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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.




Take Responsibility For Your Own Development

Today we are answering our first listener question of 2022 (full disclosure, we recorded it last month). Eric Reys asks: My daughter just became a manager and has not had any leadership training. Should she look into outside courses and bring them to her boss or do it on her own? I have explained previously that there is a difference between management and leadership. Management is about getting things done and is technical. These are the hard skills needed to do a job, and ideally, you...


Hero on a Mission with Donald Miller

If you feel bored with your own story, bored with life, or feel like your life is a story you are not enjoying right now, you need to hear this episode. Donald Miller returns to Creating Disney Magic to talk about his new book, Hero on a Mission. Don shares the three stories he is living with his life. When you are know what story you are living, you know what you won't do. You get more clarity in your life. You have a filter to help you make decisions. Many people struggle when one story...


The Benefit of Deadlines

Wrapping up one year and moving into the next can get people thinking of things they want to change and improve. I have learned over the years that knowing how to set deadlines is a make-or-break strategy when it comes to being organized and getting things in your life done. In life, you get done what you want to do. If you desire to do more, you need to get organized. Often, we know what we need to do; we don’t do it. It is easy, especially in our personal life, to fail to complete those...


Can You Be Informal and Professional?

We have another listener question, this time coming all the way from the UK. Deanto Callo wants to know if it is possible to be friendly and informal with your staff and still maintain professional standards? It is possible to be friendly and maintain expectations and standards with your team. You have to decide who you are and what you stand for, as a leader and as a company. Make sure your team knows what you stand for and how it will help them grow and get better. When you have clear...


Operating Your Business in the Cloud

You have heard me talk about the cloud recently and how I am trying to become more familiar with what it means for business. We have a special guest today. Kenneth Johnson, CEO of Blue Sentry, joins us to help us better understand the benefits of “the Cloud”. There are a lot of implications for business when it comes to migrating to the cloud, and it can seem overwhelming. The best way to understand it is as a public utility company. It is the same way that water and electric companies...


Discover Talent in Your Own Organization

Today we are answering a listener question. Karen Ellis asks “What can help a person break out of a role or job title and get others to see they can do more and grow into another role?” Karen gave the example of an administrative assistant looking to move into more responsibility. There are two sides to this discussion. If you are on the employee side and want to move into a new role, the answer is pretty straightforward. First, make sure you are being a high producer. Do what you are...


Get Exposed to New Ideas

I just returned from the annual IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) Conference. Not only can you get a good hot dog, but if you are in the entertainment park business, it is a great opportunity to learn about upcoming innovations in the industry. No matter the industry you are in, it is important to get outside the walls of your own company and expose yourself to new ideas. See what else is out there and challenge yourself. You will lose out as an...


Call People Out for Doing Good Work

This year, I was honored to attend the Elevate Prize Conference in South Beach. If you are not familiar with it, the Elevate Prize is awarded by The Elevate Prize Foundation to ten or more global leaders who are tackling pressing issues in innovative ways. The foundation also sponsors the Elevate Prize Catalyst Award and the Elevate Giving Program. While attending the conference, I encountered many individuals who are making a difference in the world. From a woman helping to get bili lights...


Dealing with the Labor Shortage

We have made mention before the current labor shortage most companies are experiencing. While people may be enjoying a time away from the daily grind, sooner or later, the vast majority will have to return to work. Many mindsets, however, have been permanently changed. The workforce will return, but with a different set of expectations. People are going to look for companies that invest in their employees. Providing training and cultivating a culture of inclusion is key to attracting and...


Dealing with Customer Complaints

The way you handle customer complaints can make or break your company. Today, companies often look for a quick and easy way to deal with complaints. Automated options are a good resource, but you can’t let technology take the place of truly serving your customer. Disney is known for its customer service and how they handle complaints. They investigate each one with a personal call. That in and of itself can serve to resolve issues. People need to feel heard, and having the opportunity to...


Cut Through Layers of Management

There is a lot going on in the world right now. Whether it is understanding the benefit of Cloud services or navigating this new season in the world of hiring and retaining talent, leadership is taking a long hard look at how they operate. One thing leaders need to be looking at is how they can cut through the multiple layers of management and connect directly with employees. With every layer of management you add, communication gets diluted. It becomes a grown-up version of the game of...


Offer More Than a Paycheck

Now more than ever, individuals are resigning from their current jobs and pursuing something different. It’s being called The Great Resignation. People have realized that they don’t want to do a job that they don’t like. They also don't want to be where they don’t feel valued. They have learned that they can work from home and be with their family. They have learned that enduring a commute every day is not necessary. Employers and leaders must be prepared to offer more. More money? Maybe....


Having Difficult Conversations With Your Boss

It is never easy having hard conversations. Today I am answering a listener question in this vein. An anonymous listener asks: What do you do when you love your job but can’t stand what is happening behind the scenes with management? How do you have a conversation with your boss to address your concerns? It can be intimidating to approach your boss with concerns. Sometimes, we can even build it up in our minds and imagine the worst possible outcome. You won’t lose your job over raising...


Make the Most of Your Time

In his poem “If” Rudyard Kipling closes with the line, “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the earth and everything that’s in it." Today Jody and I are discussing what you can do to make the most of your time. I’ve been preaching the power of 60 seconds for years. When you fill your minute with something that pays off down the road, you can make the most of the time you have. How do you make sure you have time to invest what matters?...


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...