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-When you started at Disney, you were there for 15 years. Is that correct?
-What were some of the major technology changes that you ran into where you had to just make big changes to stay ahead of the pack?
-First one for me personally, there were no cell phones.
SPEAKER 1: When you started?
-Well, I started in '90. Not most people-- I mean, there were cellphones, but most people didn't have a device-- let's say smart phone, where you could do everything. Your calendar, Outlook, all this stuff. And I remember really first-- what was that had a little thing you-- the first device that came out.
-Palm Pilot. Oh my God. I though that-- that's very difficult. I can't do that. I looked at the manual, and I'm going, I can't-- and I had guy that worked for me. He bought me one. He put it on my desk. I looked at it for about a month. I finally opened it up, and I gave it to my assistant. I said, I'm not reading this manual. I want you to read it and teach me how to use it. And I started. He still jokes with me about how long it took Lee Cockrell, the boss, to start using technology.
And then I had a BlackBerry, and then I had-- it's always hard to get out your old system. Adapting technology for people at a certain age is really hard. But if you don't do it, you've got a problem.
-So you're even saying that for you it was hard to do, but you just had to do it.
-I always tell people, if you're not doing the hard things, you're not doing the right things. You've got to keep up. I have to know what everybody in the entertainment business is doing, so I take trips and I go to New York, and I go to LA, and I go to Vegas every year to see what's going on. Can I find a new way to do something? And I go to the Marriott, go to a banquet, and see that they have all their waiters standing at every table, greeting you, seating you.
I go back and I put that in Disney.
-So even though Disney's the peak company in the world for really family entertainment, you still went out to other places to-- maybe you call it spying-- but the idea was to see what's out there, to see what's relevant, and to bring some of that back.
-I'll tell you one that goes to the bottom line. In the year 2000, we sold three million in the pins, trading pins, Disney pins. Somebody was at the Winter Olympics in Japan and saw the athletes trading pins, somebody from Disney. I said, why don't we try that in the bicentennial year, 2000? So we did it. That year we sold 25 million pins. Today, over a $100 million business.
SPEAKER 1: Pins?
-Because somebody went and saw it and say, we could do that.
SPEAKER 1: That's huge.
SPEAKER 2: When I did $100 million. And that margin is good on those pins. Chinese are over there making those pins.
-Now were pins-- these were like the pins you put on a--
-Wearing pins. Like this pin. Or I'm going to give you a leadership pin, or it's a Cinderella pin. Like if I give you some pins today and you take them back to your kids, they'll be happy to see you.
-Well, now let me ask you this. In your book, you said you want to be careful about what you say and do. Now I want to just give you some real examples. I have some clients I've worked with over the years. One that comes to my mind vividly, about five years ago she'd gone through some really intense health problems. Another client, sales were flat. And both of them kept saying, out loud, gosh-- they'd say to their employees in the first five minutes-- employee says, how are you today?
And boss says, I just don't feel good. Or sales are down, I just hope we can make it through this quarter. Or that kind of thing. Talk to me about why you can't say something like that. Or maybe what you should say if you are going through a health problem and you are going through stuff.
-Well, first of all, saying it is not going to help you out. So there's actually no upside to telling people all your problems. And somebody said if you're ill, don't tell me. Go see a doctor. I can't help you. I'm not a doctor. I think the other thing is, people don't care. They don't want to know about your problems, unless you are asking for help. I'm really not feeling well this week. Could you take my shift? And showing that there's a way you can help me. I'll help you if you have a problem in your life.
But there's no upside to that and I think people expect the boss to be up and positive, because if the boss is down, what's next? Or parents. Being positive in front of your children. They don't see you arguing with mom. It makes them feel unsafe and it makes them feel insecure.
-So if I feel down, you're saying if I feel down as an owner or a boss or manager, if I want to be successful, I don't have permission to project how I feel. I need to just pretend like I feel good.
-So if I had a down day and I've had a bad day, you know who I discussed it with? Priscilla, when I get
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-So what if you had a head cold? You have a serious head cold, you're not feeling good, you're on the floor at Disney. Someone says how do you feel? What do you say?
-I have a cold, but I'm feeling great. Or, I mean, you know. And again, I don't need to know you have a cold.
-You just keep going.
-Unless I don't want to shake your hand.
-I might say, have you washed your hands?
-I'm just bringing this up because this is-- what I'm hearing from you is you need act this way even if you don't feel that way. You to just act it, you to pretend you're on stage.
-You want to hear a story about this?
-I do, yes.
-So, down in Charleston, South Carolina, a couple years ago, three years ago. I got up at about 1 o'clock in the morning to go to the bathroom. And I couldn't go. 2 o'clock I couldn't go. 3 o'clock I couldn't go. And I knew I had a prostate that was growing. 4 o'clock, I can't go. And when you can't go, I got myself in the car and drove myself to the emergency room.
They took care of it, strapped a bag on my leg. And left an insert so that I had to empty that bag. I had four speeches the next day.
-First one was 8 o'clock with a junior college. All the staff.
The next one was with high school students, 55 minutes.
The next one was with everybody in the community from the Chamber of Commerce. One and a half or two hour presentation. And the last one was dinner--
-With everybody with this bag. And I had to get up about every hour and a half, or hour to go empty it.
a I drove back to Orlando and saw my urologist. OK. And he took care of it. He gave me some medication.
-You didn't tell anyone about this?
-Nobody knew nothing. I told them afterwards, just as a story.
-And they just revoked me, by the way. That blew their mind.
So a year goes by. I don't anything, any more about it. I'm down in Brazil. Brazil. And I'm at an event. All of a sudden, I can't go. Oh no, not again.
7 o'clock that night, I tell the guy, you know, there's a dinner at 8:00. I said I need to go to the emergency room. And luckily I'm staying at a five star hotel. He took me to the emergency room, put me ahead of everybody else.
Two things happened. The doctor had just come back from Disney World and he loved Disney. I gave-- He took care of me. I went back in an hour and a half and went to the dinner. You know, so I mean, OK. I didn't get up when I made my speech and said you know where I just came from, folks?
-This almost needs to be like a notable quotable. If you can't go,
-Nobody needs to know this!
-You still have to go.
-Nobody needs to know this.
-I will say, it's interesting, but in my career, I remember when we found out our son was born blind. We found he couldn't see. I vividly remember I was at a wedding reception in Dallas. And the bride's all ready to go down the isle.
And the young man that was training with me, he saw like a little tear. You know, because I had just read the message from my wife. And he's like, are you OK? I'm like, yep. He's like, what are you going do? And I said, well in like five hours from now, I'm going to hop in the car and probably talk to my wife. But for right now, we're going to do this bride's wedding. We're going to make it happen, because there's nothing I can do. My wife's in Utah, I'm here. Let's do it.
And I think that is where the rubber meets the road in business. Because it's about honoring your commitment, no matter what.
-Yeah, I mean, the biggest exception, you know, there's a death and you've got to go. But most of the stuff we like to whine and complain about, I hate to say, most people don't care anyways.
-You know what people care about? Themselves.
-You know, there are people who do care, but if you're in a leadership position. And I'm sure your children don't want to be hearing at this young age your concerns or the business, or whatever issues you're having.
-And it's not appropriate. They don't need to until they're older and can understand that there's things are going on, so.
You know, I just. Keep it to yourself unless they can help you with it... small business management.
-I remember that somebody said if you're sick, see a doctor, don't tell me about it. I can't help you. Unless I can help you because you're asking for some time off, because you're in a depression or you need this.
Only tell me if I can do something with you. Or you want to do-- tell me what you want me to do with this information you just gave
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-So you're just saying we need to be careful about what we say and we do. We just need to be careful and understand that if we say anything that even approaches negative, it spreads within our organization.
-Yeah, and you've got to ask, why would you say it? What are you trying to do?
-What's the point? I mean--
-If it can't improve the organization, don't say it.
-What can they even do? Like yesterday, you know, we ran into that little girl who said, you guys look important. Well, we could have ignored her. You know, we're busy. Buzz off.
And people do that, by the way. You know, and you always have the big sport stars, one that everybody loves because they take the time to sign for the kids, and the others who--
-I think, the other thing I want to make sure that I stress here is that, on Thrive, you know, people who are subscribing are Thrivers. They are people who have decided to move beyond surviving and decided they want to do something big with their life. But when you go own a business, the ten people who work with you or not your therapy group. Your employees are not--
-They're not who you just vent-- So if you have a problem, you don't really just share that. You just kind of keep it tight to the vest sometimes.
-And I think you need to remember, they got big problems too.
-Everybody's got problems you don't know about.
-Everybody. Or worries. You've got problems and worries I don't know about. I've told people Priscilla has worries and problems I don't know about sometimes that I think might be me.
-But, and we don't share. You know, even with your closest loved ones, you don't need to share every thought, you know your insecure. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. I mean, even when Priscilla was sick I didn't share with her how upset I was and how it was bothering me. Because I wanted her to get well.
-You saying this means a lot, though, because you've been pretty public about, or very open about, how you battled depression there for a while with her illness. But as the CEO, or as the boss, or as the executive vice president, or whatever your role is, the manager, the owner, in a position of leadership, you just have to be very careful about what you say and do.
-You do. And I didn't tell anybody about my depression until I was well. And I told them because the lesson is go get treated. You can be helped.
It can happen to anybody. It can happen to children. It can happen to college students. It can happen to your parents, your mother maybe, or your father are going through a serious illness. They can get into depression.
-And it happens a lot.
-Because you become hopeless. And then you might tell somebody, I went through this. Here's what you can do. Here's what I took, the drug, you know, to help people. If you're going to tell people about your problems, maybe be it will be helpful.
-Now, let me ask this, here. In your book, you talked a lot about the Disney Institute and you really talked about what that was. Can you maybe describe how you guys developed the Disney Institute and maybe why entrepreneurs might consider checking it out?
-It was funny, back in the '80s, 60 Minutes did a program on the world should be run like Disney. The transportation system, how friendly people are, how clean it is. And an after that, we got all these companies calling, wanting to see if they could come and do benchmarking. Can you show us this?
And they got so many calls, it was unbelievable. But they said, you know, we ought to start a business. So they started The Disney Institute. It was supposed to-- going to be for couples. Like you and your wife would come and take a computer course or a wine course while you're on vacation, or cooking together. That was a disaster. That didn't work.
So, for all of a sudden, they learned business people. So it would be business related.
-So 25 people from a company could come together and have a meeting here and do things together and learn. And it would be an educational process. And then we could start teaching courses about Disney service, about Disney hiring, about Disney values and how to implement them in your business, and creativity. That took off.
And today they're doing it all over the world. And the Disney Institute is no longer a place, it's a business of learning. So they could come to Tulsa and do it with the Chamber of Commerce or with Thrive. They could come and put a course on together. We would invite local people and they'd pay a couple hundred dollars for the day to attend something like that. So that's-- Disney Institute has become an educational place you learn about how to run your business better.
-Any organization? Maybe can a church do this?
-Anybody. I actually have open sessions where the people are often different organizations, somebody from a casino, and a church.
-Oh wow. They're battling.
-And a military officer and somebody from Costco. Or an insurance agent that signed up for it because he wants to learn how to be better in his own business.
-Now one of the things I think that you've talked about at great length, and I saw it firsthand, we went to Disney World yesterday. But you walk around and the place is immaculate. It's so clean, it's so, I mean... small business management.
If you had all this stuff and all these great sets, and elaborate actors, and elaborate Mickey Mouse characters and music, but it was dirty, it just wouldn't work. And obviously people don't just naturally become clean freaks or become obsessed with cleanliness like how you guys have created. There's obviously a lot of dollars and time that's invested in training.
And I know I was guilty of it when I started my company, but it's just like, I need to spend all my time focused on this, and this, and this, and the last thing I'm going to spend time on is training. Or the last thing I have money for
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