One of the rewards of being in my line of business is that I get to meet a wide variety of very interesting people doing this type of work. I met Donald Cooper five years ago and he’s become a very good friend. Besides being a funny and fascinating guy with lots of stories to tell (his family owned Coopers, the famous Canadian sporting equipment company), Donald is an outstanding speaker and seminar leader on marketing, service, and business excellence (his web site is

After a trip to Atlantic Canada and Prince Edward Island, Donald included this passage in an e-mail to me:

    “We saw hundreds of hermit crabs that have no shell of their own so they ‘occupy’ the empty shell of some other critter. They walk around with this borrowed shell on their back and when danger threatens, they retreat inside the shell. As they grow, they outgrow their adopted home and rather than be limited by their immediate surrounding, they cheerfully (I’m just supposing about the ‘cheerfully’ part) go in search of a larger shell. There’s got to be two or three life and business lessons that we can learn from this – like knowing when it’s time to move on because you’ve outgrown where you are.”

Donald is so good at keeping his eyes open and finding leadership analogies in daily life. Hermit crabs are a good metaphor for growth and adaptability. We all need to figure out how to protect ourselves while continuing to grow.