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The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company Hardcover – September 23, 2019
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ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Robert Iger became CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2005, during a difficult time. Competition was more intense than ever and technology was changing faster than at any time in the company’s history. His vision came down to three clear ideas: Recommit to the concept that quality matters, embrace technology instead of fighting it, and think bigger—think global—and turn Disney into a stronger brand in international markets.
Today, Disney is the largest, most admired media company in the world, counting Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox among its properties. Under Iger’s leadership, Disney’s value grew nearly five times what it was, making Iger one of the most innovating and successful CEOs of our era.
In The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger shares the lessons he learned while running Disney and leading its 220,000-plus employees, and he explores the principles that are necessary for true leadership, including:
• Optimism. Even in the face of difficulty, an optimistic leader will find the path toward the best possible outcome and focus on that, rather than give in to pessimism and blaming.
• Courage. Leaders have to be willing to take risks and place big bets. Fear of failure destroys creativity.
• Decisiveness. All decisions, no matter how difficult, can be made on a timely basis. Indecisiveness is both wasteful and destructive to morale.
• Fairness. Treat people decently, with empathy, and be accessible to them.
This book is about the relentless curiosity that has driven Iger since the day he started as the lowliest studio grunt at ABC. It’s also about thoughtfulness and respect, and a decency-over-dollars approach that has become the bedrock of every project and partnership Iger pursues, from a deep friendship with Steve Jobs in his final years to an abiding love of the Star Wars mythology.
“The ideas in this book strike me as universal” Iger writes. “Not just to the aspiring CEOs of the world, but to anyone wanting to feel less fearful, more confidently themselves, as they navigate their professional and even personal lives.”
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“Nurturing creativity is less a skill than an art—especially at a company where the brand alone is synonymous with creativity. That’s a lot to live up to. Bob Iger has not only lived up to ninety-six years of groundbreaking history but has moved the Disney brand far beyond anyone’s expectations, and he has done it with grace and audacity. This book shows you how that’s happened.”—Steven Spielberg
“People have been waiting years for Bob Iger to share his leadership secrets. Now he has, and they are utterly brilliant. The Ride of a Lifetime is not merely a memoir; it’s a personal, all-access session with the wisest CEO you’ve ever met and a playbook for handling the key challenges of our age: how to drive change, leverage technology, build an enduring culture, and empower people. It’s a rippingly good, revelatory read.”—Daniel Coyle, New York Times bestselling author of The Culture Code
About the Author
- Publisher : Random House; NO-VALUE edition (September 23, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0399592091
- ISBN-13 : 978-0399592096
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.36 x 0.94 x 9.54 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The only drawback is there are not a lot of business lessons in the book. It's a great read, but I have only 11 highlights and notes. So, I didn't learn a lot.
Oh, and despite all the challenges, the whole story felt a bit lukewarm. Maybe Mr. Iger always calls every a**hole a "strong personality", or maybe he is just nice to the core? Well, it didn't feel very authentic.
On the other hand, maybe the life in the 0.01% earners in the world is so nice, how would I know?
1. Great Read.
"The Ride of a Lifetime" reads amazingly well. I wolfed it.
It reads like a fast-paced thriller, but a one that actually happened and described from the first-person perspective.
My guess is Mr. Inger had a world-class ghostwriter ;) If not, then hats off to him; he would probably made more money as a writer than the CEO of Disney.
I haven't enjoyed a book to this degree in a long time. I read it like I read the best fiction- almost in one sitting, and putting my whole life on hold to finish the book.
2. A Sneak-Peek into the Billion-Dollar World.
I've lived on this planet over 41 years and I haven't bumped yet into a person who earns billions of dollars, or the one who signs billion-dollar deals. This book was my next-to-best experience.
I appreciate the author let me into his world and showed me around a bit. Steve Jobs, George Lucas... Now, I feel like I interacted with them.
3. Business Lessons.
"The Ride of a Lifetime" reads as a thriller, sprinkles some celebrity's names along the way, but it still is a business book.
My takeaways were few and far between, yet each time they were significant. Let's go over a few of them:
"Don't let your ego get in the way of making the best possible decisions."
We are emotional beings and most of emotions are related to our ego. It's enough to just take a step back and assess the situation to notice extraordinary solutions.
It applies as to life decisions as aptly as to business decisions.
"Long shots aren't usually as long as they seem."
You never know till you try. NEVER!
"What people think of you, they will think of your company."
It was the hurdle between Disney and Pixar in the first place. The two CEOs didn't think of themselves too high. So, there was no space for doing business. The shift of the relationship was possible only with the personal changes.
"Each deal depended on building trust with a single controlling entity."
Well, in plain English: with a single person. Relationships are paramount in business. In fact, it's the 80% of the business. And the fabric of each relationship is always the mutual trust.
And a couple of lessons from between the lines:
1. "Stay humble; be persistent."
Just being humble and making decisions with a clear head would've been worthless without perseverance. The grit of Robert Inger demonstrated throughout his career is simply superb.
2. "Emotions, emotions, emotions."
When the author described the biggest deals which build the power of Disney as it is now (Pixar, Marvel, LucasArts), he was all about navigating the emotions of the other man. There are some business considerations sprinkled over his narration, but the main thing was always considering the other person's emotions.
LucasArts was the legacy for George Lucas. It couldn't be treat as a common business decision. Yes, Inger had to consider the financial aspect, but even the price Lucas obtained was the result of how much George identified with his universe than an effect of logical calculations.
Once Robert built a rapport with Steve, the deal between Pixar and Disney was almost seamless.
Emotions are paramount, too.
"The Ride of a Lifetime" is a fascinating read AND you can learn something from it in the by-the-way manner.
The insight into the lives of the most powerful people in the world was an icing on the cake.
During my lecture, I really liked the author as a person. Reading his story I appreciated how he found a balance between remaining a human being and becoming the top corpo official at the same time.
Not only is it: “Lessons learned from 15 years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company”, it is his underlying philosophy which stood him well. And it includes the background of what was going on so you get the full flavor of the situation. Also, and extremely important, is the very human emotions (that we all have, but some people are able to delude themselves to believe that they don’t) that he had during several of the very stressful situations that he encountered.
The book cover lists the eight “principles that are necessary for true leadership” and the book explores and documents how these principles guided him.
For example, “thoroughness” is well illustrated in the preface, on pages x through xiv. On these pages are described the events, emotions, concern for his employees safety and well-coordinated efforts of the Disney World staff when a mass murder occurred June 12, 1998, just 15 miles from Disney World. In particular, when it was discovered that the original target of the mass murderer, was Disney World.
“Focus” which also includes “find another way” was displayed on pages 18 & 19 when the 1979 World Table Tennis Championship would be held in North Korea, which was under “strict U.S. sanctions against doing any business with North Korea.” This was while he worked for ABC Sports and long before Iger worked at Disney. Robert Iger found a legal way to ENTER North Korea
and cover this sporting event.
“Integrity” is illustrated one pages 19 & 20 where he failed to get coverage of a major sports event and the next morning, the boss (Mr. Roone) asked, “Who was at fault?”. Bob Iger raised his hand and you can read what happened on page 20.
“Courage” on page 34 was displayed while he was still at ABC Sports when he was offered a significant promotion and he objected, saying “I don’t know that part of the business.” Those offering the position to him said, “You’ll be great.” And he was.
He takes you through the mechanics of his success and the emotions and self-control including when on, pages xiv through xix also he relates that in Shanghai China, the night before Disney to open the Disney theme park and escort high Chinese officials through parts of the park and also meet with the press, Robert Iger was told that an alligator had attacked a child at Disney World. Read how he handled himself and how he and his staff handled this tragedy of the alligator attack and the good front he made in front of his Shanghai guests.
There are more than 200 pages in the book. I hope you enjoy it and learn from it.
I enjoyed this book as I continued to discover how his intelligence, integrity and very human philosophy, carried him to his success and how he handled setbacks.
Top reviews from other countries
The problem is this, corporate career type people are just like politicians. They never tell it straight. There's always some politics going on. There isn't a lot of boldness in this book. I would recommend a book written by an entrepreneur instead, they tend to be more bold and actually take a meaningful view on something (right or wrong).
It was pointed out to me despite promising this wasn’t an autobiography it felt and read almost like one with its chronological approach but it lacked the personal depth to truly explain what was going on at various stages and the true emotions, perhaps because of the political ambitions touched on at the end something was held back.
Stories are often most fascinating as a journey and in true Disney style this book was no different, a seemingly broken animation company to arguably the dominant entertainment player is indeed a ride worth reading about.
There appeared to be far more lessons articulated in the early part of the story for me, the latter became far more of a narrative of various acquisitions which whilst interesting in terms of the negotiations and fulfilling a what seems sound strategy felt rather matter of fact.
The tine of disappointment on finishing reading this book is what leads be to only give it 4 out of 5 stars I would say but still a great read for the insight into strategy building, being gutsy and particular the way Bob came together successfully with Steve Jobs and the emotion attached to that retelling alone was the greatest value I took away.