I’ll trade ya…

You have to be able to tell the story of your own passion
so others can buy into that passion.

-Gabriella Cacciotti, Assistant Professor

Very few things are more impressive than a savvy eight year old who recognizes the value of a pudding cup. The kid who boldly walks into the cafeteria with a smooth-talking, I’ll trade ya… and then bargains with all the diplomacy an eight year old can muster and walks away with a packet of Oreos, a bag of Cheetos and a troll head eraser. With nothing more than a pudding cup in hand, an unsuspecting classmate is left confident that said pudding cup is the most valuable thing… ever.

Students enrolled in ENT 3320 Entrepreneurship New Ventures sessions taught by Lee Grumbles and Gabriella Cacciotti were asked to hone in on their inner eight year old self for an experiential learning exercise commonly referred to as The Marble Game. The Marble Game was developed by Professor James D. Hart from Southern Methodist University as a learning exercise that helps students recognize sales strategy, self-branding, the relativity of value and asset acquisition.

Professor Cacciotti explains, “When you start with nothing (or something very small like a marble), it forces you to create value and to leverage your own story.” She continues, “You have to be able to tell the story of your own passion so others can buy into that passion.”

For the assignment, students were given a marble. Admittedly, there was nothing extraordinarily breathtaking about the marble. It was just a basic, run-of-the-mill marble. But that’s the whole point of the activity. The students had one month to master a convincing I’ll trade ya… as they bargained with all the suaveness of an eight year old to trade up from the original marble.

Professor Grumbles shares, “The notion of value is such a subjective thing.” He continues, “In my opinion, there were times students actually traded down, but in their minds they were increasing in value.”

Some of the students showed the cunning prowess of a modern day pudding swapper. There were quite a few notable trades.

  • A trade from marble, can of spray paint, hammer, walking stick, book, computer mouse to the final trade for a slightly used fire extinguisher
  • A trade from marble, bald picture of Joey King, candy, seasonal Waterloo drink, troll doll to the final trade for a live goldfish in a Ziplock baggie filled with water (which Professor Grumbles strongly encouraged be returned to its original owner)
  • A trade from marble, mechanical pencil, pack of gum, party size bag of Doritos, big bag of raisins, an HEB hat to the final trade for a green adirondack chair with a broken arm that the students repaired

Students in each of Grumbles’ classes voted on the best trade up. The winning teams were then given the opportunity to select a local charity as the recipient for all of the final trade items for the respective classes.

  • Kevin Tolotti and Rhett Bradsky 
    marble, sunglasses, a pair of cleats, a working tv without a power cord 
    CHARITY – Hidden Treasures, Caritas Waco
  • Hudson Graber and Cade Hanshaw 
    marble, phone case, perfume, box of string lights, dartboard, a pair of water skis
    CHARITY – Mission Waco

The best trade was not decided by a formal vote in Cacciotti’s classes. However, there were a couple of very clear standouts. Unbeknown to the students at the beginning of the experiment, the most engaged traders received extra credit points. All traded items Professor Cacciotti’s class were donated to the Salvation Army.

  • Zoe Brandenstein and Trey Robison 
    marble, computer mouse, Bauer hockey helmet

The overall Baugh Center Blog honorable mention goes to the trade from marble to a somewhat broken traffic light. No questions asked, but certainly ingenuity at its peak.

All in all, this was a fantastic exercise. Students were able to learn experientially, while having a little fun in the process. And if they also learned the value of saying I’ll trade ya… with all the passion and gusto of an eight year old, well that would just be cool.

Big Sic ‘em goes out to Baylor Entrepreneurship professors like Lee Grumbles and Gabriella Cacciotti who are quite literally rock stars in the classroom.

For more information on Baylor Entrepreneurship, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneurship/.

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