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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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. 

May 24, 2016

If you have a bully in the workplace, it is going to have a negative impact on productivity and employee morale. 

As a leader, if you have a bully in the workplace you have to address it promptly and directly. Nobody has the right to intimidate another person.  Even if you are the boss, you have no right to damage the self-esteem of another person. You have to stay on top of the situation until you see the bully has changed or has been terminated. 

If you are the one who has been targeted by a bully,  you need to either report the situation or leave the organization. If the bully is your supervisor, continue to do your best work while you look for another job. 

If you are aware of a bullying situation that you are not involved in, you have an obligation to report it. Human Resources will want to resolve the situation, but may not be aware of what is happening. 

Follow the Creating Disney Magic Podcast on Facebook

May 17, 2016

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic Lee answers a listener question about leading a discouraged team. 

If you take on a leadership role with a team that has had a tough time with the previous leader or feel discouraged, you have to be deliberate about how you leadership tenure begins. 

Spend time listening. Spend time with each member of your team. Discover what the problems are, what has discouraged the team, 

People are not going to support you unless they trust you. Be careful of how you react to what people tell you and what you see. 

Don't make big decisions quickly. Spend 30 days discovering the problems and how your team is feeling. After 30 days you can begin implementing changes based on the information you received from your team. 

Always keep communicating. Keep listening. Keep giving feedback. 

To keep up to date on the Time Management Magic Course click here

May 10, 2016

It is not uncommon for someone to leading people who are older than they are. 

This situation can cause pushback; people may feel the boss selected the wrong person, you could now be supervising someone who didn't get the job, or people are skeptical about your age. 

Address the situation early and directly. Be open and available to answer questions. Help people understand performance is what matters. Always be willing to tell people the truth. Make sure you clarify your expectations. 

You can follow Creating Disney Magic on Facebook

You can get a free month of Thrive 15 by using the code Magic.

May 3, 2016

At your organization, you are putting on a show every day. Everygreat show has two performances going on simultaneously; onstageand backstage.

Consider seeing a play at the theater. The onstage show isobvious. You watch the actors, see the props, and hear the music.Backstage, though, there is a crew working just as hard to makesure everything goes right with the performance. You may notdirectly witness the backstage performance, but it is just ascrucial to putting on an excellent show. 

If backstage performers don't put on a great show, onstageperformers can not put on a great show. 

The same is true with your organization. 

Join us on the Creating Disney MagicPodcast Facebook page

Find out more about the Time Management Magic Coursehere

Apr 26, 2016

It is common to wonder how to motivate employees and maintain high morale. But the truth is, you don't motivate people. People motivate themselves. Your job is to create a culture where people are excited. When people are excited about the work they do, they inspire themselves.

Your job is to create a culture where people are excited. When people are excited about the work they do, they inspire themselves.

Cast members have to be committed to working at Disney. There is not room in their role in the show to be rude, to not be nice, or to not go out of your way to help somebody.

If you notice an employee is not motivated or having trouble, it is a leader's responsibility to find out why and try to help them. Discipline and empathy are important traits for leaders.  Good leaders create a trusting culture.

Apr 19, 2016

Whether you are in government, a religious organization, or running a corner gas station, customer service issues are all the same. 

No team will work unless the group is flexible, professional, and willing to work together. 

Be willing to compromise, be patient, and build relationships. 

Always keep in mind, your job is to take care of the constituents. Focus on what is best for the citizens. 

The lessons from Lee's book, Creating Magic, work in a government organization as well as they do in a large corporation. 

Apr 12, 2016

At Disney World, metrics and measurement are crucial to the operation. Cast Members are aware of what is being measured and understand how they can contribute to improvement. 

If you don't measure, you don't know if you are doing a good job or a bad job. And you won't know how to improve performance or guest satisfaction. Without knowing the numbers, you can not make clear decisions. 

Disney measures the important things and works to get a little better every day. 

If you enjoy hearing Lee and Jody together, you may want to hear Lee Cockerell as a guest on The Jody Maberry Show

Apr 5, 2016

Customers want the person in front of them to have the authority to solve their problem. If front line staff can't solve a customer's problem, it is either a training issue or you have not empowered them to solve problems. 

Reputation and customer service are linked together. When front line staff can't solve a problem, it erodes your reputation one customer at a time.

If you want a reputation for outstanding customer service, you can't worry about customers taking advantage of you. Put the proper controls in place and work to delight the customer. Don't make people's life more difficult than it already is.

You can hear a great example of customer service from Moo on this episode of The Jody Maberry Show.  

Mar 29, 2016

The three legs of a successful business are;

  1. Taking Care of the Customer
  2. Taking Care of the Employees
  3. Taking Care of the Profit

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee Cockerell explains what you can do to create a culture of customer service when your organization currently does not focus on the customer. 

Remember, employees are the company. Customers will view your company based on the experience they have with employees. 

You can connect with Lee on Twitter - @LeeCockerell

You can connect with Jody on Twitter - @jodymaberry

And you can connect with Lee and Jody on the Creating Disney Magic Facebook Page

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