Disney – a fixture of many childhoods, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve been more impressed by their ability to tell branded stories and use technology to create amazing experiences. And now with kids, that experience has only grown. We recently went to Disneyworld, and I was left in awe as we visited one of their longest standing hotels, and yet it felt like it was the first visitors to the hotel. The quality and service were top notch, despite it being a “value” hotel.

So, I was inspired to learn more about the person who runs the company. And this book didn’t disappoint. It was a great book on leadership. Here’s the insights I was able to pull from it

Even before I read the book, here’s what I mentioned:

  • Quality matters. The way Disney improves the customer experience is noticeably different compared to copycats such as Universal and others. They set the path to the best experiences and show the value of a more expensive experience.

And then I read the book:

      • One of the most important qualities of a leader is optimism, having enthusiasm for what can be achieved. Pessimists don’t motivate.
      • All decisions, no matter how difficult, should be made in a timely way. Chronic indecision is corrosive to morale. All decisions, no matter how difficult, should be made in a timely way. Chronic indecision is corrosive to morale.
      • People committing honest mistakes deserve second chances. Judging people too harshly generates fear and anxiety.
      • If you’re in the business of making things, be in the business of making things great.
      • The way you do anything is the way you do everything.
      • The path to innovation begins with curiosity.
      • Risk-taking is essential. Innovation is vital. And true innovation occurs only when people have courage. Risk-taking is essential. Innovation is vital. And true innovation occurs only when people have courage.
      • It’s vital to create space in each day to let your thoughts wonder beyond your immediate job responsibilities, to turn things over in your mind, in a less pressured, more creative way than is possible once the daily triage kicks in.
      • Perfection is the result of getting all the little things right. Do not except mediocrity. Push back against the urge to say there’s not enough time, I don’t have enough energy, or this requires a difficult conversation. That only convinces you things are “good enough.”
      • Innovate or die, and there’s no innovation if you operate out of fear of the new or untested.
      • Never look at the situation as a catastrophe in business. It’s just a puzzle that needs to be solved.
      • If you’re happy with the job that you have, what type of job could you take for the opportunity would be too great to say no?
      • Be guided by your own clear sense of right and wrong. It’s a secret weapon that will serve you the best in business.
      • It amazes people about how one person’s unwillingness to give a timely response can cause so much additional unnecessary strain and efficiency.
      • Life’s an adventure. If you don’t choose the adventurous path, you’re not really living.
      • When in a position of leadership, don’t let humility block you from leading. Leadership comes from knowing who you are and not pretending to be anything else. Ask the questions you need to ask. Learn quickly. And admit you don’t understand.
      • The relentless pursuit of knowledge is really interesting to see from even the highest levels.
      • Avoid getting into the business of trombone oil. You can be the best in the world, but in the end… The world only consumes a few quarts of trombone oil a year. Focus on the business that has the most impact.
      • You earn as much respect and goodwill by standing by someone in the wake of a failure as you do by giving them credit for success.
      • I don’t want to be in the business of playing it safe, and not take risks. I want to be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness. And if you want innovation, you must give permission to fail.
      • Managing the creative process starts with realizing it’s not a science. There is no right or wrong. Never start small. If you start petty, you seem petty…
      • As a leader, you should want those around you to be eager to rise up and take on more responsibility. As long as dreaming about the job they want doesn’t distract them from the job they have. Don’t let ambition get too far ahead of opportunity.
      • Micromanaging has its place. The success or failure of something so often comes down to the details.
      • No one wants to follow a pessimist. Optimism is different. In difficult moments, the people you lead need to feel confident in your ability to focus on what matters and not operate from a place of self preservation. It’s believing you can steer towards the best outcome!
      • You can never win people’s hearts on the defensive. It’s only about the future. “ I can’t do anything about the past. We can talk about lessons learned and how we apply those lessons. We don’t get any do overs. Do do you want to know where we’re headed? Here’s my plan”
      • What are your strategic priorities? If you have more than three, they aren’t priorities.
      • A lot of companies acquire others without much sensitivity… What they’re really buying is people.
      • The Pitch – “They had no notes, no decks, no visual aids. They just talked – about Pixar’s philosophy and how they worked, about what we already were dreaming to do together, and about who they were as people.” Steve Jobs and Pixar pitching the Disney Board
      • Branded storytelling…
      • “It doesn’t make sense for us to buy you for what you are and then turn you into something else”
      • When delivering bad news, never do small talk. Get to the point quickly and clearly. “I’ve asked you to come in here for a difficult reason.” There is no way for the conversation not to be painful but at least it could be honest.
      • Surround yourself with people who are good, and who are good at what they do.
      • Always be clear and honest. Keep your integrity. Be authentic. Do things the Bob Iger way
      • 3 pillars to Disney
        – high quality branded content
        -invest in technology
        – grow globally
      • That may be the hardest, but also the most necessary lesson to keep in mind that wherever you are along the path, you’re the same person you’ve always been