By: Dan Kennedy on: December 16th, 2015 5 Comments

Santa Claus is, remarkably, a public domain character. Never has so valuable a piece of intellectual property or celebrity been royalty-free.

Most of the time, most people see things, but most never see them as opportunity. Opportunistic Thinking is not a part of most peoples’ mindset. Starbucks may exist because Howard took his Opportunistic Thinking with him on vacation to Europe. Most people just come home with postcards.

Most marketers see Santa Claus every 9 months, for about 3 out of 12 months every year, but they do not see him as opportunists see him. They do not think of him as that rare gift of a free-use, universally famous celebrity. They do not think of him as a great salesman to be put to work. They do not see him as a surrogate, who can step in and manipulate with guilt, with nostalgia, with other emotions…..

”Dear Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Santa Claus won’t skip your home. Your children will have a wonderful Christmas morning with a sack full of gifts from Santa to open, while you video it all with your shiny new I-phone. But less than 30 miles from you, poor children will wonder why Santa ignored them even though they were good all year. They’ll put on brave faces in the living room but cry upstairs in their bedrooms. They’ll even go hungry or maybe have bologna sandwiches for Christmas dinner. Think about them as you buy your presents. There but for the grace of God go your children….”.  

The greatest Santa-for-selling story I’ve ever heard told was by Glenn W. Turner, a tear-jerker and a rallying cry in one, and it worked year ‘round. It is in the favorite-stories section of my autobiography, Unfinished Business, published by Advantage, available at amazon.

Sure, every marketer and merchant makes some use of Santa. It’s automatic. Routine. And that’s their problem. They take the jolly fat man – and his cast of characters: Mrs. Claus, the elves, Rudolph – for granted. They don’t get excited about having him at their disposal. Few see him the way a really great marketer does.

Disney, by the way, owns more characters than you can name in a month, but they put Santa to work big-time for these few months. He is the star of their televised Christmas A.M. parade show, an infomercial never called that.

How You See & Think About Santa

May Well Reveal Something About

How You See & Think About Everything

Nap’s title THINK AND GROW RICH was great for bookselling, but it gives many a false idea – that you can “think” and by your thinking alone, manifest riches. He was into metaphysics and even mysticism, but he wasn’t in that far. A truer title would have “How To” in front, “To” in place of “And”, and, awkwardly, “And Act On That Thinking” on the back. He was absolutely on target with the importance and significance and power or impotence in the way a person thinks. There is a way to think to grow rich. But he sinned by omission.

The terms “mindset”, “attitude” and “vision” all have bad names and are widely misunderstood and discounted. Many people lugging around big egos, proudly insist they don’t need any of that “mindset stuff.” Many mix it up with “motivation”, and insist they are self-motivated, and only weak people need to be externally motivated. At the opposite side of the room, a lot of people have mystical, fantastical ideas about these terms and co-mingle them with “manifestation” – with just thinking makes it so. At its extreme, this is mental illness. A charitable interpretation of President Obama is that he is afflicted with this illness. All this gives “mindset” a bad name.

But I find, just as Hill found in the 1920’s, that “super achievers” and entrepreneurs who make themselves wealthy and independent do share certain ways of seeing things and thinking about things that are at odds with the way 99% of the people see things and think about things. Redford accused Newman, in that movie, of looking at the world through bifocals, while he saw it through binoculars. Further, the self-made and self-making millionaire and multi-millionaire entrepreneurs do have their own attitude. It has a sharp edge to it, a bite to it, a chip on its shoulder, a bit of the bully with the “get out of my way” snarl. It is opportunistic, often predatory, and aggressive. It is creative and futuristic. It is horribly simplistic to label this as “positive” versus “negative”, but then again, that is a big part of it. Back in the late 70’, I coined the term “positive abnormality” to differentiate from the good Dr. Peale and the taint already on the 1950 construct of positive thinking. It’s always surprising to cynics to discover that people they respect as tough-minded, hard-nosed business leaders not only read “attitude “ books, listen to CD’s, etc., to reinforce their attitudes, but also preach basically the same principles as a Peale, a Nightingale. Trump leaps to mind. Our friend Gene Simmons has a new book out, ME, INC., which, in harsher and edgier tone, is channeling Ralph Waldo Emerson on self-reliance and Peale on thinking.

 How many engineers, manufacturers, and other capable people do you suppose were walked by their dogs before one of them saw a grand opportunity and went to work replacing collar with harness? How many supply salesmen saw the McDonald brothers’ hamburger stand as a hamburger stand for them to sell napkins, paper cups, buns, cleaning supplies to, the same month that the milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc saw it as something entirely different? My friend, the late Joe Cossman, looked at existent products and saw them in different places, as million dollar opportunities – most famously, The Ant Farm, originally a teaching aid for biology classrooms. Joe saw a toy every young boy would want on his bedroom dresser.   I read the same novels that hundreds of thousands of people read. While they see only entertainment, I regularly spot stories, examples, characters that I can use as a copywriter to sell something for somebody. These things are not random accident. Only fools chalk it all up to that. Most of this happens because certain people see things through a very different visionary and opportunistic mindset, with a very different attitude, than most. This mindset is, more often than not, cultivated. It becomes a conditioned response to just about every stimulus.

Your conditioned response to stimuli – be it Santa Claus or a potential investment or expense or a breaking news story or anything – is your subconscious’ instantaneous action representing its understanding of your mindset and your world view.

I, for example, have zero interest in opening, owning or operating a brick ‘n mortar business ever again, and am more broadly trying not to start anything or take on any new responsibility at this point in my life, and I do my real estate investing by delegation and have zero interest in being a landlord. But when I drive by a commercial property with a for-sale sign, my subconscious mind instantly serves up the specific business its location would be perfect for, and starts spewing forth ideas, information, contacts.  

In my Archives Collection, you’ll find an old, successful sales letter that featured and was built around a USA TODY article about a giant sinkhole. I may be the only person of a million who saw that article and instantly thought: what a great story starter for a sales letter! I don’t work at that. It’s a conditioned response.

You Can Be An Opportunistic Predator, Too

Truth is, most people are stunningly un-curious. When you ask them what they know at [5:00] P.M. that they did not know at [5:00] A.M. about their business, about the field they are in, about important people in their field past or present, about an admirable competitor, etc., etc., they have no answers. This is, by the way, a ‘million dollar question.’   I do have people who act on my mere mentions of books to read, people they should know – take a look at the first letter in this month’s DAN GETZ MAIL & YOU GET LESSONS. But I talk with people who never know anything new or more or historical or deeper about their businesses. They are told of “superstars” but lack the curiosity to then go look them up, find them, study them. Personally, I hate being ignorant, and hate being seen as ignorant even more. Others don’t seem to mind.

One of the late Marty Edelston’s greatest millions-making characteristics was insatiable, aggressive curiosity. Same with Trump; I’ve witnessed it. The un-curious are dullards. Walt called them the “lawn mowers” of the world. In corporate environments, we call them “managers.” They keep trains running on time – but they envision no new routes, no new luxury services to sell the passengers, no breakthrough alliances with cruise lines, no turning of the regular scenic railroad into “The Polar Express” at Christmas or into the Haunted Railroad at Halloween. They have 20/20 sight yet zero vision. And they work for wages, and they have a place; lawns must be mowed. But their minds are not millionaire minds, their attitudes not millionaire attitudes, their curiosity not millionaire curiosity. The term “personal growth” means GROWTH. For most, there’s not much of that going on.

 So, when Santa shows up each year, most businesspeople haven’t really planned his welcome or his use to its fullest opportunity. He brings a sleigh full of gifts. They take one or two small boxes and leave the rest. This is the same way they see most other opportunities – in an ordinary, small-thinking way. Each time an opportunity drops by with a giant sack of ways to exploit it, they grumble about being too busy, they take a couple small things from the sack, they sit it in a corner and neglect it like some forlorn office plant nobody notices or remembers to water. Sometimes, I find the tiny bite someone takes out of a big opportunity demoralizing.

 I won’t wish that Santa is good to you this year, as some people are wont to do. I happen to have a close relationship with him, and know that he’s good to you every year. Up to you to accept and unwrap the gifts, though.

Gift your business this holiday season and click here now to reserve your spot for SuperConference 2019, held March 21-23 in Dallas, Texas. Tickets are now on sale and are selling at their lowest price from now until January 14.


Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to

5 Responses

  1. David Hunter says:

    Public domain my butt! I wonder how I can turn this around and own the rights to Santa Claus… Hmm… hehehe

  2. Justin says:

    Very insightful, eye-opening, mind-stimulating, Dan. Thank You.

  3. Hal Hoadley says:

    The first highlighted text in this letter should get everyone who reads this post very excited:

    “Most of the time, most people see things, but most never see them as opportunity”.

    This post gives many opportunities to boost your sales, find better business practices and
    kick your implementation and attitude in the pants. It has for me, again.

    Sadly, most people reading this have too much on their mind other than seeing opportunity
    in their business.

    Happy Holidays Everyone!

  4. […] How to exploit Santa Claus. Mark Ford calls it your money mindset; Dan Kennedy calls it your opportunistic mindset. Both force you to put on your green-colored lenses and see the money-making opportunities the world has to offer. In festive spirit, Dan Kennedy’s latest blog post shows you how to exploit Santa Claus with this mindset. Kennedy: “Most marketers see Santa Claus every 9 months, for about 3 out of 12 months every year, but they do not see him as opportunists see him. They do not think of him as that rare gift of a free-use, universally famous celebrity. They do not think of him as a great salesman to be put to work. They do not see him as a surrogate, who can step in and manipulate with guilt, with nostalgia, with other emotions…” Read more. […]

  5. Alex Mugume says:

    Thanks a million Mr. Dan Kennedy :) I love the way you simplify every detail to enlighten the reader to see the opportunities present! You are a master; very empowering! I love you :)

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