All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned From Dr. Seuss

It’s that time of year again — graduation season. From painfully tedious commencement ceremonies to endless parties and much-anticipated gifts, this time of the year celebrates the accomplishments of hard work and perseverance. Graduation, be it from high school, college or graduate school, also often marks the beginning of a new chapter in life. And because of this, most graduates are the recipients of great life lessons and other worldly advice as they embark on new experiences and take on new responsibilities.

My oldest niece, Sydney, graduated from high school four years ago. She moved onto college and as she finishes up her last days of a Disneyland internship, it’s easy to hear in her voice her excitement as she is about to jump in and have a taste for herself of the real adult world — working fulltime in corporate America.

Today, as I rack my brain for the most profound tidbits of advice to drill into her, I remember back four years ago when she was just finishing high school. On Sydney’s graduation day, my family presented her with a photo memory book of her journey through life so far. Instead of photo captions, we narrated the book with some of the best life lessons and advice ever given by none other than Dr. Seuss himself.

And so four years later, instead of reinventing the wheel, I decided the best advice to pass along to her isn’t always new advice. Instead, I chose to revisit those tried and true nuggets of wisdom, some of the basic lessons we learned from reading our old childhood books. From accomplished business professionals to recent graduates, Dr. Seuss books with their simple words and simple sentences, tell important and universal lessons applicable to all and in all parts of life.

Below are my top Dr. Seuss lesson’s that I have found to resonate with my niece and other business professionals looking to continue their professional development and grow in their careers.

1. Never stop learning.

Since ancient Greece, the idea that the only constant is change has been a fundamental truth in our world. This principle has only become more evident as technology advances at exponential rates. No professional today can afford to stop learning.

One thing you will find in common with ALL successful professionals is that they read, and they read a lot. Set aside time every day to read and learn more about your industry, job function, the economy and the business world in general. If reading isn’t your thing, watch a video or listen to a podcast. Today there is no excuse to not make self-directed learning a part of your everyday routine.

If we remain stagnant in our career and understanding of the world, we will not “go” anywhere.

2. Differentiate yourself.

Ask yourself, why do people make the purchasing decisions they do? Why do they select one product or service over another? More often than not, we make purchasing decisions based on what makes the selected product or service different, superior or more desirable than the other options available.

The same principle can be applied to why companies decide who they want to work with or hire. A company must understand what makes you unique and special over the billions of other people who inhabit this earth. Make sure the advantage of working with you is clear and apparent.

3. Be humble.

Don’t ever let success go to your head. Be humble. Humility is a sign of strength, not weakness. Be modest about your achievements and remain grounded in your values. After all, success is a journey, not a destination. When you start to get comfortable, you risk losing your edge.

Letting your ego get the best of you can also turn others off. Instead, shift your focus from taking to giving, from bragging about yourself to listening to others, from taking the credit to deflecting the praise, and from being a “know-it-all” to knowing there’s so much you still don’t know.

Never look down on someone to make you feel you are better than they are. The higher up your position within an organization, the more aware you need to remain of everyone on your team. Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated, with dignity and respect. The key is to remember where you came from and what you’ve learned along the way.

4. Persevere.

What is the difference between a successful person and unsuccessful person? The successful person has failed more times than the unsuccessful person has even tried. Behind every successful person is a lifetime of mistakes, dead ends, and great losses. And while it is never fun, failure is how you learn and grow. No one said it was easy to make it in business.

Remember the real reason you will not succeed is if you quit. If you’re too afraid of failure, you won’t ever possibly be able to do what needs to be done in order achieve your goals. So stay in the game, keep a positive attitude and be persistent. Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can go right.

Kathleen Laney is the President and Founder of Laney Solutions. Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Laney Solutions is an industry-leading executive search and recruitment firm specializing in parking industry placements. Laney Solutions is the first search firm to specialize specifically in parking industry recruitment and works with businesses ranging from startups to enterprises in the U.S., Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.