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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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

Mar 22, 2016

Many organizations lump training and development into one category. 

You need to understand the difference and the impact each will have on your organization. 

Training is basic and unemotional. Development is emotional and helps people correct their mistakes or move from good to great. 

You can follow along with Creating Disney Magic podcast on Facebook

Is there a question you would like to ask on the show? Reach out and let us know and your question could be featured on an episode of Creating Disney Magic. 

Mar 15, 2016

Too many people feel you have to be a fear motivated boss, but it is not true. No one wants to work with that kind of boss. 

But is it possible to be too nice?

The main job of a leader is to focus on performance. 

At Disney, Lee Cockerell had a reputation for being nice and respectful, but he got results and so did the people who worked for him. 

Be professional, treat people respectfully and focus on performance and people will appreciate you.

You can find out more the Lee's Time Management Magic Course here

Follow the Creating Disney Magic Podcast on Facebook.

Mar 8, 2016

In January, Lee explained that he was dealing with anxiety. Now, Lee gives an update on how he is feeling. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee gives an update on his anxiety. Lee shares what he has done over the past two months to help improve. 

If you did not hear the original episode about Lee's struggle with anxiety, you can listen to it here

One app Lee has is Headspace

Lee credits systems and time management as keeping him on track while he dealt with anxiety. 

If you are interested in learning more about Lee's upcoming Time Management Magic Course, you can get updates here

Lee Cockerell appears as a guest on the Jody Maberry Show

Mar 1, 2016

All of us will work with a difficult coworker at some point in our career. 

Communication and patience are the best options when working with a difficult coworker. You can create an environment to communicate with the coworker about your working relationship. Communication can possibly help you create a better working environment. If not, you need patience until the situation changes. Or, you can get yourself out of the situation. 

Do you have a question you would like answered on Creating Disney Magic? Reach out on our Facebook page.

Feb 23, 2016

Nearly 10 years ago, Lee Cockerell retired from his role as Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World. Rather than retire to the couch and golf course, Lee made a career pivot into his own business as a consultant and keynote speaker. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, we look into what it takes to make a successful career pivot. 

All of the questions about making a career pivot come from the Pivot Profiles magazine by Mike Kim

Jody Maberry, the host of  Creating Disney Magic, was featured in Pivot Profiles. 

Lee was recently a guest on The Jody Maberry Show. You can hear Lee talk about Lessons from Disney Here

Feb 16, 2016

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee explains how you can create magic in the classroom. 

A listener asks Lee how he would use his business principles to manage a middle school classroom. Lee offers his perspective on how you can create magic in the classroom. 

Lee also tells the questions he most often hears from students. 

Jody Maberry, the host of Creating Disney Magic, has launched a new podcast, The Jody Maberry Show. You can find it here on iTunes, or at You don't want to miss Lee Cockerell on episode three of The Jody Maberry Show

Feb 9, 2016

No matter how you plan your day you have to know you will get interrupted. 

If you struggle with not getting enough done because you get interrupted, look at your schedule and consider if you are doing work you should not be doing. Also, consider if you are overplanning. 

Time Management is the key to getting work done, even when you struggle with interruptions. 

Follow the Creating Disney Magic Podcast on Facebook

Feb 2, 2016

Everybody is different, so how do you motivate employees? You have to get to know the people you work with and learn how to motivate them individually. Your job as a leader is to build self-confidence in other people. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee explores ways to motivate high performers, mid-performers, and low performers. 

Use Twitter? Connect with Lee Cockerell or Jody Maberry

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