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How the Rugrats Taught Millennials Skills for the Workplace

Image by kimi-finster

I’m a 90s kid. I was born in 1989 and part of the later stage millennials (1981-1995). Our age group had a fascinating childhood. We grew up in a world where computers were becoming commonplace in schools and the home, the internet became "a thing," and Nicktoons, TRL, and Clarissa Explains It All were the "must-watch TV." Unlike now, when dozens of streaming services offer millions of hours of on-demand content, 90s kids had shared media experiences. Without Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu to fracture our viewing habits, we watched very similar content. Thinking back on some of those experiences, one group of babies really taught us life skills that translate to the workplace - and no, it’s not the Muppet Babies. It’s Rugrats!

Image by Shirley Espejo

Tommy: Be Adventurous

Tommy was the baby who had the plan. He led his friends fearlessly through adventures in their ever growing world. He utilized empathy, courage and love to drive his path forward. He showed us that “a baby’s gotta do, what a baby’s gotta do.”

At work you can go with the flow, or you can step outside of your comfort zone and be adventurous in your decision making, DEI strategies, goals, and more. Channel your inner Tommy next time you have a problem to solve and see if approaching it through the adventurous lens gives you new and exciting ideas.

Image by Lidia Caballero

Chuckie: Be Cautiously Aware

Chuckie really taught us how we should slow down, analyze the issue, and make decisions based on what we know. He was our favorite scaredy cat, but he taught us to be brave even when we were afraid.

We run into problems in life that scare many of us. I know when starting a new program, I usually jump in head first, but I’ve learned to utilize my inner Chuckie and take my time, use caution when tempted to make quick decisions, and - even when I am nervous, close my eyes and push forward.

Image by Nick Fandom

Phil & Lil: Be Okay With Groupwork

The twins showed us that "two brains are better than one"... and that you can also eat worms and still have friends. They excelled together through communication, group work, and supporting one another (except for that one episode where they didn’t want to be twins any longer).

Group Work. We all have to do it. For some, it’s enjoyable, for others, a difficult way of working. Next time you are in a group work situation, think about Phil and Lil. The two worked together seamlessly. Allowing for problem solving and at times innovation. The one tip I always keep in mind is Phil and Lil had each other’s back, and the same applies to teamwork. Be there to support each other.

Image by Nick Fandom

Angelica: Be a Little Bossy

The original mean girl Angelica. She gave us Cynthia, a love for cookies, and the lesson that being bossy can get things done. There was a balance to her bossy approach, though. She always seemed to teeter on the edge of being too mean; she did, however, also give us glimpses into her softer side and showed that being vulnerable was inside us all.

Sometimes in meetings, you just gotta be the boss. We’ve all been in meetings where the same topic is discussed for way too long and conversations keep going in a circle. That’s where utilizing your inner Angelica can help get the team back on task. Being bossy while advocating for tabling the discussion and pointing out the amount of time spent on the topic without any decision making can sometimes shake the group loose from the “but what if…” merry-go-round.

Image by Nick Fandom

Susie: Be Heroic

The leading lady of calm and critical thinking, and the one who could always put Angelica in her place. Susie showed us that teaching others, standing up to bullies, and being kind leads to a win. She’s still my favorite, because when she arrived you knew it was gonna all work out.

The most important attribute that your inner Susie can help with is mentorship. Don’t forget that many of your colleagues around you may need mentorship. They are professional toddlers and need a guiding hand or someone to step in when they need it. They've reached a problem outside of their experience, so bring out your inner Susie and bring the calm and wisdom that they need.

Image by Rugrats Wiki

Dill: Be Easy Going and Listen

Dill, Tommy’s younger brother, never talked as a baby. It was mostly goos and snot bubbles. But he did teach us that you can help even if you’re the less experienced one. He listened to what was going on around him and always went along for the ride - not that there was much choice being in a stroller and all.

This is by far the hardest lesson for me: sometimes we have to be easy going. Simple as that. Go along for the ride on a new plan or initiative to help others’ ideas come to life! (Goos and snot bubbles optional.)

Image by kimi-finster

Kimi: Be Imaginative

The one with the ability to imagine the impossible, create new adventures, and rock some awesome cowboy boots. Kimi was a late addition to the Rugrats, but she still taught us to use our imagination to create opportunity.

Be imaginative and shoot for the stars. Think about how when you were a kid you used your imagination to create entire worlds. Now apply that to your adult life. What if we used our inner Kimi to imagine possibilities and ignore the “real world” adversities. You never know what might happen.

Sometimes we need to revisit our childhood to reset and reframe our lives as adults. Next time you’re in a boardroom or working on a group project, ask yourself, “What Rugrat do I wanna be?”

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