Book Review | The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger

BOOK REVIEW | THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME

TITLE: The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

AUTHOR: Robert Iger, Jim Frangione (Narrator), Joel Lovell

PUBLISHER: Random House

RELEASE DATE: September 23, 2019

GENRE: Business, Biography, Nonfiction, Leadership

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | BETTER WORLD | INDIEBOUND

A grand vision defined: The CEO of Disney, one of Time’s most influential people of 2019, shares the ideas and values he embraced to reinvent one of the most beloved companies in the world and inspire the people who bring the magic to life.

Robert Iger became CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2005, during a difficult time. Competition was more intense than ever and technology was changing faster than at any time in the company’s history. His vision came down to three clear ideas: Recommit to the concept that quality matters, embrace technology instead of fighting it, and think bigger—think global—and turn Disney into a stronger brand in international markets.

Twelve years later, Disney is the largest, most respected media company in the world, counting Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox among its properties. Its value is nearly five times what it was when Iger took over, and he is recognized as one of the most innovative and successful CEOs of our era.

In The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger shares the lessons he’s learned while running Disney and leading its 200,000 employees, and he explores the principles that are necessary for true leadership, including:

• Optimism. Even in the face of difficulty, an optimistic leader will find the path toward the best possible outcome and focus on that, rather than give in to pessimism and blaming.
• Courage. Leaders have to be willing to take risks and place big bets. Fear of failure destroys creativity.
• Decisiveness. All decisions, no matter how difficult, can be made on a timely basis. Indecisiveness is both wasteful and destructive to morale.
• Fairness. Treat people decently, with empathy, and be accessible to them.

This book is about the relentless curiosity that has driven Iger for forty-five years, since the day he started as the lowliest studio grunt at ABC. It’s also about thoughtfulness and respect, and a decency-over-dollars approach that has become the bedrock of every project and partnership Iger pursues, from a deep friendship with Steve Jobs in his final years to an abiding love of the Star Wars mythology.

“The ideas in this book strike me as universal” Iger writes. “Not just to the aspiring CEOs of the world, but to anyone wanting to feel less fearful, more confidently themselves, as they navigate their professional and even personal lives.” (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

Everyone who knows me, knows I want to be CEO of an insurance company one day. I’m very careful and thoughtful about my path to achieving this goal one day. I’m invested in learning as much as I can from the leaders I know and those that inspire me. I work extremely hard to make an impact in the company I work for and I’m very passionate about us succeeding. I also know that I need to take professional risks and feel a little out of my element. This will and has helped me grow in so many ways.

With that being said, I have a big career decision coming up that would have a significant impact on my future and my goals. So I started thinking about the CEOs that inspire me and Robert Iger immediately came to mind. I thought this was the perfect time for me to read his book, The Ride of a Lifetime.

This book is part professional leadership lessons, but also part autobiography. He tells the story of his time leading up to becoming CEO and then some of the biggest changes in Disney’s history while he was CEO. He tells us what was happening, what he was feeling, and how he approached each person he needed to work with. Then he sprinkles in his perspective and lessons on leadership during each of these moments.

Here are some of my favorite lessons from Iger. These resonated with me the most while I’ve been working through my thoughts on this potential role.

  • “Innovate or die, and there’s no innovation if you operate out of fear of the new or untested.”
  • “There are moments in our careers, in our lives, that are inflection points, but they’re often not the most obvious or dramatic ones.” 
  • “My instinct throughout my career has always been to say yes to every opportunity. I wanted to move up and learn and do more, and I wasn’t going to forgo any chance to do that, but I also wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of doing things that I was unfamiliar with.”

Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you want to be in a leadership role or even if you want to better yourself professionally. Iger has a lot of valuable advice and I feel confident using it because of the success the Walt Disney Company has seen while he’s been CEO. You’d also enjoy this book as a Disney fan to get an inside look at how decisions are made from the very top and what it takes to keep this enormous entertainment company relevant and growing.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Robert A. Iger is Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney Company and Chairman of the Board of Directors. He assumed the role of Executive Chairman on February 25, 2020, in conjunction with the announcement of Bob Chapek being named as Chief Executive Officer. As Executive Chairman, Mr. Iger will direct the Company’s creative endeavors, while leading the Board and providing the full benefit of his experience, leadership and guidance to ensure a smooth transition through the end of his contract on Dec. 31, 2021. Mr. Chapek will report to Mr. Iger in his capacity as Executive Chairman, and to the Board. (Description from Walt Disney Company website)

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Book Review | The Traitor by V.S. Alexander

BOOK REVIEW | THE TRAITOR

TITLE: The Traitor

AUTHOR: V.S. Alexander

PUBLISHER: Kensington Publishing Corp

RELEASE DATE: February 25, 2020

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

Drawing on the true story of the White Rose—the resistance movement of young Germans against the Nazi regime—The Traitor tells of one woman who offers her life in the ultimate battle against tyranny, during one of history’s darkest hours.

In the summer of 1942, as war rages across Europe, a series of anonymous leaflets appears around the University of Munich, speaking out against escalating Nazi atrocities. The leaflets are hidden in public places, or mailed to addresses selected at random from the phone book. Natalya Petrovich, a student, knows who is behind the leaflets—a secret group called the White Rose, led by siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friends.

As a volunteer nurse on the Russian front, Natalya witnessed the horrors of war first-hand. She willingly enters the White Rose’s circle, where every hushed conversation, every small act of dissent could mean imprisonment or death at the hands of an infuriated Gestapo. Natalya risks everything alongside her friends, hoping the power of words will encourage others to resist. But even among those she trusts most, there is no guarantee of safety—and when danger strikes, she must take an extraordinary gamble in her own personal struggle to survive. (Description from Goodreads

MY THOUGHTS

(***Please note that this review may contain spoilers***)

Before I jump into my thoughts about The Traitor, I wanted to start with a quote from the author’s notes. “I can safely say that fewer Europeans outside of Germany, and most Americans, particularly young people, know little of the resistance movements like the White Rose and the Red Orchestra. Their only exposure may be a mention in passing during a history class on World War II. This is another reason I wanted to write The Traitor. We should never forget”. (The Traitor, V.S. Alexander)

For almost a year, I’ve been reading various historical fiction books surrounding WWII because I wanted to continue learning about this time in history. Like the author said, “we should never forget” and books like The Traitor and all the others I’ve read are making sure we know about the people that resisted Hitler’s evil and the horrors of that terrible time in history. We should never forget so that we never see this again in our future.

The Traitor is based on a real group called the White Rose who “composed four leaflets, which exposed and denounced Nazi and SS atrocities, including the extermination of Jews and Polish nobility, and called for resistance to the regime” (History).

Rather than focus on the real life founders and participants of this group, V.S. Alexander created fictional characters that could have been really part of the group. I thought this was a great path for the author to go because there’s more that he could do with the characters and there’s less pressure to be historically accurate with real individuals. However, he still included the founders, Hans and Sophie Scholl as well as other prominent members of the group, but made sure to be true to who they were.

This book was different from the books I’ve read recently, as it focused solely on the perspective of one person, Natalya Petrovich. Other books usually include perspectives from several different people. I liked that I was able to follow just one person’s thoughts and experiences throughout the entire war. We follow Natalya through seeing her town (Munich) destroy jewish establishments all the way to the American liberation of the POW prison she was working at.

V.S. Alexander really captured the horrific circumstances, torture, manipulation, blackmail, and deceitfulness that Natalya faced after she was arrested for being a member of the White Rose. She was consider a traitor to the Reich and every day could have been her last. She spent years in prison, was sent to an asylum, and escaped with the help of others who resisted Hitler’s rule. There was a lot of death along the way and Natalya lost a lot of people, but she didn’t lose hope and kept on going despite everything she’d been through. She was a very brave woman and I suspect there were many women like her that actually existed during WWII.

Overall, this book was amazing. I couldn’t put it down and would highly recommend reading it regardless of the genres you do or don’t read. It’s a great story about resilience in the face of death and uncertainty. It’s a look into another piece of history that you may not know enough about. Most importantly, it highlights the evil that plagued its time and how people overcame it and fought against it. I look forward to reading more from this author and happy I discovered him on NetGalley.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

V.S. Alexander is an ardent student of history with a strong interest in music and the visual arts. Some of V.S.’s writing influences include Shirley Jackson, Oscar Wilde, Daphne du Maurier, or any work by the exquisite Brontë sisters. V.S. lives in Florida and is at work on a second historical novel for Kensington. (Bio found on Kensington Publishing Corp website)

Thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book of the Week | The German Heiress by Anika Scott

TITLE: The German Heiress

AUTHOR: Anika Scott

RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2020

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

For readers of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris, an immersive, heart-pounding debut about a German heiress on the run in post-World War II Germany.

Clara Falkenberg, once Germany’s most eligible and lauded heiress, earned the nickname “the Iron Fräulein” during World War II for her role operating her family’s ironworks empire. It’s been nearly two years since the war ended and she’s left with nothing but a false identification card and a series of burning questions about her family’s past. With nowhere else to run to, she decides to return home and take refuge with her dear friend, Elisa.

Narrowly escaping a near-disastrous interrogation by a British officer who’s hell-bent on arresting her for war crimes, she arrives home to discover the city in ruins, and Elisa missing. As Clara begins tracking down Elisa, she encounters Jakob, a charismatic young man working on the black market, who, for his own reasons, is also searching for Elisa. Clara and Jakob soon discover how they might help each other—if only they can stay ahead of the officer determined to make Clara answer for her actions during the war.

Propulsive, meticulously researched, and action-fueled, The German Heiress is a mesmerizing page-turner that questions the meaning of justice and morality, deftly shining the spotlight on the often-overlooked perspective of Germans who were caught in the crossfire of the Nazi regime and had nowhere to turn.(Description from Goodreads

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Book Review | The Orphan Thief by Glynis Peters

BOOK REVIEW | THE ORPHAN THIEF

AUTHOR: Glynis Peters

PUBLISHER: One More Chapter/Harper Collins

RELEASE DATE: November 28, 2019

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

From the international bestselling author of The Secret Orphan

When all seems lost…

As Hitler’s bombs rain down on a battered and beleaguered Britain, Ruby Shadwell is dealt the most devastating blow – her entire family lost during the Coventry Blitz.

Hope still survives…

Alone and with the city in chaos, Ruby is determined to survive this war and rebuild her life.  And a chance encounter with street urchin Tommy gives Ruby just the chance she needs…

And love will overcome.

Because Tommy brings with him Canadian Sergeant Jean-Paul Clayton.  Jean-Paul is drawn to Ruby and wants to help her, but Ruby cannot bear another loss.  Can love bloom amidst the ruins?  Or will the war take Ruby’s last chance at happiness too? (Description from Goodreads.com)

MY THOUGHTS

(***Please note that this review may contain spoilers***) 

When I first saw the cover and title of The Orphan Thief I thought it would be more about a girl helping orphan’s during the war. But it’s actually centered around a teenage girl named Ruby Shadwell going through her daily life after her city was bombed in the Blitz.

The very beginning of the book was very good. I could feel the intense loss that Ruby was feeling when her entire family was killed by a bomb that hit their home. I could feel the shock she felt as she looked into the crater where her home once stood.

Then the book went into the daily life of Ruby and how she was rebuilding her life literally from the rumble of her home town. She started rebuilding her life by finding, fixing, and selling lost items found throughout the city, but would also try and find its original owners. Ruby was helping the town get on its feet again with her business. I thought this was a very admirable quality for a teenager during a horrific war.

I did feel that the life re-building part of the book was way too long and, in all honesty, I was getting bored until about 50% in when a character named Earl was introduced. Earl was an evil character who was harassing Ruby and was keeping small orphaned children locked away. He forced these children to steal for him. When he was introduced then the title made sense but he wasn’t in the book for very long, only a few chapters.

There was a love interest of Ruby as well. Jean-Paul Clayton, who was a military photographer for the Canadian army. He was occasionally in the book and I felt like he needed to be more prominent based on how “in love” Ruby was with him and the fact that they ended up engaged and had children. I just couldn’t see why they fell in love in the first place.

There were other characters in the book, but it was really just about Ruby and her daily life. Overall, there were parts of the book I really enjoyed, but I felt it needed a lot more about Earl and an orphan named Tommy for the title to make sense. I think it also needed more of Ruby and Jean-Paul if the end goal was for them to be together after the war.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Glynis Peters, lives in Dovercourt, Essex, England. She married her school sweetheart in 1979, and they have three children. They also have three grandchildren, with another due in the spring of 2019, the year of their ruby wedding Anniversary.

In 2014, Glynis was short-listed for the Festival of Romantic Fiction New Talent Award.

In 2018, HarperCollins/HarperImpulse published her novel, The Secret Orphan. The novel rose to several bestseller positions within a few months of release.

When Glynis is not writing she enjoys fishing with her husband, making greetings cards, cross stitch and the company of her granddaughters.

Her grandson lives in Canada, and it is for that reason she  introduced a Canadian pilot into The Secret Orphan. (Description from her website)

Thank you to One More Chapter/Harper Collins and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Book of the Week | The Prisoner’s Wife by Maggie Brookes

TITLE: The Prisoner’s Wife

AUTHOR: Maggie Brookes

RELEASE DATE: May 26, 2020

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

Inspired by the true story of a daring deception that plunges a courageous young woman deep into the horrors of a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.

In the dead of night, a Czech farm girl and a British soldier travel through the countryside. Izabela and prisoner of war Bill have secretly married and are on the run, with Izzy dressed as a man. The young husband and wife evade capture for as long as possible–until they are cornered by Nazi soldiers with tracking dogs.

Izzy’s disguise works. The couple are assumed to be escaped British soldiers and transported to a POW camp. However, their ordeal has just begun, as they face appalling living conditions and the constant fear of Izzy’s exposure. But in the midst of danger and deprivation comes hope, for the young couple are befriended by a small group of fellow prisoners. These men become their new family, willing to jeopardize their lives to save Izzy from being discovered and shot.

The Prisoner’s Wife tells of an incredible risk, and of how our deepest bonds are tested in desperate times. Bill and Izzy’s story is one of love and survival against the darkest odds. (Description from Goodreads

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Book of the Week | The Orphan Thief by Glynis Peters

TITLE: The Orphan Thief

AUTHOR: Glynis Peters

RELEASE DATE: November 28, 2019

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

From the international bestselling author of The Secret Orphan

When all seems lost…

As Hitler’s bombs rain down on a battered and beleaguered Britain, Ruby Shadwell is dealt the most devastating blow – her entire family lost during the Coventry Blitz.

Hope still survives…

Alone and with the city in chaos, Ruby is determined to survive this war and rebuild her life.  And a chance encounter with street urchin Tommy gives Ruby just the chance she needs…

And love will overcome.

Because Tommy brings with him Canadian Sergeant Jean-Paul Clayton.  Jean-Paul is drawn to Ruby and wants to help her, but Ruby cannot bear another loss. Can love bloom amidst the ruins?  Or will the war take Ruby’s last chance at happiness too? (Description from Goodreads

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Book of the Week | The Traitor by V.S. Alexander

TITLE: The Traitor

AUTHOR: V.S. Alexander

RELEASE DATE: February 25, 2020

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

Drawing on the true story of the White Rose—the resistance movement of young Germans against the Nazi regime—The Traitor tells of one woman who offers her life in the ultimate battle against tyranny, during one of history’s darkest hours.

In the summer of 1942, as war rages across Europe, a series of anonymous leaflets appears around the University of Munich, speaking out against escalating Nazi atrocities. The leaflets are hidden in public places, or mailed to addresses selected at random from the phone book. Natalya Petrovich, a student, knows who is behind the leaflets—a secret group called the White Rose, led by siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friends.

As a volunteer nurse on the Russian front, Natalya witnessed the horrors of war first-hand. She willingly enters the White Rose’s circle, where every hushed conversation, every small act of dissent could mean imprisonment or death at the hands of an infuriated Gestapo. Natalya risks everything alongside her friends, hoping the power of words will encourage others to resist. But even among those she trusts most, there is no guarantee of safety—and when danger strikes, she must take an extraordinary gamble in her own personal struggle to survive. (Description from Goodreads

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