You know that game where you ask people to summarize something in just one word? Like… what word would you use to describe me? What word would you use to describe the pizza? What word would you use to describe… Disney? I think we all know the answer. Disney has cornered magic.
It took all of 2 minutes for me to be reminded of that on the trip to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. While chatting with Kelly and Jodi on our Magical Express (Disney provides free transportation to and from the resorts and takes care of your luggage) a gentleman across they way shared that he could definitely tell which were the moms on the way to the conference. We began talking and he shared that he’s a former Cast Member (Disney employees are all referred to as Cast Members as they’re part of the show, no matter their position and Cast Members is always capitalized to show the term’s importance to the Parks.) He shared just how much he’d taken with him into his life from his training at Disney.
Everything, he commented. From leadership and management roles to how to treat not just your customers but each other, it’s all so effective in your everyday life and in your work life. He shared the Disney 5 Seconds of Magic–where Cast Members are taught to do something special for just 5 seconds to make someone’s stay magical. Sometimes, it’s a smile. Other times, it’s a special treat. Think back to the last time you were at a Disney Park–did you see witness magic?
I sure did. From the personal greeting when I entered my resort to check in, to the beds made with our Mickey-stuffed animals sitting cutely around our room during our stay, to the out-of-this-world help of Brittany at the Guest Services desk at the Magic Kingdom when we found my Key to the World wasn’t my park pass. Even though I didn’t have my ID (it was in my room with my Park Pass), she was able to work her magic and I ran into the Magic Kingdom with about 2 minutes to spare before the fireworks (more magic!) began on a Friday night.
The magic just doesn’t stop at Disney. The gentleman on the bus recommended I read Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell to gain a better understanding of the magic behind the enormous business of Disney. Cockerell’s is a typical Disney-story: Raised on (and tending) a family-farm (he never heard of a vacation until he was 22), he worked his way through restaurant and hotel positions into management before finally landing a job at Disney. In the ’90s he was working as Executive Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort and worked with the staff through 9/11 and several disastrous hurricanes. In addition to managing a staff of over 40,000 and overseeing “operations of 20 resort hotels, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping & entertainment village and a sports and recreation complex [plus] the ancillary operations which supported the number one vacation destination in the world,” Cockerell created the now-famous Disney Great Leader Strategies, which he refers to as common sense strategies. Common sense, they are. Common practice, I’m not so sure.
I’ve been enjoying his book, written after his retirement from Disney. It’s an excellent primer for future leaders as well as a book that every current leader should take the time to read. It uses real-life examples of situations in his career at Disney (as well as other companies) to show how he grew as a leader and how he changed the structure of Disney. Then he lays out these points to show how you can incorporate these leadership strategies in your everyday leadership life.
My favorite takeaway: recognizing that everyone has something important to say and everyone should be respected. When you treat all of your employees with respect, they’ll respect you, your company and your customers.
And that leads to magic. Disney Magic.
© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.