MacDonald, Kyle 1979-

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MacDonald, Kyle 1979-


Born October 3, 1979.


Home—Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer. Previously worked various part-time jobs, including pizza delivery.


One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dreams with the Help of a Simple Office Supply, Three Rivers Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of the One Red Paperclip blog.


In his first book, One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dreams with the Help of a Simple Office Supply, author Kyle MacDonald tells of how he started out with one red paper clip and, through a series of barters, ended up with a house. MacDonald's account of this true story begins with him living with his girlfriend in an apartment for which she pays the rent. In between jobs and wanting to contribute, MacDonald is frustrated. He writes in his book: "I was sick of sponging off others. I was sick of being ‘between jobs.’ I was tired of quotation mark-accompanied euphemisms for being unemployed. There was really only one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to provide."

In his book, the author describes how he has an inspiration based on a game he used to play. It was "a game called Bigger or Better," the author notes on his One Red Paperclip blog site. "You start with a small object and trade it for a bigger or better object. Repeat. Usually a kids game. More knocking on doors, less Internet." In his book, the author describes the game this way: "It was the best idea ever. Bigger and Better. It had legs. Bigger and Better was a game. A mash-up between a scavenger hunt and trick-or-treating. You'd start with a small object and go door-to-door to see if anybody would trade something bigger or better for it. When you made a trade you'd go to another door and see if you could trade your new object for something bigger and better."

MacDonald's idea was to use the Internet community for a broader version of the Bigger and Better game. This time he started out with his paperclip. "My whole motto was ‘Start small, think big, and have fun,’" the author told Benjamin Sutherland for an interview in Newsweek International. "I really kept my effort on the creative side rather than the business side."

Starting out on the author, as he describes in his book, places an ad in July, 2005, offering to trade the red paperclip. He soon has a response from a girl in Vancouver to trade a fish pen for the paperclip. The author then trades the pen for a ceramic doorknob, the doorknob for a camping stove, which leads to a generator, a beer keg with a Budweiser sign and then a snowmobile. Other bartered items include a trip to the Canadian Rockies, a supply truck, and then a recording contract. He then barters for a year's rent in Phoenix. MacDonald next ex- changes the free rent for an afternoon with rock singer Alice Cooper. Eventually, the author is contacted by American actor Corbin Bernsen, who starred in the television series L.A. Law. Bernsen tells the author he would offer a speaking role in a movie he was making as an item for barter or trade. MacDonald eventually trades with Bernsen, who collects snow globes, a globe with the rock group Kiss in it. As time goes on, the small town of Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada, becomes interested in the story and thinks that they might be able attract business and tourism by buying a house to lure MacDonald there. Their idea is to hold a contest for the movie role while giving MacDonald the house.

In an interview with Brian Bergstein for the San Diego Union-Tribune, the author explained his ultimate success this way: "If you say you're going to do something and you start to do it, and people enjoy it or respect it or are entertained by it, people will step up and help you." In the story of his finally bartering for a house, the author also provides numerous anecdotes about the people and things he encounters on his bartering journey, which ultimately takes only fourteen trades to get the house. In addition, the book provides practical tips on bartering for an individual dream. In another interview on the Web site, the author notes: "There's people all over the world that are saying that they have paper-clips clipped to the top of their computer, or on their desk or on their shirt, and it proves that anything is possible and I think to a certain degree it's true."

Writing on the Nothing More Wonderful Web site, a contributor noted: "The reason Macdonald's story is so appealing is because it champions both individualism and community." The contributor went on to write: "Stories like Macdonald's also counter the widespread belief that the Internet isolates us from one another." Several reviewers noted that MacDonald's bartering adventure was greatly helped by the media, which picked up on his story and led to his appearances on several television shows in the United States and Canada. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "the trades are the unifying element of the book" but also noted that the book is really "about people, relationships and living life to its fullest."



Capper's, September, 2006, Brian Bergstein, "Paper Clip: Becomes Man's First House," p. 10.

Network World, July 13, 2006, "July 17, 2006: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

Newsweek International, September 11, 2006, Benjamin Sutherland, "My Kingdom for a What? How Barter Became Big Business on the Internet."

People, July 24, 2006, "Clip Job," p. 98.

Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2007, review of One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dreams with the Help of a Simple Office Supply, p. 49.

San Diego Union Tribune, April 17, 2006, Brian Bergstein, "Self-Starter May Barter His Way to His Own Home."

ONLINE Web site, (July 7, 2006), "From Paper-Clip to House, in 14 Trades."

MSNBC Web site, (July 10, 2006), Brian Bergstein, "Blogger's Quest Ends with Keys to House."

National Speakers Bureau Web site, (July 27, 2008), profile of author.

Nothing More Wonderful, (January 29, 2008), review of One Red Paperclip.

One Red Paperclip blog site, (April 27, 2008).

One Red Paperclip My Space Web site, (April 27, 2008).