Learn the Disney approach to finding, training and retaining good employees. Learn the basics of how to inspire your people from Lee Cockerell, the man who once managed over 40,000 people at Walt Disney World® Resort.Sign Up to Watch
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-I feel like Walt-- I've read a lot of things about Walt Disney himself-- it seemed like he had this big vision. And at some point, people thought he was kind of crazy. And then that vision turned into Disneyland, and it worked. And this is a guy, had lost it all twice, is my understanding, 1923, Laugh-O-gram went out of business.
Then he starts to have some success. Then he opens up Disney World, and it's getting even bigger. And then to carry out that vision to where it's still inspiring today, how does Disney-- how did Disney share that vision on a continual daily basis to keep that spirit of Walt Disney and the imagination and-- how was that vision carried from Walt Disney to you, to today? How was that vision carried?
-I think what happens is a lot of these companies, like Marriott and Disney and Ryder Truck and Conrad Hilton, starting Hilton, all those early founders, they put in place such a strong value system and structure for excellence and for hospitality and for taking care of the customer that even after they're gone, they've trained a lot of managers, a lot of people have joined. Disney still, Disney has people that have been with the company 50 years, 30 years to 40 years, 50 years. The President of Disney World right now has been there 42 years.
And so it stays on. It's like a family. It takes on life of its own. Why do some families have a strong culture-- and I assume your kids will have a strong culture, and their kids? Because it becomes a pride thing and it becomes a-- And we're clear. Everybody's clear. And clarity. It's hard to even imagine. It's hard to say, could you do it again?
Things just happen. You know, things happen. And people stay on it. And I think the main reason is Disney, and many companies, is every decision Disney makes they keep the guest central to that decision. That's the first thing they bounce off. How is this going to affect the guest?
-Making sure that the customer is the boss.
-Absolutely. And I think other companies-- Starbucks thinks about that. How is this going to affect the guest? I was at Starbucks one morning. I got out of turn somehow. My coffee never came up. And I finally got it. And I went to sit down. But the manager noticed. She came over and said, here, free coffee morning. I'm sorry. I didn't even know--
-Made it right.
-She was on top of it. I mean, all over it. A few days ago I was there, and hey didn't have the coffee brewed yet. She said, no problem today. It's on me.
-Would you say that if a business today, if I'm a business owner, I have a small business idea and I have a company and I'm not focused on inspiring my company, or inspiring my employees, is my company doomed?
-[DEEP VOICE] It's probably going to be mediocre and average, and you may eventually go under, because some competitor's going to kill you. Some competitors going to kill you.
I mean, literally. And we sit today, there's new companies every day doing great, inspiring their people. Starbucks, look what they did just in the last few years. Why? Why does-- what happened here? A cup of coffee. But it's a culture. It's an environment. I go in there every morning and they act like they've known me all my live. One of the ladies in there at Disney, 20 years. She sad, Lee, I've known you for 20 years.
-So inspiration is--
-Sure. We all want to be inspired. We all have small business ideas.
-And I meet with business owners every day who are like, gosh, you know, I just don't want to have to inspire my employees. Why can't I find some inspired people? And I always tell them, I say, well, if somebody was already naturally inspired, they're probably going to be a business owner themselves, or they're a manager. But for everybody else, they're going to need a little inspiration. And you know, that's part of your job.
-Some are too hard core. They don't believe people need anything but a job and a paycheck. They don't believe, they don't understand the emotional. There's a lot of people, even some trade, you know, I don't-- not to point somebody out, but some people in finance or legal. They don't get this-- CPAs-- softer side. You can be a good CPA, but also how you keep your customers is--
My CPA is in Oklahoma City. I called him one day, and they always have a receptionist answer the phone. And he got on the phone, and I said Joe, I want to tell you one thing. I was thinking about you today. I love your company, because you always answer the phone. And he said, Lee, you know, it's funny. We were going to put one of those voice trees in, and we decided not to do that. Because, he said, we figured out anybody can do your taxes.
-But not everyone can service you like we do.
-And it's so true. And his-- there's a story about him in the book. Because he answers the phone.
-Not because he puts me through some contraption that aggravates me and I wonder if he even got it. Simple thing. Connect. And I tell him, you know, he inspires me. The way he runs his business. I make sure he knows about it. And it's, you know, inspiration.
What makes us go beyond the call of duty? Because somebody is watching. Because somebody-- we're going to get recognized for it, we're going to get an award, we're going to get a pat on the back. Who doesn't want to matter? Who is not proud when somebody says, you're doing a great job. I glad you're with our company. In front of everybody else.
-It makes my day when people tell me that. They say, Lee, why do you do this speaking? I say, because people applaud. Because people applaud.
-It inspires me. They say you inspired us. I say, oh yeah. And you inspired me. I want to do it. I love it. And when you get a standing ovation?
-It's the best.
-Why? Why does that feel differently when you don't get it?
-Uh-huh. And even, I guess what I'm saying is, even what I'm discovering is, even you, as the boss, need a source of inspiration.
-Absolutely. I need it more.
-I've got problems they don't know about.
-That's why I love doing customer service, like feedback loops. Because for me, as an owner, very few people ever come to me and said, boss, you are awesome. Thank you for working hard today. But the customer feedback is where I get it. You know, because the customer is my boss.
-And so that's where you get it there. And the final question I had here for you, as far as inspiring your team. Obviously, at Disney, you survey people a lot. When they leave the park, how was your experience? How was it today? What did you think about the cleanliness of the park? The rooms? The hotel? Do you share that with your team? And if so, how consistently do you share that feedback from guests with your team?
-We've even changed that. We interview 2 million people a year.
-We interview them on the internet, we interview them as they enter the park, we interview them when they're checking in, when they're checking out. We interview them when they're buying an ice cream cone. When they're leaving the park at night to get on the bus.
But recently, we even changed it further. When you check in a lady will be there with an iPad. And when you-- say you're checking out of your hotel. And she'll ask you, how was your stay? And you'll say, "Great." And we say, basically, would recommend it to a friend or loved one? And you say, "No." We say, "Why?" And she says because Mary, when I checked in, was rude. And I got to my room, and there were cigarettes in there and the TV didn't work.
And the reason we do it now that way? We correct that immediately. We fix Mary before the next person she checks in. And if you say, "Yes, I would." We say, "Why?" Because Mary was so great when I checked in. She paid attention to my children. I go to Mary and say, Mary-- And that just keeps it going, you know. Learn quick, fix. Learn quick, fix. Fix it now. Not a year from now. Fix it every--
So stand outside your business. Small people like you're talking about, entrepreneurs. Stand outside-- hire a college kid and give her 50 bucks. Stand outside one day a week. And ask the customers as they leave, excuse me, ma'am. I'm a college student doing survey for some work. Would you recommend this place to your friends and loved ones? Yes, why? No, why? And then go and tell the boss.
-And you go, you do it at Burger King. And people say, no I'll never come back here. Why? Because they put fish in there and I ordered a sandwich, a hamburger. And you go in and you fix that. And you get that person who's stuffing the bags and give them some more training and turn that thing around, and-- Or the bathroom is filthy. That's, you know, women, if you don't have clean bathrooms, they don't come back.
-True. My wife is--
-Men will come back. Women don't come back.
-Little QuikTrip gas stations. As you know, those are very high standard of quality. And my wife will like-- if we're out of gas, my wife wants to push the car past other gas stations to get to a QuikTrip.
-Go in their bathrooms.
-They're awesome. They're spotless.
-So that's kind of getting feedback.
-Immediate and exact. Not ten-- don't ask me 400 items. I don't care about the dust on the frame. Would you recommend this to your loved one or not?
-OK. And you share that feedback with your team.
-Immediately. Every day. We used to do it like monthly.
-Now it's-- Everything's got to be faster now.
-You can't wait a month and screw up another thousand customers because you're not fixing that problem. So it's-- you'll see people all over Disney with pads. Boom, boom, boom.
-Oh, it's industrial engineers. Yeah.
-Well, I appreciate your feedback on inspiring people.
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