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 28, 2015

Conflict will happen in any organization. Conflict can be caused by new technology, change in leadership, change in ownership, or many other reasons. 

No matter how conflict is caused, a leader needs to tell the truth and be willing to talk about the cause of the conflict. 

Lee also offers advice on how to properly complain to a company when you experience bad service. 

Jul 21, 2015

Podcasting can be a powerful tool for business. Whether a podcast is a platform to reach customers or a communication tool for employees. 

Lee Cockerell and special guest Lou Mogello, the host of WDW Radio,  discuss the power of podcasting and the experience they have had as podcasters. 

What would Walt Disney think of Podcasts? Lee and Lou explain what Walt Disney may think of podcasting.  

Jul 14, 2015

Lou Mongello, the host of WDW Radio, joins Lee Cockerell for this special episode of Creating Disney Magic. Together, Lee and Lou discuss entrepreneurship. 

Hear the story of the different directions Lee and Lou took to become entrepreneurs. Lee explains how his experience at Disney has served him in his new role. Lee also offers advice for other entrepreneurs. 

Jul 7, 2015

Lee Cockerell explains why physical fitness and a love for reading are the most important gifts a parent can give to a child. 

Physical activity contributes to health and mental outlook as well. If you start active habits with children early, it is likely to stay with them when they are older. 

Reading can also give children a headstart in education and learning. Reading can build vocabulary and generate ideas that will open doors and generate new opportunities. 

Jun 30, 2015

Lee Cockerell served in the military before his long career in the hospitality industry. 

You can get ahead by using down time in the military to become an expert in the area you want to have a career when your service is over. 

Lee offers advice on finding a job once you have left the military. 

Lee also suggests ways business owners and managers can help veterans who work for their organizations. 

For more inspiration, read Dave Burlin's article 5 Things Veterans Should Know About Their Career Do Overs.  

Jun 23, 2015

Lee Cockerell explains that his proudest moment at Disney was 9/11. During such a tragic time, Disney Cast Members stepped up and took care of guests. Lee explains what happened at Disney World that day and offers lessons other businesses can learn from Disney. 

A plan and practice will keep your business prepared for any emergency. Already knowing what to do will make emergency response instinctive. 

Jun 16, 2015

During his time at Walt Disney World, Lee Cockerell went out of his way to create a welcoming, friendly, and productive environment when he met with cast members. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee explains the step he took to create the right environment. Lee's open environment trickled down through the rest of the Disney World. 

People will know your reputation before they know you. When you create a welcome and candid environment, people will know about it before they ever meet with you. 

Lee also talks about how and when to meet with people who report directly to you. 

Jun 9, 2015

No matter how big of a problem you face, the solution is right in front of you. Understanding who to bring into the room to solve a problem is the key for a leader to solve any problem. 

Lee Cockerell explains how he solved problems when he was the Executive Vice President of Operations for Disney World. He also explains how he solves problems as an entrepreneur. No matter the size or nature of a problem, you can solve it the same way. 

Jun 2, 2015

Exercise is an important aspect of being a powerful leader. Lee Cockerell explains why you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. 

Lee talks the small ways he puts exercise into his day by parking three blocks away, taking the stairs and using small opportunities to add movement into his day. He also works with a strength training twice each week. 

Exercise helps leaders release and relief stress. Putting exercise into your calendar ensures you don't less stress build up. 

May 26, 2015

Skill can be learned, but attitude must be decided. Lee Cockerell shares a story of how his attitude while peeling potatoes in the Army set him apart. Doing work with a positive attitude, no matter what your job, will ensure you get noticed. 

Having a great attitude and being reliable are the two most important aspects of your career. Self-reflection is the first step to ensuring you are working with a great attitude. 

May 19, 2015

To be an effective leader you need to be a reader. Lee Cockerell explains how reading helps a leader understand current events and effective leadership methods. You can become an expert in any topic just be reading a couple of relevant books. 

Lee also offers reading recommendations. 

May 12, 2015

Stories are a powerful way to connect with other people. 

Stories are all around us in books, movies and even podcasts. Understanding how to tell a good story gives you an advantage in your career. If you want people to remember a point, wrap it in a story. 

In this episode, Lee also talks about why you are cheating yourself if you are not copying ideas from other people. 

May 5, 2015

Your people are your brand. If your employees give terrible service, peope will perceive your company the same way. Bad service given by bad employees will lead people to find another place to buy what you are selling. 

The key is to hire outstanding people. Hiring outstanding people will give you a competitive advantage over competitors. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee Cockerell explains the process to hire outstanding people. 

Apr 28, 2015

The founder of Marriot gave Lee Cockerell an unexpected lesson in why you should look professional.

Since Lee learned this lesson, he has always gone out of his way to look professional. In this episode, Lee explains why you need to look professional and the impact it will have on your career.

Lee also talks about the new videos he has filmed for Thrive 15 to help you with time management. Use the code MAGIC for one free month. 

Apr 21, 2015

Lee Cockerell is known as the lovable leader from Walt Disney World, but that wasn't always his reputation. Lee was so tough on those around him he was known as the Doberman. Back then, Lee was not managing his reputation and he became known as someone you may not want to work with. 

Lee will tell you he is no longer a Doberman, he is now a Cocker Spaniel. He changed his mindset and the way he worked with other people. Eventually, he built a reputation as a great leader. In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee offers advice on how to manage your reputation. 

Apr 14, 2015

Although Lee Cockerell is best known for his time with Disney, he is also a great writer. Lee is the author of three books and several hundred blog posts. 

In this episode of Creating Disney Magic, Lee answers questions from writers. Lee discusses writing habits, how to deal with writer's block, how to research for your book and much more. 

Apr 7, 2015

One of the keys to creating magic is having high expectations. You can use training to set clear expectations for everyone on your team. 

Training is important to any organization, but training does not have an impact if it is not followed by testing and enforcement. Training and enforcement create excellence because it builds confidence. 

Mar 31, 2015

Lee Cockerell never met Walt Disney. In this episode Lee discusses what he would have asked Walt Disney if they had met. Lee also discusses other great leaders. 

Lee also explains the difference between leadership and management. 

Mar 24, 2015

When you attend training or a conference, just being there is not enough. You need to get the most out of the training. 

Lee Cockerell offers advice on how to get the most out of any training, conference, or class you attend. It begins by sitting in the front row. 

Lee offers insight to how Disney determines how price their products. It is all about value, not price. 

Mar 17, 2015

Being a professional means more than dressing nice. Being a professional is an attitude and a decision to act a certain way. A professional adds value in any situation. 

Lee Cockerell also explains how companies give employees free fuel by recognizing them by name. 

Mar 10, 2015

Many organizations get off track with bad policies and processes. Customers see it and feel it, but often, an organization does not realize the impact of bad process. 

Lee Cockerell explains how you can identify what processes and policies are causing trouble for your organization. 

Mar 3, 2015

Developing college and high school students into leaders gives them a head start in life. Lee addresses how students can begin to develop as leaders and how others can help. 

Lee also reminds us, nothing is the way it is, it is the way you let it be. 

Feb 24, 2015

Lee Cockerell tells the story about growing from a shy young man who dropped out of speech class in college to becoming a keynote speaker. He also offers tips on how you can give great presentations. 

Lee also gives advice on getting the job you want by doing the best you possibly can at the job you have now. 


Feb 17, 2015

When Lee Cockerell took a job with Disney he moved to Paris and hired 200 managers for a new resort. In this episode Lee explains how he created a Disney culture in Paris, where Disney did not have a presence. 

Lee also offers advice on how to gain trust from your team. 

Feb 10, 2015

If your business relies on a product as a competitive advantage, it is only a matter of time before you begin to lose customers. Other business can match your product, but your service will set you apart. 

Excellent customer service can be the best competitive advantage. 

Lee also discusses how entire communities can came together to offer great service and ensure tourists continue to return. 

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