Creating Disney Magic: Lessons in Leadership, Management, and Customer Service

Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World, shares his wisdom and experience from his time with Disney, Marriott, and Hilton. Lee discusses how you can apply lessons in leadership, management, and customer service to create magic in your organization.
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Creating Disney Magic: Lessons in Leadership, Management, and Customer Service





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Nov 15, 2016

When it comes to employee discipline, you must remain consistent and fair. 

At Disney World, with over 73,000 cast members, the only way to remain consistent and fair is to have a documented system in place. In order to get fired at Disney, you must accumulate 12 points. Everyone knows the system. Everyone knows it is fair.  

If you do not have a clear system in place, now is the time to begin. Nobody should be confused about discipline.

You can get more information on the Time Management Magic course HERE

You can order Lee's new book, Career Magic, HERE

Nov 8, 2016

It is becoming more common to have team members who are working from remote locations. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee tackles the challenge of communicating and leading a remote team. 

For managing teams, having a podcast just for your team is an ideal way to keep your team up to date and in touch with what is happening in the company. 

Team members who work remotely can easily feel like they are unnoticed and forgotten. A manager must be deliberate to make sure everyone feels included, encouraged and inspired. 

Nov 1, 2016

When Lee Cockerell was the Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World, he would schedule visits at various properties. But he also made sure he visited the properties unannounced as well. 

You have to know what it is like to do business with yourself. The best way to get that knowledge is first hand. Get out there and experience your business as a customer. 

Even if you have a small business, you can find a way to get the information you need. If you want to know the truth, you will find a way. 

In this episode, Lee also tells the story behind the tie he always wears. The tie is to support one of Lee's favorite charities, Give Kids the World. You can get a tie just like Lee's, and help create magic for kids, by CLICKING HERE

Career Magic, Lee's fourth book, is available here on Amazon

Lee and Jody have begun recording modules for the Time Managment Magic Course. If you want to be the first to know when the course comes out, you can get your name on the list HERE.  

Oct 25, 2016

Creating Disney Magic has hit the 100 episode milestone. Lee Cockerell and Jody Maberry reflect on the past 100 episodes and then answer a listener question. 

Lee talks about the struggle of the balance of having enough staff to deliver an amazing experience and being mindful of staying in your budget. 

Too often, and organization needs more people because they don't have the right people on staff. 

You can now order Lee's new book, Career Magic. CLICK HERE to get your copy from Amazon.

Oct 18, 2016

Lee Cockerell's fourth book, Career Magic, is now available. In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee discusses stories from the book and gives valuable career advice.  

CLICK HERE to order Career Magic from Amazon. 

Oct 11, 2016

The hit movie Frozen was an unexpected success for Disney. In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee Cockerell discusses how Disney handled the success. Lee also talks about how you can handle unexpected success in your business. 

The key is to already have a culture in place where your team is willing to jump in and do what they need to do to respond to the demand of the success. 

Oct 4, 2016

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee Cockerell answers two listener questions, both about attitude. 

Attitude makes the difference in they way you serve customers and guests. Attitude will set you and your organization apart. If employees have a bad attitude, it is because managers allow it. It has to be dealt with promptly. 

But even a good attitude can't overcome poor performance. Being nice only goes so far. Being nice and acting professional is a given. It has to be there. But if you can't perform, attitude can only take you so far. 

Leaders have to deal with the whole person, not just the pieces they want to deal with. 

Sep 27, 2016

Often, Lee Cockerell gets questions about how to get hired at Disney. 

Truth is, it is not easy to get hired at Disney World. It gets harder when you can not afford, in salary or the step back in your career, to take an entry level job. 

There is no short cut to getting a job at Disney, but Lee shares little steps that may help you get noticed. 

Lee's new book, Career Magic, is available for pre-order. You can order it here

Sep 20, 2016

Do you ever have trouble getting paid what you are owed?

A collection problem can be the beginning of the end of a business. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee Cockerell gives counsel on how businesses can get paid when customers are slow to give money. Remember, if you don't collect the money you are owed, you can not serve your customers. If you go out of business, you and your customers will lose. 

Lee also discusses the importance of staying current in the news that is most relevant to you. 

Sep 13, 2016

Applied the right way, in the right situations, technology can help you create magic and serve customers better. Applied in the wrong way, technology can move you further away from customers.

In this episode, Lee examines how restaurants and other service industries can use technology to enhance they way they serve customers.

Lee will be speaking at the RSummit in Las Vegas, October 12 - 14. If you have a restaurant business, this summit will help motivate progress and innovation. You can find out more here.

Sep 6, 2016

Is there a downside to being social friends with people who report directly to you?

It can turn into a difficult situation. The more you get to know people in a personal friendship, it can become difficult to handle some situations professionally. 

If your social friendship does not get in the way of either you or the employee doing your job effectively, then it can work out. But it can still be tricky. The perception of others in the workplace can be damaging, even if there is not favoritism for the employee. 

Aug 30, 2016

While Disney was preparing for the millennium celebration, some cast members recommended Disney adopt the idea of tradable pins. The cast members had been at the Olympics and noticed athletes traded pins to each other. The idea was adopted by Disney World and has gone on to become a multi-million dollar per year idea. Disney trading has become a popular past time for Disney enthusiasts. 

The lesson in the story is to keep your eyes open for new ideas. Watch for ideas and concepts others are already doing that you can put in place at your organization. 

Aug 23, 2016

Maintaining high standards can be a challenge in any setting. It becomes even more difficult when you have a large company, are dispersed geographically, or work with franchisees or independent distributors. In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee Cockerell explains how you can maintain high standards in these situations. 

Lee also reminds us that average is a dangerous place to be for companies and individuals. 

Aug 16, 2016

Recently, Disney began to allow facial hair. Through guest surveys and rigorous examination, Disney realized an old policy had become a tradition. Facial hair on cast members did not tarnish to Disney image, or change the positive feelings guests have for cast members. 

Traditions can get in the way in families, business, and your personal life. 

In business, some policies are still in place only because they are already in place. They no longer serve the customer or add value to the business operation. 

When was the last time you examined the behaviors in your organization to determine what you want to allow and what you want to change? Do you have policies that don't allow you to serve your customers? Do you have behaviors that are not fair to all your employees? What traditions do you need to let go?

Aug 9, 2016

If you have ever been to Disney World and made a retail purchase, you probably noticed how well the cashier treated you. Rather than going through the motion, a cast member working in retail engages customers and adds to the overall Disney experience. 

This week on Creating Disney Magic, Lee answers a listener question about how Disney achieves such a high level of excellence in retail sales. 

The key to success in any organization is for everyone to know their role in the show. You get there by hiring, training, and rehearsal. Most organizations do not have standards or a script and retail employees do not understand how they should act. 

If you have a question you would like Lee to answer on the podcast, you can submit it here

Referenced in this episode is Jeff Noel's appearance on the Jody Maberry Show

Click HERE to get your name on the list to find out more about Lee's Time Management Magic course. 

Aug 2, 2016

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee Cockerell shares about his relationship with Al Weiss, who was Lee's direct supervisor at Disney World. The great relationship Lee had with Al allowed them to partner together to become more effective in getting work done. 

Lee shares examples of how you can partner with your boss to make sure you are effective and getting the right work done. 

The key to partnering with your boss is to be a great performer who gets things done. Then you can begin to build a better relationship with your supervisor. 

Jul 26, 2016

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee Cockerell shares how a relationship Lee built at Marriott led to an eventual job offer at Disney. 

Relationships and connections you make early in your career can have an impact on your career years down the line. Don't be afraid to meet people, no matter your job or level in the organization. Introduce yourself to executives and managers. 

Be the best performer you can possibly be at your job. Great performance will always win out, but people also need to know you. 

Click HERE to get on the list to find out more about the Time Management Magic Course. 

Jul 19, 2016

Lately, it seems we hear about a new tragedy every day. Even Disney World, the happiest place on earth, is not immune from tragedy. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee Cockerell talks about how to deal with tragedy and how to move on once it has happened. 

If a tragedy happens at your organization, tell the truth. Don't try to cover anything up. People can forgive you if you tell the truth about what happened. 

Jul 12, 2016

Do you ever find yourself wondering if it is time to leave your job? Do you wish it was Friday, even though it was only Monday morning?

Showing up every day to a job you don't enjoy and where you are not appreciated can be tough. 

If you want to have a great life, you will have to take a risk. Most satisfaction in life comes on the edge. 

Still keep doing a good job at your current job while you look for a new job. 

If you stay at a job hoping things will change, you will be disappointed. 

In this episode, we reference when Lee was a guest on Starve the Doubts. You can hear that episode here

Jul 5, 2016

We have many examples of customer service stories in our lives. Most of them are bad. In fact, we probably have come to expect poor service. There are times when we get service so good we want to share the experience with others. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, we share examples of great customers service. Watching for examples of great service will help you understand how you can provide even better service to your customers. 

In this episode, we reference an episode of The Jody Maberry Show about creating a great voicemail greeting. You can hear that episode here.

Lee Cockerell's Time Management Magic Course will be available on September 13. You can get updates here

Jun 27, 2016

Employees have personal issues. Sometimes those issues will require time away from work and with that, a transition back to work. 

In this episode, Lee Cockerell discusses how to handle employee's personal issue. He begins by explaining how to work with an employee who is returning from time away from work due to anxiety. Lee also examines the importance of a proper rhythm with work and personal life.  

You do not have balance in your life unless everyone who is important to you is happy. 

Click here to get on the list to find out more about Lee's upcoming Time Management Magic Course. 

Jun 21, 2016

If you have a student in your life, this episode of Creating Disney Magic will provide insight to help them interview and prepare for their first job. Lee offers ideas to prepare for an interview, how to conduct yourself during an interview and focusing on the basics to stand out from other interview candidates. 

Lee also discusses ways teachers can create magic in the classroom. 

If you are a teacher, you will want to check out the book Creating Classroom Magic by Shauna Pollock.

Jun 14, 2016

"If you want your time to count, you must count your time." - Kary Oberbrunner

If you want to do the most important work and have the most impact, you need to have a difficult conversation with yourself. You need to understand what you are doing that your shouldn't be doing anymore. You need to come clean about the hard thing you need to do that you are trying to avoid. 

You need to examine the hard stuff in your life. Life gets easier when you do the hard stuff. Life gets harder when you do the easy stuff. 

If you want to tackle the hard things in your life, consider the Time Management Magic Course. You can find out more here

Jun 7, 2016

Should companies be involved in community service?

At Disney, there is a culture of helping the community. Cast members work hard and put in long hours and then give their time and money to improving the community. 

Whether it is the company as a whole or you as an individual, you can improve one life or an entire community by contributing time or money to a worthy cause.  

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee explains many of the ways organizations and individuals have stepped up to make a difference.  

You can follow along with the Creating Disney Magic Podcast on Facebook.

May 31, 2016

If you have met Lee Cockerell in person, there is a good chance he handed you a bookmark. The bookmark is a promotion piece that includes information on all of his books. 

The bookmark also includes Disney's Seven Service Guidelines. Lee explains the guidelines and the idea behind each one. 

These guidelines can be used in any organization to create magic. You can also create specific guidelines for your organization. Applying these guidelines does not take technology or an investment in resources, it is about focusing on the basics. 

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