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
PUBLISHER: Random House
RELEASE DATE: September 23, 2019
GENRE: Business, Biography, Nonfiction, Leadership
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)
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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)