What Dr. Seuss Taught Me About Succeeding In Business


November 12, 2013

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”Theodor Seuss Geisel

That is one of my favorite quotes of all time and it’s from Dr. Seuss, well, at least most people attribute it to him.  There is often debate around great sayings.  The important thing for me is the message.  It helps me remember that there will always be people who respect me for who I am.  They are not going to try to mold me into their vision of who I should be.  And, when you’re respected, you will be far more likely to be a success in life.

That is a good lesson to learn.  And, although Dr. Seuss may or may not have said that statement, there are many other gems we know he wrote that apply interesting well in the business world.  If we can simplify our thinking once in awhile, we would see that life’s lessons are often more common sense and less conquer-the-world statements. According to Dr. Seuss, “sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”  Here are a few quotes I like and how I interpret them in business:

Learning & Development

‘The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” This comes to us from the story ‘I Can Read With My Eyes Shut‘ from 1978.  I always liked this book and the overall message.  This quote confirms that we need to keep reading and learning so that opportunities come our way.  If we remain stagnant in our career, in our relationships, in our communities, we will not “go” anywhere.  I don’t know about you, but I am a firm believer in reading, learning, and growing.


There are a ton of books by Dr. Seuss that teach children (and adults) to be more tolerant of people who are different. Most of his characters were made-up beings who interacted with humans.  These beings taught the humans many things.  I love this quote from ‘Horton Hears A Who’.

“Don’t give up! I believe in you all.  A person’s a person, no matter how small!  And you very small persons will not have to die if you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!”

So, whether we’re small or tall, black, white, or green, we’re all important.  We all have special talents.  We all have to try to make our voice heard.


“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.” This quote is found in ‘The Lorax‘ which was written in 1971.  Definitely a great book and made-for-tv cartoon that teaches us about treating the environment well and not being wasteful.  I also love the message here that you cannot just rely on others to change things.  If you want something to be better, YOU have to get involved and make it better.

Work/Life Balance

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” This one comes from ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!‘ from 1990.

I don’t know if Dr. Seuss had work/life balance in mind when he wrote this book but I get the message loud and clear from this quote.  The story is one of encouragement for people on the path of life.  I think it is also important to note that care and tact are needed for success.  It’s easy to get fired up and expect success to come quickly.  Sometimes it does.  But, more often than not, it takes time and a great deal of diligence to move mountains.  The important thing it IS possible to move a mountain.

What are your favorite Dr. Seuss books or quotes?  Share one with me in the comments….


  • Dr. Seuss is a staple in our house. My daughter actually tries new food thanks to Green Eggs and Ham. But my all-time favorite Dr. Seuss quote is: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

    Happy New Year, Trish!

  • I liked this so much that….that…I feel a little Dr. Seuss of my own coming….

    Oh what a read, what a good read indeed. I read it with a smile, I read it with a grin, oh Trish you knew I’d love this, for those that don’t read this it’s a sin.

    There we have it. My own Dr. Seuss response for you. My favorite quote you listed was the one on involvement. Just love the message there.

    Growing up for me it was the classic Green Eggs and Ham.
    “I do not like them here or there! I would not like them anywhere! I do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like them, Sam-I-Am! ”

    The message in Green Eggs and Ham is simple. Until you try something, you never know if you’ll like it. It wasn’t until the very end that he learns he actually does like Green Eggs and Ham.

  • Great post. I have found that the best advice both for business and personal has come from my 2 favorite childhood folks. Dr. Seuss and Mr. Rogers.

    One of my favorite quotes is from Oh, the Places You’ll Go.

    “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

  • Me, I was always partial to _Where the Wild Things Are_ (“Let the wild rumpus start!”) and _Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory_ (“A little nonsense now and then/Is relished by the wisest men.”)

    But my favorite from Suess has got to be his warning against oppressive “leadership,” in Yertle the Turtle. At the end, Mack, “that plain little turtle did a plain little thing. He burped.” His burp knocks Yertle to the ground, ending his rule: “And today the great turtle, that Marvelous He, is King of the Mud, that is all he can see. And the turtles of course, the turtles are free, as turtles, and maybe, all creatures, should be.”

    Leadership conducted without consideration for followers is unsustainable.

  • Love the post – one of my favorite from Seuss is “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” I think we in HR run into this quite often – we know the answer and which way to go, but boy it can sometimes be a very difficult decision to make.

    My wife has one in her office that says “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” – I keep trying to get my kids to understand that one!

    Love the creativity, Trish!

  • Love this post Trisha! My favorite Dr. Seuss book (besides Green Eggs and Ham) is Oh The Places You’ll Go. I received it as a gift when I graduated and I treasure it. It’s a children’s book, but there is a whole other message in it when you’re an adult. I’ve continued my friend’s tradition and now, when one of my friends achieves a milestone, I give it to them.

  • I don’t have any Seuss books on my shelves so I can’t give you a direct quote, but my favorite book was always “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” – first published in 1949, and one of the first books I remember reading.

    The message of “Oobleck” is that mistakes get made – but you need to OWN UP TO THEM. One that HR and lots of people (like managers and supervisors) seem to forget.

    Loved this post!

  • Loved your post!

    “These things are fun and fun is good.” That’s my favorite Suess quote–I think it’s from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

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Theodor Seuss Geisel
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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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