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7 Valuable Marketing, Business, and Life Lessons from Sesame Street

There’s little question that Sesame Street is among the most brilliant children’s television shows ever. If I had a dollar for every day I learned something from the show, then I’d be one rich woman! Although I no longer spend my mornings watching Jim Henson’s Muppet characters in action and I haven’t for quite some time, I’ve never forgotten Sesame Street or the gripping hold it had on me for so long. Who says that we can’t learn from these energetic puppets even now, as grown-ups, entrepreneurs, or business owners? No matter how old we get, Sesame Street can still teach us a thing or two…and here are seven lessons that prove it.

Speak Directly to Your Audience

Speak Directly to Your Audience

Speak Directly to Your Audience

I always felt like Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Cookie Monster, and the rest of the Sesame Street gang were speaking directly to me. They made eye contact (at least as much eye contact as a puppet is capable of making), spoke clearly, and addressed me as a viewer. All of those things made me feel good and provided my childhood self with value. They made me feel so good, in fact, that I couldn’t wait until the next time I got to see them. Those multicolored, fuzzy creatures made me feel like I was the most special person in the world!

What can you learn from this as an adult? Recognize that each member of your audience is important, treat them with respect, and always reach out to them on a direct level.

Variety is Important, but Never Lose Sight of Your Message

Variety is Important, but Never Lose Sight of Your Message

Variety is Important, but Never Lose Sight of Your Message

Sesame Street characters and actors moved throughout the neighborhood, talked to different people, and sung a massive variety of songs, but they never let their wacky activities compromise their message. Their goal was undeniably consistent: To teach the audience and educate them on valuable life lessons and themes. The sketches were all relevant to the overall cause but they were upbeat and fun. I found myself laughing and singing along with my favorite puppets one minute and then learning from them the next. I never felt as if moral lessons were forced down my throat because I was having a blast the entire time!

What can you learn from this as an adult? It’s perfectly fine to engage with your audience in an entertaining way – as long as you don’t deviate too far from the purpose and integrity of your brand.

Don't Be Afraid to Be Yourself

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself

Who could forget Oscar’s less-than-peppy attitude or Big Bird’s self-consciousness about his size? No one on Sesame Street mocked them for being themselves. Instead, their friends encouraged differences and accepted them. I learned at an early age that being different is a positive that makes you stronger and able to adapt in the real world.

What can you learn from this as an adult? Everyone gets scared and feels inferior in some way, and that’s okay! You’ll never accomplish your dreams if you don’t accept yourself and move on to do something great.

Rely on Your Trusted Friends and Colleagues

Rely on Your Trusted Friends and Colleagues

Rely on Your Trusted Friends and Colleagues

Big Bird had heartfelt talks with Snuffy about his feelings. Bert and Ernie counted on each other despite frequent disagreements. Sesame Street characters and actors turned to their loved ones when they needed help getting out of a rut, and it always made them feel better. I followed that lead and talked out my problems whenever they arose…and you know what? I didn’t feel down afterwards!

What can you learn from this as an adult? You’re not alone and you shouldn’t waste precious time stressing out – in the workplace or otherwise. Share your concerns with those you trust and don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

Keep it Simple and Communicate Effectively

Keep it Simple and Communicate Effectively

Keep it Simple and Communicate Effectively

For as complicated as the Sesame Street characters’ relationships seemed, they knew how to convey their main points with little confusion. When one of the characters would go to an adult for help, the adult thoroughly explained the situation and maintained patience while doing so. The Sesame Street gang rarely suffered from miscommunication, but they managed to speak clearly and remedy the situation if an error did arise. They taught the audience (including me) that there’s nothing wrong with simplicity.

What can you learn from this as an adult? Even if you can solve a problem for someone, you need to explain it well and keep the communication channel open. Don’t use jargon or complicated explanations if a simple one would be better for your audience to understand.

Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Honesty is Always the Best Policy

I never saw Bert and Ernie steal from each other and none of the characters told little white lies without later facing the repercussions. Sesame Street taught viewers that it’s best to be honest even if it means receiving punishment. I learned that I should treat others as I wished to be treated and avoid telling lies to cover up errors.

What can you learn from this as an adult? The truth hurts but it’s the best way to go. Lying to make a few extra bucks isn’t cool, and you should respect your customers enough to treat them fairly.

Remember Your Manners

Remember Your Manners

Remember Your Manners

Politeness was one of the central themes on Sesame Street shows – and rightfully so. This seems like an obvious one but it’s exceedingly important to understand! Thanks to Big Bird, Grover, The Count, Bert, Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, Barkley the Dog, Snuffleupagus, Cookie Monster, and the rest of the bunch, I’m sure I could’ve expressed my thanks to others by the time I was in preschool. I shared my toys with fellow children, respected my elders, and always raised my hand if I had a question.

What can you learn from this as an adult? Don’t forget to mind your manners when corresponding with customers, co-workers, or connections of any kind. Even a basic “please” or “thank you” goes a long way with people and both terms reflect your sincerity in your business ethics. Treat others as you’d like to be treated and you’ll go far!

Did I miss any crucial Sesame Street lessons? Were you a Sesame Street and Muppet addict like I was (and still am, to a certain degree)? Let the comments begin!

All trademarks, logos, service marks, or trade names of Sesame Street are registered or unregistered Trademarks of Sesame Workshop, the SW Parties and/or others. All rights reserved. Photos in this post are from Photobucket.



Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. Jill writes for the QLP blog and assists with the company’s social media accounts. You can connect with Jill on Google+.

Comments

  1. Stantz

    AWESOME POST! I definitely think that Sesame Street helped (at least a tiny bit) shape me into who I am today….it also taught me to not eat cookies in bed. Seriously, sleeping in crumbs would be horrible.

  2. Scooby DOO!

    Jill- NICE one! Here is one more… KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Just ask Katie Perry.

  3. Wienerschnitzel

    HA-HA! This is so cooool! :0) I love it!

  4. Bumcivilian

    Jill this was an “A” is for Awesome Post! If only you could apply EVERYTHING in life to Sesame Street… amazing how as children it was a huge building block of knowledge and life lessons, and that they also apply to us now in the work place! you get an A++ and Snuffy would be proud too!

  5. QLP Jill

    @Stantz – Haha, yep! That’s another important lesson that I’d forgotten. No one should have to sleep in a bed with cookie crumbs! ;) Seriously though, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Sesame Street’s guidance. What an amazing show!

    @Scooby – Yeah, Katy Perry kinda messed up her Sesame Street appearance. Why didn’t she put clothes on to go to a taping of a CHILDREN’s show? Ugh…

    @Wienerschnitzel – Nice name. Thanks for the comment! :) I’m glad you liked the post.

    @Bumcivilian – Thanks so much! I could talk about Sesame Street for hours…it was so hard for me to cut this post where I did, and it still ended up being a lengthy one. Adults tend to forget the basic life lessons and that seems to trip them up later on in the real world. I’ll always stay loyal to the “street”! ;)

  6. Claudette

    I learned from Sesame Street simply because my kids watched it so much. Even now I can visualize them soaking up the information, and they’ve carried valuable lessons from that television show into adulthood.

    Jill, I love what you said here: “What can you learn from this as an adult? Everyone gets scared and feels inferior in some way, and that’s okay! You’ll never accomplish your dreams if you don’t accept yourself and move on to do something great.”

    Wise words. Kudos to you and also to Sesame Street!

  7. Stantz

    I think you should post a link to Katy Perry’s Sesame Street appearance on here. I think it’ll only educate the masses even more…

  8. Cookie Monster

    This post is yummy!

    ** COOOOKIES **

    I blame the Cookie Monster for my weight problems – JK! :)

    This is a GREAT post. I have to say coming FOURTH only to the television shows “Dinosaurs” (NOT THE MOMMA!) and “Alf”, and “Full House”, Sesame Street was one of my favorite TV shows to watch growing up.

    Mr. Rogers didn’t have sh*t on Big Bird!

    Ernie & Burt = Bret & Kurt… Yes, lame, but I used to tease my brother with this growing up for YEARS.

    The one thing I think I learned the most from Sesame Street was variety and the fact that’s OK to be different. I’ve never been one to follow the beat of another drummer and for GOOD reason.

    Go Jim Henson!

  9. skelly

    jill awesome post! Sesame street – those were the days!

  10. Lizzie

    This is BRILLIANT. There are so many lessons to be learned from Sesame Street…your comparisons are so great as well. Keep it up, Jill!

  11. QLP Kid

    The cookie Monster was my favorite! =)

  12. CharlotteFitzpatrick

    I remember one of the messages the characters sent pretty consistently was COOPERATION. I don’t know what one stuck with me, but it has….great post!

    • QLP Jill

      Thank you, Charlotte! You’re absolutely right – cooperation was another big lesson on Sesame Street. Isn’t it amazing how going back to the basics can still teach us so much about the “real world”? :)

  13. Arlene Donovan

    I’m happy I found this web-site! I wanted to say thanks for writing this wonderful post!

    • Jill Tooley

      You’re so welcome, Arlene! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it! Sesame Street is an incredible show and I don’t know what I would have done without it as a child. :)

      (My apologies for the late response on this — I could’ve sworn I responded earlier but maybe WordPress was having issues that day…)

  14. Sherryl Perry

    What a fun and wonderful post about marketing tips. I totally recommend reading this!

    • Jill Tooley

      Thanks so much, Sherryl! Your acknowledgement means a lot to me. :)

      (My apologies for the late response on this — I could’ve sworn I responded earlier but maybe WordPress was having issues that day…)

  15. Nancy Burks Worcester

    Linked to you today from my own blogspot: http://www.nancyshands.org/2011/12/09/the-muppets-and-dueling-desires/. This is a great blog, Jill. I can only add what Jim Henson himself said: “Simple is Good”

    • Jill Tooley

      Nancy, thank you SO MUCH for linking to my article and for saying such kind things about it. This post was/is very dear to me — I attribute so many facets of my personality to concepts I learned from Sesame Street (and any of Jim Henson’s creations/projects, now that I think about it)!

      And you’re absolutely right…simple is good! Jim was spot-on with that quote. Part of the show’s appeal is in its simplicity; the messages are fundamental enough that kids can grasp them easily but they’re also valuable for people of any age group. Sometimes we forget how important it is to go back to the basics and refresh our outlooks!

      I can already tell I’m going to love your blog. Your puppet family is adorable! I just want to give Waco the Weasel a big hug! :)

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