Lessons agencies can learn from 5 classic Xmas films

We're all on Christmas countdown by this point, looking forward to tearing into our presents, gorging ourselves senseless, and, of course, breaking out the DVDs.

Who doesn't love a feel-good festive movie? Well, I recently got to thinking about the fact that, amongst all those more obvious messages about the importance of family and generosity, there's lots of stuff that us agencies can learn from classic Christmas films too.

(Spoiler alert: if you've never seem these fantastic films -- and, frankly, if you haven't, you must be severely lacking in Christmas spirit -- you might want to wait until you've rectified this wrong before reading on, because we've not held back on plot details...).

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It's a Wonderful Life : No man is an island and collaboration inevitably saves the day

It's A Wonderful Life is unequivocally the best Christmas film of all time. Why? Because it's jam-packed with lovely life lessons.

George Bailey, who's given up on all his dreams of travel and education in order to help support the local community, falls into despair when the family business begins to crumble on Christmas Eve. But when all seems lost, the reams of friends and colleagues that he's helped over the years come forward to help dig him out of his financial woes. The film reminds us that "no man is a failure who has friends" (and inevitably makes me cry, even though I've seen it a dozen times by now).

While this gives us plenty to feel warm and fuzzy about in terms of our personal lives, it's also a reminder of how brilliant it is to work in a team where everyone's prepared to support, encourage and help one another out.

Collaboration is a huge part of our day-to-day here at Code. A whole bunch of hardworking individuals with specialist skills come together to make our work happen, and no one's alone when it comes to trying to get the job done right.

We're pretty sure George would approve.

Home Alone (1)

Home Alone : Always approach a difficult situation with ingenuity

Accidently left 'home alone' for the holidays, most kids would probably crawl up into a ball and pray for rescue, or maybe just call their grandma -- but then that wouldn't make a very entertaining film, would it?

Instead, clever little Kevin gets inventive and ends up fending off a couple of determined robbers with a series of increasingly impressive diversionary tricks and booby traps.

The lesson? That thinking a little creatively can help you overcome what at first might seem like an unsolvable problem. And that hot irons make awesome weapons.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol : Reflecting on what's past and looking to the future can help us change our present for the better

In this classic tale, miserly Scrooge is visited by a series of ghosts who show him all his past wrongdoings where his 'bah humbug' approach is ultimately leading him. He sees the error of his ways, buys a giant turkey and all's right with the world again. Boom.

As well as drawing attention to the fact that nobody likes people with are selfish and tight with their money (duh), A Christmas Carol also offers us a reminder of the importance of reflection (ideally minus the ghosts, though, obviously).

When you've finally got a project you've been working flat hard on for months out the door, the last thing you might feel like doing is thinking about it even more. But reflecting on what you did (what went wrong, what went well, etc.), identifying what you can learn from the whole process and then actually applying what you've learned next time can massively improve the quality and general funness of how you work in both the present and future -- and also maybe stop you feeling haunted by the past...

Bad Santa

Bad Santa : Don't tolerate 'brilliant jerks'

Hard-drinking, store-robbing 'Bad Santa' himself might not exactly be a saint, but his 'helper' Marcus is next-level nasty. After working as a team for years, greedy Marcus turns on his partner in crime. But more fool him, because when the police make their move, he's the one who actually ends up in prison.

Marcus if you typical 'brilliant jerk': good at his job but ultimately impossible to work with.

The truth is that many companies choose to tolerate such characters just because they're skilled. But agencies should really think carefully about the impact that employing 'brilliant jerks' can have. Because having people on your team who aren't into collaboration or have a generally negative attitude can actually have a severe effect on morale over time.

With this in mind, someone hard working, enthusiastic and keen to learn can be a much more valuable addition to your agency than someone who's insanely qualified but in no way team spirited.

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Elf : Enthusiasm, passion and faith wins out in the end

When "SANNNNNTTTTTAAAA"'s most giant elf Buddy arrives in New York in search of his biological father, he's ridiculed, arrested and even knocked over by a yellow cab. But in the face of all this cynical hostility, his love of life and passionate belief in the magic of Christmas never waivers -- and eventually, he wins everyone else over too.

When it comes to agency life, we could all stand to be a bit more like Buddy.

Perhaps you're having a tough week, working on a project that you don't find that exciting or dealing with an especially demanding client. But if you dig deep enough, you can find a glimmer of joy to remind you why you love what you do -- and it's that little glimmer that'll help you ride out the more difficult time.


Front End North 2014