Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Holiday Classics Put Bullseye on Business Leaders
December 22, 2010, 3:31 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Since this is the last Soundview Executive Book Summaries’ blog post before the Christmas holiday, I thought you fine folks would indulge me a bit. I was sitting at my desk the other day after our recent Soundview Live event with Jeanne Meister (co-author of The 2020 Workplace). While I enjoyed the conversation about the fight for the talent pool of tomorrow, my mind was quickly drawn back to one holiday-oriented problem or another. I felt the need to vocalize my complaint. That caused someone to lob the term “Scrooge” in my direction. As often happens in these situations, a simple comment can touch off a stream of thoughts.

In this case, I started reflecting on the way executives are portrayed in many holiday classics. As far back as Charles Dickens’ counting house miser, businesspeople have been relegated to roles as antagonists in dozens of stories. While Ebeneezer Scrooge runs the gauntlet of spectral visitors and finds redemption, the direct cause of his turnaround is his abandonment of the principles that made him one of the richest men in Victorian London. I always wondered if Scrooge’s business went in the tank in light of his newfound alms-giving nature.

Set your DVR for a few holiday films and you’ll find, regardless of genre, that the villain is clad in a three-piece suit. Take Brian Doyle Murray as Frank Shirley in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. He was the 1980s-era bad boss who swapped Christmas bonuses in favor of enrollment in a “jelly of the month” club. A personal favorite of mine is John Fiedler as Mr. Dundee, the department store owner who fires Art Carney as Santa in the classic Twilight Zone episode “The Night of the Meek.” If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.

Who could forget Lionel Barrymore as Henry F. Potter, the banker and businessman who dreamed of driving the Bailey Building and Loan out of business in It’s a Wonderful Life? He’s unique among this list of yuletide nemeses for not relinquishing the path of avarice in favor of living happily ever after.

Putting aside all this fictional finger-pointing, the holidays are a time when corporations of all sizes do a great number of charitable deeds. Is your company doing something special this year to help give back? Send me a message and maybe I’ll share your story.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Soundview Executive Book Summaries!

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