In the following transcript, Lee Cockerell (man who managed 43,000 employees at Walt Disney World Resort) talks with Clay Clark (Founder of Thrive15.com) about customer service training and how to manage employees on Thrive15.com!
Clay Clark: When you started at Disney, you were there for 15 years, correct?
Lee Cockerell: 16, yeah.
Clay Clark: What were some of the major technology differences that you ran into where you had to make big changes to stay ahead of the pack?
Lee Cockerell: First of all, for me personally there were no cell phones.
Clay Clark: When you started.
Lee Cockerell: Back in, well, I started in '90. Not most people, I mean there were cell phones, but most people didn't have a device, a smart ... Let's say smartphone where you could do everything. Your calendar, Outlook, all this stuff.
I remember, really, first ... What was that one that had a little thing you ... That first device that came -
Clay Clark: Palm Pilot.
Lee Cockerell: Palm Pilot. Oh my God. I thought, that's very difficult. I can't do that. I looked at the manual and I'm going, I can't. I had guy who 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, teach me how to use it." Then I started.
He still jokes with me. How long it took Lee Cockerell, the boss, to start using technology. Then I had a BlackBerry and then I have a ... It's always hard to get out of your old system and adapt.
Adapting technology for a people at a certain age is really hard, but if you don't do it, you got a problem.
Clay Clark: So you're even saying that for you it was hard to do, but you just had to do it.
Lee Cockerell: Yeah, you just got to. 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 L.A. and I go Vegas every year to see what's going on and can I find a new way to do something.
I go to the Marriott and go to a banquet and see that they have all their waiters standing at every table greeting you and seating you. I go back and I put that in Disney.
Clay Clark: So even at Disney, even though Disney's the peak company in the world for really family entertainment, you still went out to other places to ... I wouldn't ... 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.
Lee Cockerell: I'll tell you one that goes to the bottom line. In the year 2000 we sold $3 million in pins, trading pins, Disney pins. Somebody was at the winter Olympics in Japan and saw the athletes trading pins. Somebody from Disney, he said, "Why don't we try that in the bicentennial year, 2000?" So we did it. That year we sold $25 million in pins.
Today, over $100 million dollar business.
Clay Clark: Pins.
Lee Cockerell: Because somebody went and saw it and said, "We could do that."
Clay Clark: That's huge.
Lee Cockerell: $100 million. And that margin is good on those pins. Chinese are over there making those pins.
Clay Clark: Now, these were like the pins you put on -
Lee Cockerell: Trading pins, like this pin. Or I'm going to give you a leadership pin, or it's a Cinderella pin. If I give you some pins today and you take them back to your kids, they'll be happy to see you.
Clay Clark: Let me ask you this. Let me ask you this here. In your book you said you want to be careful about what you say and do. Now I just want to give you some real examples. I have some clients I've worked with over the years. One that comes to my mind vividly, about 5 years ago.
She'd gone through some really intense health problems, okay? Another client sales were flat. Both of them kept saying out loud, gosh. They'd say their employees ... In the first 5 minutes, the employee says, "How are you today?" And the boss says "Ah, 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.
Lee Cockerell: Well, first of all, saying it is not going to help your health. There's actually no upside to telling people all your problems. Somebody said, if you're ill, don't tell me. Go see a doctor. I can't help you. I'm not a doctor.
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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? Showing that there's a way you can help me, I'll help you if you have a problem in your life.
There's no upside to that and I think people expect the boss to be up and positive. If the boss is down, what's next? Or parents. Being positive in front of your children. They don't want to see you arguing with mom. It makes them feel unsafe and it makes them feel.
Clay Clark: You're saying if I feel down as an owner or a boss or a manager, I don't have ... 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.
Lee Cockerell: If I had a down day and I had a bad day, you know who I'd discuss it with? Priscilla, when I get home.