CategoryHoliday Themed

5 Management Lessons from Die Hard

“Die Hard?? That’s not a Christmas movie,” you say. 

The devil is a lie!

Not only is Die Hard a Christmas movie, it’s one of the best everrrrr.

Set at an office Christmas party on Christmas Eve with Christmas carols all up and thru both the movie’s score and soundtrack, Die Hard is the story of NYPD officer John McClane, who is separated and living apart from his wife and children. He flies to LA to see them for the first time in 6-months for Christmas. A limo with a first-time driver named Argyle picks him up at the airport and brings him directly to his estranged wife’s office, where he learns she’s now working under her maiden name. They start to argue about this while he’s freshening up and changing clothes for the party. She gets called away and he’s left to finish getting washed and dressed alone.

During his flight, another passenger told him the best way to ground yourself and relax after a long flight is to remove your shoes and socks, and make fists with your feet in the floor. Sounds weird — but John tries it and it works!

Unfortunately, at that same moment, a group of terrorists take over the office building. John has to run and hide while still barefoot. He begins his one-man counterattack  to save his wife and her co-workers from the terrorists … with no shoes.

The terrorists are led by a badass dude named Hans Gruber.  And he’s absolutely brilliant. And while I know the movie is supposed to be about John’s quick-thinking and heroics, the real management lessons in the movie come from Hans.

  • Hans had a clear mission, vision, objectives and a plan with contingencies. He is there to get into the vault and take $680 in bearer bonds. Everything he does and doesn’t do  is to accomplish this goal.
  • Hans always kept his word. When he told people that he was going to shoot them, he did it. With no hesitation or apology. He left no room for anyone to question his intentions or directives.
  • Hans remained calm and focused. When the first member of the terrorist team was found dead at the hands of John McClane, the others panicked and asked Hans “what are we going to do??” His response? “We are going to tell his brother.” And then he went back to checking on the status of the cracking the vault codes. He was cool-headed and decisive at almost every turn.
  • Hans delegated assignments to those best equipped for the task — and held his team accountable. He had guys designated to monitor certain areas of the building. He had a guy responsible for getting into the vault. He had a guy responsible for explosives. He gave them clear instruction and allowed them to do their job without interference while he focused on the high level tasks.
  • He seized every curveball as an opportunity to further his mission. When the police showed up, he used their protocol to get the power grid turned off for the building, allowing his team to bypass  certain security codes for the vault. When he accidentally ran into John, he pretended to be a hostage to gain his trust and overtake him. When he figured out John McClane’s wife was among the hostages, he used her to lure him out in an effort to secure his getaway.

John McClane, on the other hand, showed himself to be impulsive, unsophisticated and lacking awareness. He was a bit of a jerk. He took some huge unnecessary risks while helping overcome the terrorists. And he was an obvious sexual harasser with some seriously archaic views on women … Sure, he ultimately saved the day and went onto have several successful sequel Die Hard movies — but he’s really not the guy whose leadership example you want to try to emulate.

Minus the thieving, murdering and terrorizing, Hans Gruber was an excellent leader. His ultimate undoing came when he allowed himself to lose control and make sparring with John McClane personal. If he’d stayed focused on his mission, he may have gotten away in the end. We’ll never know because **spoiler alert** he gets shot by John and dies in the most epic fashion ever: falling in slow motion from a window in the Nakatomi Towers building.


RIP Hans Gruber (and the amazing actor, Alan Rickman, who portrayed him, who passed away earlier this year)

One final notable lesson from Die Hard: McClane’s friendship with Officer Powell.  Officer Powell was getting off work, heading home for Christmas with his family, when he got radio called about the disturbance at the Nakatomi building.  He quickly finds himself in a whirlwind of action he did not plan for. However, he feels compassion for John, even though he doesn’t know him, and he stays on the scene just to help him. He troubleshooted problems with John. He kept John calm and encouraged him. When John finally made it out the building, the two exchanged the most sweetest bromance glance and hug in the history of ever!!! And when one of the terrorists broke free and tried to kill John, it was Officer Powell that saved him .


We all need a Work BFF like Officer Powell.  Someone who keeps us calm and talks through problems to find solutions with us. Someone who has our back and advocates for us … If you don’t have someone like Officer Powell in your world of work, get one.

Officer Powell and Hans. Yippee ki yay.

8 Things You’ve Never Noticed in Frosty the Snowman

Frosty the Snowman.

We all know the song and have probably seen the 50 year old classic TV special.

In case you don’t know or remember, some kids build a snowman and put a magicians’ hat on its head. The snowman comes to life. It plays and sings songs with the kids. When it starts to melt, they all realize that it’s too warm in the town for it and they need to get it to the North Pole where it can live forever — so they take off on an adventure.

The magician, realizing his hat is magical and could be worth money, follows them. He locks Frosty in a greenhouse full of tropical plants, where Frosty melts. But Santa shows up, threatens the magician with a lifetime sentence on the naughty list and gets the hat back. A strong wind blows and Frosty is back!

Santa takes the kid who was traveling with Frosty home and rides off with Frosty to live with him, the Mrs, the elves and reindeer in Christmas village. Happily ever after.

I noticed a lot of interesting things watching Frosty in preparation for this post:

  • None of the kids are wearing appropriate winter gear, except Karen. Who let them out the house like that?? Where are their parents?? What is the school doing??

  • Frosty is addressed with male pronouns but has no genitalia so how does anyone know what Frosty’s gender identity even is?? Address Frosty as either it (since Frosty is technically inanimate and genderless) or as they to acknowledge Frosty’s neutral gender identity until Frosty makes a decision. Frosty is a snowperson.
  • When it comes to life, Frosty is shocked to learn it can speak and move. Its first move? A twerk. Yes, Frosty dropped it like it was hotttt — and looked back at it!!

  • As Frosty is walking thru the town with the children, it gets stopped by the police. The officer really gets up in its face and talks like he’s going to arrest Frosty, until Karen shows up and explains what’s going on … Combined with the twerking, it kinda looks like Frosty was being profiled and was only allowed to continue on its because a real White person spoke up. Stay woke

  • The train ticket to the North Pole cost over $3000 — and this was nearly 50 years ago!! Can you imagine what a ticket would cost now??? I was tempted to google this — but I didn’t … Tell me if you do cuz I still lowkey wanna know.
  • When the kids couldn’t afford the ticket, they decided to stowaway on an ice cream car on the train. They legit thought they could get to the North Pole and back by dinner time … I repeat: Where are their parents?? And what are they learning at school?? Nothing about appropriate dress for winter, geography or stealing, obvs.
  • Frosty was a simple, sensitive soul. It really looked out for Karen on their trip. When she was cold, it got Hocus the rabbit to get the woodland creatures to build a fire for her. It went in the greenhouse so Karen wouldn’t feel scared in there alone. And it knew only Santa could get them both out the mess they were in.
  • Santa is gangsta! When he found out the magician had deliberately hurt Frosty and Karen, he quickly got him alllllllll the way together in epic fashion. He let that magician know that meanness wouldn’t be tolerated in his presence or with his presents. Santa is the realist. He plays no games in this naughty/nice list life.

I know you all were hoping for profound, practical management lessons. I was, too. But I just didn’t find them.

I found fun instead.

So that’s the lesson. Not everything is all that deep. Sometimes things are just there for fun, foolish entertainment.

It’s rare but it’s real.

And the truth is, we need that … The fun and lightness of Frosty’s story is just as important to our existence as anything with a clear, inspirational message. Because we need balance in our lives.

It took a twerking Snowman to remind me of that.

What will it take for you?

3 Management Lessons from A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is far and away my all-time favorite Christmas classic.

The show opens with Charlie Brown not feeling any holiday cheer. He thinks Christmas has become too commercialized and focused on all the wrong things. He speaks with his friend/psychiatrist, Lucy, about it and she suggests he take over directing the local Christmas pageant to lift his spirits and give meaning back to the holiday.

Charlie arrives the rehearsal space to find the cast not doing anything that looked like rehearsing. They were dancing and didn’t have their costumes or scripts. Charlie stopped their shenanigans to bring order and process to the session. He began sharing with them his vision for the production. He let them know what his off-stage hand signals would mean. He let them know how honored he was to lead them. It was a lovely introductory speech!

No one listened. They just whispered among themselves — then Schroeder started playing the piano and they all went back to dancing, just as they’d been doing before Charlie arrived.

Charlie got frustrated and yelled at them to stop. He asks Lucy to pass out the scripts and costumes for each of the roles. Once everyone has their items, Charlie is ready to start rehearsing — but the cast declares it’s time to break for lunch.

Charlie goes AWFFFF on the cast and crew for their lack of dedication. They argue back with him, saying he doesn’t know what he’s doing and it’s all his fault the production is a mess and so much time was wasted. Somehow, they convince him to go buy a Christmas tree to make amends with them.

So Charlie heads off with Linus to the Christmas tree lot, where they pick out the tiniest, most pathetic looking tree in the whole lot. The cast and crew berate him again when he returns with the tree. They call him stupid and hopeless and say he can’t ever do anything right.

Completely dejected, Charlie takes his pathetic little tree and leaves. He makes his way home, where he decides to try to decorate the tree using ornaments and lights from his dog, Snoopy’s, house.

He puts one ornament on the tree … and it tips over.

Charlie’s demoralized. He’s done with people and Christmas. He leaves the tipped over tree in the yard and goes to his house to sulk alone.

Strangely, the cast and crew shows up in Charlie’s back yard a few moments later. They had followed him home.  They see the tree tipped over and decide it isn’t such a terrible tree after all. Together, the cast decorates the tree — and it turns out beautiful! They burst into a chorus of Hark the Herald Angels Sing around the tree.

Charlie comes back outside and sees the tree and the cast singing around it. He smiles and joins the chorus. All is merry and bright. The end.

Charlie is a great example of the struggles new leaders face when taking on an existing team.

  • Existing teams want to do what they’ve always done. That’s why Charlie’s friends were dancing when he arrived at rehearsal and kept dancing despite his instructions.
  • Existing teams don’t like change. That’s why Charlie’s friends argued with him about his casting and costume choices during rehearsal. That’s why they initially rejected the tree Charlie bought for them. They wanted everything to be and look like they were used to.
  • Existing teams will try to change — then blame the new leader when it doesn’t work immediately. That’s why Charlie’s friends doubted him and called him terrible names.

So what’s a new leader to do when their existing team treats them this way?

Do what Charlie did!

  1. Charlie anticipated resistance. He came armed to rehearsal with a clipboard full of notes and observations to share with the cast and crew. He was ready to overcome their objections to his ideas and changes with facts and flattery.
  2. Charlie kept pushing his positive agenda.  He started by reminding them of the mission of the group and the importance of the work they were doing. He focused on the positive and didn’t get caught up in everyone else’s egos and ulterior motives. When necessary, he took a break to regroup and remind himself of what really mattered. He stayed on message for the duration.
  3. Charlie forgave and joined the chorus. He got angry and let the group have it! He briefly walked away. But when the group finally embraced his message and mission, he came back to them with the same positive spirit. He didn’t hold a grudge. He forgave them and joined the chorus. He celebrated their progress together, like none of the bad stuff happened.

It isn’t easy taking over as a new leader of an existing group. Not everyone is going to be happy for your arrival or want to see you succeed or immediately buy into your vision of the way forward.

Don’t give up. Eventually, the group will follow you and together you’ll build something beautiful.



One additional notable from A Charlie Brown Christmas: Charlie’s mental health. 

As the show starts, he’s admittedly depressed and seems to be crying out for help to his family and friends. They generally miss those signs. 

The holiday season and winter months are really tough on people for a variety of reasons. Please remember to look for signs of distress and regularly check on your loved ones. Your words and presence could be the thing that help them make it one more day and/or get the help they need to overcome. 

Click HERE to learn more about seasonal depression and resources for help. 

I’m Bringing Decking Back – The Return of the Christmas Classics Series

I love Christmas movies.

The joy of the simple, feel-good stories and the sweet nostalgia of watching the same shows and movies year after year just can’t be beat.

For the few years on this blog, I dedicated several posts in December to Christmas classic movies.  Each posts was full of fun, practical inspiration from me and an amazing line-up of guest contributors.

So I decided to revive my Holiday Classics Series with 3 fresh, new posts this year. The fun will start on December 19th.

Until then, relive the magic of yesteryear by reading these throwbacks:

Deck the halls, yo! It’s the most wonderful time of the year


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