Tag Archives: Walt Disney

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


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


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.




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 | Walt Before Mickey by Timothy Susanin

Book Review | Walt Before Mickey

“For ten years before the creation of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney struggled with, failed at, and eventually mastered the art and business of animation. Most biographies of his career begin in 1928, when Steamboat Willie was released. That first Disney Studio cartoon with synchronized sound made its main character—Mickey Mouse—an icon for generations.

But Steamboat Willie was neither Disney’s first cartoon nor Mickey Mouse’s first appearance. Prior to this groundbreaking achievement, Walt Disney worked in a variety of venues and studios, refining what would become known as the Disney style. In Walt Before Mickey, 1919–1928, Timothy Susanin creates a portrait of the artist from age seventeen to the cusp of his international renown.” – Net Galley


Many people who know me and know my fiance can see that we have a love of Disney.  We go to Disneyland at least once a month, we love watching Disney movies together, we took our engagement photos at Disney California Adventure, and we may incorporate a few Disney elements into our wedding.  With that being said, I was excited to read about how Walt Disney started this great empire of his.  I wanted to know where the billion dollar company came from and what it took to get there.

In the year 1919, when Walt Disney was 18 years old, he began working at Gray Advertising Company as an art apprentice in Kansas City.  It was at the Gray Advertising Company that Walt’s animation career began.  Then in 1920, he worked for the Kansas City Film Ad Service where he made his first animated cartoons.

It was clear that Walt never liked working for other’s, but was grateful for the opportunities to learn more about the industry and hone his skills.  Walt would eventually start Kaycee Studios, but would only last from 1921 to 1922.  Then in spring 1922, he opened Laugh-O-Gram Films, Inc.

Unfortunately, what Walt thought would be his big break turned out to be another failed company.  Laugh-O-Gram Films, Inc. wasn’t making any money and Walt eventually had to let it go.  This was when he decided to move to California and the rest is history.


The story of Walt Disney is quite inspirational for me.  Even though at times he had no money, he still believed in what he was doing.  He believed that he would be successful even when it seemed like everything was crashing down on him.  He is living proof that when you fail at something you love just keep on going because sooner or later your hard work will pay off.  When I start submitting my books to get published, I will try to remember Walt’s journey and not let rejection get to me.

His story also shows that having people who believe in you makes all the difference.  Many people are mentioned in the book who helped Walt during those years before he created Mickey. Whether it was loaning money or letting him use equipment, there was always someone who believed in what Walt was doing.  His biggest supporter seemed to be his brother Roy Disney.  Personally, having family and friends that support my ambitions makes me work that much more to be successful.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book is that it included a lot of addresses and building locations (i.e. this building is located on the corner of..).  I don’t think that was necessary, but it could be for other people.

If you’re a Disney fan (like me), I would recommend reading this book.  I’m not sure if someone who doesn’t enjoy anything related to Disney would want to read about how the company began.


In November 2014, the movie adaptation of Walt Before Mickey will be released.  Just watching the trailer gets me excited, especially since I recognize many of the actors and actresses.

Thank you to University Press of Mississippi for allowing me to read a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Quotes

“Never once did I hear him express anything except determination to go ahead, because he believed in himself and he believed in what he was trying to accomplish.”

“I want the characters to be somebody.  I don’t want them just to be a drawing.”

Overall Rating

Publishing Company: University Press of Mississippi 

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Movie Information: Facebook, IMDb

I can check this book off my #NetGalleyMonth reading list.

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