What Counting Change Taught Me about Making a Change

By Michael Roderick  -  On 06 Feb, 2015 -  0 comments

When I was young I used to get these really big collector cups from places like McDonalds and Taco Bell with photos from the latest blockbuster movie. I always kept one of them and made it a habit to throw my spare change in the cup any time I came back from the store. I bought a lot of comic books and a lot of candy so I almost always ended up with change after my purchases. I kept up this habit all the way through high school. I would find a cup, load it up with change and it would usually sit on my dresser for months until the cup got too old and I’d dump the change in a nicer cup. The summer of my junior year I got this Pepsi sports bottle at a fair and I decided to use that as the thing to hold my change. This thing was HUGE so I just kept filling it up.

I started a band in high school called Morbid Cappuccino (that was seriously what we called ourselves) and equipment was pretty expensive. I had convinced my parents to buy me a microphone and a small amp, but eventually I needed a P.A. system. At the time a P.A. system could cost you a couple thousand dollars, which was more money than I had ever seen. By some miracle, my boss at the time was selling his old P.A. system for $350. I went to my parents knowing that this was an amazing deal and would be huge for the band to have it, but both of my parents said that they wouldn’t pay for it.

I was crushed.

In a true fit of after school special flavored angst, I stomped into my bedroom and slammed down on my bed knocking over the Pepsi sports bottle which poured out a mountain of change. As I looked down at the mound of change covering my floor that I now had to clean up something went through my head.

What if I have enough in the bottle to pay for half of the P.A. system?

It seemed logical that with all of that change on the floor, there had to be at least $100 there. I mean I saw a lot of quarters. I sat down and started to stack the quarters. There were so many on the floor and I hadn’t even gotten to any of the change in the bottle or any of the other coins. The nickels, pennies, and dimes all kept piling up. In about a half hour I was staring at rows and rows of carefully stacks of coins and as I did the math I realized . . .

I had $380 in SPARE CHANGE!

I surprised my parents when I asked to go to the bank and cash in my change. They thought I was walking out with $20 not $380. My mom and dad agreed that it was my money and I could do what I wanted with it, so I bought that P.A. system and I made sure to tell everyone in the band that it was purchased with spare change.

Many years later when I was first starting my consulting business, I met an investor who was involved in both business and Broadway shows. He took an interest in my penchant for connecting people and I eagerly told him about the number of introductions I had made that year. At that time it was probably around 600 or so and I was very proud of that. Before I could say anything else about it, he stopped me and said:

“I really don’t care how many people you know or have made introductions for, I care about what kind of people you associate with. You gotta clean your pipeline. If you sent me 500 introductions to random people, I’d tell you to lose my number, but if you introduce me to one person who’s a fit for me, I’d want to stay in touch with you.”

I was instantly taken back to that moment in my bedroom staring at all the change on the floor. After that meeting, I went back to my email and opened up a spreadsheet I had created of the introductions I had made for people. I started to look at each person and realized that some people were responsible for introducing me to clients, some had never responded to my initial follow up email or had ignored my introductions, and some profusely thanked me for introductions I had made for them. I started to think more carefully about who I introduced to whom and I adopted the Fred Wilson double opt-in rule. I instantly saw a major change in my relationships. I was becoming much clearer on who added value to whom and what a good introduction looked like. I was sorting my quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies and when I was done, I had a much clearer picture of the value I could add.

I track everything now and it helps me immensely. I know who the advocates in my life are and I know who has sent me amazing opportunities. I take the time to thank them for it and send things their way. It’s a change that I made in my life that has served me incredibly well and to think it all came as a result of . . .

Counting change.