Trading a rock, changing lives

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From a small rock, to an autographed styrofoam cup, to two napkins and a Marriott flyer, to an Oct. 10 newspaper, to a crystal light lemonade mix and so on and so forth.

John Richards, associate professor in the business management department, created a class project that is based upon negotiation, in which students trade items in order to create the most value. The project is arguably one of the most entertaining of all time.

Kyle MacDonald was the original negotiator and inspiration for the entrepreneurship class project. MacDonald was an internet sensation and made history, by starting with a single red paperclip and bartering his way to a two-story house in Canada. Although no one in Richards’ class traded their way to a house, the results certainly were just as incredible.

Keep in mind, the time frame for this project was about two weeks, as opposed to MacDonald’s time frame of one year. The students were instructed to begin with a single rock, no heavier than one pound. From this, the students began to trade.

A mere seven trades led to a Toyota 4-Runner. Another group traded four times and ended up with season passes to The Ranches, a golf center in Eagle Mountain. The group that created the most value and won the class competition went about the assignment in a way other students never thought of.

Jordan Monroe, a junior from Burley, Idaho, studying pre-business, was part of the winning team, and said his group found willing donors to raise funds for a charity named Kids on the Move, specifically a program called Bridges, which helps children with autism.

“We created an infinite amount of value because our goal was to raise awareness about autism,” Monroe said. “We asked kids to get down and do pushups. Every pushup they did donated 25 cents to autism. We went out and found tons of donors, a couple of them were really big donors that had a lot of money and were willing to help out.”

Monroe and his group had the goal of 100,000 pushups, equaling $25,000. They exceeded that goal, totaling $26,350.25.

Laurie Bowen, director of Kids on the Move’s Bridges program, said these new funds will truly make a difference.

“It impacts us in a pretty powerful way,” Bowen said. “We are just in the process of trying to make sure that we have enough funding, so that we really can help as many families as possible. Them choosing us and being able to provide that help, for one thing it’s going to inspire and help a lot of parents realize that they aren’t alone.”

Bowen said part of the money will be added to a scholarship fund, which directly assists families who aren’t able to afford services, and in one way or another, all of the money will go directly towards services for the children.

Some of the students in the class were discontented with the use of donors as outside sources, but in the end, Monroe’s group did indeed create the most value for the project.

Monroe said he and his group won an iPad, but they were most excited about another element of the winnings. Their win also included lunch with three prestigious business men on BYU’s staff: Ron Lindorf, Steve Gibson and John Richards. Of the prizes, he and his group were most excited for lunch with members of the BYU staff, Monroe said.

Phil Kirkeiner, a freshmen from Fishers, Ill., studying pre-management and a member of the winning group, said the experience was nothing less than enlightening.

“I wasn’t expecting to have it go so big,” Kirkeiner said. “The impact it had on me was ‘I can do really cool things, even though I’m eighteen. I can change lives.'”

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