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“A Christmas Carol” Business Plan

By Sander Biehn | Dec 23, 2014

Each year around my house we read Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” aloud in the living room. We each have our favorite parts to read. One of mine is when Scrooge meets his business partner’s ghost. Incredulous that his partner has been given an unfavorable job in the afterworld, Scrooge stammers, “But Jacob, you were always a fine man of business.”

The specter retorts in a roar, “Business? Mankind was my business!”

Jacob is doomed to roam the earth as a ghost and witness all the people he could have helped when he was alive, but chose not to.

This reminds me of a story my wife told me when she was in law school. One of the professors was talking about Pro Bono work and asked the class to imagine they had reached the end of a long and profitable career. Would they look back on it and say, “If only I had billed a few more hours of work to my clients, my career would be more meaningful?”  Cleary not. Looking for purpose in our work is one of those things that often gets pushed to the back burner. It’s a priority, just not a priority for today. Subsequently, we can find ourselves at the end of a long career where doing something meaningful for our customers, partners or the business community around us has never come to fruition.

None of us want to end up there: Jacob Marley with our chains and cashboxes.  But many of us run this risk.

I was given a gentle reminder last week when I met with a friend and colleague.  When I told him about the generally positive trajectory of my business he frowned.  He didn’t want to know how business was doing, he wanted to know what I was doing to shake-up the industry I had set out to disturb. Like Marley’s ghost he rattled my chain. I bristled, but understood why he was doing it.

By the end of the meeting we had agreed to help each other in 2015 with the ‘big goals’ our respective businesses had set out to tackle.

Here’s how:

1. Encourage each other to keep submitting articles on our thoughts and big ideas to national media outlets. We agreed to be undaunted by rejection and continually tell our respective stories until they were heard.

2. Network with new people with the intent of helping others not just ourselves. Connecting people who could benefit from meeting one another or asking a favor of a connection that will not benefit us personally, but will benefit someone else in our network.

3. Meet regularly in 2015 in order to stay on track and not lose sight of the bigger picture.

It may seem like very small steps. But staying after what is important is a matter of keeping our eyes on it because it too often slips away from us. If we can say at the end of a long career that mankind was our business, I believe there will be no regrets for time well spent in affirming and enriching employment to the greater good.

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