For instance, ghosts? They’re usually explained by light reflections, coupled with a highly overactive imagination.
Bigfoot? That’s some guy in a cheesy gorilla suit.
UFOs? Probably just swamp gas.
How about Lee Dewyze winning American Idol way back in 2010? Okay, okay. That one may never be explained, but you get my drift.
Meet Kyle MacDonald
The reason I bring this up is because I was recently reminded of the guy who took a single red paper clip and, through a series of savvy trades, eventually ended up with a two-story farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan.
Believe it or not, to get that house for the price of a paper clip, Kyle MacDonald — a.k.a. “the red paper clip guy” — embarked upon a one-year journey that resulted in 14 trades.
First, he traded his little red paper clip for a pen shaped like a fish. Next, he exchanged the pen for a hand-sculpted doorknob. The doorknob was swapped for a camp stove, which was then exchanged for a generator, that was then bartered for an “instant party” consisting of an empty beer keg — along with a promise to fill it with beer — and a neon beer sign.
From there, MacDonald traded the “party” in for a snowmobile, which he then dickered for a two-person trip to Yahk, British Columbia. The trip was then swapped for a cube van, which was traded for a recording contract with a Toronto studio. The recording contract led to one year of free rent in Phoenix, Arizona, which then was bartered for an afternoon with 70s rock icon Alice Cooper.
The afternoon with Cooper was ultimately exchanged for a motorized KISS snow globe with a variable speed dial. (Don’t ask. Then again, if you must know…)
It was all downhill after that, as MacDonald then traded the snow globe to collector Corbin Bernsen (yes, that Corbin Bernsen) in exchange for a speaking role in the film Donna on Demand (I don’t remember it either); that role was then traded for the house.
The Moral of the Story
On the surface, MacDonald’s story seems incredible, but there is a logical explanation behind it. There is also a valuable lesson to be learned here: folks who are patient and adept at recognizing value can actually get more through bartering than by selling the same item for cash. Simply put, both bartering and patience are skills worth mastering.
For example, although most rational people figured he was completely crazy to trade a year’s worth of free rent in the heart of America’s fourth largest city for an afternoon with an aging rock star well past his prime, MacDonald saw hidden value that others didn’t — and it paid off in spades.
As MacDonald’s exercise vividly proves, over time — and multiple trades — skillful bartering can lead to payoffs with effects that might be described as compound growth on steroids.
In less than a year, MacDonald took a one-cent paper-clip and turned it into a house worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Oh, sure; you can try getting returns like that from the stock market. But I suspect you’d have a much better chance of snapping a photo of the Loch Ness monster.
Photo Credit: wetwebwork
(This is an updated version of an article originally posted on February 2, 2011.)