“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Before we get too far down the road past the recent wonderful Christmas season, I want to share the new spirit (no pun intended) I drew from my annual revisiting of Dickens’s Christmas classic.

(As an aside, I remember seeing a caustic quote long ago about how foolish it is ever to re-read a book. While I didn’t make time to re-read A Christmas Carol this season, my wife and I have a favorite movie version we watch every year. Whether reading or watching, as you mature you see and learn different things each time. As Heraclitus of Ephesus said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice.”) (I did, however, make time to re-read Philip Van Doren Stern’s The Greatest Gift – the basis for the most successful box-office bomb ever, It’s a Wonderful Life.)

I’ve written extensively about my deep appreciation for the message from Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia in their book Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family. When I read it a few months ago, it struck me as something entirely new and refreshing after my many years in the often crass and abusive business world.

And yet, as I watched George C. Scott’s performance as Ebenezer Scrooge for the umpteenth time, I realized that Chapman and Sisodia’s message dates back all the way to 1843, when Dickens’s tale was first published. There it was when the ghost of Jacob Marley spat out the lines at the start of this column. And there it was, too, when Scrooge – after his conversion through the “no pain, no gain” mercies of the spirits – joyously doubled his long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit’s salary, promised him help for his crippled son, and urged him to build up the fire in their freezing office.

Of course, the basis of the message goes back much, much further, another 1,800 years and then some: in the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) of the King of Kings whose birth we just celebrated, and in His native religion’s teachings from the Torah (love your neighbor as yourself). Those of you with other faiths, you will find a version in yours too.

At some point, many of us forgot these basic principles. For some, it was part of our on-the-job training that they just don’t apply in the world of business. Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia have done great good in reminding us that, yes, these rules are indeed still in effect, even for us as business leaders – and in presenting them in a way that shows how they benefit both our people and our business.

And as Charles Dickens taught us through Ebenezer Scrooge, so long as we’re alive it’s never too late to change our ways.


If you like what you’ve read here (or even if not!), let me know in the comments, or send me an e-mail at jim@vinoski.net. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

©2018 James M. Vinoski. All rights reserved.