We love this time of the year. For us it isn’t about a lot of gifts, but rather enjoying one another and about lending a helping hand where we can. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever, we wish one and all the very best.

We have high hopes that 2012 is a great year. We spoke to a colleague yesterday who said that 2012 is the year of the collaboration. Isn’t that a great thought? Oh, what we can accomplish if we put our minds together.

Anyway, we have a little gift to share with you. It is a short story that was inspired by those who put profit ahead of everything else. We hope that you enjoy it. If you do, please leave us a note. If you don’t…sorry!

To download the story, click the link:

Merry (Corporate) Christmas

One of the biggest complaints that we hear from business leaders is that they feel like they have to buy loyalty from their employees. Albert Pujols’ decision today to leave the St. Louis Cardinals in favor of the LA Angels made us wonder about the price tag on loyalty.

Just to be up front with you, we are Cardinal fans even though we are transplanted Californians. When we went to see the Eagles perform at Busch Stadium, they referred to it as “The house that Albert built.” You could tell from the cheers and applause how much pride there was in the audience. We wonder how those people feel now.

Albert Pujols has had a great run in St. Louis. How many players can say that they have been to the World Series three times and won twice. Once upon a time, Al said it was all about the rings. He wanted to be a part of a winning team. Yes, Albert has been a crucial component of the team’s success, but it took the talents of the entire team, staff and even the fans, to realize those amazing achievements over the past few years.

Today, however, Albert decided that the money was more important than being a part of an incredible team. It makes us sad. Not because we are huge sports fans, but because money won out over loyalty to the team and the fans that helped to create the legend.

We heard one person remark that he could easily have made up the difference in salary with endorsements, and that his charity would have, perhaps, done even better if he had chosen to stay here. We’ll never know.

So, what value do we as a culture place on loyalty? On being a part of something that is bigger than ourselves?

The argument is, perhaps, that Albert does a great deal of good with the money he earns. The more he earns, the more good he can do. Yet, we have to wonder, what message does this send to people of all ages?

Perhaps we are all wrong. Maybe $40 million over 10 years is reason enough to leave. Perhaps we are crazy to think that he owes any loyalty to anyone. Maybe he really did it all on his own and should sell his loyalty to the highest bidder. Maybe, but we don’t think so.

We don’t pretend to have all the answers. We don’t even have all the questions. What are your thoughts?

It’s the end of the world as we know it… Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? If you are like me, it keeps replaying over and over all day. The only problem is that you only know one or two lines from the entire song. Like me, you may find yourself singing said one or two lines at work, or in line at the grocery store or at church (not always a good thing!).

Today’s featured song playing on KRAL (that’s short for radio Rebecca) is “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”, the 1987 song by R.E.M. I gotta tell you, I really don’t know any of lyics other than that one line. Consequently, it is those same 10 words replaying in my mind (and out loud if I’m not careful).

The reason that this song has taken up temporary residence in my brain is simple: The news is filled with stories about the end of things that many of us thought were permanent fixtures. Let me elaborate.

Earlier this month the U.S. Postmaster General announced that it was likely that Saturday mail delivery would soon halt. This may become necessary because the USPS can’t pay its bills. Unlike other government agencies, the postal service is self-supporting. With the increase in email, other delivery services combined with the recession, the post office has been hit hard. Personally, I really don’t care if Saturday mail service stops (apologies to postal workers who will be impacted), but it is a sign of changing times. I mean, would you have ever imagined that this would happen? Afterall, Saturday delivery service between cities began in 1639. When something has been around that long it’s like air…you just expect it to always be there when you need/want it.

The next thing that is influencing my vocal selection today is the end of the manned space program. This is another American fixture that is now history. The ‘space coast’ of Florida is feeling the economic impact as thousands lose their jobs. Personally, I am already feeling nostalgic for “Houston we have a problem.” Will future generations even understand what that means? It is hard to imagine that after 30 some years, there will no longer be a Mission Control. What do we lose as a nation in the way of innovation, of curiosity to understand what is ‘out there’? I feel that we just took a giant step backwards from our collective hopes of intergalactic travel aboard the Enterprise. Let’s face it, unmanned space exploration really doesn’t create any of those “Where were you when…?” kind of moments.

The final inspiration for my musical selection is the announced closing of Borders. Did you see “You’ve Got Mail”? If not, this is the time to do so because it has particular irony right now. In the movie, Meg Ryan’s character is being forced to face the closure of her quaint neighborhood book store for children that her mother had established years earlier. Times were changing, and the behemoth Fox Books (aka Borders) was moving into the neighborhood. Customers left the Shop Around the Corner for the glitz and low prices at Fox’s even though they loved the customer service and charm of the smaller store. That was the reality in 1998 when the movie was released. Fast forward a decade or so and the monster that came in and devoured small books stores is now gone the way of the dinosaur (except no one will remember them a few million years from now, and kids won’t want to play with Borders-shaped toys). Could we have imagined five years ago that technology would have changed so much that it would threaten such an established industry? I didn’t. I really didn’t buy that much from Borders, yet I must admit that there was a bit of a tug at my heartstrings when I opened my Rewards email this morning to find a farewell note signed by Mike Edwards, the company’s CEO.

Change is interesting. Sometimes it breathes hope and imagination into the world. Sometimes it creates a longing for things to stay the same. The last century has brought the human race more change than the rest of history combined, and there is no sign that things are slowing down. So, we better get used to it.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”