Children’s books aren’t usually the first place you’d turn for business advice, let alone tips for surviving a pandemic. But Dr Seuss is not your average children’s author. My children are all grown up now, but I’ve never forgotten how applicable his work was to the world of grown-ups. While paging through their old books, I came across five lessons that seemed particularly relevant today…
But first, some background
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts and wrote his first children’s book in 1937. The outbreak of WWII saw him pivot to more serious matters, and the 400 political cartoons he created stood him in good stead when he returned to children’s literature in the 1950s. Books like The Cat in the Hat and The Lorax are known to appeal to kids and grownups alike.
Dr Seuss made a point of never writing a story with a moral in mind, stating that “children can see a moral coming a mile off.” Which is not to say that he shied away from serious issues…
Life Lesson #1: Don’t let lockdown get you down
The Cat in the Hat tells the tale of a brother and sister who are stuck indoors on a “cold, cold, wet day” with nothing to do. That all changes with the arrival of the eponymous hat-wearing cat, who reminds them – emphatically so – that physical confinement needn’t have any impact on the bounds of your imagination. Talk about a lockdown anthem…
Life Lesson #2: Never be afraid to try new things
Green Eggs and Ham, another one of Seuss’ most famous books, contains what is arguably his most enduring business message. Like the main character in the book, you may not want to sink your teeth into a plate of green eggs and ham…But when you finally agree to give it a nibble you might discover that you rather enjoy it. Of course, this metaphor can extend to anything you are currently resisting, be it Zoom meetings (I think we’ve all got past that hang up now) or transitioning to a fee-based practice.
Life Lesson #3: Make sure your growth is sustainable
Probably Dr Seuss’ deepest and darkest book, The Lorax is all about how the Once-ler’s insatiable need for Truffula trees leads to the complete ruination of the land around his factory – and the disappearance of the Loraxes which once thrived there. While its primary moral is about environmental sustainability (which is also important for financial advisors, I might add), the same logic applies to any unsustainable business practice. Signing clients up for the investment which pays you the highest commission might make sense in the short term. But you can’t let clients down month after month and expect to be a long-term success.
Life Lesson #4: Think out the box
The Thinks you can Think is a celebration of children’s (and adults’) ability to think out the box. This little known personal favourite urges you to actively challenge your own way of thinking by listening to different viewpoints and maybe even trying them out in your own life…No matter how much you think you disagree with them.
Life Lesson #5: Reframe problems as opportunities
Oh, the Places You’ll Go reminds us that “Life’s a Great Balancing Act” and that there’s almost no obstacle you can’t overcome by simply reframing ‘problems’ as ‘opportunities’. Covid-19 has been an enormous stumbling block for most of us…But the businesses and individuals that have embraced the turmoil and searched for opportunity are the ones which will make it through the storm unscathed.
Until next time
I hope you enjoyed reading this month’s newsletter as much as I enjoyed putting it together. There’s nothing like a trip down memory lane to lift the spirits. And, on a lighter note, here’s a Life Lesson for the Covid-19 virus…
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to GET going and lighten up your marketing.
*All images are photographs are from my personal Dr Seuss library – with thanks.
(Tribute to Laura and James, their wit, intellect and joy.)