It’s a Wonderful Life

Mark Frasco - President

“You sent for me, sir?” replies Clarence Odbody, AS2 (Angel Second Class).

“Yes, Clarence. A man down on earth needs our help,” the head angel explains.

Splendid! Is he sick?” Clarence eagerly questions.

The head angel clarifies, “No. Worse. He’s discouraged.”

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to gather with family to watch Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. George Bailey, James Stewart’s character, is the son of a small-town banker, who competes against the “richest and meanest man in the county,” Henry Potter.

George had big plans for his life which didn’t include staying in his home town, Bedford Falls.

I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I’m comin’ back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long…

As you might expect, things don’t go nearly as George had planned, causing him to consider what value his life held. And that’s where we started, with Clarence AS2 coming to his rescue. In a 200-year struggle to earn his wings, Clarence fulfills George’s wish to have never been born and takes him on a reflective journey, helping George see the world as if he were never in it.

Over my career, I’ve studied high-performing organizations — those that make a difference, not only in the markets they compete in, but to the larger business community or society. Let’s pretend for a moment that Clarence took you on that trip through the decisions you made, the business platform you built. My hope is that you would’ve been pleased to see that you had done the following and made a significant contribution to the lives of many:

  • Shared Beliefs – Focus on the core: You remained connected to the organization’s purpose, its vision and core values.
  • Leadership – Develop a transformational leadership style: You built emotional intelligence and maintained a commitment to personal and organizational learning and change.
  • People – Attract and retain the right people: You selected, involved, and retained the right people who are motivated to produce exceptional results.
  • Strategy – Promote planned action: You planned strategic change and focused on that which the organization could be the best, allocating resources to initiatives that were determined to be the most decisive.
  • Client – Build a process of client mastery: You defined your ideal client profile, gained unique knowledge about client preferences and requirements, and created a competitive advantage by customizing your services to them.
  • Performance – Develop a performance management system: You aligned your organization’s structure, processes and management system to enable breakthrough performance improvement.

By the end of his journey with Clarence, George learns that his life had great meaning; he had a loving wife and family, and deep friendships in his community. He begged Clarence to give him back his life. He learned that he had made a difference to so many. In fact, he was well on his way to having a significant impact on Bedford Falls, by offering a strong competitive alternative to Mr. Potter’s oppressive banking practices. George had by the most important measures, lived a charmed life… oh, and Clarence had finally earned his wings.
Final Scene: Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. Thank you for your friendship and support this past year.

Questions or comments? Please contact Mark Frasco at