The ride of a lifetime


My takeaway:

This book changed my perspective on mergers and acquisitions. It also taught me the history of Disney, as well as how important it is to connect with others at a deeper level, despite the differences on the surface. 

Honestly, I probably cannot come up with a better summary than the author. The highlights are enough. I really appreciated the candidness of the author when he talked about those challenges, those frustrations, and the principles he stood by. I usually have a bias against people who stay in the same company for 30+ years, but this book changed that bias. This book also changed my perspective on mergers and acquisitions, as well as the history of Disney


  • Sometimes, even though you’re “in charge,” you need to be aware that in the moment you might have nothing to add, and so you don’t wade in. You trust your people to do their jobs and focus your energies on some other pressing issue.
  • One of the most important qualities of a good leader is optimism, a pragmatic enthusiasm for what can be achieved. Even in the face of difficult choices and less than ideal outcomes, an optimistic leader does not yield to pessimism. Simply put, people are not motivated or energized by pessimists.
  •   my take on this: It will be hard for me to become a leader because of this. But on the other extreme you have fyre fest. 
  • Fear of failure destroys creativity.
  • Decisiveness. All decisions, no matter how difficult, can and should be made in a timely way.
  • Authenticity. Be genuine. Be honest. Don’t fake anything. Truth and authenticity breed respect and trust.
  • The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection. This doesn’t mean perfectionism at all costs, but it does mean a refusal to accept mediocrity or make excuses for something being “good enough.”
  • Integrity. Nothing is more important than the quality and integrity of an organization’s people and its product.
  • It’s a delicate thing, finding the balance between demanding that your people perform and not instilling a fear of failure in them.
  • So what do you do in a situation like that? The first rule is not to fake anything. You have to be humble, and you can’t pretend to be someone you’re not or to know something you don’t. You’re also in a position of leadership, though, so you can’t let humility prevent you from leading… True authority and true leadership come from knowing who you are and not pretending to be anything else.
  • Managing your own time and respecting others’ time is one of the most vital things to do as a manager, and he was horrendous at it.
  • “Stop talking. Once you have that many of them, they’re no longer priorities.” Priorities are the few things that you’re going to spend a lot of time and a lot of capital on. Not only do you undermine their significance by having too many, but nobody is going to remember them all. “You’re going to seem unfocused,” he said. “You only get three. I can’t tell you what those three should be. We don’t have to figure that out today. You never have to tell me what they are if you don’t want to. But you only get three.”
  • A little respect goes a long way, and the absence of it is often very costly. Over the next few years, as we made the major acquisitions that redefined and revitalized the company, this simple, seemingly trite idea was as important as all of the data- crunching in the world: If you approach and engage people with respect and empathy, the seemingly impossible can become real.
  • Before we went any further in the negotiations, I went up to Cupertino and had lunch with Steve and walked him through Marvel’s business. He claimed to have never read a comic book in his life (“ I hate them more than I hate videogames,” he told me), so I brought my encyclopedia of Marvel characters with me to explain the universe to him and show him what we would be buying. He spent about ten seconds looking at it, then pushed it aside and said, “Is this one important to you? Do you really want it? Is it another Pixar?”
  • FIRING PEOPLE, OR taking responsibility away from them, is arguably the most difficult thing you have to do as a boss. There have been several times when I’ve had to deliver bad news to accomplished people, some of whom were friends, and some of whom had been unable to flourish in positions that I had put them in. There’s no good playbook for how to fire someone, though I have my own internal set of rules. You have to do it in person, not over the phone and certainly not by email or text. You have to look the person in the eye. You can’t use anyone else as an excuse. This is you making a decision about them— not them as a person but the way they have performed in their job— and they need and deserve to know that it’s coming from you. You can’t make small talk once you bring someone in for that conversation. I normally say something along the lines of: “I’ve asked you to come in here for a difficult reason.” And then I try to be as direct about the issue as possible, explaining clearly and concisely what wasn’t working and why I didn’t think it was going to change. I emphasize that it was a tough decision to make, and that I understand that it’s much harder on them. There’s a kind of euphemistic corporate language that is often deployed in those situations, and it has always struck me as offensive. There’s no way for the conversation not to be painful, but at least it can be honest, and in being honest there is at least a chance for the person on the receiving end to understand why it’s happening and eventually move on, even if they walk out of the room angry as hell.
  • It would be easy in a book like this to act as if all the success Disney experienced during my tenure is the result of the perfectly executed vision that I had from the beginning, that I knew, for instance, that focusing on three specific core strategies rather than others would lead us to where we are now. But you can only put that story together in retrospect. In truth, I needed to come up with a plan for the future in order to lead the company. I believed that quality would matter most. I believed we needed to embrace technology and disruption rather than fear it. I believed that expanding into new markets would be vital. I had no real idea, though, especially then, where this journey would take me.