A great tradition with very modern challenges – [FULL INTERVIEW]

In this insightful interview, Nick Christmas from North Pole Enterprises discusses the evolving challenges and trends in the world of Christmas magic.

The conversation covers how they are trying to adapt to modern demands, technological advancements, environmental concerns, and the future of celebrations.

Find out more about North Pole Enterprises -> Here.

Key Points

  1. Santa’s Identity: Santa is flexible with how he is addressed, be it Santa Claus, St. Nick, or other nicknames.
  2. Increased Demand: There’s a rising trend of immediate gratification in gift expectations.
  3. Changing Gift Preferences: Shift towards artisanal, organic, and sustainably sourced gifts.
  4. Technological Adaptations: Santa is keeping up with tech trends, including VR headsets and gaming consoles like PS5.
  5. Santa’s Use of AI: Attempted development of “naughty GPT” for analyzing online behavior, highlighting data privacy challenges.
  6. Psychology of Gift Giving: The complexity in discerning what people truly want versus what they ask for.
  7. Operational Challenges: Managing the seasonal nature of the business and elf workforce inefficiencies.
  8. Sustainable Practices: Emphasis on eco-friendly operations, including reindeer diets and sleigh power.
  9. Remote Work and Pandemic Impact: Elves’ immunity to human viruses and challenges in implementing social distancing.
  10. ESG Considerations: Environmental impact and Santa’s efforts towards sustainability.
  11. Future Predictions: Increasing complexity in children’s wishes and potential shift to drone deliveries.
  12. Santa’s Wish for the World: A desire for more kindness, understanding, and less division.

Key Statistics

  • Santa’s workforce includes himself, Mrs. Claus, and approximately 1,200-1,400 elves.
  • The shift to eco-friendly operations: Reindeers’ low-methane diet and zero-emission sleigh.
  • Santa’s operational challenge: All elves trying to book off Christmas.
  • The impact of the pandemic: No remote work for Santa and his elves due to their unique immunity.
  • Future technology adoption: Possible transition from reindeer to drones for delivery.

Key Takeaways

  • Flexibility in Tradition: Santa’s willingness to adapt his identity reflects a blend of tradition and modernity.
  • Instant Gratification Culture: There’s a notable shift in consumer expectations towards immediate delivery.
  • Sustainable Gifting: Increasing consumer demand for environmentally friendly and ethical products.
  • Technology’s Growing Role: Tech trends significantly influence Santa’s operations and gift selections.
  • Privacy and Ethical Considerations: Challenges in implementing AI tools like “naughty GPT” due to privacy concerns.
  • Understanding True Desires: The complexity in gift-giving lies in discerning the actual needs versus expressed desires.
  • Seasonal Business Challenges: Managing a seasonal workforce and production demands is a significant operational hurdle.
  • Environmental Responsibility: Santa’s efforts in adopting sustainable practices highlight environmental consciousness.
  • Resilience in Pandemics: Santa’s operation’s unique resistance to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: The importance of ESG considerations even in mythical operations.
  • Predicting Future Trends: Anticipation of more complex and technologically advanced gift requests.
  • Message of Kindness: Santa’s desire for a world with more kindness, understanding, and less division resonates universally.
Interview Transcript

0:02
Hi, everyone, I’m here with a very special guest today, Santa Claus from the North Pole enterprises Centre. Thanks very much for joining me today.

0:08
Oh, nice to know. Thank you.

0:11
So quick question. I had it so is it Santa Claus? Or is it Nick Christmas Father Christmas? How’d you like to be called?

0:18
People call me all sorts. So yeah, so like, look, let’s dispense with the formalities. You don’t need to call me St. Nick’s FIDE Santa Claus. That fat fellow that jumpstart my chimney on Christmas, anything you like prints? Anything you like.

0:33
So it’s a necklace to start there. So obviously, it’s a really busy time of year for for northpole enterprises at the moment if you’ve got the run up to the festive season and imagined like volumes are up what what kind of themes are you seeing in the factory and really amongst your clients? I suppose. Yeah,

0:48
everybody wants everything. Now Chris, don’t the everything’s like instead, back in the day, you could get away with stuff. But now everything’s like instantaneous. So every child thinks the next day deliveries like a thing. And you can get you know, I’ve got a sleigh, I’ve not got a teleporter. Then, obviously in terms of the quality, the gifts and the toys and stuff. Everybody wants artisanal, organic, sustainably sourced stuff, alone for the days to tell you the truth, when I could just go out, chop a tree down and make a trade without having to replace it. Then obviously, everything’s Hey, I powered now. There’s teenagers that want gifts that just can’t be found in the physical realm. So virtual reality experiences, VR headsets and last year, even me I had a real problem trying to find a PS five makes you long for the days when you just got socks and board games. It really

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1:44
Yeah. How do you keep up to date with the latest technology trends is there like a conferences you go to what’s what’s sort of you put money into research and you just mentioned like, a whole sort of wave of consumer electronics that that have come through, that was your main avenue to stay up to date.

2:01
It’s very difficult to stay up to date when you’ve got a workshop for the valves to tell you. I’ve tried to look on blogs. I am on Twitter, our ex as it’s called now, but I keep my I keep my profile hidden because I don’t want a load of people to contact me. And then yeah, just overall just having to look at things like a chat GPT and things like that I actually developed my own application, it was called naughty GPT. It was it was to analyse all of the conversations that were going on online. And, and yeah, give me a ranking of the naughty and nice list. But unfortunately, didn’t pass GDPR requirements. Therefore, I’ve had to sell the domain name to an only funds rival.

2:46
Seems like there’s a unfortunate for your investment there, I suppose. How do you really understand it between what people asked for and what they think they want versus what they actually want? Because we all know that sometimes we ask for presents. And we don’t necessarily want the versus what we actually really desire. There’s a little bit of psychology that kind of goes on them? And are you able to see that with your new sort of AI or analysis to understand what people actually really want versus what they what they say they want.

3:08
I think nowadays, people want to be right mind reader, it was very, it was much simpler back in the day by getting gifts, every child was just happy to just get something at Christmas, I think nowadays with just everybody because it just more the commercialization of everything. Everybody expects the world. But yeah, it has become a lot harder. And even just looking at stuff online. And what people say they want from people actually what is completely different isn’t to try and to understand the psychologies and stuff like that. Yeah, it’s always a challenge. And not least because I’m so busy, like just running around from here, there and everywhere. Like I know, last Christmas, one of my reindeer has got an inner ear infection. And I was supposed to go to Barbados, it ended up being blocked all with all of that and trying to understand the ever changing demands. Yeah, it’s just an absolute nightmare. And you

4:03
talk about volume there and being busy at it seem like it’s a very sort of seasonal kind of business very busy over over the end of the year. How do you manage from a capacity point of view? Are you producing sort of volume throughout the whole of the year and then spike towards the end of the year? Or do you have even have things like furlough schemes for for the elves?

4:18
If you ever tried working with elves? Chris? And no, I haven’t No. The particularly good at some things, what the particularly been two other things. One is organising the time. So what we try and do is over the course of the year we try it and build toys and things like that just satisfied the demand obviously as we get into pain. The issue is that using the kind of traditional methods that we’ve got around workforce planning and things, typically it like every single alpha that I’ve got on my workshop right now tries to book off Christmas. I don’t even know what they’re doing. You know that we’re working, but they’re not particular. logicals Yeah, we’re starting to use like some old some more kind of futuristic kind of methods now, and we’re using AI I optimise optimise demand throughout the year and trying to ease it off because elves are very, very energetic but they do get tired. And we have been using kind of the AI to look at how we optimise slave routes over the course of their Christmas Day. Although I still find it very creepy that you could go online and you can watch me. Watch me flying all over the world. It’s a bit stalkerish, isn’t it? Yeah, you

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5:23
find that they have an invasion of privacy or

5:26
I don’t get I don’t get much privacy as it is. It’s I live in a house with my wife and 1200 400 Elves and they’re not known to be able to socially distance.

5:38
Just on that point, how do you manage that whole sort of work life balance? You’re out a lot, especially around this time of year, you’re out a lot. You’re never at home? There’s a certain amount of like stress into like getting the stuff done and delivered. How do you manage that?

5:49
Work life balance? There’s absolutely no work life balance. Journey. It’s Christmas all the ways. Yeah, just my entire life is Christmas. I’m like one of those sad people on Channel Five that the person who wants Christmas 365 days a year. That’s my life. So yeah, you think you can just pop down chimneys one night a year and take the rest, stuff like that. It’s not a chance these type production, these reindeer training, slay maintenance, not to mention the endless list of dietary requirements, things like that. Last year post COVID and stayed in quite a bit. I had a bit more on my midriff. And when we did the chimney training, I was struggling to get down every single chimney. It was an absolute nightmare. So obviously having to cut weight for Christmas was like trying to be a UFC fighter. Yeah, we

6:37
have we all have to hit the gym a little bit, don’t we usually for the rest of its in the run up after Christmas rather than before Christmas.

6:43
So yeah, most of the thing that I do after Christmas is that yeah, and I drink whiskey and put my feet up for at least a couple of days before it all starts again. Maybe I’m around the Gulf or the Easter Bunny.

6:53
Yeah, no doubt. So you mentioned there a little bit about the pandemic. And obviously, we’ve been through the pandemic and feels like a distant memory now, doesn’t it to a certain extent. But how did you manage we a lot of us were remote working. Were you guys remote working and have your gun back in the office? You mandated the sales now back in back in the office.

7:10
It was quite interesting around around that type of thing. Look, we never left the office, we were always in the office. I think the fortunate thing is me being a hire entity. And the ELLs are a movie theatre fictional be they’re immune to human viruses. So I think that was quite lucky that we did try and introduce social distancing into the workshops. It was absolutely possible. Like elves are very social creatures. And they were just all over each other. And they’re always chatting and being social and stuff. To be honest with it. Yeah, it’s nice for your time. And I know Christmas is nice, but spending 365 days of your life with elves jumping all over? Yeah, it’s it can be quite wearing. But but they are very cheap labour.

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7:56
Very good. And it seems like things are getting back to normal a little bit. You talked a little bit about the amount of travel that you do over the over the festive period. There’s so much focus on ESG certainly the necessary environmental elements. How do you justify to us a bit of a pointed question going around the world in a single day, just under ESG? And how does it affect your ESG reporting?

8:19
That’s the big thing that’s that’s hanging over me at the moment. What rained it rained is very ecologically friendly. They run on like a low refund diet now. Less beans, more carrots. The sleigh is powered by Christmas spirit that fossil fuels, zero emissions. So I am trying to do my bit as much as I can.

8:40
Fantastic. And I suppose just getting back to feedback. What do you think the scope is for giving using AI to give feedback to your hours? I’m gonna use lightning to investigate some of that.

8:49
Yeah, we’ve tried to we’ve tried to take feedback like over over the years. I think the challenge is that the elves are relatively sensitive creatures. And they feel as though in Lapland doing their bit within the workshop, that all of the quality of work is particularly great. But you’ve seen you’ve seen the Santa Claus movie about myself. You saw what WR did with a little bit of christmas spirit and a little bit of machinery like you can all mess up. Yeah, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to provide a bit of feedback whilst also not having another Dudley mole situation.

9:22
Okay. And so thanks very much. What do you think’s gonna happen in the next sort of five years? If you look at the future of Christmas, you look at the future of this sort of the festive season you look at the future of North Pole link, where do you think we’re going? What are the trends?

9:38
I don’t know. If I could predict everything then I probably want the air I’d be on a beach like as a lottery winner. Rather than being like a job delivery driver. I’ll give it a go. I expect that kids wish lists will be even more complicated with more demands, things like personal robots and trips to Mars and pet unit. colons and all this type of nonsense going to have to get Mrs. Claus to enrol in some advanced engineering and genetics courses. From a techno technology perspective, look, I’ve used rain days for as long as I can remember. But I think eventually, it’ll just be more efficient for me to replace my sleigh and my rain days with the drone fleet. Get a few drones, stick a red nose on the front, get my face on the back and get them dropping the stuff down the chimneys. I think that’s probably the way it’ll go and then work it out. The final thing is, I just, I just like to see a little bit more kindness and understanding in the world. There’s been a lot of fighting around now. And I don’t personally have that many success calls more milk and cookies left out less vited and maybe a few carrots for the Red Day.

10:48
So thanks very much. I really appreciate making the time so I know it’s a super, super busy time for you very much echo your sentiments there at the end of the call and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

10:58
Merry Christmas to you, Chris. until everybody

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