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This weekend, a few family friends decided to take our kids to see The Lorax. It has been quite a while since I read Dr. Seuss masterpiece…the movie was fantastic, I read the book again tonight, so I am writing this post as a reminder to us to plant seeds.

Randomly last week I was asked by Mark Willoughby a YPK member to speak at his University of Tennessee Business Class in the new James A. Haslam II building, which is gorgeous by the way.  The business class is called Business Administration 102 and my talk was centered around the book Go Giver and the chapter “The Law of Influence.”  As I watched the movie, I realized The Lorax had obvious ties to the environment, but it also had ties to entrepreneurs, community, and the government. The class I spoke to was about businesses giving back to society, hence the Go-Giver, and the thing that was interesting was that there was direct correlation between the books ,movie, and the class.

In business, you provide a product or service, which in turn gives something to the customer; it also builds a life full of opportunity for the team who brought this idea to the market.  An entrepreneur carefully builds infrastructure, constantly crafting procedures and efficiency, to provide the obvious; a quality product or service as quickly and cheaply as possible. But here is the deal, while efficiency and cutting cost goes straight to the bottom-line the one thing that sticks out in 2012 is how you give more, how you build culture around helping, giving, and caring about the communities you represent and play ball in. A great business is a true extension of the people inside the business.  The law of influence is about genuinely giving back and helping folks succeed, when you do this you create a bond, this bond is not about “keeping score” it is genuine help, which results in success coming full circle back to the giver. As you keep unselfishly giving, you make relationships with people; you create ambassadors of your brand…they talk about you, promote you, help you – and they do this all because you originally helped them.  It’s not networking, it’s just people helping each other; it’s about relationships, right?

The Lorax hero’s name is Ted, he is a young boy his journey starts with an idea, like most entrepreneurs. His dream to find a living Truffula tree. The tree is unique as it resembles something in the boy’s world that doesn’t exist…sound familiar to you business folks? The old thing becomes the new thing I much of that exist in this world and we discussed that thought in the business class, when we talked about our surroundings and reading markets. The Lorax appears as we are told the story of the Once-Ler, who was a once successful business tycoon, whom used the trees to produce a product to sell called a Thneed. The Once-Ler was no different then any other small business person, he had a great product and he wanted to sell more of them. The Lorax was in charge of the environment, he asked Once-Ler to stop chopping the trees, but the Once-Ler was greedy and he cut down all the trees in the forest until there were none left..and guess what happened, the company crept to a crawl and later went bankrupt.  What happened to the environment and the animals (Brown Bar-ba-loots, to name a few) was they had to leave because they had no food, no water, and no air to breathe. While many think that big business factories, as well as the logging and oil industry represent this shift in reality. We must realize maybe there is a workable solution that many of these companies employ – they replace and make better the environment in which they operate.  Could Once-Ler have found a way to give, rather than to take, could he have created an environment that keeps giving. Just as these students in the Business Studies 102 class, could the Once-Ler become the hero, instead of the greedy taker he had become..if you notice the Once-Ler’s arms were green?

As we review the movie, we see a beautiful thriving concrete jungle, led by another entreprenuer named O’Hare, who sells fresh air to the city. Much like in reality, you say why does change need to exist, why would anyone ever want to leave?  Enter our young hero Ted, he only wanted to find a living tree, but what he didn’t know is that the tree represented a culture change for a thriving world, not just a safe place to live…Ted represents opportunity for more to  life. This tycoon has it all, he had created a true monopoly and tries to push young Ted around as he finds out Ted’s intentions to find a living tree. The deal with that is in the city of Thneed-ville a bubble of sorts surrounded the city, the reason for this was the clean air that Thneedsville had…Mr O’Hare’s air. So Mr. O’Hare had money, he had power, and the only way he thought he could continue his thriving business was to control the people of the city…sound familiar, can you relate to this thought? Do we see this in business, in our cities, in our neighborhoods, churches, schools, and yes even in our country?

The story takes us to Ted listening to Once-Ler’s sad story of defeat and his broken heart, due to his failures in business and in humanity. The word’s UNLESS were left by the Lorax many, many years ago.The forest will die, unless someone does something…enter our hero who has the courage to do something.  Looking back at the business class, this word resembles their journey this year. So I give them this charge – Things will remain the same unless you are willing to do something about it. Whether it’s business, community, government, or your can be the difference. The key is learning how to unselfishly and genuinely give back. If you create a life centered around giving, you will become the center of influence and at that point you will stand with your ambassadors…together your army will march and together you will succeed. Courage, bravery, dreams, goals, and outside the box thinking are your north. Nothing is easy, infact most of it will be hard, but on the otherside you have a chance to make a difference. Your business will no longer just stand for making ends meet and exceeding monetary goals, your life will thrive. What if the Once-Ler figured this out? What if Ted wasn’t curious? What if O’Hare decided to lead the charge outside his controlling walls? Be the difference, push the envelope, push authority, push the norm, ask questions, be curious, stand for something. Making money is not hard, people do it everyday..the money will come, give, and when the timing is right be willing to receive. But realize that patience and hard work are a major part of your journey; grow and learn every day. Be the difference and march to your own drum!

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Dr. Seuss – The Lorax

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