Every Time a Bell Rings, a Business Gets Its Wings

'Tis the season for Secret Santa, office partiesand giant goodie baskets from clients.The atmosphere is festive, full of yuletide andjoy and peace for mankind. While youre busy decking the halls, its also time to take inventory of the year that was in our respective businesses. What did we do this year that will catapult us into 2016? What can we do better? Have we met our conditions of satisfaction?

Related:The 13 'Must-Dos' to Include on Your Holiday Checklist

Whatever your questions are, and while youre watching your favorite Christmas movies, here are some lessons businesses can learn from some of the most popular ones.

1. Its A Wonderful Life

Image credit: It's A Wonderful Life | RKO Radio Pictures

Lesson: Be radically transparent.This 1946 classic features Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a resident of Bedford Falls who discovers what the world would be like if he had never lived. When the Bailey Savings and Loan investors panic and try to withdraw their money from the family business, George attempts to calm the nervous crowd with an ad-hoc breakdown of the firms investment portfolio and how its benefiting the community. After George is shown what the world would be like without him (remember Potterville?), George delivers a forthright report to his investors that saves his business.

In todays business world, clear communication and radical transparency are a must, especially with your employees, clients or investors. Your employees are your best assets, and if youre not transparent with them, it could have a disastrous effect on your business. Never underestimate the value of honest and open communication and radical transparency, which includes calling out BS when you see it. People know me as being brutally honest--and usually, when I say something sucks, it truly sucks. They may not like what I have to say, but Ive never been accused of being a liar.

2. Miracle on 34thStreet

Image credit: Miracle on 34th street | 20th Century Fox

Lesson: Authenticity builds customer loyalty and trust.Who doesnt love seeing adorable Natalie Wood in this 1947 Christmas staple? Miracle on 34thStreetchronicles how Kris Kringle, played by Edmund Gwenn, gets hired to play Santa at the iconic Macys flagship store. He promptly breaks the rules by telling some customers where theyd have better luck finding the toys their kids want --even if its a competitor. Initially, Macys was outraged and about to fire Kringle, but a customer appreciates Macys honesty and vows to do her Christmas shopping exclusively at the store.Genuine customer service creates great buzz while helping build brand loyalty and even helps increase Macys customer base.

In business and in life, you must be authentic in everything you do. In fact, you must even have a servants mentality --indicating how some people are passionate about serving others, while others arent inclined to do so. No matter which line of business youre in, your customers should be your priority at all times, not just when its convenient for you. If your customers believe in you, that will help you solidify brand loyalty, because they know they can trust you. Trust is the most fragile relationship you can have with your customers. Once you have it, be sure to do everything in your power to keep it, because once its gone, its next to impossible to fully gain it back.

Related:Why You Should Be Fearlessly Authentic

3. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

Image credit: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation | Warner Bros.

Lesson: Your employees are your best assets. Most of us have seen this movie, over and over again, but I never get tired of it. When the eclectic Griswold family gets together for Christmas, its mayhem. A series of mishaps from Clark Griswold, bumbling cousin Eddie, cantankerous Uncle Lewis, and absent-minded Aunt Bethany, preface a most unforgettable family Christmas. Clark gets stuck in the attic, the turkey is burnt to a crisp, the animals destroy the Christmas tree and Uncle Lewis toupee catches fire --but finally the Griswold home is all lit up, and the spirit of Christmas lives on. Mission accomplished!

Your employees are like the Griswolds--each their own quirky character with a certain level of skills that will help move your business forward. Not to mention, you probably spend more time with them than you do with your own family. The objective is to get your merry band to pull in the same direction, develop a distinct cadenceand move the needle forward. Not everyone will get along, but you have to make it work as seamlessly as possible. Learn to accept each employees individuality, because these same employees are the team that will help you achieve your goals.

Oh, and dont kidnap the boss -- it usually doesnt end well!

4. Home Alone

Image credit: Home Alone | 20th Century Fox

Lesson: Protect the brand at all costs.Kevin McCallister is left home alone by his entire family as they go on a Christmas vacation. At first, Kevin is in heaven, but when danger lurks, Kevin decides to protect his home from con menMarvandHarry, the two bandits looking to come away with a big loot on Christmas. Kevin gets to work and sets a number of clever traps to divert the would-be robbers from stealing the McCallisters prized possessions. Thanks to Kevins machinations, chaos is averted, the robbers are taken to prison, and hes reunited with his apologetic family.

While Kevin was protecting his home, you must protect your brand identity. No one will know your brand better than you. You are your biggest brand advocate, cheerleaderand fan. No one can sell it, promote it, and praise it as well as you can. Everything you and your team do for that business is a reflection of you, and in turn, youre a reflection of your business! So if people associate words like ethical, responsibleand trustworthy with you, make sure your brand gets the same.

5. Elf

Image credit: Elf | New Line Cinema

Lesson: Own your story.Buddy the Elfwas raised by Papa Elf in the North Pole, and he cant contain his excitement about spreading Christmas cheer to all on Earth. He has lived his entire life amongst elves and the big man himself, Santa Claus.It doesnt take long for Buddy to realize he doesnt really fit with the rest of the elves. Hes much bigger than everyone else, his toy-making skills arent up to par, and hes just all around different.Buddy takes off to New York City to search for his real family. Throughout the movie, Buddy shows his naivet about all things humanexcept his love for Christmas and his wonderment.

Buddy, despite all his differences, owns who he is --elf costume and all. He doesnt care about the stares or the whispers. All he knows is that he loves Christmas and will spread that cheer to anyone who will listen. Owning who you are as a person --and a businessperson --is part of what makes you, you. When someone tells you, "you must do this or that to be successful,"tell them to shut up --politely, of course. You are writing your own story, and you cant write your story based on someone elses experiences. Your business needs to reflect that too --an identity of its own. Stop listening to them, if you want whats best for you.

Related:5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand


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