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Leading Your Organization

In this transcript, Lee Cockerell (Former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World® Resort) discusses the keys to leading your organization on Thrive15.com, one of the top business schools in Michigan! 

Lee:    I tell people Disney World is the happiest place on earth. Do you agree with that? Why? Does anybody know why? It's the happiest place on earth or else. You thought it was just magical that people behave down there? It's like your mother said, "Or else." Does your mother ever tell you, "Get that look off your face or else" or "Clean up your room or else?" My mother was like that. I didn't want to find out what that meant. It sounded not nice. So we just did what she said most of the time and when we didn't do what she said, she made sure that we understood what was happening. My mother did not lack clarity.

    Think about those three things. Are you doing that? Are you hiring great people? Do you really think about it that way? I'd tell you, "Go back to your business and look at every single person you've got in your organization." This is the best time in the world to upgrade the people. There's great people around this country looking for a job. I mean great people that have lost their jobs, kids coming out of school that are great and that's how you're going to build your business and that's how you're going to build the Church. That's having great people.

    You cannot have a great organization without having great people, it doesn't happen. If you have good people you're going to be good. If you have average people you're going to be average. If you have bad people you're going to be bad. It's all about the people. In fact, we know at Disney World, your people are your brand. Your people are your brand. 

    When you think about Disney, the rides and attractions, sure, they're great and we love them and blah, blah, blah, but it's the way you're treated there, that's where the difference is. The way people care about you. They go out of their way to take care of you and sincerely do it; really want to do it. Want to do it.

    Wanting to do something and having to do something is a big difference in the world. The reason people want to do it is because they're in the right environment. Like this group, you don't have to volunteer, you volunteer because you want to volunteer. People volunteer because they want to. 

    I'm going to tell you a story about people who give, in a minute but giving is a big deal. It's one of the most satisfying things in the world is to give. It really is. My wife, she always asks me what I want for my birthday. I don't want anything. I really don't want anything and I must say I think about that all the time. In fact, usually on my birthday I give my grandkids a present. It blows their mind. That's why they like me better than their parents. I'm not trying to manipulate them but we've got to make sure somebody is going to take care of us when we get old. 

    My little granddaughter is 13 now and I said, when she was about 11, I said, "Margo, are you going to take care of us when we get old?" She said, "Yes Pappy." I said, "I don't trust your brothers." I need commitment here, I don't need interest. Those are the kind of things. You've got to think about those kind of things.

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    Are you creating the right environment when you get out of your car in the morning? Do you walk in there, are you inside your head? Do you do it when you get home at night? When you've had a rough day, do you sit in the driveway for a couple of minutes and think about? There's only two things that can happen when you walk in your house at night or when you walk in the Church or when you walk into your business. You can make it better or you can make it worse. You personally.

    In the first half of my marriage I usually made it worse because I was stressed out. I told the group, my son told me when he was 14 he said, "Dad, I think a good idea would be for you, when you get home at night, to sit in the hot tub for 15 minutes before you talk to us." He said, "Everything was fine until you got here." 

    You know, I thought about that a lot. I'd come in, you can make it better, you can make it worse. Now I'm retired. I'm home all day. Now I go in and make it better. I told people I used to tell my wife I loved her annually because we've been married a long time. After 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, about to hit 44 here, man, I'll tell you what, you get in some bad habits because you just kind of slowly get out of things.

    When we first got married I told her I loved her every day. After 10 years I was telling her a couple times a week. Then all of a sudden it's once a week. Then now it's once a year. I think about this. If I had to give you some advice, think about what's not working in your life. Think about what you ought to be doing versus what you are doing. Think about getting back to where you were once.


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