Columnists

Squirrel Spotting: How About a Word for the New Year?

ColumnistsJan 31, 2023

Squirrel Spotting: How About a Word for the New Year?

It begins with a “t” and ends with a “c” and is imbued with warmth and positivity, Peter Smith writes.

2022_Peter Smith.jpg
Peter Smith is an industry consultant, speaker, sales trainer, and author. He can be reached via email at TheRetailSmiths@gmail.com.
I recently received an invitation for a catch-up Zoom call from my friend and author, Mark Ryski.

If you’re in retail and you don’t know Mark, you would do well to check out his books, “Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric” and “When Retail Customers Count,” probably the best two books on customer conversion I’ve ever read.

Mark had sent me some possible meeting times and when I selected one, he responded using a word that brought a huge smile to my face and transported me to a different time and place.

We all understand the power of words, but we tend to think about that in the context of how we might offend someone by using the wrong ones. It is rare, for me at least, to have a single word become almost transcendent.

That is, however, what happened to me when I received Mark’s reply.

When I read the word, I was transported back to my Colibri days in the 1990s and a recently departed friend, Larry Feeney, a longtime jewelry guy who died in May 2021. 

During the four years Larry and I worked together at Colibri, he would bound all over the building in Cranston, Rhode Island, always wearing a smile, and ready with a humorous quip for everyone he met.  

Whether Larry knew it or not, one of the words that he used with reckless abandon, and which I always loved, was “terrific.”

 Related stories will be right here … 

Everything seemed to be “terrific” to Larry, and as much as I always enjoyed hearing him use that word, I never managed to embed it into my own vocabulary. 

For whatever reason, it never seemed to fit me the way it fit Larry, and before too long, I’d forgotten about it altogether.

Despite not working with Larry since 1996, we would occasionally meet up at various industry events, or during market week in Las Vegas. 

Sometimes we’d just have a quick catch-up, crack a joke or two, and be on our way until the next unscheduled visit. 

If the conversation was of any duration, however, I was almost certain to hear Larry use “terrific” in his speech, and it struck me the same way every time, “Jeez, that’s a word I need to use more!” 

When Mark’s email came in and I read the word “terrific,” I thought of Larry and, once again, vowed to use the word more in my own speech. I mean, really, what’s the downside of saying “terrific” more?

Going forward, I’ve decided I will replace my New Year’s resolutions (I don’t much care for them anyway) with a word for the year. 

And for 2023, that will be “terrific,” a strong word imbued with warmth and positivity. A word that means something special to me. 

A word that invokes memories of friends past and possibilities yet to come.

Seems like a terrific idea.

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