First aired in 1969, Sesame Street and Big Bird with several other muppets have been instrumental in educating and entertaining children with letters and numbers. They have also been known to address weightier issues like tackling loss from death and embracing cultural differences. In 2015, a muppet with autism named Julia was introduced to teach kids kindness and empathy towards other with similar development disorder.
Helping kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder is “the way we evaluate everything that we do,” said Sesame Workshop President and CEO Jeffrey Dunn during an NPR interview in 2016, talking about how the non-profit overcame financial challenges.
With a clear vision and mission, business leaders will be able to lead with confidence while responding to current issues in society and challenges. Much like how Sesame Workshop was able to end its eight years of operating losses under Jeffrey’s leadership. Listen to the NPR interview above to learn more.
STAY TRUE TO YOUR Purpose
The society will continue to change but the show stayed true to her purpose. Carroll Spinney embodied the spirit of Sesame Street through the character of Big Bird and regardless of who is underneath the feathery costume, the persona of child-like curiosity remains unchanged.
“I know that my Big Bird is very different than Caroll’s,” said Matt Vogel, the inheritor of the feathered character who believes that Big Bird must "live on past the performer.” When your employees, with or without a costume, understand that they are the representation of your brand, your business will become impactful and memorable.
BE FLEXIBLE IN your aCTION
In the early 90s, Elmo started becoming a more prominent muppet on screen. "Elmo is so understandable to a 2- or 3-year-old", Michael Davis, author of Street Gang described the loveable and loud red monster. That was a purposeful change for Sesame Street to better connect to a younger audience.
While Big Bird may have been replaced as the key character, the decision stemmed from Sesame Workshop's unchanging belief (ie. their drive/value) that a child’s brain grows faster before age five. And they will do what is necessary to continue helping children in their earliest years lay "the foundation for all the learning, behavior, and physical and mental health to follow".
Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop have to make adjustments to their offerings and behaviors to adapt to the evolving needs of the market. And the only way they can stay true to their brand is anchoring their operational and marketing decisions to their ultimate BUSINESS as a company and what DRIVES them to excel in their industry.