santa claus victorian toy figure

Santa is my Business Hero

Santa is my business hero. You may be snickering, but there’s a lot of business acumen to be learned from jolly ‘ole St. Nick.

While there are many reasons to love Kris Kringle, no one ever seems to mention how well this guy runs his operation, beyond the obvious logistical planning (we’ll get to that in a minute). This lack of recognition is a shame because business wonks everywhere should be green with envy, or perhaps ivy in this case.


Strategic Planning

The simple act of making a list and checking it twice is enough to start anyone on the path to success.

“There’s only nine more planning days left until 2017,” said no one ever! If we treated our goals—personal, business, financial—the way Santa focuses on his Christmas list, we would all be well on our way to achievement.

Santa knows that he can’t possibly remember all the children and which ones are naughty and which ones are nice. That’s why he writes and down and checks it twice.

In fact, checklists save lives. I’m not kidding. Ever known someone who went to the ICU? Chances are a checklist helped saved him/her from a deadly infection. Read this article in the New Yorker, by Atul Gawande, for more enlightenment.


Market Research

When was the last time you asked your customers what they wanted? What they would like if the sky was the limit?

No business I know does more market research than Santa. He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. Slightly creepy, yes, but it’s nothing that Facebook and the NSA don’t do too. He always welcomes letters. And, during his busiest season, he’s not at the North Pole but rather, taking time to meet with his customers in just about every mall in America and beyond.


Supply Chain Management

The way Santa procures all the raw materials for toys, manages the Elves to assemble them, and then delivers them all in one night is pure magic. This is usually the only business savvy Papa Noel gets credit for. After all, who else could possibly compete with this logistical mastery…except a mom with children on multiple sports teams.



Santa knows his brand and sticks to it. He’s a chubby, jolly ‘ole elf, dressed in a big, red suit. Santa says “ho ho ho.” These characteristics do not vary. There is no Santa Lite, or Santa The Next Generation. There’s no need to re-boot his brand because his boots (although covered in soot) are, just like the rest of him, on fleek.



Though not usually part of a strategic business plan, it seems that folks who enjoy what they do and aim to bring joy to others find success. No one brings more joy and delights customers more than Santa. Companies like Zappos, JetBlue, Amazon, Nordstrom, and Ritz Carlton seem to have a page from his book.

Some people want to emulate Steve Jobs, others Mark Cuban, but not me. I’ll take Santa Claus any day. While you’re mapping out your business plan for the next year, learn from a different old, white guy. After all, it’s been hundreds of years and he is still in business.

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