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Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World, shares his wisdom and experience from his time as the Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World. Lee discusses how you can apply lessons in leadership, management, and customer service to create magic in your organization.

Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World, shares his wisdom and experience from his time as the Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World. Lee discusses how you can apply lessons in leadership, management, and customer service to create magic in your organization.
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Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World, shares his wisdom and experience from his time as the Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World. Lee discusses how you can apply lessons in leadership, management, and customer service to create magic in your organization.




Creative Ways to Find and Hire New Employees

When you are searching for people to add to your staff, you have to have a wide approach. Don't just post a job opening and hope the right person applies. Finding the right person starts long before you have a job opening. Having the right contacts and relationships with a wide variety of people can lead you to the right person, so it is a good idea to meet people across different industries and professions. At Disney World, we would carry a card to give to people we think would be a good...


Delegating Authority During an Emergency

Emergencies are the extreme example of finding out how well you have done in delegating authority. When you have an emergency you have no time for anyone to wonder what they should do and what responsibility they have. You have to sort it out before you have a problem. You don't plan what to do in a tornado when you hear the tornado siren. Think about what could go wrong. Work through the scenarios and determine who will do what task. Part of the planning for handling an emergency is to...


Mastering the Four Guest Expectations

No matter how big or small your organization is, your customers all have the same expectations; Make me feel special Treat me as an individual Respect me Have knowledgeable employees Now, go through these four expectations with your team and figure out how you can master them. You will have to be deliberate to master these four areas. Discuss each expectation individually and figure out what it means for you and your organization. If you master these four expectations you will stand...


How to Avoid an Us Versus Them Culture

Have you ever been in a situation at work where it seemed like it was Us versus Them? When you find this situation it often comes in the form of field staff vs. office staff. The problem comes from the top. This happens because the CEO lets it happen. Or, in a public agency, the Director or CEO equivalent. Al Weiss used to say there would not be any silos at Disney World. And if there were, someone would not be in their silo anymore because he would remove them. It is the...


How Do You Win Back Lost Customers?

When you lose a customer, is it possible to win them back? Yes, it is possible, but don't even try to win a customer back unless you are ready to have them back. They left you for a reason. Fix the issue that caused them to leave in the first place. Only then, should you try to win a customer back. And when you know you are ready to have them back, treat them like a VIP (very individual person). If you are in a position to do so, go see him or her in person. Don't settle for sending an...


How to Stand Out in Your Job

Often, people ask me how to stand out in their job. Perhaps they want to know a secret. Something no one has told them before. But it is no secret. Most people know what to do, but they don't. If you want to stand out, focus on the basics. If you focus on these five things, you will stand out about anyone else you work with; First impressions are important. Be an expert in something Find a way to get better every day. Add value above what is expected of you. Have a great...


Creating Magic with Gratitude

Want to create a magic environment around you? Start with gratitude. When you are around someone who is grateful, you can feel it, can't you? I used to think about what I didn't have and complain about it. At some point in my career, I became more grateful for what I do have. You know what, life became more enjoyable. When you are grateful for what you have, you begin to treat people better. People around you seem to be happier. It is like taking magic with you everywhere you...


Facing the Truth About Bad Hires

Too often, when we have a bad employee, we assume we made a great hire and something then went wrong with the employee. The truth is, you made a bad hire. It is hard to admit, but it is true. In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, we talk candidly about hiring and firing. If you want to build a great culture, you have to face the truth about bad hires and put an end to it. In this episode, we reference Carol Quinn and her book, Don't Hire Anyone Without Me. To go deeper in this...


Does Getting Fired Ruin Your Reputation?

Getting fired can feel like a big deal. It can feel like a blow to your confidence and your career. When I was younger, I took a job I shouldn't have and it led to me getting fired. It felt awful, of course. But it turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. One thing you are concerned about after getting fired is if it has ruined your reputation. After I was fired, I was hired by Marriott. They did not care I had been fired. Next, I was recruited by Disney. By then, having...


Is it Unrealistic to Have Big Dreams?

Walt Disney was a dreamer. Some would say he was unrealistic. Some would say he was unreasonable. But without his dreams, there would be no Mickey Mouse. No Snow White. No Disneyland or Disney World. If you have big dreams, people are going to tell you that you can't do it or you are being unrealistic. Remember, when someone tells you something can't be done, they are talking about their limitations, not yours. Don't listen to them. Take your shot so you don't have regrets later in...


It's Time to Take Care of the Customer

On this episode of Creating Disney Magic, a listener asks what I think is the biggest opportunity for the service industry. We've tried everything else, now let's take care of the customer. No gimmicks. No marketing campaign. No technology. Just people taking care of people. To make this happen, you have to stop relying on your business strategy and develop a leadership strategy. In order to take care of the customer, you need the right people. To hire and retain the right people, you...


Don't Stay Where You are Not Happy

This week I answer two listener questions. Although the details are different, both questions are in the same line of "my boss doesn't listen". Yes, it happens. There are some lousy bosses out there. People are insecure. Insecurity in leadership leads to some bad behavior. If you find yourself in this position it can make your life miserable. And my advice is simple, don't stay where you are not happy. Of course, it is simple to say and hard to act on. I understand many people are not...


Planning for Disruptions

If your organization has not experienced a major disruption in the past couple of years it is coming. Technology changes so fast, you may not even see the disruption before it hits. Look at what Amazon and Uber did to other businesses in their industry. The key to being ready for these disruptions is to plan for them. Even if you don't know what the disruption is, you can plan on being disrupted. Get a group of people from your organization together. Pick a possible disruption. Work...


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How to Have A Magical Job Interview

In my younger days, I had trouble talking about myself. They even called me "Low Key Lee" because I kept to myself. So you might not be surprised to hear I did not interview well. But as I became an expert and became more confident, I became better at job interviews. Looking back on my career, I realize there are three things to help you create magic in a job interview; Here is a bonus tip...you get the job before you have the interview. At Disney, we often knew who we were going to...


Incremental Sales Can Boost Your Bottom Line

Many businesses are missing a big opportunity by not finding the right time to make incremental sales. Or you could call it situational selling. In the right situation, you offer an additional service or product to the customer. It is what we do in the hotel and restaurant business. We encouraged it and sometimes would create a friendly competition. Some people call it upselling, but it is more like upserving because you are finding a small way to serve the customer even better. At...


Why Are Routines Important?

Many people set resolutions to start a new year. Most of those people don't follow through. Usually, by February, people have already given up on losing weight, reading more books, or whatever resolution they set. They key is to do things on purpose. Or, said another way, routines. Routines are systems to help you get done what you need to get done. Can you imagine FedEx or IBM or Disney doing what they do without systems? Your life is no different. You need the routines to keep your...


Does Customer Service Hurt the Bottom Line?

Focusing on numbers and neglecting the customer has become too common. When times get tough, companies cut costs, often at the expense of customer service. Is that the right move? Does customer service really hurt the bottom line? Absolutely not. Without the customer, you will not have a bottom line to worry about. Take care of the customer. It takes discipline to offer excellent customer service while still meeting financial goals. A constant focus on meeting financial numbers, you...


Overcoming the Expience Gap

Anytime you get a promotion, especially when you are young, you may face an experience gap. Whether the experience gap is real or perceived, you have to address it. When I was in the hospitality industry, I spent time as a cook, a banquet waiter, restaurant waiter, and I cleaned rooms. I worked most jobs in the guest side of operations. Experience and exposure are the keys to overcoming the experience gap. Working your way through the operations with give you the experience you need and...


How to Build Trust With Your Supervisor

Building trust with your supervisor is an art. All of us, well, most of us, want to build enough trust so we get more autonomy and responsibility in our job. If you want to build trust with your boss, you begin with results. Bring a project forward, get approval from your supervisor, and then get good results. When you have a track record of producing results, you will move from getting approval to being able to do the project on your own and keep your boss informed. Sometimes you have...


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