Marketing lessons from a rabid chipmunk

A relative of mine is a mail-carrier for the United States Post Office. Like any place of employment, there are all sorts of colorful characters working there. They’re all very good people – friendly and enjoyable to chat with.

A gentleman working at the same post office as my relative is a happy, cheery kind of guy. I met him on a few occassions back when I was basically a rebellious high-school hoodlum. I noticed his pleasant demeanor. And that he was bald – much like I’ll likely be in a matter of a few years. His co-workers had nicknamed him “Shiny”.

Shiny was assigned a walking route most days. The neighborhood he traversed was quite nice – lined with tall, shady trees for those hot summer days in South New Jersey. When you think of suburbia, you can easily picture Shiny walking – bag in hand – delivering mail to the nice people on his route. Manicured lawns, nice cars, kids playing in the bright and toasty sunshine.

Shiny was happy. Until one day, when small, furry horror reigned …

Shiny was doing what he does every day, walking his mail route. When suddenly an irrationally aggressive and perhaps slightly disturbed chipmunk sprung forth from one of the trees he was walking under and viciously attacked his head. Shiny did his best to quickly beat the fuzzy ferocious creature from atop his unprotected noggin. While no grave injury occurred during this incident, he did have quite a few scratches, needed some medical attention, and received a rabies shot.

This story actually teaches us many valuable lessons that we can use in life and in business.

Rabid Chipmunk Lesson #1: “Take Risks.”

If the chipmunk had been able to pry off Shiny’s head and stick it into the knot-hole of a tree, perhaps this would be a different story with a different lesson – such as, “STAY AWAY FROM CHIPMUNKS IN NEW JERSEY!” Thank goodness this wasn’t the case, of course.

However, we cannot overlook this brave, furry, suburban-dwelling animal’s actions. The pinnacle of chipmunk achievement was within it’s grasp. Did it freeze, uncertain of what to do? Did it seek approval from other chipmunks? No. This scrappy little fellow risked bodily injury and flung himself toward the gargantuan and delectable nut below.

In business, we’re often faced with similar choices. What do you do when opportunity arises? Are you a gambling chipmunk with an aggressive mean-streak, or are you the cautious kind? The cute little woodland creature that seems to miss many grand opportunities?

Rabid Chipmunk Lesson #2: “Things are not always what they seem.”

I can imagine what went through his little chipmunk brain just before leaping. Before him was an acorn so huge that other chipmunks in the neighborhood would be talking about him as legend if he could obtain it. For years to come, as dusk fell in Southern New Jersey, knot-holes as far as the eyes could see would have wise old chipmunks telling the young ones of this most heroic feat. His name, forever etched in the annals of chipmunk warrior-dom. His story becoming fable over the years, with each retelling the size of the acorn grows until it’s as if the chipmunk, lean muscles bulging, flew from the tallest tree in the land and swallowed whole an acorn the approximate size of a 1969 Volkswagon Bus and then went on to marry the most beautiful chipmunk queen on earth.

This lesson is important in every business decision you make – whether it’s a piece of equipment you’re purchasing (“A printer/fax/copier/cloning/time machine for only $89.99!”), or a joint venture opportunity you are approached about. Pay attention to your intuition, but balance that with a firm grip on reality.

Rabid Chipmunk Lesson #3: “Expect the Unexpected.”

I would wager a fair amount of money that as Shiny was walking down the street, the last thing he expected was the Attack Chipmunk of Doom unleashing Furry Fury From Above. It’s not unfathomable, really. Chipmunks climb trees. When you walk on a sidewalk, trees are there. Unexpected indeed.

In business this is a rule to live by. Just when you need 200 copies of one of your brochures, the printer gags, chants backward in Latin, and projectile-vomits pea-green toner onto the wall as if it’s possessed. Right when you’re on the phone with an important client, your batteries run out. As business owners, we can’t prepare for everything, but we can at least make a point of understanding that crazy things can – and do – happen. How you handle them is the difference between something unexpected being disastrous, or yet another obstacle you’ve overcome.

There are many more lessons we can learn from this story, but the most important lesson is this: Pay attention. Strange things happen in life and if you understand what’s going on, you just might end up learning something very valuable from something that’s … well … fairly ridiculous.


About the author
David Badurina is President of and the creator of VMT Viral Marketing Software. VMT is being used by more than 20,000 people in over 160 countries and is the premier Relationship-Building Viral Marketing Tool available online. To sign up for The VMT-zine – A truly unconventional newsletter with equal parts humor, reality, and sound advice for your business, just visit:!