The paper clip strategy


In 1993, a bank in Abbotsford, Canada, hired a twenty-three-year stock broker named Trent Dyrsmid. Abbotsford was a relatively small suburb, tucked away in the shadow of nearby Vancouver, where most of the big business deals were being made. Given the location and the fact that Dyrsmid was a rookie, nobody, expected too much of him. But he made brisk progress thanks to a simple daily habit.

Dyrsmid began each morning with two jars on his desk. One was filled with 120 paper clips. The other was empty. As soon as he settled in each day, he would make a sales call. Immediately after, he would move one paper clip from the full jar to the empty jar and the process would begin again. “Every morning I would start with 120 paper clips in one jar and I would keep dialling the phone until I had moved them all into the second jar”, he told me.

Within eighteen months, Dyrsmid was bringing in $5 million to the firm. By age 24, he was making $75,000 per year – the equivalent of $125,00 today (2018). Not long after that, he landed a six-figure job with another company.

This James Clear refers to as the Paper Clip Strategy.

(Atomic Habits, p.195, James Clear)

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About the author

Bennie Mostert
By Bennie Mostert