Bear Defense (Issue 912)

In which we are reminded to help our clients anticipate and prepare for yet-unseen future challenges.

“Good morning, cousin, happy Sunday!”  One of my cousins angled toward me across the kitchen, holding before her a covered baking dish. “Would you like some of my rhubarb cake for breakfast?”

That felt a little aggressive; I was still a bit groggy from my overnight sleep and I’d just, that moment, stepped into the kitchen.

It was Sunday morning, about 8:30 AM, the fourth day of our Miller family reunion in a rented house not far from a National Park, well up into the Rocky Mountains. My cousins and their families were sleeping in this rented house.  My family and I were staying a short walk away in another.

As she reached me, she pulled back the cover of the baking pan to reveal the yellow rhubarb cake. It looked like some of the Miller family children had gotten into the cake. About half the cake had been scooped out and the rest of it had been “topped,” like you’d take the top off a blueberry muffin.

Despite appearances, the cake looked pretty good, so I extended my left hand to scoop out a bit.

“You don’t want that.” I looked up from the cake; she was looking dead at me, smiling.


“You don’t want that. The last paw… that was in there…”

And I’m thinking, “who has paws?”

She laughed. “Yes, we had a visitor last night.” And she and my other cousins recounted the story. A mama black bear had removed the screen from a first floor kitchen window, pushed the window up, climbed into the house, helped herself to the rhubarb cake and a few other goodies, and let herself out, taking a jar of “ somebody left the top off” peanut butter.

One of the family, awake at the time, reading on a couch around the corner from the kitchen, heard the clatter in the kitchen and peeked around the corner to see the bear. Once the bear left, several family members used a flashlight to spot her under a nearby tree,  with her two cubs, finishing off the peanut butter.

One of them called the building management company; they sent up a guy who inspected the kitchen, spotted the bear, and instructed us to close and lock all first-floor doors and windows.

“And, here,” he said. He handed one of my cousins a placard on which was written instructions for security with respect to bears. “This should have been in the house when you arrived.”

While we were grateful to have the bear-defense placard, as we were staying in the rented house for one more night, we wondered, “Why didn’t you give this to us when we arrived?”, particularly since there had been  bear raids on six nearby houses during the past two weeks.

“Oh, I guess I should have told you” does not build trust or enduring client relationships.

One of our jobs as salespeople is to help clients anticipate and prepare for challenges that they may be facing in the future. That’s one of the great values of our experience; we can help clients avoid pawticular challenges and earn their enduring gratitude and their future business as well as their business, now.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to sell their services to business clients. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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