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Start Your Business Success Stories

Mind Your Business: Dr. Seuss Goes to Work

Mind Your Business: Dr. Seuss Goes to Work Credit: Photo Credit: Karl Tate

If you don't have an elementary school-age kid living at home, you may have missed the fact that last week marked Dr. Seuss' 108th birthday, which is now also designated as "Read Across America Day."

All the Seuss celebrating got me thinking that Dr. Seuss must have spent at least a little time hanging around the office. Even all these years later, his characters are right out of the modern workplace. Yes, we've all got a Grinch or two, but that's just the beginning.

Dr. Seuss' books read like a "how-to-get-along-with-your co-workers" handbook. This may not be entirely surprising, since Theodor Seuss Geisel, spent the early part of his career in advertising and some of his earliest works were written as marketing pieces for a brand of boat lubricant made by Standard Oil. Yes, good old Dr. Seuss knew what he was talking about when he started sketching his now legendary characters. While the words in his books might have been written with kids in mind, the characters were nothing less than fully formed, socially malfunctioning adults – many of whom you'll probably be working with today.  

So in belated honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, here's a guide to the Seuss characters in your office.

The Cat in the Hat – Most companies have a Cat in the Hat. That's the person who gets little done, but entertains the rest of the crew. Their intentions are good, but they often have the effect of creating chaos and distracting everyone else. They also, much like the famous Seuss character, have the uncanny ability to disappear before the boss shows up.

Horton – Every office needs a couple of Hortons. They're the ones who try, no matter what the odds, to keep the company moving in the right direction. They're willing to help their fellow workers, give the best customer service and come to the aid of whoever else is crying out for a little "help."

Yertle the Turtle – Unfortunately, most of us work with at least one Yertle, the power-mad dictator who can focus on nothing more than elevating his or her own status – usually on the backs of other overworked employees. Hopefully, your Yertle has learned the same lesson as Seuss': You can only push people (or turtles, for that matter) so far before they no longer have the stamina to keep going.

The Sneetches – Oh, yeah, you know them. They are the ones in your office always forming groups and scheming to create divides at work. The only way to avoid the Sneetches is to refuse to make alliances with any one group and treat everyone the same.

The Lorax – You know the one, that good soul who keeps trying, despite the fact that everyone ignores them, to get the office to go green. Sometimes known as "the tree hugger" or "granola" for short.

Sam I Am – The Sam I Am in your office is usually the one stuck trying to get people to try new things. Maybe it's an IT person trying to get you to use a new technology or the HR person trying to convince you to invest in the company 401(k). Whoever your company's Sam I Am is, give them a chance. You just might find out you like what they're pushing after all.      

Jeanette Mulvey has been the managing editor of BusinessNewsDaily since its debut in 2010. She has written about small business for more than 20 years and formerly owned her own e-commerce business. Her column, Mind Your Business, appears on Mondays only on BusinessNewsDaily. You can follow her on Twitter at @jeanettebnd or contact her via e-mail at jmulvey@techmedianetwork.com.

Jeanette Mulvey
Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.

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