The Blog of Kendall

Observations and Interests of Kendall Schoenrock – Web 2.0, Startups, Technology, & Other Fun Stuff

June 2, 2007

What Can Fred Rogers Teach Us About Business?

Written by
Kendall Schoenrock

I came across an excellent post regarding a few reasons that Mister Rogers was the best neighbor ever. (Please check it out as I will use it as a reference point in this post.) After thinking on this subject for some time, I started wondering if there are any key lessons from Mr. Rogers success that can be applied to the business world. Here are my thoughts. I’m sure I am overlooking some good ones, so feel free to chime in and leave a comment and let me know what you think!Mr_Rogers

1. There is good in the world – embrace it.

In a world full of corporate scandals, corruption, and an overall lack of integrity, there is proof that companies that focus on being fair and treating people with respect are more successful. Google’s philosophy of “Do No Evil” resonates well with their community and it can easily be argued that this stance helped to elevate the company’s popularity. Similarly, many companies see an increase in sales when they “go green” or decide to give back to their communities. Be honest and fair, it is worth it in the long run, and it’s just plain right.

2. Stay healthy.

As I learned in this post, Mr. Rogers maintained a strict diet and focus on his health. “He maintained a weight of exactly 143 pounds and didn’t drink, smoke, or eat the flesh of any animals.” This same focus on health should be encouraged by all employers as healthy employees have a direct positive impact on the bottom line.

3. Fight for what you believe in.

Mr. Rodgers twice went to DC to fight for what he believed in. You should not be afraid to stand up, get political, and attempt to make a change for the better. If he did not fight, we might not have had public television or the VCR. Small changes have a ripple effect, don’t be afraid to stand up in what you believe in.

4. Be yourself.

“Mister Rogers seems to have been almost exactly the same off-screen as he was onscreen.” Similarly, businesses should know exactly who they are and this should not change when it is convenient. Many of the most successful companies in the world have a true sense of who they are and what they stand for. A well thought out mission statement can help employees on all levels make decisions that help define their company at all times.

5. Treat all people with respect.

One should not have to make this a point, but I think it is commonly overlooked. Treat ALL people with respect. This means those prospects who don’t return your call, or the VC that won’t give you money… everyone.

Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec’s house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host). On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver’s home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life—the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.

What do you think? What did you learn from Mr. Rogers? Let me know! Oh, and this Mr. Roger’s video, it gave me goosebumps.

5 comments for this post.

  1. Comment from Scott on June 3rd, 2007 :

    Great post, Kendall, filled with excellent analogies/points. I honestly don’t believe you missed anything and I think one of the best things about Mr. Rogers (besides his cardigans) was the fact that he was “genuinely curious about others” befriending (and caring about) everyone.

  2. Comment from Kendall on June 3rd, 2007 :

    Thanks Scott! I’ve always heard the best way to get to know someone (and to have them like you) is to be curious about them and what they do. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Take care.

  3. Comment from Anderson on June 4th, 2007 :

    In addition to everything you mentioned, did you know that Mister Rogers could break dance?

    While this is somewhat humorous and he’s got a terrible wave, the lesson is to always try to learn something new and that you can always learn something from somone else.

  4. Comment from Anderson on June 4th, 2007 :

    And here is where you can see it:

    http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1761077

  5. Comment from Kendall on June 5th, 2007 :

    Great Video! Thanks for reading Anderson, I’m glad to have you here. Take care!

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