Category: Strategy Published on May 14 2015

In Pixar’s movie “Up” the dogs talk. And regardless of what they are doing, when they see a squirrel, they are completely distracted and say “Squirrel!” while simultaneously looking at or chasing after the squirrel. It’s a recurring theme throughout the movie that always makes me laugh.


Last week my husband was talking to one of his vendors on speaker phone. As they were working through the details of my husband’s requirements, every now and then the vendor would pause and ask about potential future sales. When my husband indicated that if all of his needs were met for the right price, then potential future sales could be significant the vendor would go off on a tangent and talk about this growth. And all I could think of was “Squirrel!”

As this happened multiple times during the 10 minute phone call and he was on speaker phone, I was doing my best to keep from laughing out loud. Every time he went off on a tangent my brain went “Squirrel!” and I pictured the vendor pointing and chasing after the squirrel.


After this call I realized that “Squirrel!” is a type of shiny bauble. In general I define shiny baubles as being distractions that appear to be opportunities. However, there is another aspect to shiny baubles that fall in the “Squirrel!” category. These are future opportunities that you are so focused on that they will never materialize because you are overlooking what you need to do now in order to get there tomorrow (the metaphorical tomorrow, not the literal tomorrow.)


Following this phone conversation I became more sensitized to the “Squirrel!” phenomenon and realized that it’s actually quite common. I used the “Squirrel!” analogy twice more within four days. And this made me wonder, what is it that makes people go “Squirrel!” in their business?


In general, it seems to be something that the business owner wants very badly. It may be a goal that is driving her forward that has proven elusive. More importantly what causes you to go “Squirrel!”?

 - What are the opportunities that cause you drop everything you are doing and go off on a tangent?

 - What are the words that instantly distract you and send you on the wild goose chase to instant success?


This is your “Squirrel!”


Here is the problem with “Squirrel!” syndrome: it’s annoying to your customers. Yes, it will short circuit your best laid plans by taking you off target and distracting you from achievable short range plans. Yes, it will consume your precious time and money. However, the fact that it is actively annoying your customers is its most dangerous side effect.


You see, my husband purposefully placed this call on speaker phone so that I could hear what the vendor was saying. He wanted to me understand why he gets so frustrated with this gentleman. And why he would love to locate another provider for this product.


Do you suffer from “Squirrel!” syndrome? If so, know that you are driving away potential customers. And then change your mindset to how you can serve your customers rather than how they can serve you by being your gateway to “Squirrel!”


Have a great day!