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Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney Hardcover – October 14, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On his way up the career ladder to become Executive Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort, Cockerell freely admits he was such an autocratic young hotel and restaurant manager that he was hit over the head with a beer bottle by an employee he'd treated poorly. This and other incidents (including a bashing with a clipboard) convinced Cockerell to study leadership, which he proceeded to do with gusto throughout his stellar career, ultimately creating the Disney Great Leaders strategies. The author's engaging storytelling brings life and infectious energy to this entertaining and inspiring book, which outlines the processes and rationale behind Disney's employee-driven ethos. Each chapter expounds on the Disney Formula for Success, which Cockerell sums up as "great leadership leads to employee excellence, which leads to customer satisfaction and strong business results." Cockerell's willingness to use his management gaffes as examples not only makes him a likeable narrator but also a credible leader, offering up a mesmerizing view of a career devoted to excellence in customer service, employee empowerment, organizational improvement and responsive leadership.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Shows the magic in leadership — and the leadership in magic! Read this book!”
-Marshall Goldsmith, New York Times best-selling author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, winner of the Harold Longman Award for Business Book of the Year.

“In Creating Magic, Lee Cockerell delivers his ideas about leadership in a common sense way that can really reach people and help them improve their effectiveness at work, at home, and in their communities. His valuable leadership strategies and remarkable Disney stories will ring true for everyone who reads this book.”
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and The One Minute Entrepreneur

"Elegant in its simplicity and practicality, Lee has distilled many powerful leadership strategies into the lessons many of us learned as children.  They are no less relevant to our working lives.  At its core, Creating Magic is a collection of stories that reminds us to demonstrate care and respect for every member of the team and to focus our efforts not our ourselves but on the people we lead."
-George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc and ABC Sports

“Lee's common sense principles and down to earth storytelling is refreshing. His book will help leaders and managers at all levels become better in all parts of their lives."
—Lee Huebner, Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, Georgetown University.

"… Creating Magic transcends the leadership business-speak so prevalent in modern day motivational tomes and offers a real approach to sensible and practical strategies culled from the experience of a lifetime spent in pursuit of leadership excellence.!"
-Ted J. Kleisner, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company

“Disney is one of the world’s prime exemplars of service having pioneered and implemented much of what is today seen as best practice in service management. Lee Cockerell has played a major role in this….For those wishing to learn how Disney has achieved its reputation for service, this will be a book to read."
-Chris Voss, Professor of Operations and Technology Management, London Business School

“In the hospitality industry, people are our most important asset. No one understands how to develop this asset better than Lee Cockerell who clearly articulates in Creating Magic how leadership environments that are committed to achieving excellence through lifelong  learning, continually honing our professional competence, maintaining personal control,  and rewarding behaviors that recognize the personal worth and reinforce the professional accomplishments of our fellow team members will create a culture of shared vision, trust and a “can do” sense of individual empowerment. The result: pure “Magic” …. Lee’s “10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies” will contribute much to the success of any endeavor.”
-Dieter Huckestein, past President - American Hotel & Lodging Association, Chairman of Conrad Hotels and President - Hotel Operations, Hilton Hotels Corporation (retired).

“Lee is a powerhouse when it comes to developing and inspiring leadership in front line employees and managers. During my years working with him at Disney and in all of my senior management positions since, I have used his leadership philosophies to successfully develop effective leaders and cultivate business environments focused on service excellence. Creating Disney Magic will be a must-read for anyone who wants to make a positive organizational difference built on highly engaged employees delivering exceptional service."
-Karl McDonnell, President& Chief Operating Officer, Strayer Education, Inc

“Lee Cockerell created a distinctly unique service culture at Disney World…Essential to fulfilling this strategy is a complete understanding of the nature of leadership which Lee spells out in his book. Managing is not enough. It takes leadership to create excellence. The formula is not limited to the hospitality industry. It works for healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and education. It applies to the government, military, and not-for-profit ventures, as well as private industry. Those who practice these lessons, and participate in such organizations, live in a better world."
- Martin K. Starr, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Operations Management, Crummer Graduate School of Business, Rollins College

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523868
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jeff L. Noel on November 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Lee Cockerell should be bigger than Blanchard and Covey combined. Lee is light-years past theory. He is straight-forward, no-nonsense, wise. Every great leader should read this book, or miss an incredible opportunity to see Disney from an executive mind-set, with tons of practical, how-to's for any leader, in any organization.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Larry Underwood on October 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lee Cockerell, by his own admission, wasn't a very easy person to work with. After getting whacked on the head a few times with various office supply products, wielded by unhappy co-workers, he got the message: Lighten up. It's a message many people currently engaged in "business" (including more than a few CEOs) need to heed. Watch out, that next clipboard may have your name on it.

Sometimes it takes a good smack on the head by a clipboard, or a swift kick in the pants, to make us understand that we need to get along with people in order to succeed. That's such a simple concept, but one that so often is dismissed by so many, especially the higher up the corporate ladder they climb.

Fortunately, Lee Cockerell got the message, loud and clear. The rest is contemporary American business history. He went on to great accomplishments with the Disney empire, simply by learning how to effectively engage with people; especially those working under him.

For anyone looking for the most basic & wonderfully "common sense" approach to leadership, look no further than this terrific book. Read it, and you too, may create some magic.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael L. Gooch on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a corporate human resources director, I really enjoyed reading this book. "Creating Magic", is a common sense approach to leadership that will help those in need to improve on the job, indeed in their personal lives too. The strategies and great WDW stories make this a very "usable" book that also happens to be a fun and insightful read.

"Creating magic" is the bounding of various stories that teach us a lesson about leadership and management. The stories drive home the point that leadership is not about the leader but rather the people that are being lead, molded and guided in their respective careers.

While I recommend this book in that it pursues leadership excellence. However, I cannot rate it 5 stars as Creating Magic does not contain any novel or new techniques. That is, the lessons of the book have already been digested by most of those in the managerial profession. If you are seeking an excellent reminder of these values then the book will meet your goal. If you are looking for the novel and new approaches to leadership, you will not find it here. I also suggest High Altitude Leadership: What the World's Most Forbidding Peaks Teach Us About Success

Michael L. Gooch, SPHR - Author of Wingtips with Spurs
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Keith Bower on October 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of us judge ourselves based on our intentions. The people around us judge us based upon our behaviors. As leaders, we must make sure that our behaviors support our intentions. This is one of the many lessons I've learned from Walt Disney World, a legendary culture created and sustained under the exemplary leadership of Lee Cockerell, WDW's former Executive VP of Operations. In "Creating Magic," Lee Cockerell explains how to make that kind of loving, caring, respectful leadership a practical reality. Lee shows leaders in all walks of life how to operationalize a culture of caring in every sphere of influence. "Creating Magic" is the most inspiring and the most practical book on leadership I have ever read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By N. Comtois on June 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Absolutely an amazing book. Lee has such an insight into what works in a leadership position and what won't. I have already begun to utilize his suggestions with great success. Even if you are not in a position of leadership, this will help build your sense of self, and is great for business and Disney fans alike!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on February 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Overall, Mr. Cockerell's book provides straightforward and common sense lessons for creating better companies, better employees, and a better you. I appreciate the frank and honest approach taken in the book. The author discusses his successes and failures evenly, even when his mistakes led to physical retribution from his employees! Considering the hospitality industry's complex operational and HR issues, I can appreciate his recommendations that are easily implementable yet powerful ways to improve a business.

One issue I have with the book, while not directly relevant to the overall subject, is not discussing in enough detail the importance of developing a company's long-term strategy for success. Anecdotally, I have heard that Disney has a large number of fresh out of business school MBAs that are more concerned about short term profits and cost control than maintaining high quality standards and preserving long-term brand identity. I would be interested to get the author's reaction to this challenge, which he surely must have dealt with during Eisner's last years as CEO. While the author must consider his relationship with his former employer, it would have been interesting to get his reaction to a sore subject that many would argue has challenged the long-term success of Disney's brand.

I hope Mr. Cockerell considers writing more life and business lessons in a future book. I will be among those to purchase a copy!
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