David Bishop

David Bishop

The Business Ethics of Mr. Rogers

There are a lot of ways to measure success. Mr. Rogers topped out on several.
A Laser-Focused Vision
Do you know what Mr. Rogers was about? Do you understand his mission? Of course you do. His mission was to help kids grow and make them feel special. It’s something that’s easy to see if you watch Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.
He knew what he wanted to achieve and he spent his life working to achieve it. Early in his life he had an opportunity to make a difference and he jumped in and took the chance to make it happen.
Dealing with Difficult Challenges
Just because Mr. Rogers had a television show that was fun for kids, it doesn’t mean he didn’t have challenges. He had a lot of challenges.
At one point congress was going to cut funding to PBS. Mr. Rogers went to the Senate Committee on Commerce and won over congress to save their funding.
Losing that funding would have been a major setback to the reach of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and he might not have been the household name we know today. But he was able to persuade congress to keep the funding, which helped pay for shows like Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow.
Doing the Right Thing Regardless
There were also other challenges. For instance kids have to deal with things such as divorce and death. Mr. Rogers didn’t shy away from these topics, but instead discussed them openly on his show even at a time where some of these topics were taboo.
In fact, Mr. Rogers invited people of color on his show at a time of intense racial tension. His focus was on his vision: helping kids grow and making them feel special. To that end he did whatever it took. He did what he thought was right without worrying about the blowback.
A Strong Focus on Service
He also had a strong focus on service, something that is often seen to be at odds with profit. As business people, we often focus on money. It means survival. It means success. It means growth. It means the ability to help others.
But to get that money, we must focus on the things that bring the customers in, and for Mr. Rogers his major focus was on service. If anything, service was the thing that made him successful, a truth that many companies like Zappos – a company that grew to $1 billion in annual sales in their 9th year – have found to be true.
Strong Business Ethics
It’s sometimes difficult to look at the long term when the day-to-day is so pressing, when there’s so much to do and it seems you are doing it all. At the same time, operating from a core set of values can help propel you to success even if it takes time.
Success is built on key principles that are unwavering. Principles such as having a laser-focused vision of where you want your life and business to go. Principles like the willingness to deal with difficult challenges and do what it takes to get the job done. Principles like making doing the right thing a constant. Principles like a strong focus on service. Not only can principles like these make you successful, like Mr. Rogers they can make you and your business a permanent, positive fixture in the lives of many.
Mr. Rogers was just a simple, ordinary man doing extraordinary things. If we follow these principles, we too can see extraordinary results.

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