The Joy of the Red Paperclip Experiment

I have been cleaning up some open links, and here is one I saved from a couple of months ago. The question on Reddit is “What small habit, if done everyday over the course of a year, can lead to the biggest personal improvement/ gain?”. One answer from /u/AskMeAboutMyTshirt is…

Try to get rejected once a day.

He adds: “Advice from an old professor. He was a photographer and would ‘try to get rejected’ getting into all kinds of cool places….he got into a lot of cool places.”

This, to me, is one of the important lessons from the Red Paperclip Experiment. And it is one reason I assign it in a lot of my classes. In order to be successful in trading/bartering/deal-making (which is what the Red Paperclip experiment is), you have to be willing to reach out to people – to ask a lot of people if they will trade with you. But if you will do it, the results can be amazing, even though you do get rejected at times. In Kyle’s case, he managed to trade all the way from paperclip to house. Here is a great video describing the Red Paperclip process:

Kyle also did a TEDx talk on his experiences:

Another important lesson from the Red Paperclip experiment is this: Many people have “stuff” that they do not need anymore. This stuff moves, in their minds, from “valuable” to “junk that is cluttering up my garage”. Once something becomes” junk”, people will often trade it for something they need, without a lot of regard for its true value in the marketplace.

The truth is that getting rid of junk can be a pain in the ass, and if you take “junk” off of someone’s hands they will be grateful.

Everyone should try the Red paperclip experiment at least once. The results can be amazing.  Some people go so far as to make a living at it – a practice commonly known as “flipping” today.

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