Miracle On WWW Street

miracle on 34th street
A few nights ago my wife and I were playing cards with friends while watching the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street. (We’re talking the original 1947 version with Maureen O’Hara, not the mid-nineties remake.)

While the movie isn’t the most spell-binding flick ever made, it brings up an interesting component that’s been lacking in modern shopping: no-strings-attached referrals.

For those of us needing a refresher, a theme throughout the movie is that the original Santa Claus works at Macy’s, and when children ask for a certain toy that Macy’s doesn’t have, Santa tells their parents which Macy’s competitor has it in stock. This sends shockwaves throughout the nation, with major competing brands giving each other free business, in the name of Christmas spirit.

Hokey, right?

Not really, actually. You see, this is actually a fantastic business practice that not enough businesses use. If you can be seen as a resource, you’ll be seen as an authority. And you’ll become the endpoint for people’s purchasing decisions because they can trust you. You might lose some sales, but you’ll build a much more supportive customer base.

Because, you know, they trust you.

Becoming a resource means that you’ll always win. Think about the possible outcomes: At best your competitors will soften, and might even return the favor. At worst, they’ll wonder why you’re sending people to them, and be glad for the unexpected business.

But you didn’t start your business for your competitors did you? You started it for your customers.

It seems the hot thing right now is to push “authentic”, “heart-filled” business practices. You know those all-too-common catchphrases like “it’s not really about money”. Well, it is. If it wasn’t about money, then we’d just give everything away for free. At the end of the day, businesses exist to put food on the table.

I think originally those buzzwords were created to push businesses into putting the customer first, not the company’s bottom line. This is what makes the good ‘ol fashioned referral so awesome. You have potential to make more money, sending people away.

Customers haver excellent memories, especially of the really good (and bad) experiences. And they talk about them.

Think what the Web would be like if we focused more on helping customers find exactly what they want, not what we wanted them to want? Something to think about this holiday season.


I’d like to share some love this holiday season and give you a list of some fantastic resources that have helped me this past year, without an affiliate code tacked on. (Note: I have nothing against affiliates or being an affiliate. I enjoy taking commissions from referring people on posts throughout the site, and especially on this page.)

These are what I thought were some of the best work I’ve seen this year, and my judgement shouldn’t be swayed with affiliate commissions. Enjoy!

Fire Starter Sessions

Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions literally made me rethink everything I’ve done in the past year. It helped me retool what I wanted out of my work, and how it fit with my personality and goals. Aside from being smart ‘n sassy, she’s insanely knowledgable. She knows her stuff, and the FSS price tag is worth every penny.

The Empire Builder Kit

Chris Guillebeau’s Empire Builder Kit is exactly what it looks like. What I love about Chris’ products is that he doesn’t rely on flashy copy to sell. He matter-of-factly tells you what it is and how it will help you. End of story.

The Empire Builder Kit teaches you how to build or improve your business, one day at a time. You’ll get 365 daily emails to help you do one little thing per day that will help you grow your business, videos, case studies and other tools. Perfectly sound advice for someone who’s a little gun-shy on starting a small business.

focus: a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction

Leo Babauta’s focus manifesto is also exactly what it looks like: a kit for helping you overcome distraction. The free PDF is wonderful, and the premium version includes interviews and videos with people much smarter than me.

Making Ideas Happen

Scott Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen was the type of book that you read and re-read, marking the pages up and taking notes. Scott is pragmatic in his approach to getting the most out of creative people and teams, and his book is almost scientific.

The process of being creative is one that Scott has been researching for a while now, and his book is stellar for anyone trying to make the most out of their creative gifts.

On Writing Well

If you’re a blogger or writer, On Writing Well should be in your toolbox. You can’t count how many times it’s been reprinted since 1976, and it’s still one of the most popular books on writing. I try to read it every year.

Making it All Work

David Allen’s first book Getting Things Done was, well… one of the main inspirations to this blog. (See: the GTD cheat sheet.) However, I found his second book Making it All Work even better. Less about the fine details of idea capture and more about pieces life and work together.

Happiness Project

Gretchen Rubin takes a surprising and pragmatic approach to improving her happiness. The result: a wonderful book, the top of the New York Times bestseller list and an impending TV show. Snag it.

Delivering Happiness

I love quirky people. Tony Hsieh is definitely quirky, and crazy smart when it comes to business. The CEO of Zappos tells his story of founding the company, and the best part is that it doesn’t feel polished. Not in a bad way, mind you. It’s real, and you can tell Tony wrote the book without any outside help. In the words of that epic movie Wayne’s World: You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hurl.


If you celebrate Christmas, than Merry Christmas! Otherwise, Happy Holidays! I’m grateful for you all.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 18, 2011, 12:05 pm

    Great message here. This post was worth the read if only for the reference to Making It All Work. I’m such a GTD geek, I cannot believe I didn’t know about it. By now, I should have read it twice, written handful of blog posts on the finer points, and incorporated it into at least two of my convention speeches! Apparently I’m way behind! :)

  • Penelope J. December 21, 2010, 7:39 pm

    Hi Glen,
    I like the idea of being a resource; as a matter of fact, I LOVE the idea of being a resource. That is precisely my aim as like you, my blog is focused on sharing and helping people overcome similar obstacles to the ones I encounter.

    Also, thanks for the references. I need help in several areas and I’m definitely going to check out each of the ones you recommend.

    Wishing you the best for the holidays and the coming year.

    • glen December 23, 2010, 10:01 am


      And thank YOU for being such an awesome commenter on this blog :) I’m glad the resources were helpful.