When hapless burglars Marv and Harry dramatically crashed to the hardwood floor of a Chicago mansion, victims of Kevin McCallister’s diabolical but ingenious paint-can-to-the-face gag, you probably didn’t think, “Wow, there’s a great business lesson to be learned here.”
But we did. We’re always thinking about how the best laid cinematic plans of frightened but courageous eight-year-olds transfer to the corporate world.
That’s why, over the next 12 days, we’re presenting Do You See What I See? Business Lessons From Our Favorite Holiday Movies. The marketing team at Prime Concepts is watching – or in many cases rewatching – some holiday classics and newer favorites and carefully selecting the secret lessons hidden within the stories.
We’re starting with Home Alone, a 1990 blockbuster that basically introduced the world to Macaulay Culkin and ignited a Polka craze that stormed through the Upper Midwest. OK, that sadly didn’t happen. But to help ease the lasting hurt of the Kenosha Kickers failing to become household names, here are the top five business secrets from Home Alone:
Lesson 1: Create a Recognizable Brand
You’ve gotta hand it to the Wet Bandits. In their efforts to become the most feared cat burglars in Chicago, they at least became the most identifiable. By leaving the water running at each house they hit, Harry and Marv achieved a level of notoriety usually reserved for criminal masterminds. What’s your calling card? What’s the element of your business that will make it immediately recognizable to potential customers? If you don’t have one, find what sets you apart and build your marketing, messaging, and identity around it. Try to choose something that doesn’t get you dragged away by Chi-town’s finest on Christmas Eve.
Lesson 2: Pursue Multiple Interests
After Kevin made his family disappear, he didn’t respond by falling into routines and structure set by his parents. Instead, he explored and expanded, doing things he never would have been allowed to do in a full house and becoming more well-rounded. You’ll be more valuable at your workplace if you break out of routines, learn things that aren’t necessarily requirements for your position, and fill in gaps wherever they exist. Suppose it can’t hurt if you develop a strange obsession with mobster movies, too.
Lesson 3: Use the Tools at Your Disposal
Outside of that scorching-hot doorknob thing – no way those things actually exist, right? – Kevin didn’t exactly use revolutionary, new-fangled devices to foil the evil intruders. Leaving aside his horrifying ability to get his hands on a blowtorch and his family’s bizarre abundance of tar and feathers, Kevin used common household items. When you’re planning and/or executing a project, you probably already have everything you need. It’s easy to get seduced by the latest technology and fancy gadgets, as the young people say. But if you stick to what’s in your proverbial toolbox, you’ll find plenty of ways to accomplish tasks, achieve your goals, and even scald the scalps of your fiercest enemies. But don’t do that.
Lesson 4: Don’t Rush The Job
Kevin was left alone because the person responsible for counting kids acted carelessly and failed to recognize that her perceived Kevin was actually that annoying snot from the neighborhood. Conversely, Kevin gained the upper hand on the Bandits by meticulously planning every move once they arrived. Use the time you have to complete a project, however much it is, to its fullest. Leave time to check your work and make it better when possible. Slow. Down. If the head-counter had taken her time, Kevin would have flown with his family to Paris and there never would have been a Home Alone or any of its uninspiring sequels.
Lesson 5: Network: You Never Know Who Will Help You
Old Man Marley. Man, we could spend some time examining the complexity of that guy, huh? From suspected murderer to heroic savior in about an hour and a half. Turns out, Kevin’s conversation with The Notorious O.M.M. at Christmas Eve service saved his life. Who would’ve seen that coming? And who knew that after being burned, shot, gouged and impaled, the Wet Bandits would finally be felled by a snow shovel? You may not stumble upon your guardian angel, but when you network with other professionals, the reward could come at an unsuspecting and much-needed time. Expanding your circle might pay off now or down the road – but it’s always good to “know a guy” (or girl). Especially if they own a snow shovel.
This wasn’t an easy list to narrow down. We argued about which five lessons to include almost as passionately as we debated Gus Polinski’s most iconic song. No doubt it’s “Yamahoozie Polka” aka “Kiss Me Polka.” They don’t call him the Polka King of the Midwest for nothing, folks. Did you find any other hidden business lessons in Home Alone? Leave a comment below and share your ideas because we’re always… THIRSTY FOR MORE!