What a Holiday Classic Can Teach Us About Business

The holiday decorations went up in stores weeks ago, and you know what that means: It’s almost time for your annual viewing of the movie “Elf.” 

When it came out in 2003, the movie, starring Will Ferrell as a human raised by Santa’s elves, became an instant holiday classic, perfect for family movie night at the end of a long work week. But in addition to its sweet and sugary family content, it also has some important business lessons to teach. 

Prioritize the Personal 

Buddy’s biological father, Walter, is on the naughty list for a reason. He is entirely driven by his job — and not in a good way. His singular focus on impressing his bosses and keeping his job is causing him to forget the importance of family. When Buddy shows up, Walter is embarrassed and irritated, but eventually, with help from his sons, he realizes that sometimes family has to come first. It’s that elusive work-life balance, and Elf reminds us to keep striving for equilibrium. 

Recognize Your Co-Workers’ Talents 

We definitely don’t recommend that you follow your coworkers into the shower. But when Buddy the Elf heard Jovie, his lackluster colleague at Gimbels department store, singing in the shower, he immediately spotted her talent and encouraged her to use it in public. His encouragement paid off later in the film, when Jovie used her voice to inspire the crowd and help save Christmas. The takeaway? Look for the good in your coworkers and remind them that their voices matter. 

Be Fearless 

Buddy is fearless because he is clueless he doesn’t worry that people might laugh at him. Unfortunately for most of us, it can be scary to stand up and show your true self in the office. But when you bring your excitement and enthusiasm to your workplace, you can really make it sparkle — just like the Gimbels holiday display. Don’t be afraid to be different — your perspective and creativity can improve the quality of your team’s output. 

Acknowledge Your Mistakes 

Throughout the movie, Walter schemes to keep his job and hide Buddy from his officemates. When he finally accepts Buddy, he offers a sincere apology for his earlier behavior and vows to do better. Cue warm, fuzzy ending. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it publicly and seek to remedy the error. 

Stay Off the Naughty List 

Be fun, be fearless — but also, stay appropriate in the workplace! It’s just a movie, after all.  

Happy almost-the-holidays to you and yours from all of us at Spring Green. 

by Donna Gorman