The Ride of a Lifetime - By Robert Iger

Date read: 
January 25, 2021
See My Collection of 50+ Book Notes

My Thoughts

The autobiography of Disney's CEO takes you along for the ride in the acquisition processes of Pixar and Lucasfilm. Lots of fun stories and anecdotes. Talks a lot about 'leadership', without providing a ton of substance. Great autobiography, less so as actionable information.

Summary Notes

People focus on details to mask a lack of clear, big thoughts. If the big picture is a mess, then the small things don’t matter.

"Avoid getting into the business of manufacturing trombone oil. You may become the greatest trombone-oil manufacturer in the world, but in the end, the world only consumes a few quarts of trombone oil a year!”

When you hope something will work without being able to convince yourself how or why — then alarm bells should start ringing. What’s the problem I need to solve? Does this solution make sense? If I’m feeling some doubt, why? Am I doing this for sound reasons or am I motivated by something personal?

There’s nothing less confidence-inspiring than a person faking a knowledge they don’t possess.

Pessimism leads to paranoia, which leads to defensiveness, which leads to risk aversion.

Work Ethic

The job description was  simple: Show up whenever they needed me. It wasn't glamorous, but I learned the ins and outs. I spoke the lingo. I got to know everyone. Maybe most important, I learned to tolerate the demanding hours and the extreme workload.

It was important to me to know that when it came down to it, I could outwork anyone else, and so I was focused much more on that than anything else.

To this day, I wake nearly every morning at 4:15 to think, read, and exercise before the demands of the day take over. It’s vital to create space in each day to let your thoughts wander beyond your immediate job responsibilities.

Innovation & Excellence

Innovate or die, and there’s no innovation if you operate out of fear of the new or untested.

“I know why companies fail to innovate. It’s tradition. Tradition generates friction, every step of the way.”

Perfection is the result of getting all the little things right.

“Great” is often a collection of very small things.

Jiro Ono, from 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi', is the living embodiment of the Japanese word 'shokunin'; “the endless pursuit of perfection for some greater good.”

Robert Iger's Ten Leadership Principles:

  • Optimism. People are not motivated or energized by pessimists.
  • Courage. Risk-taking is courage, and risk-taking is essential. Innovation is vital, and true innovation occurs only when people have courage. Fear of failure destroys creativity.
  • Decisiveness. Chronic indecision is inefficient, counterproductive, and deeply corrosive to morale.
  • Curiosity. The path to innovation begins with curiosity.
  • Fairness. Nothing is worse to an organization than a culture of fear.
  • Thoughtfulness. Take the time to develop informed opinions by gaining knowledge.
  • Authenticity. Truth and authenticity breed respect and trust.
  • The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection. Refuse to accept mediocrity or make excuses for something being “good enough.” If you believe that something can be made better, do it. If you’re in the business of making things, be in the business of making things great.
  • Integrity. The way you do anything is the way you do everything.
  • Focus.

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