Oh, that magical world of childhood literature—just you and your favorite characters in a world all your own. A world full of adventure, of possibility, of hope, of dreams, and of … cutthroat PR instincts.
OK, maybe not that last one. But it is National Read A Book Day, so to celebrate the occasion here’s a rundown of the lessons from some favorite childhood books:
“Miss Nelson is Missing,” by Henry Allard and James Marshall
Miss Nelson is a lovely elementary school teacher with nothing but her pupils’ best intentions at heart. (It must be her first year of teaching.) Unfortunately, her class doesn’t realize how good they’ve got it, and the students make poor Miss Nelson’s life a living H-E-Double-Hockey sticks. (These are children’s books we’re talking about.)
However, when Miss Nelson is replaced for a week by the horrible substitute, Viola Swamp—who bears a very strange resemblance
to Miss Nelson—they realize how much they want good ol’ Miss Nelson back.
PR Lesson: Whether you’re on the way up or looking down from Boss Mountain, appreciate those around you—the ones who help you get things done every day. Nobody likes to toil away without being appreciated, so you had better recognize
. Or don’t be surprised if your contacts and coworkers turn into real Viola Swamps.
“Harriet The Spy,” by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet. Oh, Harriet. She’s that rare child who knows exactly what she wants out of life—to become a spy. Each day after leaving private school, she travels her “spy route,” collecting stories and information about the people who live in her neighborhood, noting it all in her precious notebook. However, when her friends get a load of what she’s written about them, it’s a serious black mark on her social life.
The first lesson should be a no-brainer—take good notes. But beyond just recording what she sees, Harriet has a no-apologies approach to being herself, and to expressing it through her writing. The next time you’re pitching, don’t be afraid to inject a little personality. See things your own way. Develop a unique perspective. Be a spy. (But don’t go climbing into any dumbwaiters.)
“The Monster At The End of This Book,” by Jon Stone
The last title is a beginner book, and it has the most important lesson. Lovable, furry Grover spends the entire book begging the reader not to turn the pages—because there is a monster at the end of this book
. Children are basically masochists, and so the pages, as you can image, get turned. When you get to the end—spoiler alert
—it the monster is Grover. Phew!
Be fearless. Go forth. Identify people you’re afraid to talk to, and do it. Nobody is “out of your league.” Who do you really want to work with? Contact them today. It’s not that you’ll never be scared when you break new career ground; but if you’re not at least a little bit scared, it’s probably not worth doing. Whatever you do, keep turning new pages. If you’re brave, you can handle whatever comes next.
What were your favorite books—and how did they shape who you are and what you do today?
Julai Whipple works at The Black Sheep Agency, a Houston-based creative agency specializing in non-traditional public relations, social media, and experiential marketing. Check out their blog, where a version of this story first appeared.