In The Ride of a Lifetime, Bob Iger shares the lessons he learned while running Disney and leading its 220,000-plus employees, and he explores the principles that are necessary for true leadership,
The ride of a lifetime 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.
Managing your own time and respecting others’ time is one of the most vital things to do as a manager
Bob Iger is one of my favourite business executive of all time and the Walt Disney Company, a paragon of excellence. In the book, Bob shares a lot of insights such as: fostering curiosity, pursuit of excellence, integrity, taking full responsibility for your actions, decisiveness and candor, I find the Ride of a lifetime by Bob Iger to be a very good read and I would highly recommend it.
Innovate or die, and there’s no innovation if you operate out of fear of the new or untested.
Here are some of my favourite take-aways from reading the Ride of a lifetime by Bob Iger:
When the unexpected does happen, a kind of instinctive triage kicks in. You have to rely on your own internal “threat scale.” There are drop-everything events, and there are others when you say to yourself, This is serious, I need to be engaged right now, but I also need to extricate myself and focus on other things and return to this later. 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.
To this day, I wake nearly every morning at four-fifteen, though now I do it for selfish reasons: to have time to think and read and exercise before the demands of the day take over. Those hours aren’t for everyone, but however you find the time,
it’s vital to create space in each day to let your thoughts wander beyond your immediate job responsibilities, to turn things over in your mind in a less pressured, more creative way than is possible once the daily triage kicks in. I’ve come to cherish that time alone each morning, and am certain I’d be less productive and less creative in my work if I didn’t also spend those first hours away from the emails and text messages and phone calls that require so much attention as the day goes on.
Bob Iger’s Tenets of Success
Bob shares ten principles that strike him as necessary to true leadership:
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.
Optimism sets a different machine in motion. Especially in difficult moments, the people you lead need to feel confident in your ability to focus on what matters, and not to operate from a place of defensiveness and self-preservation.
This isn’t about saying things are good when they’re not, and it’s not about conveying some innate faith that “things will work out.” It’s about believing you and the people around you can steer toward the best outcome, and not communicating the feeling that all is lost if things don’t break your way. The tone you set as a leader has an enormous effect on the people around you. No one wants to follow a pessimist.
The foundation of risk-taking is courage, and in ever-changing, disrupted businesses, risk-taking is essential, innovation is vital, and true innovation occurs only when people have courage. This is true of acquisitions, investments, and capital allocations, and it particularly applies to creative decisions. Fear of failure destroys creativity.
Allocating time, energy, and resources to the strategies, problems, and projects that are of highest importance and value is extremely important, and it’s imperative to communicate your priorities clearly and often.
All decisions, no matter how difficult, can and should be made in a timely way. Leaders must encourage a diversity of opinion balanced with the need to make and implement decisions. Chronic indecision is not only inefficient and counterproductive, but it is deeply corrosive to morale.
Taking Responsibility for your actions
When you screw up, you’ll be more respected and trusted by the people around you if you honestly own up to your mistakes. It’s impossible not to make them; but it is possible to acknowledge them, learn from them, and set an example that it’s okay to get things wrong sometimes. What’s not okay is to undermine others by lying about something or covering your own ass first.
You can’t erase your mistakes or pin your bad decisions on someone else. You have to own your own failures. You earn as much respect and goodwill by standing by someone in the wake of a failure as you do by giving them credit for a success.
A deep and abiding curiosity enables the discovery of new people, places, and ideas, as well as an awareness and an understanding of the marketplace and its changing dynamics. The path to innovation begins with curiosity.
KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW (AND TRUST IN WHAT YOU DO)
Strong leadership embodies the fair and decent treatment of people. Empathy is essential, as is accessibility. People committing honest mistakes deserve second chances, and judging people too harshly generates fear and anxiety, which discourage communication and innovation. Nothing is worse to an organization than a culture of fear.
Treat everyone with fairness and empathy. This doesn’t mean that you lower your expectations or convey the message that mistakes don’t matter. It means that you create an environment where people know you’ll hear them out, that you’re emotionally consistent and fair-minded, and that they’ll be given second chances for honest mistakes. (If they don’t own up to their mistakes, or if they blame someone else, or if the mistake is the result of some unethical behavior, that’s a different story, and something that shouldn’t be tolerated.)
Thoughtfulness is one of the most underrated elements of good leadership. It is the process of gaining knowledge, so an opinion rendered or decision made is more credible and more likely to be correct. It’s simply about taking the time to develop informed opinions.
Be genuine. Be honest. Don’t fake anything. Truth and authenticity breed respect and trust.
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. It’s a fine line, and something I preach today.
You have to ask the questions you need to ask, admit without apology what you don’t understand, and do the work to learn what you need to learn as quickly as you can. There’s nothing less confidence-inspiring than a person faking a knowledge they don’t possess. True authority and true leadership come from knowing who you are and not pretending to be anything else.
The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.
shokunin, “the endless pursuit of perfection for some greater good.
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.” If you believe that something can be made better, put in the effort to do it. If you’re in the business of making things, be in the business of making things great.
His mantra was simple: “Do what you need to do to make it better.” Of all the things I learned from Roone, this is what shaped me the most. When I talk about this particular quality of leadership, I refer to it as “the relentless pursuit of perfection.”
Nothing is more important than the quality and integrity of an organization’s people and its product. A company’s success depends on setting high ethical standards for all things, big and small. Another way of saying this is: The way you do anything is the way you do everything.
True Integrity—a sense of knowing who you are and being guided by your own clear sense of right and wrong—is a kind of secret weapon.
Yellow Light by Board before closing the Pixar Deal
The board gave Bob the “yellow light”: go ahead, explore the idea, but proceed cautiously. Collectively, they concluded it was so unlikely to ever happen that they might as well let us amuse ourselves by exploring it.
On Risk Taking
PEOPLE SOMETIMES SHY AWAY from taking big swings because they assess the odds and build a case against trying something before they even take the first step. One of the things I’ve always instinctively felt—and something that was greatly reinforced working for people like Roone and Michael—is that long shots aren’t usually as long as they seem.
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. Man in the Arena Speech:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.
All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.