A Business Christmas Carol?

A Business Christmas Carol?

The novella, and subsequent multitude of film adaptions of Charles Dickens’ classic represent a long time honored pastime for Western civilization during the months leading up to Christmas and the holiday itself. In case you’ve not turned on a television between December (or rather late November), A Christmas Carol is the story of a billionaire (according to Forbes 2005 list of richest fictional characters) and a miser during the industrial revolution in London, England. He is visited by three spirits: past, present, and future, each providing him with a glimpse of shadows past and those, which have yet to be. Following Scrooge seeing his lonely tombstone, he is transported back to his bedroom where he begins reforming himself and becoming a generous Englishman. Today, we see this as another movie classic we watch between Home Alone and Christmas Vacation. However, what was the underlying meaning, what can we gleam from this retelling of fictional events nearly two centuries later?

One could argue from the successful, billionaire standpoint, Scrooge exemplified the modern objectivist philosophy argued by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Objectivism is the philosophy whose ethics are based around the ideals of self-interest and the use of logic to identify and reason with the world. I will not speak more to this theory, but I have listed several sources below if you are interested in reading more. This theory has gained traction over the years, but has been argued by many as being trite and arrogant. Christopher Hitchens, an outspoken critic of nearly all mainstream thought, repeatedly stated his views towards the theory of objectivism itself, claiming “I don’t think there’s any need to have essays advocating selfishness among human beings.”

Inherently, this is a flawed philosophy, leaving little time for your family or personal hobbies when taken to the literal sense. We see how Scrooge, who exhibits many of these traits, finds himself lonelier with each passing year. With his greed knowing no bounds, he takes over his former partner, and only remaining friend’s (Marley) estate.  Scrooge’s business acumen allowed him to grow his fortune and a business empire, but was it his passion…rather was it really, what he had wanted to do? Ambition poignantly overtaking passion?

Dickens penned the novella during the Industrial Revolution within England, where the gap between rich and poor continued to grow and the Poor Laws, passed by Parliament required many of the beneficiaries to continue to work in horrid conditions. Dickens wrote the novella to shine light on how the industrial revolution displaced and disenfranchised many workers, moving from an agrarian lifestyle to the city, often times in the worst neighborhoods to work in factories and ‘treadmills’. If one were to look deeper still, Dickens childhood and father’s imprisonment for several months in 1824 influenced his novella and future work as well.

I really take heart to Alastair Sim’s version, as it shows Scrooge’s childhood, early career, and his ruthlessness in overtaking his mentor’s business. As his mentor, ‘Old Man Fezziwig’, who stands in stark contrast to Scrooge stated in Sim’s version, “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved.” In contrast, Scrooge’s attitude towards Christmas and his business. The themes of utilitarianism run throughout the movies and novellas, the greater good. We should get into business for the right reasons, not just money, but because we have something, we want to show the world, and change it for the better. In addition, when possible, help out those less fortunate grow with us as well.


Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/fictional/12.html

Sim’s “A Christmas Carol”: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044008/

Christopher Hitchens on Objectivism: http://flavorwire.com/400084/the-all-time-greatest-ayn-rand-takedowns/7

Objectivism: https://www.aynrand.org/ideas/philosophy, you can also read one of her novels “Atlas Shrugged” or “The Fountainhead” to further understand the theory of objectivism.  

Your Trusted Advisers (and Investors)

Your Trusted Advisers (and Investors)

As our “Startup DNA” blog series comes to a close, we would like to touch on a few important factors outside of company culture, employee motivation and the responsibility of the founder/s. In this installment we will discuss the role of the Board of Directors and why without them your company (especially a startup) could face a multitude of difficulties in its early stages.

Why The Board is Important

First off, it’s important to distinguish the differences between a Board of Directors and a Board of Advisers. The role of an advisor regards advising on a specific niche within your industry. This committee should be tailored to your specific industry and possess skill sets and expertise in areas applicable to your business. Think of this group as your crisis management team.

A Board of Directors is generally made up of key investors holding a stake in the success of your business. These individuals are most likely successful entrepreneurs and have high-level operating experience. Again, this group should be tailored to your business needs. You alone know how you respond to critique, so be sure to take this into account when selecting your Board as they will be thinking strategically about the long-term growth of your company.

How to Pick Your Board

First and foremost, you want to pick individuals who have an investment (either monetary or otherwise) in your company. The success of the company needs to be at the forefront of every decision you and your board make. As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to leave out family and friends from this role given that the emotional ties could cloud their judgment. Choose individuals who are experts in their given field and are not afraid to give you objective feedback. Further, your board needs to be comprised of people who believe in you and your vision as the founder of the company. Objective feedback is great, but butting heads at every meeting will only increase unwanted tension and delay progress.

Age in Consulting

Being an entrepreneur is a difficult task in a world full of well-established companies in nearly every industry. However, being a young entrepreneur is especially trying endeavor because of a perceived notion that “age is equivalent to experience.” We know that logically this simply is not true-and that some of the largest and most influential tech companies in the past decade have been founded by entrepreneurs under thirty. However established business norms have not changed over the past several decades. Establishing a board of directors will not only help legitimize you as a leader of your company, but also allow you to network with more established entrepreneurs, provide a foundation for your position as a founder. At Ascend Integrated, we pride ourselves in being lifelong learners, always trying new methods and learning from our network of mentors, colleagues and industry thought leaders. Ascend Integrated works closely with trusted advisers, consistently reaching out to both subject matter experts and a circle of trusted advisers for enterprise wide decisions and opportunities.


Starting a business at any age poses challenges, but a board of directors and advisers allows a business to grow and flourish. Your boards consist of investors and subject matter experts who believe in both you and your company. Establishing a strong board of directors and board of advisers will enable your business to grow.

Co-Authored: Mike Brown & Ben Dickshinski