What’s Your Red Paperclip?

I just finished One Red Paperclip by Kyle MacDonald. It’s a fun true story about the author’s attempt to trade up from one red paperclip to a house. It’s about optimism, joy, and the power of having the right idea at the right time and the enthusiasm to follow through.

At one point he asks the reader, “What’s your red paperclip?” What’s something small–a piece of knowledge, an insight, a favor, a story, a smile–that you can offer to someone else? In return, you’ll likely get something small back that you can trade to someone else.

Maybe not the most profound wisdom ever, but I like the intentionality of seeking out people and giving them something small; maybe they will give back something useful (or maybe not, but the giving itself is valuable).

With that in mind, I saw something interesting (I’ll write about it next week!) on Wednesday before the long holiday weekend, but it was late and none of the people who could directly benefit from it were around. In the past I might have just made a mental note to find them on Monday, but, thinking about the paperclip, instead stopped by the desk of someone on my team and told them about what I’d just seen. He offered back an insight about how we might be able to make that work using tools I wasn’t even considering. Good trade!


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