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Take It From the Wonder Pets

By Gwynne Monahan

I spend a fair amount of time watching my nephews and niece, ages six, four and two, respectively. They tend to cycle through the kids’ shows, but there’s one they keep going back to, time and again: The Wonder Pets. I know. At first, I thought it was a typical, cheesy children’s show. But between trying to start a business and spending countless hours watching Nick Jr., I discovered something: The Wonder Pets teaches some successful business lessons, too.

  • A Positive Response Helps Ease Distress. Sounds obvious, but think of the last time you were in distress and the response you received. Was it helpful and supportive, or more like “life is tough so get over it”? I remember how distressing it was when I was laid off work—especially since it was months before the economy tanked. The supportive, positive response I received from others eventually helped put the trauma in perspective. And depending on your area of practice, you probably deal with people in distress all the time. It may be obvious, like a first-time arrest, or more subtle, like the stress of drafting a will or articles of incorporation for the first time. But while certain matters may be routine for you, experiencing something for the first time can cause distress for your clients. It’s different from their day-to-day experiences, and the outcome isn’t always clear. While you don’t have to respond in song like The Wonder Pets do, responding with a word or two of encouragement can go a long way to ease clients’ distress.
  • Teamwork Is Cultivated. I saw that eye roll! We hear the word “teamwork” so often an eye roll can’t be helped. Even I rolled my eyes the first few times the Wonder Pets did their teamwork song and dance, which blinded me to an important message: Teamwork is cultivated. As children, we learn teamwork by playing organized sports. Basketball. Football. Softball. Everyone has a position and role to play, and by working together as a team, we achieve a goal—preferably a win. As adults, it’s assumed that teamwork has been ingrained in us and we already know how to work together. Well, you don’t have to look far to realize this isn’t the case. Remember how the coach cultivated teamwork every day during practice? When game time arrived, we demonstrated teamwork and hopefully walked away with the win. In a law office, the same applies. You need to cultivate teamwork among members of your firm, from vendors to the clerks at the courthouse to your employees and the partners. All of them are members of your team, practicing together for the big one.
  • Spread the Reward. It’s too easy to forget to share the fruits of labor with all those who took part. The Wonder Pets word for this is “sharing” and it’s important. People like to be rewarded for a job well done. So if they had a hand in a success, big or small, share the reward with them.  If you win a case, a motion or reach a milestone at your firm, spread the reward. Remember that everyone on your team played their part, contributing to the success. It doesn’t have to be big. A small token of appreciation will most likely suffice. The Wonder Pets share a stick of celery between the three of them at the end of each episode. Simple yet effective in conveying the message that everyone contributed to the success.

While The Wonder Pets may be designed for kids, it also holds serious lessons for businesses, including law firms: Respond in a positive manner, cultivate teamwork with everyone involved, and share the reward. Who knows, you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Gwynne Monahan is best known by her Twitter handle @econwriter5. She has written several articles on open source applications for lawyers and legal professionals, and has presented on open source as well as issues surrounding social media. She is currently Community Manager for Clio and is spearheading Small Firm Innovation.

Categories: Collaboration, Daily Dispatch, Law Firm Culture
Originally published October 10, 2011
Last updated May 11, 2020
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Gwynne Monahan

Gwynne Monahan is a freelance writer and editor who follows the mantra: Write Well. Edit Better. Best known by her Twitter handle @econwriter5Gwynne follows consumer trends in technology, and how they may impact the practice of law. She helps connect the dots so lawyers can more effectively, and efficiently run their practices. Quick with a book suggestion, witty comment or a laugh, Gwynne also enjoys baseball, jazz, foods she couldn’t get in Canada (you’ll have to ask her) and the sound of the “L.” She earned her M.Sc., with honors, in IT and Privacy Law from The John Marshall Law School.

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