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Corra Consulting - What Charlie Brown Can Teach

25November

What Charlie Brown Can Teach

"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving."  Created by: Charles M. Schulz.  Written by Charles M. Schulz.  Directed by: Bill Melendez, Phil Roman.  Original Broadcast: CBS, November 20, 1973.

It’s Thanksgiving week in the US, and I think it’s natural for all of us to be somewhat reflective. What am I most thankful for? I would say my family and friends, a comfortable home, the promise of a first snowfall tomorrow, and a career comprised of people and interesting projects that continue to teach me something.

I am also thankful for the little traditions--one of which is watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” There’s something about all of the Peanuts’ holiday specials that bring us back to a time that was truly simpler and to when our burdens were so much lighter. I don’t know if it’s because we remember what it was like to see the world as a child, or if we’re just more attuned now to its writer’s intended message.

So, what did Charles Schulz want us to take away? And, as this space is dedicated to business and exploring insights relative to retailers, manufacturers and the consumers they serve, what is relevant for us? Why should we care about the moral behind this story of satisfying nagging constituents and “double booking” a Thanksgiving dinner?

I, for one, am confident there are more than just three lessons buried in there, but I am going to highlight what we might consider in light of the business we’re in:

  1. Retailers, take heed--having time to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends matters. Costco, The TJX Companies, Crate & Barrel and Pier 1 Imports are among those who “get it,” and it’s my hope that consumers reward them for staying closed on Thanksgiving Day. Skeptics could argue that the decisions were driven by overhead, but optimists might believe that these are companies that value their employees and the time they so deserve.
  2. Manufacturers, there’s two lessons here. Charlie Brown’s solution wasn’t one that was arrived at alone; he needed Linus and the gang. Collaborating with partners is key to finding answers. And, second, when we don’t succeed…as with Charlie Brown and the football that he never is able to kick, we have to keep trying as hard as it may be.  Failure is something we could all remember to be more grateful for--it’s what gives us our next opportunity.
  3. Consumers, here’s what I believe is the sincerest hope of everyone who creates; and it’s a sentiment that was shared by Peanuts’ creator, Charles Schulz. He said, “It is amazing that they think that what I do was good. I just did the best I could.” When we do great, tell us. When we do poorly, tell us. It’s our job to listen and to create products that are truly good.

Today, I thank the man that brought us Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Peppermint Patty. He created something good for all of us--the wishy washy, the sarcastic, the dreamers, the kind friends, and all the little red head girls among us. He wasn’t highly educated, but he had talent, and he worked at his craft. In one of his last interviews, he remarked, “I just have to draw from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday and Thursday…mine is not the kind of job that I’ve worked all my life to get so that I don’t have to do it.” May we all be so lucky. Happy Thanksgiving.


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