4 Great Children’s Books for seasoned executives

Summary: Sam-I-Am is the best B2B salesperson you could ever have… 

Children’s books convey pack more meaning and life lessons into a simple, well illustrated format than the latest business bestsellers can pack into 300+ pages.  The message is distilled from very complex subjects (either intentionally or not). The takeaway points are usually very clear; however, other messages are present for parents to discuss with the child.  Several of the books below you will (or should) know from your childhood.  Others are new titles that parents or grandparents may recognize.


Book 1: Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr Seuss
Category: Sales and Competition 

Green Eggs and Ham is the best Sales Book

Reward your Sam-I-am's

Simply the best sales book ever.  If you have any “Sam-I-Am’s” in your organization, recognize and reward these people.  In Green Eggs and Ham, Sam-I-Am tries selling Green Eggs and Ham to the other unnamed character who wants no part of it. Sam-I-Am never gives up and eventually gets the sale.  Would you like green eggs and ham over here? over there? would you could you…

The hidden story behind Green Eggs and Hamis that it was born out of a bet between Dr Seuss creator, Theodor Geisel, and his editor, Bennet Cerf.  The bet was that Dr. Seuss could not complete a book in less than the 225 words he had used in the Cat in the Hat.  Green Eggs and Ham has 50 words in the book. Crushing the challenge by a factor of 4!


Book 2: Click Clack Moo Cows that Type,  by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewen
Category:  Negotiation, Labor Relations  

Negotiation strategy from Children's Books

Cows That Type. Hens on Strike

A great book about what not to do in a negotiation.  The book is a whimsical rendition of a negotiation between management and a union.  One union – The cows – request electric blankets because the barn is cold at night.  Management – Farmer Brown – responds by denying the request.  Management’s problem quickly escalates as the cows reach out to another union – the chickens.  These two parties consolidate their power and ask for the blankets again.  A strike ensues after management denies this request again.  Farmer Brown has now lost his revenue sources.  He ultimately makes a deal with these parties.

If Farmer Brown had prepared a 7 Elements analysis of this negotiation, he might have reached a more equitable deal sooner.  He may also have realized that he did not have the same leverage that the cows and chickens had.  He could have worked to change the balance of power by keeping these interest groups separated.


Book 3: Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
Category:  Managing Perspectives 

Zen for Business

Great short stories for entrepreneurs

Zen Shorts shares several short stories with ties to historical Buddhist and Taoist stories. The book is filled with great stories and life lessons.  The tale most relevant to entrepreneurs is  “The Farmer’s Luck.”   In this short story, a series of events occur to a farmer.  The crowd of onlookers interprets these events as either good or bad luck.  In every case, the farmer retorts “we’ll see” and in time the event outcome appears to reverse itself as new details unfold.

We at Lime Design, Inc. have learned that managing perspective crucial when launching new products or services.  When we launched the Lime Tree Cove brand, we had a series of “bad luck” events.  As an example, during our product launch we attended a large live outdoor festival.  The weather didn’t cooperate and our booth flooded with water.  We were losing money and spinning our wheels.  In the end this “bad luck” forced us to focus on understanding our products demand curve, pricing, and more effective marketing channels.

As an aside, the story “A Heavy Load” presents a great story about dealing with difficult personalities and letting go.

Book 4: If you Give a Moose a Muffin, by Laura Numeroff (Author), Felicia Bond (Illustrator)
Category: Product and Project Management – Scope Creep

Defining Project Scopes

Keeping things in scope

This book is part of a series of offerings by this author and illustrator.  Throughout the series, a product or service is offered to a character (Moose, Mouse, Pig, Cat, Dog).  This offering kicks off a series of extraneous activities.  The books end with the character asking for the original product or service.

The take-away from this series for executives is that teams can easily become distracted due to scope creep.  In each book the scope changes very slightly with each request.  By the end the entire operation is out of hand.


In preparing this list, I considered adding several other Dr. Seuss books as these are classics (Oh the places you’ll go, The Lorax).  Another consideration was “I am a pole and so can you” by Stephen Colbert- just kidding.  The four books selected pack as much advice as the latest business book from the hottest guru.  I keep extra copies to share with colleagues.



About Tim McCaffery

As the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lime Design, Tim leverages his considerable experience developing innovative solutions for consumer, commercial, and military markets. Previously at the U.S. Army, Mr. McCaffery managed the development and deployment of military equipment utilizing disruptive technologies. In addition to his experience with the U.S. Army, Mr. McCaffery has experience marketing new products with startup companies. In addition to his role at the ARMY, Mr McCaffery has been a Corporate Intrapreneur at a Fortune 500 Company. Mr. McCaffery holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire, a M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of New Hampshire, and a MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
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