12 Most Words of Wisdom While Watching Wonder Pets, Word World, and Super Why!
For the nearly three years I’ve lived at home, close to my nephews and niece (now aged 6, 2 and 4), I’ve spent countless hours watching The Wonder Pets, Word World and Super Why!. It got to the point where I’d send a tweet, “I should write a book, ‘Everything I Learned about Business Success I learned from The Wonder Pets’” or Word World or Super Why! I meant it as a joke but people thought it was a good idea.
So consider these 12 things I’ve learned from these shows — a test run to see if there’s a book for me to write.
1. Formulas = built-in consistency
Doesn’t matter if I’ve seen an episode of Wonder Pets or Super Why for the first time or the millionth time: the formula is consistent. Beginning-middle-end. Simple. Straight forward. Built-in consistency.
I know that the opening sequence for Wonder Pets presents the lesson for the episode that is nailed home by the animal they save that day. I know that words make up the animals and objects in Word World and that, when they build a word, they sound it out, put the letters together and then celebrate the accomplishment. “We did it! We built a word!” Super Why has Super Letters that appear at “segment” breaks, and the letters spell the action or lesson of the day.
Obvious business application for such consistency is customer service. From the moment a customer picks up the phone, sends an email, tweet or walks in a store, policies and training oughta have that built-in consistence mastered by kid shows.
I’m about to the point where “simplicity” is a word people like to toss around without actually thinking what that means. The Wonder Pets, Word World and Super Why! get simplicity. It comes across clearly in each story line. Call it breaking it down to bare bones, call it dumbing down, it is still simplicity. Even though I’m an adult, and have long since learned the lessons imparted (hopefully), I still get them because of their simple presentation. Now if only business, especially advertising, could do the same.
3. Teamwork matters
“What’s gonna work? Teamwork!” That gets stuck in my head whenever one of my nephews or niece asks to watch The Wonder Pets. It gets stuck in my head when I’m working with Clio Support or talking to people about Small Firm Innovation. And then I think, even though there’s a song, teamwork is a component of Word World and Super Why! At least two characters help you “build a word” in Word World, and Super Why! calls all the Super Readers to the club house to solve a problem.
As much as I’m used to working on my own, by myself, little gets done without the help of others. While we may not all work for a company, or a department within a company, if we’re involved in the same project we’re a team. That project cannot be completed without input and support from all.
4. Excitement is infectious
I know. I know. It sounds ridiculous. Seriously though. My 3-year-old nephew will literally jump up and down, on the couch, too, and sing “Let’s build a word! We did it! We built a word!” It’s infectious. I can’t help but smile, and before I’m even aware, I’m singing along too! And it’s downright impossible to be in a bad mood with such excitement around. Which leads me to point #5.
5. Positive approach
The Wonder Pets, Word World and Super Why! all have this positive slant to them. I know they are kid shows, but there are kid shows that don’t have such a positive slant. Sponge Bob comes readily to mind. Doesn’t matter the obstacle presented, there’s a positive approach to the problem and a positive celebration when solved. No one is put down, backhanded or otherwise. No one is left out.
We would all do well to stop for a moment, and think of how we can approach obstacles in a more positive way. The doom-and-gloom and finger pointing, the negative approach we so forcefully demonstrate, clearly is not working.
6. Nicknames are cool… if they are meaningful
Alpha Pig! He builds the alphabet so you can find the letters to the spell the word. Rhyming Red! Sings a song of rhyming words. When you give nicknames, or code names to things, that’s cool, when the nicknames, or code names, are meaningful. There’s no wasted time and effort wondering what the name means, or why the person, or character, has that name.
Same can apply for products. Use nicknames or code names, but not ones so outlandish it runs the risk of establishing a bad reputation before the product even ships.
7. Manners aren’t dead
I’ve ben watching Mad Men recently, and I’ve noticed how the men stand up when a women enters the room or they stand up and pull out table chairs for the ladies at dinner. People chalk it up to a bygone era. Men don’t do that anymore because women are now too “independent.” I ask myself: why has that thinking trickled down to all manners? Thanks to The Wonder Pets, Word World and Super Why!, manners are still being taught to future generations. Manners, remember, are good business.
8. The song helps do the work
Each show has a song that helps do the work. “What’s gonna work? Teamwork!” for The Wonder Pets, “Let’s build a word!” for Word World and “Who’s got the power? The power to read” for Super Why! The song helps do the work.
An adult reference: look at your Twitter stream. I started paying more attention to tweets about songs or playlists during “normal” working hours. Sometimes the songs are energetic, like Metallica, sometimes they’re more calming or soothing, like Wynton Marsellis. The song helps do the work, whatever that work might be. And music plays an integral role in our decision making process, whether we are aware of it or not. Read In Pursuit of Silence — Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise by George Prochnik. Fascinating read.
9. Share freely and often
If you follow me on Twitter, you’re probably wondering why I’ve put this on the list. After all, I’m an “Equal Opportunity ReTweeter” so I already share freely, and often. I confess, it’s in my nature to do so. And The Wonder Pets, Word World and Super Why! have reinforced my belief that sharing freely and often can yield results, even when you’re not looking for particular results. Sharing freely and often also creates its own space in the formula, which, after some time, yields a consistent result.
10. Anything can be broken down into manageable steps
Seems obvious, no? Really. There’s even a book: Getting Things Done, that has become a business. There’s just something about the simplicity, the formula, that after repeat viewings of The Wonder Pets, Word World and Super Why!, there isn’t anything I can’t break down into manageable steps. Big things. Small things. Doesn’t matter. Like building a word, you can sound it out (steps) and build it (complete the task).
11. Trial and error leads to success
Again, seems obvious, no? And who doesn’t think of Edison when someone talks about trial and error? The Wonder Pets, Word World and Super Why! show that trial and error is a natural part of any kind of problem solving. One should not get discouraged, nor give up, if a problem isn’t solved on the first try, be it saving an animal, building a word or solving a riddle. Be it a personal problem, a business model or a clogged drain, some trial and error is required before success is achieved.
12. You’re never too old for PBS Kids
Yep. You’re never too old to watch PBS Kids. I’d wager you’re never to old to watch kid shows, but there’s just something about PBS Kids that’s timeless, and even as I start a new decade there is still something to learn, or remember, from The Wonder Pets, Word World and Super Why!
So there you have it. The 12 things I’ve learned from watching these PBS Kids shows with my nephews and niece. Book worthy? Perhaps. Applicable lessons for today? You bet. So the next time your kid, nephew or niece gets excited about a TV show, sit down and watch it with them and see what you get out of it.
Featured image courtesy of Indiana Public Media via Creative Commons.