Frank Talarico | email@example.com
‘Tis the Season to Revisit a Classic
It's amazing to consider that “A Christmas Carol” was written by Charles Dickens over 170 years ago and remains a timeless holiday classic today. Countless film and stage performances have been made over the years and the book continues to sell. And every December, many of us make it a tradition to enjoy this traditional Christmas story. I know this is true in our family.
Yet after December 25th, we tend to forget about this book—until the next Christmas season. For leaders, this is a mistake. In my humble opinion, “A Christmas Carol” is one of the best business books ever written. The lessons the story of Ebenezer Scrooge offers the business world are timeless – how we work with others, balance our work lives, and interact with our communities. This holiday season, I challenge you to revisit this classic with a fresh eye and maybe find some new meaning and personal applications.
1. Equating financial success with personal success is an illusion.
Ebenezer Scrooge knew what he was doing. He was an excellent businessman. He created and managed a successful business. He built a tremendous amount of personal wealth. He controlled markets through his actions and words. He was known by every mover and shaker in the city and was feared by many of them. He had spent his entire life focused on growing and developing his business career. If Scrooge were alive today, it is likely we would be reading his latest how-to book, waiting for his next social media post, watching him make deals on “Shark Tank,” or even suggesting he go into politics.
But I am also certain that those closest to a modern-day Scrooge would have the same perspective of him as those in Dickens’ story: an insufferable human to be tolerated only until he is gone. Scrooge’s entire life was all about business and making money. He prioritized his imbalanced perception of success, defined purely as financial gain, above all else. Personal relationships were secondary in importance, and it was this that ultimately led him to a life of loneliness and misery.
2. Business leaders have a significant impact upon the well-being and success of their employees and co-workers.
Bob Cratchit was Scrooge’s employee. A close reading of the story might lead us to say he was his only employee. Cratchit is both loyal and hardworking. When his wife speaks angrily of Scrooge, Cratchit not only stops her but offers a toast of thankfulness to Scrooge for the “bounty” he provides their family. Scrooge, however, treats Cratchit with contempt and disdain. Horribly underpaid, his wages are further docked if he shows up late to work. Time off is seldom given. To avoid the cost of heating coal, Scrooge won’t even allow Cratchit to warm the office on a cold winter day. Scrooge’s skill as a manager is limited to one ability: getting the most he can out of an employee for the least amount of money.
For me, the greatest failure of Scrooge as a manager is that he knows nothing about Bob Cratchit as a person. What is worse, he does not care. Scrooge is not aware that Cratchit has a large family, that he can barely provide for them on his lousy salary, and most importantly, that Cratchit has a sick child that needs help and assistance the family can barely afford. When Scrooge eventually does learn of Cratchit’s personal situation, he realizes he has the ability and the power to make a difference. This serves as a reminder that any employee – regardless of their title or pay scale – has a personal story. We, as leaders in our own organizations and facilities, have an obligation to never forget that our decisions and our behaviors directly impact employees’ lives.
3. No business operates in a vacuum. What you and your team do each day reverberates throughout your community.
Clearly, Scrooge was not a pillar of the community, yet he was known as a successful man. Others were aware of his resources and the potential impact he could make on his neighbors. Community leaders sought his assistance, but Scrooge continually denied their requests. His fortune was his alone, not to be shared with those who he felt had squandered their lives away. He felt no responsibility to help others, especially after he had worked so long and so hard. But just as no person is an island, neither is any business. The insulation Scrooge provided himself was to protect his assets and to assert his opinion that every person or entity can exist without the support and assistance of others. What Scrooge ultimately learned is that each of us has a responsibility to support and benefit our communities, and that both business and personal growth happens when this occurs. As you round into the new year, I challenge you to assess your impact on the community where you work. Personally, I learned a long time ago, it is always the right thing, to do the right thing. When we do, the ripple effects are extraordinary.
Hopefully, most of us love what we do. I know, I do. The business of our profession is rewarding and can be exciting. The programs, the negotiations, the strategy, all excite me about the work I am fortunate to do every day. Professionally, there is really nothing better than serving our members and growing the game of golf. But I must also remember daily the words of Jacob Marley, the former business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge and the first ghost to visit him on Christmas Eve. Scrooge, when he sees the chains of torture and despair that Marley carried with him in death, reminded Marley that he was a good businessman. Those that know this story remember that Marley scolded Scrooge. “Business! Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” This Christmas, look closer at the “ocean” of your professional life. My wish is that you will find happiness in its enormity.
Before we all head off to finish shopping and wrapping, a few reminders from the Section Office:
- Applications are available through Dec 23 to join PGA LEAD Cohort VIII and this specialized leadership development program. Click here for more information.
- The PGA Financial Assistance Fund Scholarship application for the 2023-2024 school year is available here. The deadline for submitting applications is April 10, 2023.
I wish to express my sincere appreciation for our partners. This month, I would like to say a special thanks to Keith Moskowitz with Under Armour, the official apparel sponsor for the 2022 Hudson Cup Matches. Lastly, please join me in welcoming our newest sponsor, AndersonOrd Performance Apparel. AndersonOrd will be supporting several 2023 events, including the 2023 Pelzer Golf Oregon Open Invitational.
As always, if I or any member of our Section team can be of any service, never hesitate to call on us.
Merry Christmas and a very, happy New Year!
Frank Talarico, CEO