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Children’s Books As Management Self-Help Guides
By: Kathy Buckworth

Every week there are hundreds of management books written and published, all of which contain perfectly sound advice which has likely worked at least for the person writing the book. Good for them. But do yourself a favour, and instead of buying another guru’s latest book, revisit your child’s bookshelf, or the children’s section of your local library or bookstore. Many of the classic tales contain all of the management advice you’ll ever need, both in the boardroom and in the family room. Here’s a rundown of some of my favourites:

Goodnight Moon: This perennial children’s favourite contains the most loved lines of all time: “Goodnight Nobody”. Because even nobodies deserve some sort of recognition. And I mean “nobody” in the nicest possible way. Be it the summer intern or the junior product manager, acknowledging an employee’s existence is an effective tool for senior management. One day these “juniors” could easily be your boss. Also, they’re smart and worth listening to. Some kids are as well. Some. Recognize everyone, and teach your kids that everyone needs to be listened to.

Green Eggs & Ham: In this Dr. Seuss tale, Sam I Am tries to convince his hapless friend to try a new culinary dish, in a number of different settings: on a boat, in a car, on a train, heavens, even with a goat. I’m not a fan of this book from a personal perspective because it has the provider of food (in this case, Sam, but in most houses, mom) running around begging for his pal to try a new type of food. Have you read my previous book, Shut Up and Eat? Don’t run around after your kids. Just make them eat.

In business, however, we often find a solution by turning a problem on its head, by trying different things, or sometimes the same things in different ways. Make sure to take a run at a problem with the kids a few times before throwing in the proverbial towel. Parents who say “he will only eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches every day and there’s nothing I can do about it” have given up. You’re the boss, remember? Pull out some green eggs if you have to.

So you think you don’t know Jack about management principles? Well apparently “Jack” knew a ton of stuff, as evidenced by him turning up time and time again in Nursery Rhymes.

· “Jack be Nimble.” Jack wasn’t only nimble, Jack was quick. He jumped over that candlestick, and one assumed, didn’t get burned. He acted quickly and didn’t ask his children how they felt about him doing it, or for permission to land on the other side. Perhaps the earliest example of “Just Do It”. (Pssst Nike – seriously – put some runners on this guy and sign him up) Follow Jack’s lead.

· “Jack & Jill.” So, they go up this hill, right? To fetch some water. Then he falls down and she goes tumbling after. The key here is delegation. Don’t follow someone up a hill to get something when they can just bring it to you.

· Jack and the Beanstalk. While this is technically a book, and not a nursery rhyme, Jack is at it again. He trades a cow for beans, grows a stalk, gets rich and kills a giant. You just never know what that first move is going to get you, but if you don’t make the first trade, you’ll never know. Go with your gut and parlay your experiences into a great big win (fall).

· “Jack Spratt.” He couldn’t eat fat, so he married someone who would, a move that allowed him to have the lean. The takeaway? Partner up with people (and yes, your kids count as people) who can do what you can’t.

Excerpted from “I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family The Business” Kathy Buckworth, 2013, McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House.

Kathy Buckworth
Author, I Am So The Boss Of You (Random House)

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