celebration, inviting everyone around the world to come to Kipling and we could offer an opportunity we will call “Kipling Idol” where we will have live auditions for a chance to get the part in the movie.”
Kyle asked, “That is absolutely perfect. What do you need to do to make this happen?”
“Well we need town council approval,” he said. Two weeks later, the town approved the trade and Kyle was the proud new owner of a home in Kipling, Saskatchewan. Over 3,500 people came to the town of under a 1,000 people for the weekend and voted one lucky person to fulfill their dream of being in a Hollywood film.
About the paperclip, Kyle said, “It’s not about having it or selling it or what it’s even worth. If I hadn’t traded away that red paperclip, I would just be another guy sitting there at his desk holding a paperclip in his hand, wondering what would happen if I did something with it.”
Kyle literally turned nothing into something by using his creativity, passion, decisiveness, perseverance, and imagination to accomplish what most would say is impossible, trading a paperclip for a house. This is the true definition of resourcefulness. You and only you can control your future. Think differently.