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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.




Do You Have the Persistence to Be the Best?

This episode of Creating Disney Magic is recorded live in front of a live audience of 350 people in Indianapolis. We took questions from the audience while I answered live from the stage. Here are the questions I answer during this episode: What do you do when you want to empower people but have trouble letting go? How have natural disasters affected my leadership training? When you are interviewing, how can you tell someone is a diamond in the rough if they are struggling with an...


Creating Magic With Words

Words help a business create magic. Get past the boring business language we have become accustomed to. Words help you get to someone's heart by getting to their brain first. Even when it comes to Disney, without the words magic would not happen. Words are used in movies, of course. But Disney also uses words to connect to guests. Disney uses words to even build a better experience for employees. And the best example of this is we don't use the words employees. We call them cast members....


How to Build Your Confidence

On this episode of Creating Disney Magic, I answer two listener questions, but they both tie together. With the first question, someone asks about working with a mentor. He is a young man who wants to know how to approach someone about working with them in a mentor type relationship. It is not uncommon for people to ask me to be their mentor. I decline, though. If I am going to mentor someone I need to see them work and have a personal relationship with them. But I am willing to give...


The Path to Creating Magic in Your Life

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, we have another rapid-fire series of questions. Jody Maberry pulls out seven listener questions, and I provide a brief answer. Tell how you would work along with cast members to learn what they would do day to day. Spending time out with the cast members gave me more appreciation for the hard work our team did every day. You would benefit from doing the same. Get out with your team to get an idea of the work they do day in and day out. What do...


Take the Risk or Have the Regret

This episode of Creating Disney Magic is a bit different than usual. Rather than focus on a single topic, we do a series of rapid-fire questions. In this episode, I answer the following questions: What is your biggest leadership failure and how did you cope with it? What is a tip for not getting burnt out while working a full-time job while also building your own small business? What advice can you give when it comes to coaching employees on accountability? What is the greatest career...


Making Family Your Top Priority

Early in my career, I was so driven to successful I worked six days each week. I went to work early in the morning and came home late at night. I didn't see my wife or son enough. Together with my wife Priscilla, we came up with a plan that would allow me to spend all of my time on my one day off with my son, Daniel. As I got promoted and traveled often for Marriott, I would talk to my son every night while I was gone. When I would arrive home on Friday from a week on the road, I took...


How to Have Difficult Conversations

Having difficult conversations is one of the toughest aspects of being a leader. Terminating someone, in my opinion, is the hardest thing. But having difficult conversations is second, and avoiding these conversations can often lead to having to terminate someone. If you can't make hard decisions or have hard conversations, don't become a parent and don't become a manager. Most managers are not living up to their responsibility of having the tough conversations. Tough conversations are...


Three Leadership Qualities You Can't Learn in School

When I am looking to hire someone, I don't care where you went to school or what your grades were. To some degree, I don't care about your technical knowledge. I am more concerned about who you are. Have you experienced a hardship? Did you overcome it? Experience and exposure you get from adversity can be worth more than getting a degree or improving your technical skills. Who you are is what I, and other leaders, are looking at. Do you keep promises? Can you let your ego go? Can you work...


How Hard Should You Pursue Your Dream Job?

Many people have a job they would consider a dream job, but they never go for it. And if they do, they wonder how hard they should pursue it. There can be more than one way to get your dream job. Sometimes you need to take a job just to get in the door. Are you willing to take a gamble on yourself? Take a lower job so you can show them how good you are. Or, know specifically what you are going after and find out what you need to do. Most hard things take time. You have to invest in...


Building a Magic Culture in Your Organization

After 27 years with Disney, including becoming the Vice President of the Magic Kingdom, my son Daniel retired to pursue his own speaking and consulting career. At Disney, Dan had a wonderful career and a job most people would love to have. Yet, he left to pursue his dream and to be able to help more organizations. Many people would say Dan took a big risk. As Dan says, "The future is not going to be clear, but you have to move forward with confidence that it is going to work out." He knew...


The Secrets of a Great Resume

The secrets to creating a good resume may not be what you think. It is not design that matters. Or keywords. Getting people to know you, the person is what matters. Too often, people consider a complete resume to be a chronological list of the jobs you have had. If you do this, you are going about it all wrong. Want to find out if your resume stands out from the crowd? Show your resume to people you know and ask for their feedback. Also, show your resume to companies. Don't apply for a...


Ask Employees How You Can Do Better

The secret to understanding how you can operate your business better, serve customers better, and better support your staff is right in front of you. All you have to do is ask. Asking employees how you can do better is a powerful way to infuse new ideas into your organization. When I was with Disney, I would do this often. I would meet 10 or 12 front line cast members to find out what is going on with them. Meeting with employees will uncover information you can get no other way. They...


How to Promote Yourself

Did you know people used to call me Low-Key Lee? Don't make the mistake of thinking your work will stand for itself. People have to know you did the great work. I made this mistake when I interviewed with Marriott. When I assumed the great work I had done at Hilton would speak for itself. It doesn't work that way. You have to promote yourself. At the time, I didn't know how to promote myself Low-Key Lee was not the person Marriott wanted to hire. Fortunately for me, someone I worked with...


Create Opportunities by Meeting New People

One of the most effective ways to create new opportunities is to meet new people. Meet people and keep in touch because you never know what could pop up later. If you don't know people they can't help you. If you don't know people you can't help them. I meet as many people as I can. It doesn't matter who they are or where they are from. Don't expect anything from the people you meet. Just enjoy meeting them and enjoying the diversity of conversation. But, sometimes opportunities arise...


Creating Magic With the Guest Experience Cycle

On the 200th episode of Creating Disney Magic, we examine the Guest Experience Cycle. Disney implements the Guest Experience Cycle to make sure guest have the best vacation of their lives. Anticipation - Anticipate what your guests will expect so you can work on those items before the guest arrives. Arrival - What will the experience be like when your guest arrives? Whether a guest arrives in person, on the internet, or by phone what will the experience be like for them? Experience -...


Lead by Example

If you want to make a difference in your organization, you will have the most impact if you lead by example. On this episode of Creating Disney Magic, we talk about 3 different situations, including leading by example. Here are the first two: How to handle meeting a celebrity at work. Be polite and courteous. Say hello and go away. At Disney, you can't bother a celebrity or ask for an autograph. They are there for a private event or to spend time with their family. If you are at work,...


Use 15 Minutes Every Morning to Create Magic

Often, people ask me about my morning planning time. I like that question because morning planning has helped me create magic. So many questions about morning planning time led me to create the Morning Magic Planning Course, which you can find here. My career at Disney has been well documented on the Creating Disney Magic podcast, but you have to rewind nearly 40 years to discover one of the biggest secrets to my success. Before I discovered the secret, I was disciplined, but not...


How to Make a Shift in the Way You Operate

People only change for two reasons; crisis or education. Making a life change because of education is much better, believe me. But too many of us wait until we are smacked in the face to make a change. Making a change is hard, though. In my personal life, I made a drastic shift after going to a Time Management seminar in 1980. Before then, I worked hard and I worked a lot. Yet, I still missed deadlines and didn't get all my work done. But this 2-day changed everything. It shifted the way I...


How to be a Great Coworker

This week on Creating Disney Magic, I answer two questions about working with co-workers. Working with Co-workers. Two questions both involve working with co-workers. First, how do you handle it if you have information or knowledge that can help co-workers? Someone would only ask this if they have ambition and a steak of leadership. Often, people keep their heads down and do their job without consideration to co-workers, unless it has a negative impact on them. Even so, this can still be...


The Manager is Always Responsible

No matter what business you are in, poor service happens because of the general manager. If bathrooms are dirty, don't blame the guy who cleans them. Look at the general manager. If food arrives late at a restaurant and service is lousy, it is not the cooks and servers. It is the general manager. If people stick to doing only what is in their job description, it is because the manager allows it. As a leader, there are three steps to help staff create magic. Also, consider what plans you...