Fred had a lonely childhood.  He was shy and overweight.  He also suffered from asthma.  He was bullied in school and called Fat Freddie.  He mostly made friends with himself.  He became a ventriloquist and created a virtual world of friends in his bedroom.

When he went to high school, he decided to flip his status.  He developed a few friends who helped him assimilate into the high school culture.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in music before going to seminary.  He was ordained as a minister and had a goal of being a pastor in a church.

While visiting his parents during his senior year in college, he saw a TV for the first time.  He absolutely hated it.  The programming was awful, but Fred saw opportunities to flip TV to something that could be nurturing.

He became a program director for the Pittsburgh public television station.  He developed puppets and composed music for the Children’s Corner.  This was while he was attending the seminary.

He also was attending the Graduate School of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh.  This was where he began to develop his nurturing ideas for TV.

Fred Rogers started his TV show (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) in 1968 and it continued on the air until 2000.  Reruns continued and in 2016 it became the third longest running program in public broadcasting history.

Fred Rogers used two experiences, his early childhood loneliness and the awful programming on early TV, and flipped them into something that helped generations of children value themselves and others.

How often have we seen problems as problems and not opportunities?  Flipping is something we can use in every aspect of our life.  We can flip personal deficiencies into personal strengths.  We can flip toxic relationships into nurturing ones.  We can flip career challenges into successes.  We can flip things that don’t work well into innovative new products/services.  And we can flip a lack of faith in ourselves into personal reassurance.

What does it take to be a “flipper?”  Any time we are unhappy, we need to say to ourselves:  “There must be a better way.”  This may seem like a creative act, but it really isn’t.  We just need to imagine how the negative can be made into a positive.  Or, as Fred Rogers would say:  “It’s you I like.”

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“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.  It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’  Then there are those

who see the need and respond.  I consider these people my heroes.”  – Fred Rogers

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.