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Ride of a Lifetime is almost Bob Iger’s memoir his career progression at some of America’s largest media empires, starting as a stagehand at ABC to the CEO of Disney. In this book, you follow each step of his career and look into what he sees as the key aspects of what makes a good leader, gained from mentors and years of experience in LA and New York. If you’re looking for a behind the scenes at Disney book, this isn’t it.
Leadership isn’t a set of hard rules to follow, more an understanding of when and how to apply your knowledge and judgment. A leader can be a force multiplier or a hindrance to a creative team. What people sometimes describe as a “strong leader” may be a negative to a company due to their dampening effects.
The Key Lessons
- Take responsibility for your mistakes. You’ll be more respected and trusted if you take ownership.
- Be decent to people and treat everyone equal.
- Admit what you don’t know, and work to fill the gaps in your knowledge.
- Creativity isn’t a science, so permit yourself to fail.
- Don’t let ambition get in the way of opportunity, while a role might not be an upward progression it may open other doors.
- Don’t get fixated on small projects that’ll achieve small results.
- If you show a lack of willingness, people surrounding you will notice.
- Learn that you are not irreplaceable.
- A company’s reputation is the sum total of its people’s actions and the quality of the product it creates.
- Technology will eventually make older business models obsolete. Embrace new technology.
- If something doesn’t feel right to you, it won’t be right for you.
- In any negotiation, be clear about where you stand from the beginning.
- Your power as a leader can discourage others from speaking up. Allow space for others to talk.
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.
crucially, he knew what he didn’t know. This is a rare trait in a boss.
There’s nothing less confidence-inspiring than a person faking a knowledge they don’t possess.
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.
You have to be attentive. You often have to sit through meetings that, if given the choice, you might choose not to sit through. You have to learn and absorb. You have to hear out other people’s problems and help find solutions. It’s all part of being a great manager.
If leaders don’t articulate their priorities clearly, then the people around them don’t know what their own priorities should be.
“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!”
Bob Iger provides some great insights into how to manage a creative business, and while some may discount what he has to say for other business types I think the key lessons apply to any business. Being an honest and caring leader will instil trust and bring out the best in people.