(Time to read this Blog is about 2 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My Biz Quote of the week:
    “Details matter, but spending all your time on the ‘little things’ is often the refuge of those who are simply ill-equipped or unwilling to deal with the big things.”
    …Donald Cooper
  2. On what will you focus your time in 2022?  Here’s a quick insight that could make you a more effective manager in 2022.  First, make a list of 3 or 4 activities that currently take up a lot of your time that could be delegated to someone else in your organization.  What coaching and encouragement might they need to take on this new responsibly and deliver great outcomes?
    Next, make a list of 3 or 4 key activities that you will spend more time on.  Activities that will grow the business, strengthen your team and improve your bottom line.
    To help you with this important exercise, click here to download my Biz Tool #B-26 on ‘How to delegate, get more done and grow your people…without losing control.’
  1. The future of where work will be done. According to a recent survey, 68% of US companies are planning, as much as possible, to embrace a hybrid model in the post-pandemic world, combining ‘working partially from home and partially from the office’. 
  2. It’s extra important to give ‘local’ gifts this year: Local businesses are struggling.  We all know that.  You can help them by giving ‘local’ gifts or Gift Certificates this holiday season.  If you do, they can stay in business to serve you in the future.

Now, to this week’s important topic:

The Christmas Tree Man:

Note:  When I first wrote this article a few years ago, we had such a wonderful response that it has become a December Blog tradition. Enjoy it for the first time…or enjoy it again. It’s a wonderful and important message for this, or any, time of year.

I often caution clients about the danger of ‘judging’ customers by how they’re dressed, or by who they appear to be.  Back in my days as an ‘almost famous’ retailer of ladies fashions and gifts, I learned this powerful and moving lesson from ’The Christmas Tree Man’.

Our staff came to me one December day to express concern about an unshaven, disheveled and generally unwashed gentleman who kept coming into our store.  As he shuffled through our ladies clothing and gift departments, he would glance out the window every few minutes and then, sometimes, he would rush out the door and disappear…empty-handed.  This process was repeated several times each day; sometimes resulting in a purchase and sometimes in yet another mysterious disappearance.

When he did buy, he always paid cash from a huge roll of bills with an old, knotted elastic band wound twice around it. But mostly he would look out the window, then rush out the door and disappear.

This strange behavior was spooking our staff and when they started making some  unflattering assumptions about this unusual gentleman, I assured them that there was probably a logical explanation and I promised to chat with him on his next visit.

Sure enough, a few hours later, he reappeared. I approached him, explaining that our staff were quite intrigued by his mysterious comings and goings.  “Oh”, he said, “I’m the Christmas tree man. That’s my Christmas tree lot just down the road with the little house trailer.  I grow the trees on my farm up north, you know, and then I come down here for three weeks each year to sell them to you city folks.”

“I work all alone so I have no time off to buy gifts and I don’t get back home until well after midnight on Christmas Eve.  So, whenever I have a few minutes, I rush up here to shop. I really love your store.  You have wonderful things, and every day I choose a few gifts for the ladies on my list.”

“But you keep looking out the window.” I said. “Oh,” he replied, “I’m just checking to see if anyone has pulled into my lot to buy a tree.  And if they have, I have to rush back before they leave, or I won’t get the business. You can’t take those trees back to the forest and replant them, you know. Once they’re cut, they’re cut.”

“By the way” he added, “I know I don’t look like your usual customer.  In fact, I probably look a bit scary to some folks and I guess I don’t smell too good either. I don’t have much more than a bed and a stove in my little trailer. No place to wash up. There’s not a lot of money in real Christmas trees anymore, you know. It’s kind of sad, really. But your staff, they’re so wonderful. They treat me with respect and I really appreciate that!”

The Christmas tree man spent almost $3,000 in our store over a three-week period.  He came and he went, he came and he went, day after day, always looking out the window, sometimes rushing to serve a customer. And at the end, on Christmas Eve, before he left for home, he stopped by one more time and gave each of us a real Christmas tree!  But the real gift that he gave us was the reminder that we should treat everyone with dignity, understanding and joy.  That was his most beautiful and lasting gift.


That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

2 Responses to The Christmas Tree Man:
  1. Comment *What a great story Don, Thanks for sharing. I will share it with a few of my staff. Blair.

  2. Comment *so very true. When I had my retail stores I told my staff the same thing. Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. , that applied to children as well. I would fire anyone who did not.
    You just never know their circumstances or who they may be buying for.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Simple Share ButtonsIt's only fair to share
Simple Share Buttons

Subscribe Today

Great management tips right to your inbox!

Spam free & Secure :)