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Creating Disney Magic


Lee Cockerell 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 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.


United States


Lee Cockerell 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.




How To Deal With Bad Comments From Former Employees

Today Jody and I are answering a question submitted by Melanie Maximus. Melanie asks, “How do you handle negatives posts online or comments in person from former employees?” In the wake of an ongoing pandemic, businesses have closed or have had to lay off employees at an unprecedented rate. While the reasoning may be understandable, it doesn’t mean there won’t be some upset former team member left in the wake. As a leader, it doesn’t matter if the feedback is from a disappointed former...


Don’t Be Good When You Can Be Great

Today Jody and I are talking about what it takes to create a great experience. I have visited restaurants where the food was good, but the waiter was great. Their service elevated the experience. A middle-of-the-road product can be elevated into a good experience through great customer service. Products aren’t what sets a company or organization apart. Service that shines can outweigh the product it produces. The beauty of great service is anyone can do it. You don’t have to be in...


Don’t Argue with a Customer

Today, Jody brought up an interesting story I had illuded to when we first started this podcast. In the 1970s, I ran a restaurant in the Fairfield Inn in Philadelphia. While there, there was a woman that came in every day and ordered tea. There was a particular instance when this customer decided to complain about the water not being hot. This story sparked the question between Jody and me: should you argue with a customer? This encounter solidified a specific understanding for me: The...


Can Culture Compete with Compensation?

In today’s corporate landscape, it is hard to fill jobs. Many leaders ask how to make their companies a desirable place to work, especially if you don’t have direct control over what you can pay. Today, you have to give more than a payday or a salary to get people to come and work for you. When considering how to make your company competitive in the employment pond, ask yourself what else can you offer potential employees? Treating people with appreciation, recognition, and encouragement...


Reintroducing Staff to the Office

Today Jody and I are covering a topic that is relevant to many companies. What do you do when you are reintroducing staff back into the office? So many companies have had to go remote over the past year and a half. As many companies seek to return to business as "normal", it is important to learn from this season and see what is best for our company. Don’t get stuck on the idea that everyone needs to come back in. If you have stayed in contact with your team while at home, they should...


Empowering Employees to Make Decisions

Today I am taking a listener question: As a manager, how do you set professional boundaries between you and employees but still be there for them and be supportive? This specific question is motivated by a leader who is getting calls at all hours of the day and night from their employees. They want to be available, but not at the expense of their family. This might seem like a large challenge, but when you boil it down, it hinges on something simple: Clarity. Whether you are clarifying...


How to Be a Better Listener

One of the most underrated skills a leader must have is the ability to listen. Even if it is one of the five senses, it takes intentionality and cultivation to make it a skill. How you listen, as a leader can make or break your team. It is easy to mistake planning how to replay with actively listening. The difference is remaining present. Take time to prepare yourself and actively listen. Put your phone away. Remove distractions. Sit near the individual you are listening to. Take notes and...


Discussing Nurses and Healthcare

Catie Harris, the founder of Nursepreneurs, joins Creating Disney Magic to talk about nurses and healthcare. Hospitals can be a tough environment for nurses. Many nurses prefer to take a holistic approach to patient care, but it doesn't always work that way in a hospital. Often, this leads to nurses getting out of healthcare. Nursepreneurs helps nurses start their own businesses, so they can still care for patients. Many nurses don't believe they can start their own business since most...


Service is a Superpower

Today, Louie Gravance, author of Service is a Superpower, is joining me on my final podcast recording in Colorado. As many people are currently encountering, dependability in service industries is struggling. From airlines to restaurants to Harry Potter World, the service industry is running on a bare-bones crew who has grown rusty in their craft. Louie unpacks the importance of everyone wanting and needing to be heard. Those in service may not be able to guarantee a flight, but they can...


Making All Staff Feel Welcome

As I wrap up my last week in Colorado, Jody and I want to tackle a unique listener question from an anonymous listener. If you have a diverse staff, how do you handle it when some of your staff speak their native language? Especially if another staff member is concerned that they are being talked about? Honestly, I have been guilty of this myself. When I worked in France, I didn’t speak French, and I spoke English to anyone on my staff who understood it. I was not using my native language...


How to Get Customer Feedback

I recently mentioned the importance of going out and getting feedback from your customers. It is key to setting yourself apart in most industries. Your customers and your employees know everything you need to know, you just need to ask. How do you ask for feedback? Very simply. My two favorite questions to use are 1) Would you recommend us to your loved ones? Why or why not? 2) What can we do better? Simple. You don’t need a huge survey. That can turn people off. If it takes too long, your...


You’ve Got to Know More to Be More

When you know better, you do better. When you learn more, you know more. In this episode, I am answering Glenn’s question. Glenn asked a question based on a quote of mine. You’ve got to know more to be more. What does that look like? Knowledge is power. When you know things, people listen to you. You have more power, more influence. You get better opportunities, and you make better decisions. You can help people more. There is value in education. I’m not just talking about college, but the...


How to Tell Someone They Did Not Get a Promotion

No one likes breaking bad news to people. As a leader, sometimes that goes with the job description. It may be logistical issues or maybe even breaking the news to someone about a promotion they will not be getting. In this episode, I will answer a listener question along these lines. This week’s question comes from a listener who was actually in this situation. How do you navigate any fallout from having to hire only one person out of a pool of leadership options? Often, we want to...


Treating Customers Like Visitors

Jody and I are in person again, recording from my office in Orlando. We are trying a new setup. One topic is on my mind as we navigate a world opening up after an unprecedented pandemic: what has happened to customer service? During the shutdown, many businesses had to pivot. They had to make changes and figure out how to work in a “touchless” world. As things continue to open up, companies have to make the call: continue delivering bare-bones or embrace customer service. If you are the one...


Build a First-Class Reputation

Jody and I are recording in person again from Orlando. After a recent conversation with Ron Logan, the question of building a solid reputation is at the forefront of our minds. Your reputation gets to other people before you do. How you treat people and how you help them gets spread around. People’s opinions of you get broadcast. Like it or not, people are talking behind your back. Good or bad. Your reputation is getting better or worse every day based on what you do or don’t do. Doing the...


How Leaders Can Connect Digitally

Jody and I are doing something a little different today. We are an in-person recording from Rosen College of Hospitality. Today is a milestone for us, as we record episode 350. After almost seven years, if there is something I have learned about digital communication, it is that it is a great tool and it is here to stay. Take podcasts for example. Podcasts are not just for talking about one topic anymore. They can be used by an organization for internal communication. It is a powerful...


A Case Study in Risk

Sometimes it can be frightening to take a risk or to start something new. Sometimes, it can pay off. Today, Sarah and Preston Lowder join us to share their own experience in starting their own business and leaving careers behind. Sarah and Preston started Lowder Baking Company officially in 2019. Before their official start, they were selling King Cakes during Mardi Gras as a side business. Sarah was a realtor, and Preston was an ICU nurse when they decided to get serious. They started with...


Allowing Employees to Deal with Family Matters

I am live from Coffee for the Soul in Orlando again. Today, we are answering a listener question that hits close to home. Will asks, “How do you allow for individuals in the organization to not neglect family and close relationships, but also not become unreliable or inconsistent? It falls into the responsibility of both the employee or team member and company leadership. As a prospective employee, you need to have that discussion before you join. Make sure you join the "right"...


Now is the Opportunity to Get a Job

This week, I am taking you to my favorite coffee shop, Coffee for the Soul, in Orlando. After a three-night stay in the hospital, I’m glad to be getting out and about and to offer some tips for those who may be looking to land their dream job. Now is the time. As everywhere is opening back up and capacity limits are starting to lift, everywhere is hiring. I often get asked how to get a foot in the door at Disney. If you have dreamed of working for Disney, there is no better time than now....


How to Give Clarity in Job Descriptions

Everyone likes to know what they are signing up for. I know I do. It can be easy, as an employer, to leave new hires with unclear expectations on what the day-to-day of their job will entail. As a leader, it is crucial to be 100% truthful, especially when discussing what they should expect. Let them know your expectations of them. Misunderstandings happen because we aren’t clear with each other. A lack of clarity can leave people feeling duped. Especially when the job gets hard or turns...