Entrepreneur driven by passion for civility


Most people are probably familiar with the Three Wise Monkeys, also known as the No Evil Monkeys, the trio of primates with hands covering their eyes, ears and mouth, respectively.

A local woman has taken the adage associated with the Wise Monkeys, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil,” and incorporated the monkeys and their message as a major part of her life.


Susan Scribner of Creve Coeur has amassed an expansive collection of more than 1,200 examples of the Wise Monkeys, and she has built her new etiquette consulting and jewelry design business around the lesson she sees in the adage — and even paid homage to the monkeys in her business’s name.

Wise Monkeys Communication LLC is the latest business offering the etiquette and social communication seminars that Scribner, who has a doctorate in education, has offered for the past 15 years.

Scribner, who has also become known as “The Etiquette Doc,” began Wise Monkeys Communication in December of 2006, and along with her seminars, she began a different avenue of business, offering custom-made jewelry inscribed with the message, “Just Do What’s Right.”

“When you think about what the adage ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,’ really means, and if you think about it in its converse, and turn it upside-down, it means, ‘speak what’s right, see what’s right, hear what’s right,'” Scribner said.

“The take away, and the converse is, ‘just do what’s right.’ And that seemed to apply so well to the seminars I was doing,” she said.

So, ‘Just Do What’s Right,’ became the new mantra for Wise Monkeys Communications, and a message Scribner hopes to spread through the products she sells.

First came the custom-designed bracelets, with a stylized version of the ‘Just Do What’s Right’ saying laser-inscribed on a central stone on each piece she makes. Using crystal, gemstones, and sterling silver beads, along with onyx, black-banded agate, coral and other fine stones, Scribner creates memorable pieces of fine jewelry in her home studio, and sells them on her Web site, www.wisemonkeyscom.com, and in private and corporate shows.

Now she also creates other types of jewelry, and she has a Wise Monkeys line of merchandise, from coffee mugs to tote bags, key chains, shirts and bookmarks.

Some of the products incorporate a logo, based on an image her father created for her, of the three wise monkeys.

In fact, it was her father who actually started Scriber collecting the wise monkeys. Back in 1983, after he had a stroke, he asked his daughter to find him an example of the wise monkeys.

That started the collection that Scribner has today, which takes up an entire room of her house, packed with display cases, posters and photographs of the wise monkeys, and even wise monkey totems and furniture.

While Scribner continues to offer her etiquette and social communication seminars, she has also been focused on the jewelry and the Wise Monkeys line of products, which have the image created by her father and the tagline, “Civility is contagious. Spread it.”

In January, Scribner will be an exhibitor at an international gift and home furnishings show in Atlanta, where her products will be on display for 55,000 buyers in the retailing industry. She is optimistic that she will find national retailers to pick up her lines of Wise Monkeys products.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll see Wise Monkeys products in stores, boutiques, gift shops, department stores, wherever, so people can buy them and we can get that Wise Monkeys logo out and every time somebody sees that Wise Monkeys logo, whatever they’re about to do, they’ll just do what’s right…And feel more harmony,” she said.

Scribner also has a line of jewelry with a Hebrew inscription of text from the Torah that she finds congruous to the message of the Wise Monkeys. She said that she contacted Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald, educational director for Aish HaTorah, after she heard him on the “Priest and the Rabbi” segment of the Dave Glover show on 97.1 FM. She wanted to see if Rabbi Greenwald would speak at a convention of Wise Monkeys collectors meeting in St. Louis.

Although Greenwald was not able to speak to the group, Scribner did get to know Rabbi Greenwald better.

Rabbi Greenwald told her about lashon hara, or evil talk, which is warned against in the Torah.

“The Torah says to ‘hear the positive, don’t speak about the negative. Don’t gossip,'” Scribner said.

“That’s how you get in trouble. You get in trouble when you get angry with people, you speak nastily to them, you pass rumors and gossip that are none of your business and may not be true and they hurt other people,” she said.

Scribner asked Greenwald to translate ‘Just Do What’s Right’ into Hebrew. He told her about a line from the Torah, “Dan li’kaf zechut,” which means “Judge to the side of merit.”

Scribner has created a special line of jewelry aimed at girls becoming a bat mitzvah. Inscribed on the other side of the ‘Just Do What’s Right’ is the Hebrew text from the Torah, reading ‘Judge to the side of merit.’

She says that both the seminars, and the products are part of the overall message she hopes to spread about improving the world through civility and good decision making.

“That’s really what my mission is and what my dream is: that we create greater harmony among ourselves by being more respectful and nicer and to one another,” she said.

“And we can do that by following the advice of the wise monkeys, and choosing to just do what’s right.”

Visit Wise Monkeys Communications on the web at http://www.wisemonkeyscom.com.