A couple of weeks ago I received an email announcing our local Chamber of Commerce event. Normally these speakers don’t really apply to me or the industry I work in so I skim through and move on. I’ve sat through many different presentations designed to hype you up. Where many fail is in giving you the steps to go back to the real world and make some solid changes. Getting the excitement going it great but when it dies out when you leave the room, it’s not successful in helping create or make a change. Something was different about this email though – the word Disney jumped out at me right away. Of course this made me stop and reread the email to see what I’d missed. I debated signing up and paying to attend….was it going to be worth my money for this presentation? Was this just someone using Disney to grab your attention and give another typical presentation? At the time I closed the email and went about my day. Another coworker saw the event advertised in the paper and commented that they’d see the speaker previously and it was a very good presentation. I finally went ahead and got myself a ticket the day before. Excitement grew in anticipation of listening to someone who had an intimate relationship with the Disney brand that I love so much.
When I arrived for the presentation, Mr. Lee Cockerell was seated at a table signing his latest book. I checked in for the event and got in line. My husband wanted to attend the presentation but was in Florida on a field trip to NASA with my oldest son. Being the good wife that I am (just ask him – he’ll tell you!), I got in line to purchase a book and Mr. Cockerell was nice enough to autograph it for the hubby. We’d seen The Customer Rules at Walt Disney World on vacations but hadn’t purchased it yet. After our brief meeting and a quick picture (above), I went in and looked for a seat. Normally I’m a middle of the room kind of girl. I don’t want to be noticed or picked on so I try to leave a bit of space between me and the speaker. Today was different. Something led me to an empty seat on the end of the second row. As I sat waiting for the presentation to begin, my #DisneySide started to show. Disney music was playing and I was singing along. I began to smile. The light fixture in the room reminded me of the queue for the new Little Mermaid ride in the Magic Kingdom. I enjoyed the few minutes I had to just sit and think happy thoughts.
Before long, Mr. Cockerell was being introduced and given a warm welcome. He was in the area back in 2009 but I wasn’t lucky enough to see him at that point. Mr. Cockerell went through each of the rules in his book all while being incredibly relatable on each point. He used examples from his time at Disney in a way that anyone would understand. Being a Disney lover, I could have listened for hours and was hoping for much more detail but I certainly understand why he kept the references at general things like security and transportation as that’s what most who go to Disney for fun can relate to.
Here are a few of the highlights from my notes today:
- Be very clear and careful with who you hire and promote. Make sure everyone knows your expectations up front.
- Managers/supervisors need to enforce consistency and make the employees follow the rules while understanding there’s one way to do things – the Disney way (or your company’s way – he used Disney Cast Members as an example saying you don’t have to be happy working there, you just have to pretend to be happy while you’re on shift)
- Setting a good example/be a role model for a good culture. Make sure your people know they matter, make a place where they want to come to work. You can do this with positive recognition, appreciation and encouragement.
- Know where you spend your time. This one really hit home with me. Mr. Cockerell spent several minutes talking about planning out your day and looking at what needs to be done but is what you have scheduled what you really need to spend your time on? He referenced an example from Disney saying he didn’t need to spend time on engineering, safety, retail or transportation because he had good people running those areas. Where he needed to focus his time was hiring the right people. Taking it to a personal level, he commented that things like spending time with your kids should be part of your schedule. Don’t wait for tomorrow because it’ll be here before you know it and you’ll have missed out.
- Ask yourself “Are you doing that well?”
- Know that you have a personal responsibility to your culture. YOU can make it better or worse.
- Decide where technology works and doesn’t work for your organization. Not everyone has a smart phone. People prefer face to face, person to person contact.
- Be worried about the environment inside your organization
- Look for three things when you hire: skill (should play a small role unless required for the position; this is teachable!), passion (find someone who wants to do the job!) and “can do” attitude (these people will always get it done and overcome the obstacles)
- Mr. Cockerell wrote a paper on “the perfect Disney trip” – about 20 pages worth of information including everything from how the guests would arrive to interactions with characters within the parks. Cast Members were asked to read the document to be sure they understood the clear definition of what was expected to help make each trip “perfect”.
- Rehearse for the worst things and the best things
- Good listeners need to not only hear what’s being said but be able to read between the lines and create an environment where employees are comfortable saying everything without holding back.
- Customers don’t know your capacity. Exceed their expectations and always look for ways to do things better. (When a customer asks for a horse, don’t give them a horse. Instead give them a car. Customers didn’t know they wanted Magical Express to pick them up at the airport or take their bags to their room for them but they loved it when the service was offered)
- Treat everyone like a regular and they just may become a regular
- W.I.N. What’s Important Now?
- Always look for an opportunity to provide more details. If you wouldn’t have done something, the guest may not have noticed but by doing it, you’ve now made their trip more special.
- Prehab everything in your life! Don’t wait for rehab.
- Find your priorities on your calendar and schedule the priorities in your life
Mr. Cockerell was full of amazing quotes. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Don’t ever underestimate the impact you have on people every single day.
- You’re a leader if someone depends on you.
- Fantasy is real and reality is fantastic.
- “The top” is wherever you happen to be.
- “If you just keep it friendly and clean after I’m gone, it will all be fine.” Walt Disney
- Mothers make the best decisions. They don’t care if you’re happy – they care if you’re successful.
- Unless everyone’s laughing, it’s not a good joke.
- Don’t underestimate the power of knowledge.
- It’s not you – it’s the 10 things going on that you don’t know about.
- What have you done that you don’t want your mom to know about?
- Copy your competitor and make it better
- Look for ideas everywhere.
- When you serve you’re always the giving one (courtesy of his grandson Tristan)
- Our guests don’t know what they want. When we give them things they don’t know they wanted they love it.
- Touch the people before you touch the paper (meaning go say good morning to your coworkers/employees before jumping right in and getting to work to make it personable)
- You’ll have no bigger regret than when you loose your health.
- Prehab so you don’t need rehab
- If you’re going to say no, wait at least 24 hours
- The minute you try too hard people don’t trust you
- Be good, don’t be big
- Don’t talk about how big you are, talk about how good you are (learned from Michael Eisner)
- Leadership shows up when you least expect it.
- Leaders are people who have the guts to do the right thing not the probable thing.
- If you’re not doing the hard things, you’re not doing the right things.
I’m very thankful I spent the money and attended this presentation. Having the reassurance that I was on the right track with some of these things gave me the encouragement to keep working on the other areas and always try to keep doing better. I’m very much looking forward to reading The Customer Rules to learn more and see how I can apply it to both my work and personal life. Once I finish I’ll share my review right here on My Pixie Dust Diary and give away a copy of the book to one lucky reader!! For those given the opportunity to see Mr. Cockerell, my suggestion would be to take it! Had I not had to leave to pick up my children, I would have stayed for the meal afterwards in hopes of having a few moments to speak with Mr. Cockerell more in depth. Just after listening to his short presentation today, I know I could have spent hours listening to him. From his life struggles with adoption and his wife’s health scare to “war stories” from the hospitality industry and his time at Disney I could learn so much and enjoy the experience at the same time. I have a feeling Mr. Cockerell’s other book Creating Magic will be in our home very soon. Stay tuned for the review of The Customer Rules and giveaway coming soon!