It’s amazing what you can do with perseverance, optimism and a single bobby pin.
The Today Show recently highlighted the incredible success of 30-year-old Demi Skipper’s “Trade Me Project,” where Skipper documented her 28 trades that landed her the keys to her very own dream home.
And it all started with (you guessed it) a bobby pin. The real crazy part: It happened in the span of just a year and a half.
You might be thinking, “wait, I’ve heard this story before, haven’t I?”
Indeed, Skipper's idea was inspired by Kyle MacDonald, whose initial red paperclip trade landed him a house within a year, back in 2005. He even has a TED Talk about it:
What if you could trade a paperclip for a house? | Kyle MacDonald | TEDxViennawww.youtube.com
I’m fairly certain, though I have no hard evidence to prove it, this is the concept behind a hilarious scene from "The Office," where Dwight Schrute tries to educate us all about “The Art of the Swap.”
Spoiler alert: The swap doesn’t go quite as well for Dwight as it does Skipper and MacDonald.
Dwight's 'Art of the Swap' - 'The Office'www.youtube.com
Since Skipper recorded her bartering journey on Instagram and TikTok, the story of a bobby pin magically transforming into a home—and more importantly, what that represents—has gone mainstream yet again.
The bobby pin led to earrings …
Across social media, Skipper would note which items got swapped, along with their retail value. In this case, something worth a penny got traded for something with a thousand times more monetary value.
… which were traded for glassware …
As we will see, big changes happen as a result of small moments.
… then a vacuum …
Personally I might have just stopped the trading journey here.
… then a snowboard …
Here’s where things really started to rev up.
… eventually she traded for a car …
… and an even better car …
No offense to the Dodge Caravan.
… fast forward to a controversial Chipotle Celebrity Gift Card …
Yeah, some people were not jazzed about this one, and called it her worst trade. To be fair, free Chipotle every day for a year, plus a catered meal for 50, that racks up.
“You’ll be lucky to get $500 for it,” one user wrote.
As it turns out, luck was indeed on Skipper’s side.
… which got traded for this …
Skipper made one Chipotle fan an offer they couldn’t refuse. In exchange, Skipper received an off-the-grid trailer worth about $40,000.
There was one caveat: The trailer would require a drive from Skipper’s home in San Francisco over the border with Canada to pick it up. But I mean, once you’ve made it this far, what’s a few thousand miles?
… and finally, a new home.
And then came the final chapter when a house flipper in Tennessee, who had been following Skipper’s bobby pin saga, reached out showing interest in a trade. One solar-powered trailer for one house.
And it happened on the day after Thanksgiving, no less.
Running up to her new home, a teary Skipper is seen in the TikTok video saying, “This just shows you: it’s possible!”According to Today, Skipper reports that people have been “overwhelmingly positive” in their response, saying that “people really have doubted me, and I certainly did at times during the journey too. But I learned a lot about myself in the process, and I was really amazed by my ability to stick with it.”
Well, first there’s the big move from California to Tennessee. Then, renovation. Followed by … doing it all over again. Skipper revealed her plans to “donate the next house … to a person who needs it, no mortgage, no rental” and that would be the start of a brand new trade journey.
“There’s been a couple of people who have done this once, but no one’s crazy enough to do it twice,” said Skipper.
After hearing this story, I can't help but think of what other amazing things might occur as a result of really working toward something every day.
Or, when viewed from a lens of something other than success, I think about how our world might be changed with the simple commitment of one kind act each and every day.
There are people, like Skipper, who are leading by example. And it certainly makes that first step seem much more doable, whether that’s a bobby pin, a good deed or even a kind word.
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