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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The value of a penny doubled

If you have ever attended a network business opportunity meeting you have probably been teased, provoked and made to feel silly/stupid with this question:
Do you know how much money you would have if you took one cent on the first of the month and doubled it every day for thirty days?
Just to give you the idea: Day one = 1 cent, Day two = 2 cents, Day three = 4 cents, Day 4 = 8 cents. Guesses range from .60 cents to $60 to “about 100 dollars”.

I have heard it more than a few times at network business meetings. Unfortunately, I believe the presenter and his/her audience often overlook the more important lessons while they argue in their minds the disbelieve at what they are hearing. If you are a whiz with a calculator you figured it out as quickly as it took you to touch those number keys. You others can take the slightly longer, manual approach. Take a sheet of paper. Number it one through thirty for the days of the month. Then start writing in your numbers beginning with 1 cent for day one, 2 cents for day two, 4 cents for day three until you reach day thirty on your paper.

One co-worker argued as though he knew for certain I was mistaken without even attempting to figure it out for himself: Lesson number one: Perseverance. Another co-worker simply worked his fingers on the calculator and confirmed what I had told him. A friend replied, “Yeah, that’s assuming you have a penny to double every day”: Lesson number two: Networking. This little exercise was reported by Richard Poe in the first ever investigative work by a veteran journalist in his book on network marketing, “Wave 3: The New Era in Network Marketing”.

Lesson number one is about perseverance. It’s about sticking with it to the end. My co-worker was unwilling to even start the work of figuring out the answer. I can’t say I did any better. The first time I sat down with paper and pencil I thought to quit at about day 25 because it seemed to me, “No way is this going to add up”. Even though I knew the total dollar outcome at 30 days I was about to quit! I was incensed at myself for even thinking to quit on a friendly mental one-cent exercise.


Lesson number two is about networking; what the many can do together. My friend missed the point saying, “. . . assuming you have a penny. . .” Networking is all about what the many can do together for each other, not you alone. Things, like one cent, that have very small beginnings can grow enormously far beyond what any single individual can imagine or can accomplish on his own . . .if you do the work.

J Paul Getty was an oilman in Oklahoma in the 1930s. Although he was not a networker he understood the concept. One of his sayings: “I would rather earn 1 dollar from a 100 people than 100 dollars myself.” The networking concept has been well understood and practiced by corporations like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Burger King who cover the country (and the world) with their franchises. Corporations earn small license royalties (called, “residual income”, also) over and over from their many franchises. Networking, or private franchising, allows any private individual with the vision and desire to build a business to receive similar royalties from networkers in their organization.

Seemingly small things are transformed before our very eyes and we fail to see it. There is an instance recorded in scripture when Jesus fed 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. The disciples who walked through the crowd dispensing the loaves and fish failed to see their baskets never ran empty. Worse still, it never dawned on them they gathered 12 baskets full from the leftovers after the 5000 ate. They were no worse than many of us who fail to see things before our eyes greater than we’d ever imagined.

The point of the exercise is neither a promise nor guarantee of immense wealth in thirty days. It is about the reward and the value of a penny as being far greater than its monetary worth when two or more people work together.

The next time opportunity knocks at your house answer the door. When you do, don’t make the mistake of quitting before you do the work. Do not underestimate what the many can do, together.
Day 30: $5,368,709.12

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