For a couple of days, I’ve been researching the response of the building industry to the slowdown in the housing market. I discovered that employees at Lennar Corp., a major homebuilder with offices in San Diego, seem to be singing a different tune than some of their competitors, who’ve faced personnel cutbacks and project cancellations.

Apparently, Lennar’s employees have been learning and reciting a poem called “The Little Red Hen” since 1982, when it was introduced at a staff meeting at the company’s Arizona division. Then, a group of sales managers met in Ft. Lauderdale in 1994 and recited it together for the first time. That became a company tradition, and now employees across the country learn the poem.

“This insightful little rhyme from our wise feathered friend has become a symbol of the way we do things at Lennar,” says the company’s website.

Here’s the first little bit:

Scratchings from the Little Red Hen
Said the big white rooster,
“Gosh all Hemlock, things are tough,
Seems that worms are getting scarce
and I cannot find enough.
What’s become of all those
fat ones is a mystery to me;
There were thousands through the rainy
spell, but now where can they be?”

The little red hen, who heard him,
didn’t grumble or complain,
She had been through lots of dry spells,
she has lived through floods of rain;
So she flew up on the grindstone and
she gave her claws a whet,
And she said, “I’ve never seen a time
there were no worms to get.”

She picked a new and undug spot;
the earth was hard and firm.
The big white rooster jeered, “New ground!
That’s no place for a worm.”

The little red hen spread her feet,
she dug fast and free,
“I must go to the worms,” she said,
“the worms won’t come to me.”

The Rooster vainly spent his day,
through habit by the ways,
Where fat worms have passed in squads,
back in the rainy days.
When nightfall found him supperless,
he growled in accents rough,
“I’m as hungry as a fowl can be.
Conditions sure are tough.”

I know I’ve left you on the edge of your seats, wondering if the little red hen will find any worms, or if she’ll succumb to the pressure to get frustrated like the big white rooster. Head to this page to find out what happens.


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