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This business coaching episode is about the reasons why you must use a checklist.

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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Lesson Nugget: You have to display a good attitude. If people don't like you, they won't want to hang around you, or buy from you.
  • Lesson Nugget: You can't be organized, detailed, or reliable without a to-do list. Meaning you can't succeed without a to-do list.
  • "The to-do list: It's everything." - Lee Cockerell
  • Lesson Nugget: The to-do list is a must for your personal life, too!

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-Lee, I appreciate you letting us really try to take over your living room here with a lot of cameras, a lot of equipment. And as I've interviewed you, there's just some really neat nuggets that I'll never forget on small business management. And I wanted to kind of review these seven with you. And I wanted to see if you could maybe delve into why. And so I'm going to over these seven that I picked up as common denominators that really, I think, make up the essence of all that is Lee Cockrell as it relates to business. So here we go.

You said, what is attitude? You said, you have to have a great attitude. Two is it seemed like you just couldn't even process the concept of someone not keeping a to-do list with them. Third is you kind of thought it was asinine to not have a planner. Fourth, you have to have checklists for everything. And then you referenced "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." We should be reading this book. You said that "The Effective Executive" by Drucker is a great book to read.

And you talked about your rave system. So let's just start with attitude. Why do I have to have a good attitude? Why can't I just come to work and make it through the day?

-People don't want to work with you. They won't work with you. And if people don't you, they won't hang around with you. And let me tell you, we all have eliminated people from our lives because of their attitude, even sometimes it's relatives. Sometimes it's best friends from high school, because their attitude is-- I mean attitude is really your reputation. And what people say about you behind your back. And are they saying good things about you? I had a lady working for me once. She said, Lee, I hear-- you're my number two. She took my place when I left.

She said, I hear you're saying good things about me behind my back.

-So even if you don't feel like it, you have to act like it before you feel like it.

-Sure. Absolutely. It becomes who you are. What you practice, you become. I know that.

-As a leader, you always have to seem like you have a good attitude.

-I mean, I can get out of my car and be great, even though I just had a lot of problems. I can be great for a couple hours until I get back alone.

-Now the to-do list. You talked about having a to-do list.

-It's everything.

-For any entrepreneurs out there, if you're talking directly to the entrepreneur who does not utilize a to-do list, what are you saying to that guy?

-I would say, besides my attitude, the number one reason I got ahead in life is because I'm disciplined, I'm organized, I'm credible, I'm reliable, I keep promises, and the reason I do it is because of that day planner in my pocket.

-Without that to-do list--

-My brain forgets a lot. It forgets nothing.

-So if you have a great attitude, but you don't have a to-do list, it's not possible?

-Yeah. People are going-- he's a nice guy, and he's really screwed up. Is that what you want? I don't want to do business with him, but he is a nice guy. But he's not reliable. He does what he says he's going to do. He doesn't follow through. He doesn't get back to you. He told me he'd call me last week. I never heard from him again. And you meant to call him, but you just never did.

-Now what about the planner? Because it seemed like you're planner and your to-do list were the same item, almost. Like your planner and your to-do became the same thing.

-Yeah. My personal life and my business life's in this planner. Anything. This is how I keep my whole life under control.

-All in that thing?

-Not just work. A lot of people just put their work. I put everything. If Priscilla tells me to go to the store and get some pickles, I put it in there. I don't forget it. Because if I get home and don't have those pickles, I'm going to have to go back out.


-So you keep that?


-So your to-do and your planner, you have to have it.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Lesson Nugget: You and your team can't remember everything. You need checklists to get the job done the same way every time.
  • "The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done" - The Effective Executive
  • Lesson Nugget: By spending quality time with someone, you have the chance to develop that relationship.
  • "Powerful Lessons in Personal Change" - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Are you looking for small business management?

-OK. Moving on to checklists. Everything at Disney-- the bathrooms are cleaned a certain way, hamburgers are made a certain way, French fries are cooked a certain way, and it's not a tribal knowledge. It's not a verbal knowledge. It's not something that's all written down and documented into a series of checklists. Talk to me about the importance of that.

-You can't remember everything. If you want attention to detail, you've got to list all the details. And you have to do those through a checklist. And they've even proven that people who use checklists are much more successful. Hospitals are lowering infection rates with checklists. Wash your hands, use the alcohol rub, rub down the room. They're actually reducing stays in hospitals. Checklists. Pilots with checklists don't have crashes. Can you imagine a pilot says, wait, we can't find the checklist up here.

-I'm pretty sure we have fuel.

-I think we got most of it right. And then hear them talking to each other, and they say, are those flaps suppsed up or down?

-So if you're a videography crew, like these guys, you're going to have a checklist. If you're a photographer, checklist.

-Or you get there without half the equipment. Pilot checklist. Restaurant owner checklist. Disney executive checklists.

-Everyone has a checklist.

-OK. Here we go "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Covey. Why is that books so valuable?

-Because it's just the basics, again. In fact, it's my second favorite book. Now my book is the favorite book.


-This is a good book. And he talks about relationships with people. Listen. Listen. If you just learn to listen better. Listen to understand. That's pretty interesting comment. Listen to understand, where I'm coming from before you're going to tell me. And it's seven excellent principles about--

-Everyone should read that though.

-Absolutely. I love it. It came out in '89. I still got it. I look at it all the time.

-So you recommended reading the book, "The Effective Executive." Now I've heard about this book. It's written by Drucker, who's one of the famous-- probably the most famous management theorist and strategist out there. Why should everyone, who's an executive or wants to be an executive, read this book?

-The reason I liked it, and I read it many years. It's been out a long time.

-Since the '60s.

-Ah, probably was. It still hasn't changed a bit. The advice he gave-- one of the big pieces of advice I got out of it, which I've applied my whole career was, you're not going to be very effective spending short amounts of time with your executives or your people, and he said, he recommended, spend at least four hours with a group of people with no agenda. And let them just-- things will come out that you can't imagine. The first hour not much. They get more comfortable with you more. Third hour, they just-- as they see you're not overreacting, you're listening, you're taking notes. The fourth hour-- or with an individual that works for you.

They say if you'll spend four hours with that individual, having coffee in your office, and talking, you'll probably create a new business, and not even realize, because you'll get into it, and not realize it. And I started practicing that. And it was so true. Just calm down. Everybody quit having 15 minute meetings, 20 minute meetings, 30 minutes-- really get to know what's going on here. And you say that, too. I would see when you take one of your kids, one at a time somewhere, for a trip--

-Yeah, especially when dad does it.

-It's going to be so much-- what they're going-- your relationship's going to be so much bigger. One at a time. You and me. And like even here, we've spent 16 hours together.


-And I think we probably walk away with different relationship after this.


Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • "It's not magic that makes it work, it's the way you work." - Lee Cockerell
  • R.A.V.E: Respect, Appreciate, Value Everyone
  • Lesson Nugget: It's okay to disagree with people, but you still have to show them respect.
  • Lesson Nugget: Getting up early is a mechanism to ensure you are taking your leadership role seriously, and thinking about the people you are leading.
  • "Is it fun (to get up early)? No. But it's fun long term, to be successful." - Lee Cockerell

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-Well to me, this has been one of the most rewarding things in my life, because I've grown up idolizing David Robinson or looking up to Disney and being like, oh my gosh, this is the most amazing company in the world. And when you meet people like yourself, and you learn of the methodical processes that you do on a daily basis to become successful-- and it's not just an even, but it's the process--

-Sure. [INAUDIBLE] said, it's not magic that makes it work, it's the way you work. That's all. That's all I know.

-Now, the final thing I wanted to clarify the-- one little bonus question-- but it's RAVE, the RAVE system. And where you had said in your book, this is the concept of respect, appreciate, and value everyone. We're in a culture where Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, Caucasians, African-Americans, Asians, all different races, backgrounds, creeds, colors-- Disney. Everybody comes there and likes Disney. Talk to me about RAVE, the importance of RAVE.

-Well, I think on an individual basis, if you don't respect people-- and when you think about it, it's respect, appreciate, and value everyone. I may not agree with some of the things you believe in, but you have the right to believe them. I shouldn't discriminate against you because you believe one thing and I believe something. If you told me you were a Republican and I was a Democrat, I still have respect for your opinion.

And I think a lot of people overreact, and they want the people down. In fact, around the world, we have people that actually kill you if you have belief. They don't respect. They don't appreciate. That don't value the opinion. Christians in the Middle East, Muslims in the United States, Jewish people around the world, gays and lesbians, you go on and on and on, and I would just ask everybody, who has the right to judge other people?

You believe what you believe. A lot of what you believe, you were taught. A lot of beliefs, you believe what you parents taught you, or the environment you were in, or the church you go to. And I think people really-- generally, I've learned that showing respect and appreciation and valuing everyone-- and I grew up in Oklahoma in the '40s and '50s. You think I ever heard anything inappropriate in my house about other people?


LEE COCKERELL: But I guarantee you, Priscilla and I did one thing. Our son never heard one of those comments in our house. And guess what. He doesn't have a discriminatory bone in his body. I even tell people, then he married a French girl and I had to quit telling French jokes. And guess what. His children don't either. They get it.

-Now let me ask you. This is the final little bonus thing here, because I feel like this is the tough lesson that everyone has to grasp. All the things you talk about-- the attitudes, the to-do list, the planner, the checklist, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Effective Executive, the RAVE, all that-- can't get done if you're not working enough or awake early enough to make these things happen. For somebody who's a young entrepreneur or a business owner out there who's wanting to become successful, what time you recommend said human might get up every day?

-Well, I know if you get up early-- I get up at 5:30, 6 o'clock when I was at Disney, get to the office at 6:15. And to do that, you've got to take care of yourself. You've got to go to bed. You've got to not drink too much. You've got to not stay out half the night. You've got to have-- you've got to take care of your health. Because if you're an entrepreneur, or you're in any-- or parent-- it takes a lot of energy to do that.

CLAY CLARK: Yeah it does.

-And you've got to take care of yourself, and you've got to really think about your responsibility to those people tomorrow morning. Are you going to be in your best shape? It's kind of like a football player, are the ready-- game day. And do they take care of diet, exercise, your emotional stability, your spiritual placement in your life. I mean, you've got to think, it's a huge responsibility to be in charge of other people's lives, really. I mean how much responsibility do you think you have for five children? Or if you've got a business, 10 people-- now, that's how they pay the rent. That's how they get feed. That's how they pay for their kids' clothes. It's a huge-- and I always say, take it seriously. It's serious. It is serious.

-So you would say, take it seriously to manage you health. Take it serious to manage you family. And also, take it seriously to get up a couple hours before employees get there so you're organized and prepared.

-Hey, if you go to bed early, you'll want to get up. Because you can't lay in bed forever. I mean, get eight hours, you'll get up. Go to bed at 9:00, you'll wake up at 4:00. And, sure, is it fun? No. But it's fun long term because you're successful. And when other people start saying thank you, wow, you changed our lives, and thank you for this job. I think responsibility, it's a lot of fun. But it's hard work. It's hard work. Just like you know, being a parent. Is it hard work? And you really are out there. Five.

CLAY CLARK: Five kids.

-You're testing the outer bounds, here.

-Yeah. We're beyond the cultural norm. Well, I appreciate your time. And I appreciate you putting us into your to-do list in your planner and allowing us to come harass you here in Orlando. Thank you very much... small business management.

-See you, sir. Thank you.

-All right. Thank you.

-Lot of fun. Thanks, guys.

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