Constraints, Creativity, and the No. 2 Highest Paid Dead Celebrity

The highest paid dead celebrity of 2020 was Michael Jackson. No. 2 on the list is the children’s author, Dr. Seuss. He died in 1990. According to the Associated Press, Seuss earned $33,000,000.00 in 2020. The book that made Dr. Seuss a global superstar was, The Cat in the Hat (1957).

White cat looking at you with his head turned upside down.

I see what you can't do. What can you do?


Just think what you could do if you had a bigger budget and fewer restrictions.

Gartner finds that day-to-day pressures, resistance to change, compliance restrictions, executive resistance, and lack of funding are the top five barriers to innovation.

You feel like you need more, but maybe you have too much.

Constraints make you creative.

The Cat in the Hat had a word list just over 200 words. Dr. Seuss wrestled for months to find a rhyme on a list of words a first-grader understood. The story was born when he finally saw ‘cat’ and ‘hat’.

Dr. Seuss thrived using made-up words. But constraints made him a phenomenon.


Success isn’t about getting what you want; it’s about using what you have.

Leaders live within constraints. The question isn’t, “What do you wish you had?” The question is, “How will you maximize what you have?”

Spend less time complaining about things you can’t do.

“I wish I could…,” is a destructive myth.

“If only,” is pathetic.

It’s what happens after you can’t go any further that matters most.

I see what you can’t do. What can you do?

The story that took Dr. Seuss over the top began with two simple words. After The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss’s editor bet him he couldn’t write a book using a shorter word list. He wrote his best seller of all time, Green Eggs and Ham, using a list of 50 words.

The constraints of innovation create innovation.

How do leaders stifle creativity?

How might leaders inspire innovation today?