Christmas comes to basketball

Rakeem Christmas

Tonight, we watched our team, Syracuse, fall to Ohio State (77-70) in their drive for the Final Four.  Despite this loss, their overall record was an amazing 30-1 in the regular season.  What does Syracuse have in common with Christmas? While they didn’t receive a miracle this year, freshman Rakeem Christmas remains one hope for the future, with 6 points this game and a total of 96 points for the season.

He is not the first to link between Christmas and basketball excellence. Santa’s workshop produced another Pennsylvania native, Dionte Christmas who played for Temple. In 2008, Temple won the Atlantic 10 Conference, where Christmas was named Most Outstanding Player of the event after scoring 57 points in the three games, including 22 in the final game. After a short stop with the Philadelphia 76rs, he is now playing professional basketball in Greece.

Syracuse may be out of the tournament this season, but they are not out of Christmas surprises.  Nerlens Noel, the 2012 top high school recruit has narrowed his final choices to Georgetown, University of Kentucky and Syracuse.  We’re hoping he’ll choose Syracuse!

As we count down to Christmas 2012, I’ll have plenty of Christmas basketball to watch next winter.

Santa Claus, CEO!

I’ve been getting a good bit of feedback after my last post on the leadership secrets of Santa Claus.  Seems like people like what Santa does as a businessman, so I did a little more research into the corporate lessons that Santa has to offer.  There are more than you might expect.  There are many articles and posts all detailing lessons Santa’s followers have to offer.  There are lessons about management, ideas about motivation, thoughts on marketing, and more.  All credited to the example set by Big Red.

There’s another book and workshop series dedicated to Santa.  Santa, CEO by David Soulby combines the business of Santa and Christmas in a satirical tale of corporate credit and profit at all cost decisions.  There are companion workbooks and web-based helps to guide the reader to learning Santa’s way.  Check out the site and find out more- Santa, CEO.

If you find yourself still doubting the draw of St. Nick as a business icon, even Forbes magazine credits his skills.  They rank some of the titans of industry as Santa disciples.  Industry giants like Steve Jobs and Dave Thomas are compared to the success of Jolly Old Nick.  Read all the details in the article Lead Like the Best CEO Ever: Santa Claus.  

Jingle Cats? Meow!

Close to my top choice for “Worst Christmas Song Ever” is the version of “Jingle Bells” sung by barking dogs.

When Jeremy and I decided to talk about “Jingle Bells” on Monday,  I was prepared to complain.

Then, I read an article in Atlantic Magazine, by William Weir, published in December 2010, and I have changed my mind completely.  Weir explains that the Nazis  guarded their magnetic tape recording capabilities, and when the war ended, there was a frenzy of experimentation. In the early 1950’s,  Danish ornithologist Carl Weismann used the new recording techniques to catalogue bird sounds.  According to Weir, the recordings were often marred by the sound of angry dogs.

He spliced together the barking, mixing the sounds together and alternating playback speeds to change the pitch.  The resulting Jingle Bell dog song was released in the United States in 1955.  Today, with the applications we have available on the computers, the same editing would take an easy few minutes.

I checked, and to be sure, there are about a million versions of barking dogs on YouTube, but the Dr. Demento cd has the original version.  I also checked out  meowing Jingle Cats.  There are several, but the quality and variety of their meowing voices leaves a lot to be desired.  I don’t see the Jingle Cat versions becoming best sellers next Christmas (thank goodness). One version of “Holly Jolly Christmas” posted in 2010 is not too bad.  Believe it or not, people love these meowing and barking pets.  It has spawned a company, with entire albums of beastly Christmas music.  Check it out.

Cats or dogs?  Which make better singers?

Santa- Ultimate Leader?

I wanted to get back to our more random bag of blog posts this week after about a month of themed posts.  I had some good ideas in my files and even got a great new idea from one of our readers, Liam.  All of these will be used but didn’t seem what I wanted for today.  So I asked for some help from our intern, Hildy.  Her response was “All you’ve been talking about is leadership lately, can’t you find something with that?”. Hildy hit it right on again!  She is the true secret to the Yule Log success.  In the next 10 days I will be facilitating a leadership training day and attending a 3-day leadership conference.  So what leadership lessons can be learned from Christmas?  Plenty!

Digging through my shelf of books I remembered I had The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus.  This little gem is published by the Walk the Talk Company, focused on leadership and values-based business practices.  The sub-title reads “How to get big things done in YOUR ‘workshop’… all year long”.  Intriguing right?  I mean Santa runs a world-wide business with billions of customers all wanting basically the same things, on the same delivery schedule, and with little support.  Santa is the ultimate successful CEO, eat your heart our Lee Iacocca.  Santa has devoted followers and thousands of imitators- a true sign of admiration.  What are the secrets to his success?  The book reveals them in 8 “gifts” to the reader.  Simple guidelines to steer you and your organization to inevitable success.  Each “gift” has a chapter outlining the secret with three ideas to summarize the meaning.  The eight gifts are:

  1. Build a Wonderful Workshop.
  2. Choose Your Reindeer Wisely.
  3. Make a List and Check It Twice.
  4. Listen to the Elves.
  5. Get Beyond the Red Wagons.
  6. Share the Milk and Cookies.
  7. Find Out Who’s Naughty and Nice.
  8. Be Good for Goodness Sake.

You can order books, workshop kits, and more from the Walk the Talk website.  Maybe this is just the hook you need for your next corporate or business professional development series!  If you’re not quite up for books, workshops, and training seminars no worries there is a link for you too.  Santa has also posted a short video outlining his leadership secrets on YouTube.  What do you think?  Does Santa hold the secrets for true business success?  Post your thoughts for all to see!

Vive le vent!

It wasn’t until Jeremy reminded me yesterday during our podcast that I realized the French version of “Jingle Bells” is firmly embedded in my childhood past.  My mom enrolled me in a beginner French class, held before school during 4th, 5th, and 6th grades.  In addition to learning basic phrases and playing a lot of French tic-tac-toe, we sang the “Vive Le Vent” for our annual parent program.  I can safely say, in retrospect, that I don’t remember anything except the refrain, and I’m certain I had no idea what the translation was then.  Here’s a link to one of the many YouTube versions of the song.


Vive le vent, vive le vent,
Vive le vent d’hiver,
Qui s’en va sifflant, soufflant
Dans les grands sapins verts, oh !
Live the wind, live the wind,
Live the winter wind,
Which goes whistling, blowing
In the big green Christmas trees, oh!
Vive le temps, vive le temps,
Vive le temps d’hiver,
Boules de neige et Jour de l’An
Et Bonne Année grand-mère !
(Fin du refrain)
Live the weather, live the weather,
Live the winter weather,
Snowballs and new year’s day
and happy new year Grandma!
(End of refrain)
Sur le long chemin
Tout blanc de neige blanche
Un vieux monsieur s’avance
Avec sa canne dans la main.
Et tout là-haut le vent
Qui siffle dans les branches
Lui souffle la romance
Qu’il chantait petit enfant, oh !
Along the long path
All white from the white snow
An old man advances
With his cane in his hand.
And all above the wind
Which whistles in the branches
Blows on him the romance
That he sang as a young child, oh!
Refrain Refrain
Joyeux, joyeux Noël
Aux mille bougies
Qu’enchantent vers le ciel
Les cloches de la nuit.
Vive le vent, vive le vent
Vive le vent d’hiver
Qui rapporte aux vieux enfants
Leurs souvenirs d’hier, oh !
Merry, merry Christmas
To the thousand candles
Which delight toward heaven
The night’s bells.
Live the wind, live the wind
Live the winter wind
Which brings to old kids
Their memories of yesterday, oh!
Refrain Refrain
Et le vieux monsieur
Descend vers le village,
C’est l’heure où tout est sage
Et l’ombre danse au coin du feu.
Mais dans chaque maison
Il flotte un air de fête
Partout la table est prête
Et l’on entend la même chanson, oh !
And the old man
Goes down toward the village,
It’s the time when everyone is good
And the shadow dances near the fire.
But in each house
There’s a festive air
Everywhere the table is ready
And you hear the same song, oh!
Refrain Refrain

Countdown Podcast #13- 279 Days to Go!

J-J-J-Jingle Bells!– Click to hear this week’s podcast.

Today we take a look at one of the most well-known songs of the Christmas season, Jingle Bells!  This timeless favorite of children is not just one of the most recorded Christmas songs.  It is one of the tope 25 most recorded songs ever!  There are many unique facts about Jingle Bells. Did you know it was written before the Civil War and for Thanksgiving?  Did you know there’s a connection between dogs “singing” Jingle Bells and Nazi technology?  Did you know which singing legend’s version of Jingle Bells makes Natalie cringe?  We reveal all this and much, much more- like who hit #1 on the charts with a version of this classic tune.

Christmas Day Swimming: Are you crazy?

Last week in our podcast, Jeremy and I were discussing all things Irish and Chirstmas.  We mentioned the Dublin, Ireland Christmas morning swim at the Forty Foot,  a location made famous in James Joyce’s Ulysses. The Forty Foot is a sea inlet which is located on the southern tip of Dublin Bay at Sandycove and people have gone to this point to swim in the Irish Sea for around 250 years; however, Dublin does not have a lock on crazy + swimming + Christmas Day.

The Peter Pan Cup, is a Christmas Swim in the Serpentine in London, a contest that has been held every year since 1864.  In 1904, author J. M. Barrie awarded the Peter Pan Cup to the winner of the race.  The Serpentine, located in Hyde Park, London, will be the location of the 10 km Marathon swimming event at this summer’s Olympic competition.

Not to be outdone, Porthcawl, Wales holds its annual swim at the Coney Beach.  The funraiser’s primary beneficiary is the Wales Air Ambulance.

The Barcelona Swimming Club organizes the Christmas Cup Swim in the port of Barcelona, Spain.  This is 200 meters across open water, and it began in 1907.  It has been held continuously since then except in 1937 and 1938 because of the Spanish Civil War (good excuse, if you ask me).

In Maryland, our own Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for the Special Olympics Maryland does not take place until January 28.  It is held each year at Sandy Point State Park.  Although it is not held on Christmas Day, it’s much closer to home and requires just as much courage combined with crazy.