Things I Learned About Business From Watching Miracle on 34th Street

With the holidays fast approaching, our minds are focused on our personal lives, friends and family—anything except business. But oddly enough, during the height of the retail profit-making season, we are able to learn a lot about running a successful company. In light of the holiday season, I’d thought I’d share the wisdom I gathered from the classic holiday film: Miracle on 34th Street.

Customers are human, business should be too.

It’s amazing how far a little kindness in this world can go. By simply putting the needs of a frazzled mother and her son before the bottom line, Kris Kringle was able to create a loyal customer base and a positive word-of-mouth campaign for free—a 100% return-on-investment (ROI).

It’s important to recognize and reward star players.

Even though Kris Kringle single-handedly made Macy’s a household name during the all important Christmas-shopping season, he was almost fired—twice! It would’ve been wiser for Macy’s to be more tolerant of Kringle’s eccentricities considering how well he was performing for them.

Mental health issues can have a significant impact on work.

Although Macy’s employed an in-house counselor, they did not go far enough to verify their employees before hiring them. If they had, they would have found out about Kringle’s previous institutional stint and could have avoided the entire competency hearing.

Violence in the workplace is no laughing matter.

Having an employee lose it at work is bad for all involved. The provocation of Kringle by another employee set-off a chain reaction of legal events that while ending happily in the film, may not end so happily in real life. With stress at an all-time high, especially during a busy season, it is important to combat stress before it leads to a violent blow-out.

The tale of a disenchanted young widow and her daughter who overcome their cynicism when confronted with the impossible reality of a real Santa Claus has always been one of my favorite holiday movies. Turns out it’s educational as well as uplifting.

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2 responses »

  1. Congratulations on the new blog! I think this post juxtaposes nicely with the previous post — about the 4-Hour Workweek. Tim’s book is interesting, for sure, but the obsessive efficiency seems to me to ignore the fact that connecting with people is often inefficient and time-consuming but has it’s own rewards. Things like not responding to emails except for once a day ignores all the human factors about email that seem like a central point of Miracle on 34th Street. For example, we each want to feel special and cared about and feel like the world responds to what we put out there.

    Penelope

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Penelope! You have so eloquently captured the feeling I was trying to evoke. Life (and work) is about a lot more than just emails and progress reports.

    As Mark Sanborn emphasizes in his book, The Fred Factor, everything in the world centers around human relationships and the quality of those daily interactions.

    What a great sentiment and especially applicable during the holiday season.

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