10 Top Tips and Secrets for Trading Up!

I took a bite of the red apple and started my journey around the world, through six continents and fourteen countries. My mission: I had to barter that worthless piece of fruit for bigger and better items to finally reach my childhood dream — a house in Hawaii!

After I had extremely disastrous barter experiences in India, losing my valuable goods to a few worthless pounds of tea, I developed barter strategies. These helped me convince people to give me more valuable goods than I had to offer. You think it’s not possible to get more than you have to offer? Oh, yes it is. These “secrets” helped me barter my dream house after 42 deals and 200 days of pure adventure.

Secret no.1: Make two out of one

If you try to barter valuable goods worth more than $1000, it will be challenging to find a person willing to offer you something in return in that price range. So I started asking for two or three goods of half the value I had to offer. This works since people are more likely to trade a bike and laptop for an oil painting than handing over their old car. Case in point: I arrived in Hawaii with a total of nine barter goods in order to get my house.

Secret no. 2: Offer additional services to your barter good

‘Additional services’ might sound a bit sketchy, but they are not. I always added some work, entertainment or outstanding challenge to sweeten my barter deal. In Australia I offered 250 feet of fine Indian silk I brought from India to millionaire Werner Sarny who had a valuable painting to offer. The painting was twice the value of the silk, so I offered a little dare to entertain the bored millionaire: go to the river in Darwin and feed a wild crocodile!

I really did it. I threw a piece of meat in the croc’s mouth from about two feet away and Werner couldn’t stop laughing watching my fear. The deal was done!

Secret no.3: Change countries for a barter deal

I when I bartered the silk in India, I knew I couldn’t get much for it since silk is relatively cheap there. After some online research, I discovered that silk prices in Australia are much higher than in the country where it’s produced. So my silk deal in Australia extended its original value almost ten times.

Secret no. 4: Approach the rich and famous

I contacted the famous U.S. billionaire Jim Roger, who was based in Singapore. He liked my barter trip and offered me an invitation with one request: I could only barter with him if I brought him a jade stone.

I turned Werner’s painting into jade in New Zealand, flew to Singapore and got three ounces of gold and three ounces of silver from Jim. Big deal!

Secret no. 5: Set intermediate goals

After I got stuck with a few pounds of tea in India, I set an intermediate goal: A tuk tuk.

These three-wheeled motorized taxis are about 1,000 times more valuable than tea, but I decided that my next barter product had to be that and nothing less valuable.

It took me three exhausting weeks, a contact list of hundreds of people and an additional service —producing a video for my barter partner— to reach that goal, but it was well worth it

Secret no. 6: Optimize the personal relationship with your barter partner

The huge difference between buying a good and bartering one, is that both people who barter have to trust each other, like each other and feel good doing a deal together.

Always take your time with the people, give them as much personal background as possible and make them trust you.

Secret no. 7: Communicate your final goal

As a part of a good personal relationship, it’s very helpful to tell the person what your final goal is. Whenever I told people that I want to barter for bigger and better to reach my childhood dream, the doors to the next barter deal opened much quicker. People were attracted to my ambition and wanted to help.

Secret no. 8: Contact the media

I arrived in America with several goods, but still very far away from a house in Hawaii. I ordered several media lists with contacts at several TV networks and newspapers and I wrote to all of them. Luckily, I appeared on a California TV network and finally landed on the front page of a Hawaiian newspaper with the headline, ‘Barterman seeks House!’ Use social media, too, so people know what you’re up to and how they can help you.

Secret no. 9: Be a superhero

When I first got to New York City with my barter goods, I remembered Batman, Superman and Spiderman. Aren’t these superheroes the ultimate New York heroes who were able to do everything? Inspiration struck and I changed a superman costume into ‘Barteman’. The New Yorkers loved seeing me cruise around the city dressed up as their new “Barterman” hero and offered me endless barter deals.

Secret no. 10: Choose your ultimate dream as your barter goal

I would have never reached the house in Hawaii just by bartering for bigger and better if a house in Hawaii wasn’t my ultimate goal. Choose something you can put all your passion behind.

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