Solopreneur Lessons from Groundhog Day

Groundhog on grass

Lessons from Groundhog Day

Today’s Groundhog Day celebration got me thinking about life as a solopreneur. Is there anything we can learn from watching a rodent predict how much winter is left? It turns out, there is!

1. Experts have different opinions. Groundhog Day teaches us that there is no right answer. America’s most famous groundhog — Punxsutawney Phil – hails from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (located 84 miles northeast of Pittsburg). This year, he saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. However Punxsutawney Phil is only one of many weather predicting rodents in the United States, many of whom disagree with his opinion. In fact, our three lesser-known groundhogs on Long Island had differing opinions about the length of winter.

2. Results are important. Just because someone (or some animal) is famous, doesn’t mean they are good at their job. According to an article in, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted 103 forecasts of more winter and 20 early springs. Data from the Stormfax Almanac’s data shows that Phil’s six-week predictions have been correct only 39 percent of the time. Groundhog Day is a great reminder that we should seek out credible sources, not just popular ones! (Source)

3. Names count. It seems that groundhogs are masters at personal branding. As in business, the best names are memorable. Rhymes or alliteration can help make a name memorable. Some of my favorite are:

  • Buckeye Chuck in Marion, Ohio.
  • Thistle the Whistlepig in Cleveland, Ohio
  • General Beauregard Lee in Jackson, Georgia
  • Fufu the hedgehog in Portland, Oregon
  • Melverne Mel, Holtsville Hall, and Quigley from Quogue on Long Island, New York

4. Examine the origins of your beliefs. Are you making decisions just because you’ve always done it that way? Taking a critical look at these beliefs may change your mind. For instance, Groundhog Day originated as Christian holiday called Candlemas (also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.) Christians would take their candles to the church to have them blessed to bring blessings to their household for the rest of winter. In Germany, Candlemas was known as “Badger Day” where if a badger (or other hibernating mammal) emerged from its burrow, found it to be a sunny day thereby casting a shadow, it foreboded the prolonging of winter by four more weeks. These beliefs found their way to Pennsylvania. (Source 1 and Source 2)

5. Question what you hear. Groundhog Day is a reminder that we shouldn’t believe everything that we hear. According to an article on the VisitPA website, the first Groundhog Day celebration in Gobbler’s Knob was made in 1887. While most groundhogs live five or six years, Punxsutawney Phil is given a sip of the Magic Elixir of Life every September, extending his life by seven years. That makes sense, right?

6. Find a tribe. Even though he’s the face of the brand, it still takes a village to care for Punxsutawney Phil. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle is a group of 15 men who are responsible for Punxsutawney Phil’s care, in addition to planning Groundhog Day celebrations. (I’m not sure why the Inner Circle are all men. Maybe women don’t want to wear top hats and tuxedos.)

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Solopreneur Lessons from Groundhog Day
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