The latest “back to school” ad campaign for Target has haunted me for weeks.  So last night I got up off the coach and climbed to the attic.  Way in the back, in a tattered cardboard box, I found our copy of Free to Be You and Me by Marlo Thomas.
As I reminisced about raising my daughters and the fun times we had reading this book, I came across their favorite poem.
Don’t Dress Your Cat in an Apron
by Dan Greenberg
Don’t dress your cat in an apron
Just ’cause he’s learning to bake.
Don’t put your horse on a nightgown
Just ’cause he can’t stay awake.
Don’t dress your snake in a mau-mau
Just ’cause he’s off on a cruise.
Don’t dress your whale in galoshes
If she really prefers overshoes.
A person should wear what they want to
And not just what other folks say.
A person should wear what she likes to-
A person’s a person that way.
In today’s economy, where knowledge and intellectual property can be more valuable than real property, where is the room to express our uniqueness?  Have we all been forced to dress alike?  To think alike? Wear overshoes when we prefer galoshes?
According to a Gallup survey in March 2009, only 30% of the US workers reported they were engaged, 52% were not engaged, and 18% were actively disengaged. Recently, the American Psychological Association reported that 74% of Americans said that work is their main source of stress, up from 59% the year before.  (See current Gallup Engagement results at
Perhaps if we let people bring their “real” self to the workplace a whole new world would open up.  You’d see snakes in mau-maus and giraffes in sneakers. Would that be all bad?  I think not.
My girls are grown women pursuing their own dreams now but I thank Marlo Thomas and Dan Greenberg for what small part they played in teaching them that “a person’s and person that way.”
 Here’s to your success,
Linda K Sommer, MBA