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– Chapter One
Introducing Santa

– Chapter Two
"Take Me Through the Numbers"

– Chapter Three
The Scheming Begins

– Chapter Four
Santa and His Shrink

– Chapter Five
The Doll Factory






New Orleans






- The Divine Right    of Capital

- Pigs at the   Trough


- What It Is

- Why a Santa    Novel?

- Who Benefits

- Secrecy in Santa

Author Bio






Why Another Santa Story?

Why, indeed.  "Santa" wasn't begun as the story it came to be.  What started as a whimsical story based upon a rather simple and obvious premise (What if Santa ran his operation as a full-fledged business instead of an isolated toy operation?) quickly grew to become the story that sweeps you along, if you've read the book.

All of us have seen the "Santa business" idea before, whether in popular movies such as "The Santa Clause" or in commercials.  In these stories and ads, Santa is usually a stick figure (if present at all), the business is treated as secondary, and the main plot of the book is pitched toward children.  

Anyone who's lived the modern corporate life, however, can tell you that left unguarded the business will swoop in and overtake lives and families and elbow its way to the forefront of our existence.  Santa, CEO is no different.  The trademark phrase of the novel, uttered by one of its characters, sums this situation up:  "Business.  An animal that consumes us all."  If it weren't so, if business didn't have such all-consuming potential, we wouldn't have books devoted to work-life balance and sermons reminding us to put deity before capital gain.

Why is this the case?  What is it about human nature that causes it to succumb again and again to such compelling internal drives?  Is this always bad?  

In her book, An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison describes in harrowing prose her personal struggle with the complex and many-clawed demon of manic-depressive illness.  Yet when confronted with a "what if" hypothetical choice--illness or no illness--she answers (with an acknowledged nod to lithium's saving presence) that she would choose to be who she is, rather than who she might have been.  Without drive--indeed, without mania in some form, our world would be grey, flat, and confined.  

"Santa, CEO" Business Ethics Strategy Christmas

Though we might not suffer the ambitions of dictators, without this drive we also might not enjoy the creations of a Beethoven, a Picasso, or a Goethe.  In the words of Grandpa Sycamore from the classic stage play, You Can't Take It With You, "There's always people to do the work, you can't stop them."

Thus we acknowledge our intensities, varied as they may be across the scattered spectrum of human personalities.  Those who enter (and enter into a contract with) large corporations do so for many reasons, not all of which have to do with such consuming fires.  But those who have this "fire in the belly," coupled with a good dose of savvy as well as (all too frequently and tragically) a certain heartlessness will advance, and with each step up may leave behind colleagues and, if not careful, a sense of self.  

The trick, then, is to emerge from this winnowing fire with your kernel unchanged, with your core values intact.  We leave for now to psychologists and priests the measuring scales of good and evil and adopt instead the simple razor that states that on the whole and on the average we know right from wrong, regardless of the tangles either business or any other situation employs to obscure the distinction.

In the novel, Santa is introduced as CEO of North Pole Industries, or NPI.  It doesn't matter how he became CEO; he simply is.  As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Santa has lost touch in fundamental ways:  with his workforce, with the business, with his departed wife, but most crucially, with himself.  Before we even turn to the opening scene, we're presented a children's phrase that captures part of Santa's core values:

    He knows when you've been bad or good,
    So be good for goodness' sake

You can judge for yourself how far Santa has drifted.  Keep that children's phrase in mind as you explore the soul and structure, not only of Santa, CEO, but also of modern business. Think about this question, which will stand behind all the questions you will encounter in this companion:

  • Is it possible to be good for the sake of being good, in a modern world full of competition, speed, and greed?

Many of us have bemoaned both the excesses of the business world and the conduct of CEOs within that framework. Part of this problem may be rooted in what our media (themselves a business--an interesting exercise for the recursive- minded) choose to present to us: an evil story trumps a good one every time.  But as Ida (whom you will meet deep in the book) tells Santa in a tea-laden back-porch conversation:

     "Business," she grunted.  "You make it sound like it does things to you.  Maybe. Sometimes. But business didn't push your wife away.  You did that.  Business didn't even push you out.  You did that yourself. This talk about markets, and the forces you went on about.  What are markets? People. Who's in your business? People. Sometimes they're dumb, sometimes they're so far ahead of you."

So look in the mirror we must, and rediscover that the vague targets of our anger and derision are our own human constructs, and in human cases such as CEOs, people uncomfortably like us.  Walt Kelly's Pogo put it in words long become famous:  "We will meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us."  What we deride we must be prepared to repair, and if the road to a better place seems too difficult to traverse, that may mean we're just not to the point where we're prepared to pay the toll.

A final, humble word.  This author wrote Santa, CEO both to entertain and to inform and enrich.  Too often, fiction about business either slights the business issues or slights the respect for the reader that good fiction tries to achieve:  Crisp dialogue, a compelling story, and characters whose struggles, change and growth reflect our own existence.  It's tough to tell in writing fiction whether you've hit the mark--some will like it, and some will no doubt be bored to tears.  In writing "Santa," I've tried to present our frenzied business world in a way that will make you laugh, carry you along, and at the end of the day, cause you to pause and think.  If I've missed those goals, I have only myself and my shortcomings as a writer to blame.  A profound thanks to you for your willingness to travel the "Santa" road with me.


© 2004 David Soubly

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