I confess, I’d never heard of the paperclip challenge until a few days ago – not sure where I’ve been – but I was impressed today as I watched Danielle Ford’s two children trade their way from a paperclip to lego.
But before I share the video with you, I want to outline the lessons I learned from these two children about entrepreneurship.
- First of all, to be an entrepreneur, you have to trade something for something else. It’s usually your goods or services for money, but you can also trade your service for a service or a product for a product. The most important thing about that trade is that it’s a value exchange.
“Okay Trish, so where’s the value in a stupid paper clip?” I hear you, but check this out before you call me crazy.
The only thing that’s important is that the other party wants what you have in exchange for something of value to them. In this instance, it’s a paper clip.
- No one likes being rejected right, but watch how these two kids handle rejection. The were rejected by two stores and instead of moping that this isn’t working, they simply decided to change their strategy! I mean “you go kids!”
As an entrepreneur, you’re not always going to get a “yes” and the harsh “no” will even come from those whom you really expected to get a “yes” from. The secret is to be like these kids … adjust your strategy and then say “next!”
- A totally cold call! That right there would freak me out! No initial meeting and they just walk into a store and barter for a trade. I guarantee you, you’ll never find these children penniless.
I’ve no doubt that cold calling to many entrepreneurs is the equivalent of public speaking for many … they’d rather die than make a cold call. I wouldn’t go that far, but put me on a stage of ten thousand people and I wouldn’t hesitate to speak, but ask me to cold call and I’d hesitate at worst, but find another strategy.
That being said, I’ve done cold calling and I believe that as entrepreneurs, it does help you overcome the objections and rejections as well as increase your confidence as a sales person.
- Start with “what you got.” I’m sure we’ve all made the same mistake as entrepreneurs of thinking we need to have certain things in place or a certain amount of money before we can really make it happen and become successful. But notice how it only took these kids one day to go from trading with a paperclip all the way to trading for lego.
And what about the man who began trading with a paperclip and within a year ended up with a house. No kidding, go and watch it on YouTube.
- Oh the storytelling from these kids. Every time they went into a store, they had to explain themselves about what they were doing and why they were doing it. They were far from perfect, but they didn’t just say “I want to trade my paperclip (or whatever it was) for something you have.” No, they explained that they were doing the paperclip challenge and what they were hoping to gain from the challenge. You think this gave them some extra leverage? You bet it did!
If you’re familiar with the concept of “sharpen the saw” in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, it’s all about improving yourself. And I’d like to suggest that by doing something over and over and telling a better story, you’re much more likely to get bigger and better results. Sure these kids could have continued trading, but they were happy with their final trade and proved that tenacity is about improving your why and communicating that why to others.
And knowing and telling your story clarifies your why
Here’s the video, I hope you learn as much from watching these kids as I did.