March 2nd, 2012
01:29 PM ET

Dr. Seuss as the ultimate model for innovation

We at CNN's "The Next List" celebrate innovators and agents-of-change. It’s our reason for being. It’s what we do both behind the scenes and on air. And like any good show team, we don’t always agree on which people to feature. Settling on the idea that Theodor Seuss Geisel - aka Dr. Seuss - could have been a Next Lister was the shortest discussion we’ve had to date.

Dr. Seuss, who would have been 108 years old on Friday, is a wonderful example of the many characteristics that make up a Next Lister - the term we use for the innovators we feature on Sundays at 2 p.m. ET.

Our love for Dr. Seuss is what drove us to step outside and ask a few New Yorkers, who we found in front of the iconic public library on 42nd Street, to read passages from his books. Check out the video above to see the impact the author has today - even on adults.

Like many on our list of innovators, it seemed Geisel was born to do nothing else but the craft that brought him such fame: writing. He authored more than 40 books but really he created a fun and creative way of learning how to read mixed with incredible life lessons. "Green Eggs and Ham" uses just 50 words to brilliantly deliver the message (spoiler alert) that you just don’t know for sure about something until you actually try it. "The Sneetches" touches on discrimination. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" is a reminder for many about the true meaning of the holiday; and "Oh, The Places You’ll Go!" teaches us that life is a balancing act so be prepared for the tough parts and appreciate and take advantage of the great parts.

But despite Geisel’s tremendous success it wasn’t an easy start. His first book "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" was rejected countless times (some reports suggest as many as 43 times while Geisel himself claimed it was nearly 30) before finding a publisher. That commitment in the face of so much rejection is seen again and again from our Next Listers.

And while there are certainly other characteristics we could focus on in the end it boils down to celebrating the work of a true pioneer in his field. Geisel died at age 87 and perhaps his own words best describe his death:

How did it get so late so soon?? It’s night before it’s afternoon.? December
is here before it’s June.? My goodness how the time has flewn.? How did it
get so late so soon?

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss.

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Filed under: The Next List • Thinkers • Video
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