25 Feb

4 Business and Life Lessons I Learned From Spelling Bees

By Libby Esterle, Senior Account Executive

As part of a Cincinnati-based marketing and communications agency, writing is at the heart of what we do. It serves as the basis for almost everything – from new business proposals to strategic marketing plan development to press releases to website copy. So, not surprisingly, spelling is also a big part of our jobs. So, I guess it’s a good thing I am a good speller.

And…the apple doesn’t always fall far from the tree…

Our oldest daughter, while academic, doesn’t have an athletic bone in her body. She knows this and is totally ok with it. But, she has a desire to win trophies. Since most trophies tend to be sports-related, this had been a bit challenging for her, until 5th grade when she entered our school’s 5th-8th grade spelling bee. Happily, she came in third that year, won the dang thing in 6th grade and came in second this year, after a whopping and record-breaking 32 ROUNDS (more on that later).

So, after nervously sitting through school spelling bees for the past three years, I’ve identified a few important “life lessons” that can be applied to almost anything: business, school, sports, you name it.

  • You win some, you lose some. And sometimes it really IS all about how you play the game. As I mentioned, this year’s bee went 32 rounds – with at least the last 15 or so just between our daughter and the eventual winner. That’s a lot. And neither of these girls was going to miss; they knew how to spell EVERY word on the study list. And so, it went on. And on. And on. UNTIL they exhausted the list the girls had been studying at home and moved onto a foreign one. That finally did it, much to the relief of the younger boy who was sitting next to me (and really, most everyone else in the room). So, while I am sure our daughter was a tad disappointed to come in second after winning last year, she was happy with her achievement, recognized that you can’t win them all and is raring to go for next year!
  • Graciousness and good manners should never be taken for granted. A few days after the bee, our daughter received a lovely, hand-written and hand-drawn note from this year’s winner, congratulating her on how well she did in the bee. It is now hanging proudly on our daughter’s corkboard above her desk. Well done, fellow speller.
  • Be prepared. Yes, our daughter is a strong natural speller. But there is no way she would have gotten as far as she did without studying the list every night diligently. She KNEW those words, knew which words were homophones and which ones were hyphenated and capitalized.
  • When in doubt, ask for help. Or to “use it in a sentence” or to “repeat the word” or for the “place of origin.” Help can come in many forms. Don’t be afraid to ask for it, people are happy to pitch in.

Tell me– do you remember your spelling bee? Which word tripped you up?