Squirrel Spotting: A View From a ‘Between-Jobs Guy’

ColumnistsMay 03, 2022

Squirrel Spotting: A View From a ‘Between-Jobs Guy’

Peter Smith reflects on the connections he’s made during his time off and explains why change is so hard for everyone.

Peter Smith is an industry consultant, speaker, sales trainer, and author. He can be reached via email at
My life as a “between-jobs guy” has been fascinating to say the least. 

There is the odd juxtaposition of not wanting to drift too far from the ship, lest I find myself unable to get back on board, while at the same time fearing a quick re-boarding might not be the best idea, as I later could realize the ship’s sailing somewhere I don’t want to go. 

The incoming calls and conversations to date have been, and I suspect will continue to be, interesting. 

There have been calls from people at small and large companies. There are newer operators, and older, more established businesses. There have been retailers and vendors/suppliers. And a partridge in a pear tree … OK, wrong season. 

There is, I confess, a real thrill in having the luxury of engaging conversations with company principals about their businesses, and where they want to take them. That exciting stew of frustration, passion, optimism, and history makes for wonderful theater and genuine human connection. 

The biggest challenge for me, thus far, has been maintaining a level of sincere interest in learning about the business, the personnel, the company aspirations, etc., if I concluded quickly that joining a given company is just not right for me. 

In those situations, I try to be respectful and, where possible, point the interested parties in a direction that might be a better fit for them. 

Having a large industry Rolodex (yes, a digital one) has facilitated many solid connections for industry colleagues and companies through the years and I have always enjoyed making those introductions. 

One of the more interesting aspects of this between-jobs period has been the number of companies that’ve reached out to enquire about using me in a consulting capacity. 

The premise being, one assumes, that if they can’t make a significant hire, they can at least tap into my accumulated experience and know-how to gain an objective assessment of their business. 

That has been a great deal of fun, as it allows me to bring my experience and perspective to interested companies without either one of us having to buy the cow, so to speak.  

 Related stories will be right here … 

There have also been, naturally enough, a few head-scratchers.

There was the company that wanted to reconstitute their sales team but ended up doing nothing.

The business that was sick and tired of taking two steps forward, followed by two steps back, but decided ultimately to continue as they were because … well, because of Russia.

The company that wanted to buy another organization as an acquisition play but ultimately dropped the idea because of costs that would be no more than rounding errors in any eventual transaction.

In “The Catalyst, How To Change Anyone’s Mind,” Jonah Berger wrote, “Change is costly and requires effort, so as long as things are good enough, the impetus to switch is muted. Research suggests that the potential gains of doing something have to be 2.6 times larger than the potential losses to get people to take action.”

Psychology has a term for believing you want to do something, and then not doing it. It is called the status quo bias

It’s why we stay with the same insurance company when we would be better off making a change. 

It’s why we continue to visit the same barbershop, even as those haircuts become less satisfactory. 

It’s why we continue to give our business to the same old dry cleaner while lamenting the quality of their work. 
Change is hard. It is so neurologically taxing to change that we often default to doing nothing, or more of the same, even when we know breaking the cycle of sameness would give our businesses the best opportunity to positively impact the trajectory.
Companies, even those that self-servingly sprinkle their communications with buzzwords such as “innovative,” and “disruptive,” are more often risk-averse. In fact, a Boston Consulting Group survey from 2015 identified risk-averse cultures as being the major impediment to innovation.

Neuroscientist and author Robert Cooper wrote in “The Other 90%” that, “The amygdala’s instincts, which have evolved over thousands of years, tend to spill into every aspect of life and promote a perpetual reluctance to embrace anything that involves risk, change or growth. 

“Your amygdala wants you to be what you have been and stay just the way you are.” 

With all due respect to Mr. Cooper, I’ll end it there. I’ve got to wrap this up for now, as I need to find a ship that just might be going my way.  

Peter Smithis an industry consultant, speaker, and sales trainer, and author of three books, “Hiring Squirrels,” “Sell Something,” and “The Sales Minute.”

The Latest

Supplier BulletinJun 30, 2022
Here’s Where You’ll Find The Best Online Jewelry Auctions

Sponsored by HiBid

CrimeJun 30, 2022
What JSA’s Annual Report Tells Us About Jewelry Crime in 2021

Plus, JSA President John Kennedy talks about the trajectory of industry crime over the last 20 years.

CrimeJun 30, 2022
Smash-and-Grab Robbers Hit Booth at TEFAF: Watch the Video

The fair was evacuated temporarily Tuesday after four suspects smashed a showcase and stole jewelry from British jeweler Symbolic & Chase.

Brought to you by
Preparing for Proposal Season with High-Quality, A.I.-Graded Natural Diamonds

Rare & Forever is helping to create an enjoyable diamond buying experience for the millions of newly-engaged couples.

Events & AwardsJun 30, 2022
Nominations Are Open for Gem Awards 2023

The 21st annual awards show and gala will take place in New York City next March.

Weekly QuizJun 23, 2022
This Week’s Quiz
Test your knowledge of the latest jewelry news with this quick test.
Take the Quiz
Events & AwardsJun 30, 2022
Registration Open for JIS Fall in Miami

The jewelry trade show is scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

AuctionsJun 29, 2022
Bonhams Expands Again with Purchase of Paris Auction House

It is the fifth acquisition under the ownership of private equity firm Epiris, which bought Bonhams in 2018.

Brought to you by
Discover The Extraordinary Italian Jewelry In Las Vegas!

Experience all the Italian Jewelry market has to offer in Las Vegas.

MajorsJun 29, 2022
Zales Has a New Diamond Cut

The “Celebration Infinite” diamond has more than three times the number of facets in a traditional brilliant-cut diamond, the retailer said.

WatchesJun 29, 2022
Bulova Introduces New Frank Sinatra Watches

The brand again partnered with the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School to celebrate the launch of the “Summer Wind” watches.

SurveysJun 29, 2022
U.S. Platinum Jewelry Demand Starts 2022 on a Strong Note

Retail ounce sales were up 23 percent year-over-year in Q1, according to the recent Platinum Jewellery Business Review.

Events & AwardsJun 29, 2022
Registration Is Now Open for the HardRock Summit 2022

Scheduled for Sept. 8-11, the event will comprise more than 310,000 square feet of show floor, exhibits, and education space.

IndependentsJun 28, 2022
This Jeweler Is Celebrating 40 Years With 40 Days of Giveaways

Continental Diamond in Minneapolis is awarding a total of $25,000 in prizes via daily sweepstakes.

CollectionsJun 28, 2022
Melissa Kaye’s New Collection Doubles the Color

“Lenox” marks the designer’s foray into bespoke jewels and large colored gemstones.

Events & AwardsJun 28, 2022
Second AGS Virtual Education Conference Is All About Negotiation Skills

“Confluence” is happening in August.

MajorsJun 27, 2022
George Holmes, Longtime Head Editor of JCK Magazine, Dies at 93

He first took a job at then Philadelphia-based Jewelers’ Circular-Keystone in 1963 and retired in 1996.

MajorsJun 27, 2022
Mayors, Analog:Shift Team Up With Goop

The lifestyle platform will stock fine jewelry and watches from the retailers on its website and in store.

CrimeJun 27, 2022
JSA Warns of ‘Pandemic’ of Distraction Thefts Nationwide

It cited two recent cases in California, plus incidents in Florida, Kansas, and Illinois.

IndependentsJun 27, 2022
Lewis Jewelers Set to Open New Ann Arbor Store This Summer

The 10,000-square-foot location allows for expanded collections from design partners while continuing custom design and other services.

CollectionsJun 27, 2022
This Designer Has Found a New Way to Bring Gemstones to Life

Svetlana Lazar’s “Wishing Well” collection utilizes an innovative component to mimic the movement of water beneath them.

Supplier BulletinJun 24, 2022
AGTA GemFair™ Denver is the Place to Be in September!

Sponsored by AGTA

Recorded WebinarsJun 24, 2022
Vegas Jewelry Recap: The Editors Weigh In

Watch the webinar in which National Jeweler’s editors talk about jewelry market week trends and their predictions for the rest of 2022.

MajorsJun 24, 2022
Banter by Piercing Pagoda Celebrates Pride with ‘SayGay’ Necklace

All proceeds up to $25,000 will benefit the It Gets Better Project, a nonprofit that supports LGBTQ+ youth.

CollectionsJun 24, 2022
Piece of the Week: Marie Lichtenberg’s Hidden Message Locket

It’s a reminder that life is best lived with discretion.

TechnologyJun 24, 2022
Cloud-Based POS Software Jewel360 Launches for Jewelry Retailers

The end-to-end software allows for real-time control over all sales, inventory, repairs, customer communications, and marketing.

EditorsJun 23, 2022
Antique Show Observations From a First-Time Attendee

Associate Editor Lenore Fedow shares her impressions of the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show and a few of her favorite finds.

GradingJun 23, 2022
AIGS Launches Grading Report for ‘Santa Maria’ Aquamarine

The Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences aims to set a color standard for the trade name.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy