The Speaking of Wealth Show Welcomes Kyle MacDonald, World’s Most Famous Barterer

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The Speaking of Wealth Show welcomes the man who famously proved the theory that anything in life is only worth what someone is willing to give for it

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The traded items were of very fluid value. Anything at all in life is worth only what somebody else is willing to give you, said Kyle MacDonald.

Kyle MacDonald, author of “One Red Paperclip,” joined the Speaking of Wealth Show for its 42nd episode to discuss the author’s amazing bartering adventure. The “One Red Paperclip” story is a foundational lesson in economics that will no doubt be taught in college classrooms for years to come.

“When I was growing up, there was a game we called bigger and better,” said Kyle MacDonald.“You would start with a small object, go to a neighbor’s door and say ‘Hey, I’ve got this spoon. Would you like to trade for anything bigger or better?’ We would always come home after a few trades with something a lot larger.”

As MacDonald grew older, however, his dreams became bigger. “I always thought it would be fun to play that game professionally. So, I took the concept and I put it on the Internet.”

Why the now famous “One Red Paperclip” moniker? Because a red paperclip is what MacDonald saw while he was putting the concept on the Internet. He offered a red paperclip as a trade on Craig’s List. The only caveat is that he asked for something bigger and better.

He traded the paper clip for a fish pen. He then traded that for a doorknob; traded the doorknob for a camping stove. For the camping stove, MacDonald got a beer keg and Budweiser sign out of the deal. He traded that for a working snowmobile. That was exchanged for a trip for two to the Colorado Rockies, which was converted to a moving truck. MacDonald traded that item to a music studio, which offered enough studio time for a band to record an album. That was traded for a free year of rent, which was then bartered for an afternoon with Alice Cooper. The celebrity time was changed for a KISS snow globe (a huge step down), then traded for a speaking role in a film with Corbin Bernsen, until finally, MacDonald traded the film role for a house.

Why did so many people allow themselves to trade MacDonald for a larger, bigger or better item every time? MacDonald explains “It’s the principle that things are worth different amounts to different people. Some people are not willing to spend more than ten dollars on a bottle of wine. Others will gladly spend hundreds. Really, the liquid inside is very similar.”

The concept boils down to the old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The items MacDonald traded for were often not even used. “The traded items were of very fluid value. Anything at all in life is worth only what somebody else is willing to give you.”

“I chose to work with people that I wanted to work with and we created something much larger by working together. It was completely opportunistic—and in the best sense of the word,” said MacDonald, summarizing his amazing story.

About Speaking of Wealth
The Speaking of Wealth Show focuses on the incredible opportunities available to publishers, speakers and consultants. Perhaps no other topic allows professionals to follow their passion down the road to profit—and it all starts with effective communication. Anyone with the urge to share knowledge and get paid for it should tune in to the Speaking of Wealth Show. For more information, visit Speaking of Wealth online.


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Nicole Thome
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