Pixie Dust & Profits | Small Business Podcast for Disney Lovers

Episode 76: Leadership lessons from Bob Iger (Transcript)

Jan 24, 2023

Nicole (00:00):
Hi everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of Pixie Dust and Profits. I’m Nicole. And I’m Yasmine. And this week we have a special treat for you. This is actually a tea part episode, so we’ll have this one coming out this week, and in two weeks you can get the other half of it. And we are talking all about leadership lessons from Bob Iger, who, if you have listened to this podcast at all in the last few years, you know that we are Bob Iger fangirls. We just really think that he has a smart business mind and articulates himself well. And he’s kind of a fun c e o to get behind. You know, I think there’s a lot of brands out there where you probably don’t even know who the CEO is. Steve Jobs comes to mind, you know who they are when they’re speaking on the stage, and Bob Iger is kind of like that for us.

Nicole (00:45):
And as you probably know, he has come back into the role of CEO for Disney. This happened back in November and it was a very abrupt changeover. So it kind of brought us back to Bob Biker’s book and his philosophies, and we thought, let’s revisit it. Let’s share it with everybody. So first and foremost, we are just going to try to share some of the lessons he’s had. If you have not read his book, we highly recommend it. He also has a masterclass, and I think it’s on the platform called Masterclass. Mm-Hmm. , which is basically just a video format of his book. I wouldn’t say it’s him reading it, but it’s the stories that he tells in the book, because this man is a content genius because that’s what’s put him in the helm of Disney. And so those are all really amazing.

Nicole (01:32):
I’ve read the book, I’ve watched the videos, I recommend either platform, whatever you can get your hands on. There’s some great lessons here if you’re a small business owner. And even if you’re not, just how you treat other people comes through loud and clear in in the books and the stories. I guess where should we start? Like a little bit of info about Bob Egger maybe? Sure. So he’s in his seventies. He’s 71 I believe. He started working for quote Disney back when it was ABC in 1974. So he was kind of on like the broadcast side of things, and that’s really important to know because of the direction that he took Disney in years later. He really focused on content, you know, he was instrumental in getting like Disney Plus and Marvel and Star Wars and all of these big engines going.

Nicole (02:19):
And I think that’s because he has that background in, in tv. So you know, he started with the b ABC in 1974, and then he became the c e o. He, he went from 20 years ago. Yeah, 2005 was when he became c e O and he was at the helm for 15 years and retired and then came back a couple months ago. And you know, they say that his first role at ABC was just kind of like the lacky on the sidelines, grabbing all the equipment people needed and running it around the set all the way up to ceo, which is just crazy. Like these stories don’t really exist anymore. And I love that his entire book, even though it’s non-fiction and it’s typically something that would be dense material, it’s all story based mm-hmm. . so yeah, that’s just like a little bit about that.

Nicole (03:08):
So some of the really big things that we know of that he’s been behind in 2006, he bought Pixar in 2009. I say he, I mean the Disney company at his leadership of course Marvel 2012 was George Lucas. And Lucas Films 2018 was Fox which was the 21st century Fox, although like movies and catalog they had. And he was also really instrumental in getting Shanghai Disney opened in in China, and that took him about two decades to do. So those are some big projects and that completely glosses over all of the little projects in between. But I, I think it’s just important to talk about like the content and how that has been the thread for everything. And we’ll get back to that a little bit. The first step, I’d love to just talk about his, he has like eight philosophies he says around leadership and I mean, you can take these eight words and run with them. So yeah. Yasmin, where do you wanna start with the philosophies?

Yasmine (04:07):
Nicole, why don’t you talk about optimism?

Nicole (04:09):
Oh, sure. So he says in his book that optimism is that 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. And it’s, this is such an obvious statement, which I think all of these are at your core. You kind of already know these things, but putting them into action and practice is the difficult thing. And you know, he’s, this isn’t just for his book. He’s had interviews where he talks about this with his optimism even years prior where he’s saying he said, I remember as a kid seeing a World War II movie and you’d have some caption or a captain or whatever, an officer of some sort, and they would say, we’re gonna come over this hill guys. Is anyone gonna follow the pessimist?

Nicole (04:57):
Who thinks they’re gonna lose? Or who constantly thinks that, you know, things aren’t gonna work out for the best? No. and so that’s I think something he took to his core and was really like, we can get through hard times. We have to make difficult decisions. Even though he was not c e o when Covid was happening, I think there was some overlap. I think Covid was like February, 2020 and he was already scheduled to retire. He might have retired like December 31st, this whole situation, he was still chairman of the board at that time and really led them through the pandemic. And I think in the face of having to shut down the parks and everything else that came with it, he was an optimist. And you know, that is kind of the timeline where Bob Chap took over and you saw the morale of cast members going down, like basically starting from when he took over until Bob Iger came back.

Nicole (05:56):
And you know, we’ve heard stories and reports, we’ve seen things on Twitter, we’ve seen things in Forbes where, you know, the cast members, once they got the announcement that Bob Iger was back, it was like an overnight instant like stress relief off their shoulders. And I think that tells you a lot about this, like following an optimistic leader versus following one that, you know, wants to do things by the book. And it’s all about the numbers and it’s all about efficiency and all of those things. I love those things, but there’s a human element, especially to a business like Disney

Yasmine (06:25):
For sure. And I think one of the stories that came out was when Bob Iger came back as c e o, it was like a house had dropped on the witch and the munchkins and mu were all like rejoicing because Ding Dong the Witch is dead. They were really excited that Bob Iger was back and you know, Bob Chap wasn’t continuing to to lead because he didn’t really seem like an optimistic leader. In fact, in a lot of ways as we’re going through this list, I feel like his leadership style was like the opposite of Bob Iger. Oh yeah. Did you say Nicole? Yeah.

Nicole (06:58):
Yeah, it definitely feels that way. I mean, you know, Iger has said that hi, his dad battled with depression. And so he constantly felt that you can’t do everything right and you can’t do anything right, because you never knew what happened would set off your dad’s depression or anger or whatever it may be. And so when you take that into like a business sense, it’s like Disney is in the business of fun, right? They, you, they sell those fairy tales, they sell the happily ever after. And that, you know, through all bad things you can persevere. And to have a c e that doesn’t embody that, just you can feel that clash that would exist

Yasmine (07:43):
For sure. And like, if you’re thinking of how does this apply to my own business? Well, yeah, like ev anyone can, you know, be an optimistic leader, but with the economy being in the state that it’s in, like, you know, a lot of people are coming down on like tough times and I think it can be hard to sort of like see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you know, entrepreneurship flourishes in times of recession. So that’s something that you can maybe think about as you get through 2023 with your business. So speaking of, you know, getting through and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I think like courage was another one of Bob i’s core tenants and leadership philosophies. And I think one quote that he said that really like stood out to me was like he didn’t wanna be in the business of playing it safe because he wanted to create possibilities for greatness.

Yasmine (08:35):
And as business owners, I really feel like there, in order to really get into business, like you have to have that curion, you have to take that risk and you have to take that leap of faith. And often what happens is once we do that, things go well and we fall into a, you know, period of complacency. And Bob Iger didn’t do that. He was constantly pushing for innovation, pushing for growth within the Disney company. I mean, Nicole talked about some of his major accomplishments acquiring Marvel, acquiring Lucas Film, acquiring Fox, like those were three major standalone like studios and brands that have rolled into the Disney company that really fed a bigger project now, which is Disney plus. Like, in addition to having that incredible IP and being able to continue telling those stories and creating like the Marvel cinematic universe and the Star Wars prequels and like the films that came after all of this really helped Disney Plus launch with a really robust platform. Like heck, the entire Fox portfolio was massive. I read today that The Simpsons, which is again a show from Twain Century Fox has 50 times, I believe more viewership than any other series on the Disney plus platform. Isn’t that wild? And,

Nicole (09:59):
You know, yeah. Way I wouldn’t have thought that, but yeah, I guess,

Yasmine (10:02):
Yeah, 50, I think it was 50 plus. Like, we’ll, we’ll fact check that in the show notes. But that was again, an acquisition that Bob Iger really led and that courage and forethought to, you know, look at Disney’s beloved ip, but really ex ex add to that to expand their audience base and their viewership has led to some of the amazing things that we get to experience today as part of like the Disney ecosystem. And one other thing that he said about courage that sort of relates to this is in order to be brave, you kind of have to be comfortable with failure, right? Because if you’re not willing to accept that things might not always work according to plan, you’re not gonna take these great risks. You’re gonna play it safe.

Nicole (10:50):
I also wanna say with courage, you know, he made these big moves with Marvel and Lucas films and one of the stories around that that stuck out to me was with Apple and Steve Jobs, like at that point mm-hmm. , Pixar, they really thought that those two brands had basically disintegrated and the relationship was gone. And to have the courage to just reach out and say, Hey, let, maybe we can mend this bridge. Maybe we can get in a room with a whiteboard and figure this out. And I just think that that’s really powerful because some people won’t even take that step cuz they’re already afraid of the no. And you were talking about how courage comes with the fair conquering the fear of failure or at least being like, okay, or accepting a failure. And I’ve learned this so much as a parent that when you try to make things so simple for your kids or you try to protect them too much, they don’t fail, and then when they do fail or something gets hard, it’s really hard for them to get over that because they never learned that muscle, right?

Nicole (11:51):
Mm-Hmm. . And so I, I just think that it’s such a great lesson. And so when it comes to your small business, you know, are, are, is there something you’re doing that is you’re kind of afraid of or you have some anxiety around? And it doesn’t have to be big, it, it can literally be, you know, I wanna take this from part-time to full-time, that’s big. But it could be something like, I’d really like to try and, you know, raise my rates with my clients even though it doesn’t feel right right now, but my, my bills are increasing and I need to do this. And it’s scary to have that ask. It could be just, you know, reaching out to collaborate with someone or asking them to appear on their podcast or whatever it may be. Is there something,

Yasmine (12:32):
Or even launching a different product, like yeah, you know, moving into launching digital proj products for example, you might think like, oh you know, I really wanna release this, but who’s gonna want it? Well put it out there and learn who’s gonna want it. And beyond that, like it’ll teach you other ways that you can potentially market this. What does work, what doesn’t? Like no one goes into business knowing things are gonna work out a hundred percent of the time. A lot of it is trial and error, it’s fact-based trial and error. Like, you look at best practices, you go with, you know past experiences, but you can never guarantee someone who’s gonna work out a hundred percent of the time and you’re not gonna know unless you try.

Nicole (13:15):
And it goes back to the optimism too, right? Yeah. So if you have courage and you’ve built this culture of optimism in your brand and your business, then you can accept what’s coming and you’re rallied around the positives or the possibilities. And you know, I think that’s also a piece of courage where when you’re doing the work, you’re also trusting your team and in what you delegate them in doing because you have created that culture for them. So I mean, these things are all related and you can see how having courage in a not so good environment might lead to some choices that are extremely risky and put a lot of things at risk courage. Mm-Hmm. in an optimistic environment might be a little bit different. So definitely don’t do one of these in a silo. Think about it all as a whole. I’d really love to move over to his next focus area, which is focus .

Yasmine (14:12):
So

Nicole (14:13):
Do you like that

Yasmine (14:14):
Play

Nicole (14:15):
? So this is all about allocating time, energy, and resources to the strategies, problems and projects that are the highest value. And it says that it’s imperative to communicate your priorities clearly and often, and I think we talk a lot about this throughout all of the episodes of the show about, you know, having focused not letting shiny objects syndrome come in and get you you know, we have that kick squirrel syndrome to the curve download that you can get that kind of walks you through, like, here are focus areas in your business, so you only do one thing at a time. But there was one piece of this book while I was reading that I was like, underlining, highlighting, I loved it so much and I think it’s, you know, scars from when I worked in corporate and how I wished my corporate job was, but it wasn’t.

Nicole (15:03):
And so I just remember highlighting this passage and it, it was just basically about you can do a lot for the morale of the people around you and therefore the people around them just by taking the guesswork out of their day-to-day life. A lot of work is complex and requires focus and energy, but this is fairly simple. This is where we wanna be and this is how we’re going to get there. And I think it was so smart because there are so many times in our small businesses as in our digital businesses, especially when we’re bringing on team members or we’re just even trying to get work done ourselves, we can’t articulate what it is we want our team to do mm-hmm. so they don’t get the things done. And then we either judge them harshly or decide, well, you don’t want to, you know, keep working with this contractor or, or just, you know, say, oh, that idea was bad or that product line was bad.

Nicole (15:58):
And really it, I think so many times it comes down to did you put focus in this? Did you communicate clearly? And often this is the goal we’re working toward. We are going to launch X, y, z we are gonna do, you know, this in the first quarter of the year and you know, it’s January right now, this will air at the end of January and you know, maybe you’ll have some time for reflection, but definitely think about whether you have team members or not. What is your focus gonna be for the next few weeks? You know, you don’t wanna waste time doing, thinking about what to do. It’s such a waste of time. So many of my clients will say, I just want a boss to tell me what to do on Monday morning, . And you know, when you make out your projects and your goals for the year, you can kind of get to that point where maybe you do have a boss.

Nicole (16:48):
It’s just the notes you had from last week telling you what to do next week. All right. So the last one we’re gonna go over this week is decisiveness and we’ll do the remaining four in our next episode. But we would love to hear from you if you’re listening along, like are you nodding? Are you thinking about how you bring optimist to optimism to your business? Are you bringing courage and focus? Next up is decisiveness and we’ll talk a little bit about that, but just interrupting with this little promo to come to Instagram @pixiedustandprofits and send us a dm, let us know, you know, what, what’s resonating with you right now.

Yasmine (17:25):
Yeah, we would love to know. So on decisiveness, one of the things that Bob Iger says is that he’s always instinctively felt which means like sometimes he uses as judgment to decide what direction to go into. And I think like beyond that, it’s also a really good lesson that like sometimes you just have to make a choice and the failure to make a choice can impact you negatively in the long run. I mean, an example that I can think of right off the bat that of an experience I’ve had with the client and that I’ve actually seen lots of entrepreneurs go through which ties a little bit back to focus and courage, but is it’s, it’s a bit of a failure to launch and not decide because they can go in one direction with a project or another direction, but they don’t know which one will be better, which one will yield them the most success.

Yasmine (18:15):
So they sort of come to a standstill and they can’t make a choice. And that lack of choice slows us down, holds up the project, causes to do a lot of rework. And often what I’ve seen is their failure to make a choice and just pick a direction just to see how it’s going to play out. Results in someone else sort of beating them to the punch, launching a similar project, opening up you know, a similar shop or something where they you know, attract a bit of the same audience. And, you know, there’s always that benefit to first mover advantage, but you know, that’s not to say that you can’t like still come out with your product improve, but with Bob Iger, I feel like he’s always, you know, made decisions, taking the data into consideration, but really focusing on what the outcome will be.

Yasmine (19:08):
Not just for like, you know, the bottom line, but for like the broader Disney community that includes the employees and the audience. We, we saw this a lot in like the parks, right? Recently Bob Iger has ruled back some of the previous decisions that have been made under Chap X rate and a few of his own. For one he’s brought, he’s really listened to the park community and the park like audience and fans. And while, you know, charging anyone who’s staying at a resort, a nightly parking fee definitely helps ramp up the revenue. It was also making it so that Disney was starting to become too expensive for what’s really always been their core audience, which is like the average everyday family. We’ve talked about the value chain that Disney has, that they really meet every customer where they’re at from the value customers who, you know, are spending their money for this once a lifetime Disney trip and might not have a huge budget, but can still experience it all the way to, you know, the people who want to like stay at the Grand Floridian every time and have the most like luxurious Disney experience like Disney really is for everybody.

Yasmine (20:22):
And

Nicole (20:22):
The parking fee really felt like a slap in the face too. Yeah. And they took away magical express, so you had no way to get to Disney anymore for free. You know, it’s not really free, it’s baked into all your ticket prices and everything, but you had no way to get from the airport to Disney anymore. So now you had to spend more to rent a car or take an Uber or whatever it may be, and you’re paying for parking overnight if you did rent a car, it, it added, you know, $1,500 to every budget easily. So it, it did really feel like a slap in the face. And you know, they just released last week that those charges won’t exist anymore. So that’s a quick decisive action. You know, he came into CEO EShip in November and probably looked at where, what are some quick wins we can get to, you know, boost our PR and also like, you know, won’t terribly impact the bottom line.

Yasmine (21:16):
Yeah, a few other like big changes that he made were like sort of relaxing the limits on park hopping. So for the longest time you couldn’t visit another park until after like one or 2:00 PM and beginning February 4th, that’s changing till 11:00 AM so you can go to like Magic Kingdom and then, you know, head over to Epcot for lunch by noon and not have to wait until like 1:00 PM to go. He also has brought back free on ride photos. So one of like the biggest travesties of the magic or the annual pass changes, other than the fact that like you can’t just get them anymore because they’ve limited the number of purchasers due to the fact that Bob Chapa considered them unfavorable audiences.

Nicole (22:02):
Yeah, because we didn’t spend enough money. But I, I can at attest that once you become an annual passholder, you start buying merchandise you never bought before

Yasmine (22:11):
. Yep. Because that 20% discount’s quite sweet. But he brought back the ride photos so you no longer have to like, you know, spend an extra like $99 a year or a trip to like get those photos. Like you can get them back. Which again was a decision that didn’t make a lot of annual pass holders happy. And I think Bob Iger understands that like, you know, the longevity of this like fandom and I think the future return it has beyond like the most immediate impact on the bottom line. I mean, heck, Nicole got me to buy D V C after like talking to her for like one weekend.

Nicole (22:49):
It was a, it’s a good investment. You’re, it, it’s amazing how, I don’t wanna say more inexpensive trips are, but when you aren’t paying for the hotel room and you fly on points and you have an annual pass, like that’s why we end up going once or twice a year, like usually once a year and I go a second time for, for pixie dust and profits. And so for to hear things like annual pass holders are not, you know, revenue generators, it’s just mind boggling to me because there’s no way without DVC that I’d be able to do this or want to do this, you know? The other thing about decisiveness, it talks about making decisions in a timely way mm-hmm. . And yes, when you were talking about this with clients, and it was like you were in my business because I, I have a client for the last few weeks who like, they’re ready to launch, like they’re on the springboard, they need to jump, we have everything ready.

Nicole (23:42):
And it’s a constant like, okay, we’re ready. I’m about to like hit the red button and then they’re like, oh no, I need to look at it a little longer. And like you said, it delays the project, it delays the opportunity, it delays that you’ll, you’ll get out there first. And you know, there are in these situations, this isn’t even something where there is an audience they have to build first. They actually have people actively applying for this opportunity and they’re ignoring them by continually double checking and having to rethink it. And so at some point the interest starts waning because they were interested and you’ve stopped talking about it because you’ve been thinking about it. You put it, you took it out of the action pile and you put it back into the like head strategy pile. And so decisiveness, I think more than any of the others can, can definitely be, I don’t wanna say a business killer, but it can be a huge spiral that you can’t get past because once you start second guessing everything, it gets really hard to get back into that action phase.

Nicole (24:47):
And so I think a lot of the work that Yasmin and I do with our clients is, is kind of trying to be that fairy godmother, that business fairy godmother we talk about where we just kind of tap you on the shoulders and maybe give you a gentle kick in the butt mm-hmm. with some pixie dust. And we tell you, you know, this is good what you have. People will want this and you know, we can pivot, but we need to send this first piece into the world, see the response, see what people want, see this, and then we can make our next decision quickly based on that information. But if we never get this first foot out the door, we’re, we’re just gonna keep staying in the house.

Yasmine (25:27):
And, and that’s the key thing. It’s like making decisions based on information. Like, it’s not like Bob Iger is like going like, Hmm, you know what? I think I’m just gonna do away with parking. Like I’m sure he’s looking at data and he’s thinking about maybe the long term impact instead of like the immediate bottom line. But if you don’t put something out there, you don’t know if it’s gonna work. Like a product that is like hasn’t been released is a failure as far as I’m concerned because it, it’s not out there. You don’t know if it’s successful or not. And you need to put something out there, like Nicole said, to get that initial feedback and then make adjustments. Adjustments and optimizing, optimizing in like the vacuum of like pre-launch mode only does so much a few weeks here and there. Yes. But constant pivots like you don’t know if this is gonna work better than the previous product. Cuz again, you have no data, you’re like literally going on a whim, a hunch. And you know, we do believe in trusting your gut, but you need information and data to sort of feed those bigger decisions in your

Nicole (26:30):
Business. There’s so much I wanna go into with Jeck and, you know, those decisions he did make about all of these price increases and everything else, and how even with feedback he didn’t, you know, reverse those decisions. I, there’s a part of it that feels like it was opportunistic because hundred percent of the pandemic pandemic going on and you know, to never walk back on those things. But you know, in the next episode where we go through the next four parts of Bob Bagger’s leadership lessons, it, we talk about fairness and I think that that conversation can come in there, but it definitely felt like decisiveness, but you also need to respond to the people who are talking. I think some of that was what felt so disrespectful as a longtime like Disney in investor in the sense of like, you know, I don’t see myself as just a guest anymore because of how much money I’ve spent there over the years.

Nicole (27:23):
But you know, to make these decisions and then not stop and think like this whole, you can go to a park after two o’clock, but only if you go to a park before two o’clock. And all of these rules that made no sense really were really difficult to follow even for people who’d, who’d gone there a million times. Mm-Hmm. . And not to reverse that decision after everyone started getting vaccinations, all the rules have changed and still to act like we need to keep these things in place, it felt a little bit disingenuous. And so I think we’ll get into this around fairness. So if you haven’t caught on, there’s a second part to this episode, it will be out in two weeks. So make sure to listen to them together, subscribe to us on iTunes, send us a DM on Instagram @pixiedustandprofits and we’ll see you real soon.

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Episode 76: Leadership lessons from Bob Iger

Jan 24, 2023

If you know us, you know we’re big Bob Iger fans. There’s a lot to learn from this Disney mastermind! 

In this two-part series, we’re diving into the eight leadership lessons mentioned in Iger’s book, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

By looking at each of these lessons, we’ll break down the genius of Iger’s leadership — and show you how to apply these principles to your own business. 

Download Episode 76 transcript right here

Text us! 207-203-6769

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Episode 75: The Importance of Autonomy for Your Employees and Contractors (Transcript)

Jan 10, 2023

Nicole (00:00):
Hi everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of Pixie Dust and Profits. I’m Nicole.

Yasmine (00:05):
And I’m Yasmine.

Nicole (00:06):
And we’re joining you after a little bit of a winter break so we could spend time with our families during the holidays. And we hope that you are entering 2023 rested, refreshed, and ready to go and go. Doesn’t mean you have to go far. Go could be just getting out of bed in the morning. So we’re not here to say that you have to reinvent everything, but we thought that we would start the year off talking about leadership lessons. So our next few episodes for the rest of this season are all about being a leader in your business, having contractors, having employees, what we can learn from Bob Iger, who if you have listened to the show for a while, you know we are big fangirls of talking about how we can get a culture of caring in our businesses. So stay tuned for the next few weeks. We’re talking about being a leader in your business.

Yasmine (00:53):
So one of the things that we really wanna talk about is how Disney gives autonomy to their employees within the business. And you might think autonomy like isn’t bus Disney very structured? Don’t they have like a lot of rules and policies in place? And yes, they do. Autonomy doesn’t mean like people can go off and do everything willy-nilly. Autonomy means allowing them to act freely within certain constraints. And there are two examples that we really wanna talk about. The first one Nicole will cover, which is what they do in the costume design department. And then I’ll go into the autonomy that they give cast members who interact with you at the park. So Nicole, do you wanna kick us off with costume design?

Nicole (01:34):
Yeah, sure. So when we’re talking about autonomy in the context of being small business owners in particular, this is really shows up when you’re working with contractors. Mm-Hmm. . But even if you have an employee or you’ve been an employee or you’re on the other side of this, or you’re not the leader, you’re the service provider this is really about letting your employees have the freedom to work how they want to get the thing done. Sometimes it also includes when, so with contractors, they probably work at all different hours. So I just wanted to let you know, like this is all about not micromanaging, essentially giving someone, Hey, these are kind of the goals that I have and what I’d like to see in the end. But you don’t micromanage how they get to that end product. You get feedback, you it, it’s definitely two-way conversation, but it’s not, you have to do it this way because I said so.

Nicole (02:24):
You listen to their feedback, absorb it and move on. So with this, I’m going to go back about three years ago now. I feel like it was a very long time ago. It was the pre covid days. I went on a tour of the costuming department at Wal Disney World and it blew my mind. I am not a fashion person in any way. So I’m sure there are others who were really looking forward to this part. It kind of took me by surprise how interesting this all was from an operations perspective and I shouldn’t have been cuz it’s Disney and they wouldn’t show us things that were amazing. But there’s two facets to this whole operation that I thought were really interesting. And the first was that Disney actually designs all of the uniforms or costumes that the cast members wear. So if you are at Magic Kingdom and you’re in tomorrow land and you see someone wearing it’s usually like silvery pants, a futuristic looking vest, Disney actually designs those now they have 75,000 employees.

Nicole (03:27):
So they don’t hand make all of those. What they do is they had, they had a room of designers just sitting on their computers designing all different things. I think when we were there they were working on some of the Galaxy’s edge stuff because they had some things blocked off that we couldn’t look at and they designed different pieces. So pants, skirts you know, headbands, like all the accessories that everyone needs to wear. And they then digitize all of those patterns to keep an archive of it so they can always go back if things are changing a little bit. You know, they can put different colors for different areas of the park because, you know, if you’re walking in Tomorrowland, they wear different colors and so on in adventure land and they have this whole system where they design everything and then they get those patterns get digitized and sent overseas to be made in bulk because there are 75,000 employees.

Nicole (04:25):
But, you know, all those are designed in house. The cool part, I mean that’s pretty cool in and of itself, but the cool part is this. They have a warehouse where every single article of clothing and every size imaginable is, and when you are a cast member, you get your assignment for, you know, the week or the month or wherever you’re working and you get an R F I D process where you come in and you’re like, I want these three uniforms. And it’s almost like shopping when you’re going back to clueless in the movie when she’s looking at the monitor and picking what she wants to wear. That’s kind of what I picture because they go and choose the different tops and bottoms and all of those things that they want and they can check them out for, you know, three different outfits a week I think is what they had said.

Nicole (05:13):
And so they check out their uniforms and they go through the other door, they’d walk out with what they didn’t have and then they can get them laundered there. So it’s just this really cool operational process of like, how do you get 75,000 people in their uniforms every single day, especially when you’re sending people to a different part of the park. I mean, most people have a given assignment and they change, you know, every few months, but there are people that are kind of floaters and they have to, you know, work at a store one week and then a different store the next week. And so how do you do a quick costume change for those roles? So I just thought it was really interesting how they did all of this. So there is autonomy in the perspective of you. We have people who are designing these outfits and then also people get to choose what they want to wear within the handbook of these positions can wear these certain things.

Nicole (06:06):
And so, you know, it’s not autonomy in how they go about their day or how they go about their job, which is what Yazmin will be talking about. But giving people the freedom to feel comfortable and giving options. Especially as a woman, when you have ever worked a job that requires a uniform and you’re typically wearing smaller sized men’s clothing, which doesn’t feel comfortable, it doesn’t feel like you are yourself, you’re kind of wearing like another layer of skin. And when you, when you’re not comfortable in your clothing, how can you provide like a good level of service to the people that you’re trying to interact with? Right? So I just think it’s really cool that they have multiple versions of everything and you kind of get a little bit of, I can be myself, but I’m still in Disney uniform.

Yasmine (06:51):
One really cool change Disney made recently is they’re letting you show up how you’d like to present yourself. So if you like to present yourself as a man, you can choose for more of the air quotes, traditionally male clothing. And if you wanna show up as a woman, you can choose from the outfits that had traditionally been for the women. So it’s really your choice. And the fact that Disney is doing this is really incredible because they’re respecting people’s gender identities and how they like to present themselves. And I think that’s really cool and a great autonomy that they’re giving their employees.

Nicole (07:29):
And again, like the, the whole research behind having autonomy for your employees is happy employees, comfortable employees, people who feel like they’re respected and valued in that they have a voice at the table are going to be better workers. They’re going to be absolutely better brand custodians. They’re going to be more friendly with the customers and guests that they’re interacting with because they’re not in the back of their head. Also worrying about the micromanaging of, oh, did I wear, you know, exactly what they said to wear and tie it exactly the way that it needs to be done. The other thing with cast members is they’re really given the authority to make magic.

Yasmine (08:13):
Mm-Hmm. . Yeah. And that’s something that I really want to talk about because Nicole and I, I’ve experienced it. I know many people look forward to being pixie dusted is what we call it at Disney World. And you know, with Pixie dusting, it’s something that is a nice surprise, you shouldn’t expect it. But it’s really the cast members that are empowered to create these magical moments for guests at Disney World. So the big experience that Nicole and I had with being Pixie dusted was last year when we came from the Pixie Dust and Profits retreat. We always rent deluxe Studio the night before because we like to come in early with how crazy flights have been. We just don’t ever wanna be in a situation where our attendees are there before we are. Plus we like to prepare beforehand. So we always fly the night before and to obviously save on cost so you don’t have to pass that on to attendees.

Yasmine (09:05):
We rent out a deluxe studio the first night and then for the remainder of the trip we’re in a two bedroom that we typically share with another attendee or we share it with another like coach who’s attending with us this year it was Latasha from Uncanny Content. And last year, because they saw that we were immediately switching to a two bedroom and staying there, you know, they figured they had a two bedroom available that one night rather than have us move, they just put us in there from the get-go. So we got upgraded from a deluxe studio to a two bedroom at Saratoga Springs, which was pretty sweet because it meant we didn’t have to move everything around, figure out, you know, how to get outta the room at 11 and then check back in at four with all of our stuff. It allowed us to get a headstart on some of our shopping cause we didn’t have to worry about refrigerated items.

Yasmine (09:52):
And it definitely made the trip a lot easier this time. I think we had our fingers crossed that that would happen again and it didn’t. And you know, it was fine. We figured it out. But those little things that they did a to make things more efficient, I mean, on their end they didn’t have to worry about cleaning another room and turning it over. Really delighted our experience. There have been a couple times when I was at Disney World with my daughter this past May where, you know, cast members would just like, give her little stickers and little like treats and stuff and just little things to make the experience a little bit more magical for an almost three year old at that point, which I truly loved because it’s such a small gesture on their part. But, you know, my daughter carried around a Mickey Mouse sticker, a cast member gave her in line at a ride for a week or two afterwards.

Yasmine (10:39):
Like she didn’t wanna put it on her clothes, she just carried the sticker on the paper backing because it was just like a little special thing she got. She liked it a lot more than the stuffed animals mommy bought her at you know, the magical emporium. But, you know, these little things are great. And Disney empowers employees at every level, or cast members at every level to create these magical experiences. If you’re ever walking about a magic kingdom or the parks, you’ll see the janitors or the custodians creating like little designs with like little pressure washers that they have to, to, you know, make things jazzy. They’ll do like, you know, little dances and play drums on bins as pastors buy, like, you know, watch the show. It’s, it’s really great the room that they give them for, you know, creating a entertaining experience regardless of their role.

Nicole (11:29):
Yeah, I’ve witnessed that at Hollywood Studios. There was someone who was, I, I forget if he was like singing or dancing while you’re like kind of walking in in the massive crowd because half the crowd is going to Toy Story and the other half is going to Star Wars. And so it just kind of lightens up the day a little bit. And you know, they’re allowed to be silly and playful where they need to be. Even the custodians you know, they often will like spray water into Mickey’s head, you know, like a hidden mickey while before they clean whatever they’re cleaning. And just little things like that that, you know, they, it does trickle down when you see everyone kind of being silly and happy and I don’t know, dosing themselves in the magic a little bit while they’re there. For sure.

Nicole (12:15):
So the other thing about costuming that was really interesting was after we got past the area where they talk about like basically their bulk production Disney also makes all of those beautiful princess gowns that you see in the parades and all of the animatronics in all of the parks, they also make the costumes for that. And so they have seamstress as on site. It was a ginormous room and we got to see all the different threads. We were not allowed to take any pictures here. I think we have one in front of the wall of thread that they took for us on the oldest digital camera. Like it was a real digital camera, not a phone . But we gotta see like Captain America blue and things like that. So what was really interesting about this was that the seamstresses were given a project.

Nicole (13:06):
So for example, they had to tailor something for an animatronic or for a show that, you know, happens and they need a new dress or whatever. But in a lot of places, especially in other countries, when you have seamstresses working on things, they often have their specialty, right? So like this person sews on the arms and that person does the bodice and that’s all they do all day long. They just make bodis and they just, you know, do sleeves. And Disney doesn’t do that because they know that repetitive motions can really hurt your employees from a safety standpoint. It’s also just not very satisfying at the end of the day to not feel like you ever accomplished a project. And this isn’t my inference, this is what they told us directly while they were going through the tour because they, safety is number one at Disney.

Nicole (13:58):
Like if you look at their four keys for all of their cast members, safety is always top. So this is where that comes from, right? So they know that the satisfaction you feel at the end of creating this garment is more fulfilling than just going and getting a paycheck for doing sleeves all day long. And at the end of the day they have these, you know, maybe not a day, it probably takes a few weeks to do some of these pieces, but they have something they can feel proud of and feel connected to and feel like they’re part of the business. So I just thought that that was so great of a message about keeping that autonomy. So you’re not telling them, go make whatever dress you want. They have, remember they digitize their patterns. They, they have Cinderella’s gown, you know, to the tea what has to be cut, how it needs to be seemed, you know, they have to use swarski crystals cuz they do better in the heat and they sparkle better.

Nicole (14:47):
And they have all of these guidelines, what color thread, but that seamstress is allowed to just, you know, maybe she’s just feeling, I, you know what, I wanna tackle the, the shoulders today, or I wanna do, you know, the, the bodis today. And she gets that authority to make that choice of how and what she wants to work on. But again, boundaries, parameters are in place. I I just thought it was such a great message. It wasn’t like, oh, I’m gonna do this part and then you pass it to the next person and they’re doing the zippers and the buttons and whatever else. They actually get to do it top to bottom. And sometimes we don’t get that opportunity in our businesses mm-hmm. or we don’t give our contractors that opportunity to have something that they own and they can feel proud of at the end of the day.

Nicole (15:32):
And, you know, when we’re talking about culture, it’s like Disney’s a culture, right? When you work there, you, you’re kind of buying into the magic to a certain level and culture is the glue that holds the business together. And so it’s really important to think about these things. Hopefully this is January. If you’re thinking about the team you have or the team you want to have, you’re thinking about, okay, how do I make sure that this is a partnership? How do I make sure that we’re all in this together and that, you know, they’re just as invested as I am. And I don’t think that your team members necessarily have to be as invested in your business as you are, but they need to have some, some sense of fulfillment in it. Otherwise, what kind of quality of work are you getting? Do they really understand the mission? Could they, you know, sell your business or explain what your business does if they’re talking to someone on the street? That’s what you really want to see.

Yasmine (16:27):
And I think one of the best ways to bring that about is to really trust the people that you hire. Now, I know hiring new people in your business, whether they’re employees or contractors, is always a little bit scary, right? No one knows your product like you do. No one is going to care about it as much as you do, like Nicole said. But when you are hiring an expert and you’re bringing them on, they care about the result too. Because on their end it means a couple of things. One, it’s a reputation, right? They don’t do good work, they’re not gonna get recommended out. Two, they want a hand in scene that they contributed to your success too because your success is their calling card. And three, they wanna create good work. I mean, I find that a lot of people who go into creating their own businesses, who are entrepreneurs to a strong degree do it because they wanna do good work, right?

Yasmine (17:22):
They, they wanna do meaningful work stuff that they’re passionate about. They’re not just like, you know, clocking in for a paycheck. That’s what they left, that’s corporate America that they walked away from, or my case corporate Canada. And they have a mission for themselves to do good work. So we would strongly encourage you to let them do that. And sometimes that means not micromanaging your employees as much, you know, giving them healthy boundaries, especially if they’re a contractor by like, you know, IRS standards, you only ha you don’t really have a say in like when they work or how they work. It’s just, you know, you give them a project and a deadline and you know, if they prefer to work from like 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM on that project, that’s their prerogative as a contractor. They have that flexibility. If you wanna hire them on as an employee, well you can, but that would mean retaining someone for, you know, a salary in a lot of cases or be having to pay a lot of like taxes and taking on additional like, you know financial responsibilities for having employees, which not every business owner is ready for.

Yasmine (18:25):
And that’s okay. The other thing that we want to talk about is just trusting the experts that you bring in. Now, you know, Nicole and I might get a little venti here, but one thing that we struggle with from time to time is as team members who have been on our clients’ teams for like years at certain points, while they trust us and, you know count on us to run their businesses to a degree, there are times where, you know, they go after that shiny object. And often that could be like another coach or a mentor and will, you know, not necess not not the discount, the advice that you give them, but they’ll wanna like gut check it with their latest coach or the newest like expert they brought in to like look at their business and help achieve their growth. And you know, I I don’t think that there’s anything necessarily wrong with like, you know, double checking with someone or getting another insight or another opinion. But when it consistently happens, it kind of devalues the work that we do. And the, like, Nicole, how many years have been working like 15 ish years of expertise that we’re bringing specifically to their business, knowing the ins and outs like the back of our hands. Like it’s our own business really.

Nicole (19:43):
And I think that’s part of it too, is we’ve consistently said throughout this podcast that we all have our uniquely you businesses mm-hmm. and your audience is unique to you. What your products and services are unique to you. And when you engage with an outside coach, it is absolutely okay to get second opinions. They can often flesh out ideas, make them bigger point out different areas where you can optimize. But too often, I don’t wanna say all the time, too often what we see are people who turn to their latest coach who says, oh, you need to do this. And gives them some sort of formula, which is happens to be whatever they did four years prior that made them , you know, the thing on social media and they just say, go replicate this and do this. And it takes out all of the nuance and the gut and the understanding of the business.

Nicole (20:41):
So our biggest piece of advice, if you are, you know, the business owner and you are, you know, let me go ask my coach. Or you often find yourself asking many different people for their opinions on an idea you wanna move forward or what you should do next. Just take a breath, take their information in, but then say, how do I adapt this for my audience, for my people, for what my products are? Also ask yourself, does this actually fall under what my services or business is? So many times we come across people who are like, oh, I’m gonna go teach people how to do email marketing now because their business is, has successful email marketing because of all the things they do in it. But that doesn’t mean they should go teach the thing that’s helping their business succeed. Their business is about something else entirely.

Nicole (21:36):
You know, selling crochet kids or something. So I think that’s, if you’re the leader, just stop and ask like, am I asking too many people for input? Am I adapting it for my business? Am I using this as a stall tactic for getting things done that, you know, I’m uncomfortable or I don’t understand the full gamut of what’s being proposed. And so I ask multiple people and then I just kind of like spin and flounder. Because I mean, we were talking about this before. Sometimes it feels like when you’re hired as a strategist that why are you paying me for my consulting and my strategy to then go ask three other people? You’re you’re actually like losing money. Like I find that a wasteful process.

Yasmine (22:27):
Absolutely. And you know, Nicole, you and I personally, like we thrive on accomplishing things and getting stuff done. So when things are stalled, it’s really frustrating. I mean, I can speak to an experience that I had with a client where I would constantly outline strategies for them because they weren’t quite sure where their business was going in, you know, an annual plan would want to sort of shift direction cuz they definitely had shiny object syndrome. We would look at it, take the things that made sense, adjust the plan, and things would never really move forward cuz we were constantly spinning because they kind of had a, a fear of starting th this probably goes into it too much, but I think they feared failing. So by not starting you couldn’t fail. And one really eye-opening experience for me was when they, you know, were talking to a very successful and well-known coach in our space who I have a lot of respect for.

Yasmine (23:25):
That’s a, they’re a great person. But they’re speaking to them and they told them, well why don’t you do this? I think this is what you need to do to get this part of your business going. And they were like, this is brilliant. This is absolutely what we need to do. And they gave me the rundown of their entire conversation and like while they’re go talking to me, me, I’m like, yep, yep. I pull up the deck that I presented to them six months ago, which outlined the exact same steps that we needed to do to get going. And at that point we had started moving forward on the project. But you know, it took six months and for someone else to basically echo back what I had recommended previously for us to get going. And I think when they realized that they felt a little apologetic. I mean they were a little apologetic. They’re like, oh, I’m sorry, like, you know, you had a great idea. I should have like, you know, moved forward on it. But to me that was frustrating because I could have gone started on the six months ago and have had six months of results, but you’re starting from ground zero and

Nicole (24:22):
Well, and on top of that you would’ve been able to start with I guess the luxury of doing it right and building the ecosystem that was needed for this to

Yasmine (24:34):
Happen. Yeah,

Nicole (24:34):
Absolutely. In a way that made sense and wasn’t leaving anyone hanging. And instead what happens is, at least when I’ve been in the situation, it’s like all cylinders on fire now because somehow this coach got through to like the on switch, which is great. Like we love that. We love when your on switch is on, we want to chase that and get all the things done, but as operations people, it can be difficult when it’s, you know, I’ve been saying let’s do this for four or five, six months and then it becomes a race track to get it

Yasmine (25:08):
Done getting a two month project done in a week. Yeah.

Nicole (25:10):
Yeah. And, and there’s so many opportunities for things to break or fail or need to be fixed, you know, especially when you’re using multiple systems for multiple things. You don’t wanna send emails that say the wrong information out. There’s little time for testing and even if you try to do testing, if you just built everything in four days and you are also the person testing it, because we’re small businesses, these teams are small, we don’t have another employee to do the testing. Right. You don’t, you don’t catch things mm-hmm. because you, you just did the work the day before and so it, it, it can be a lot when you know, you’re like, you know, I kind of, you know, may have mentioned this a few months ago but sure, I’ll give you my Saturday and my Sunday and all of my evenings for a week to get this done.

Nicole (26:00):
And, you know, we make it happen and that’s why we do what we do. And that’s why we can, you know, partner with businesses. But you know, we’re talking about leadership lessons, right? And so if you are a leader and you find yourself asking multiple people for feedback on the same thing, maybe pause for a second and say, Hey, why am I asking for feedback so much? Like, what is my gut telling me? Do I need to do this project? Is this something I have to do right now? Am I just looking for that validation to get started? And then if you’re on the flip side, if you’re like the service provider and this is happening to you, please remember to tell yourself like, this is not always a reflection of you. It’s not a reflection of your work or that you’re not respected or not valued.

Nicole (26:41):
And we know this intellectually, but sometimes you’re just like, why are you even paying me? I, I said all of these things and you did none of them or don’t wanna do any of them. And but just know, like, it, it’s not entirely a reflection of you. It’s not that you’re not doing good work or you don’t have good strategies. Sometimes we’re just so trusted in the teams that we’re on, they need to hear an outside voice. Mm-Hmm. . And so on both sides of the coin, if you’re the leader, think about what this message is sending to the team that you have because you’re not giving them autonomy to get their ideas actually implemented and out there because you’re stalling and you’re waiting and you’re getting feedback from people and maybe even undermining them a little bit because you’re giving them feedback that they’ve already given you. Mm-Hmm. . And then again, if you’re the service provider, keep in mind that sometimes small business owners don’t know everything. Mm-Hmm. , they’re, you know, they are gonna throw a spaghetti at the wall a little bit because there is no guidebook. Absolutely. Next. so especially with

Yasmine (27:42):
Everything,

Nicole (27:43):
Everybody

Yasmine (27:43):
Changing.

Nicole (27:44):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Give everybody grace. Things are always changing. But just, just be more aware of the messages you’re inadvertently sending to your team, I think.

Yasmine (27:55):
So thank you again for joining us for another episode. Again, we’re gonna continue our theme of leadership lessons with the next episode, but until then, we would love to know how do you step back from your business and let your team members get what they need to get done. If you have anything to share, please let us know on Instagram. You can follow us @pixiedustandprofits. You can also email us your thoughts Hello@pixiedustandprofits.com And if you are finding yourself constantly chasing that shiny object and, you know, throwing maybe a little bit more spaghetti up the wall than you mean to like, you know, you probably boiled like enough spaghetti for 10 people when you meant to make one serving. Ha ha. Terrible joke. Yasmine, this may get cut out. It might not. I don’t know. We’ll see. But we really encourage you to download our squirrel notebook that’s at pixiedustandprofits.com/squirrel. It is a guidebook that will walk you through the decision-making process to really realize if you are chasing another shiny object and really zero in on what you need to do for your uniquely you business.

Nicole (29:03):
Thanks for joining us today and we’ll see you real soon.

Yasmine (29:07):
Bye

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Episode 75: The Importance of Autonomy for Your Employees and Contractors

Jan 10, 2023

Every day, over 75,000 Cast Members create magic at Disney Parks. But they’re not being micromanaged and every interaction isn’t scripted. 

See how Disney pulls this off and how you can build a team that embodies your company culture without micromanaging them in this week’s episode.

Download Episode 75 transcript right here

Text us! 207-203-6769

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Episode 74: Should You Abandon Ship? (Transcript)

Dec 13, 2022

Yasmine (00:00):
Hello and welcome to FII Dust and Profits. I’m Yasmin.

Nicole (00:03):
And I’m Nicole

Yasmine (00:04):
And just before we hopped on to record, Nicole and I were just talking about the fact that it is the end of the year. It’s December early in the month on the day that we’re recording this. And it just feels like there’s like a never ending pile of work to get done before the year wraps. And as much as we love what we do sometimes it’s kind of hard to find the motivation to finish it all. It’s a bit of a struggle us. Would you say that Nicole?

Nicole (00:28):
Yeah, definitely. I, I definitely have struggled with motivation this year. I know burnout’s a huge topic a lot of people have talked about. I think my challenge right now is that I had planned to be light duty in December. It’s a time of year where I really like to slow down. We’re traveling to different relatives houses and there’s always something else every single weekend. And so I went into the month planning to not have many projects and projects just seem to pop up, find me. Yeah. And they’re not the types of projects that are easily delegatable or they’re, they’re, they’re important and a little bit urgent too. So they’re not something I can wait till after the holidays to start. So it, it’s definitely feels like crunch time even though it’s very early in the month right now. I know that what’s coming the rest of the month with kids out of school,

Yasmine (01:23):
. Yeah. And you know, as we were talking about this, we were thinking it’s not just small business owners who have this problem or really just everyday people like they’re big companies like Disney that sometimes also struggle to finish projects. So we thought we would talk about all the things that Disney has announced that have sort of

Yasmine (01:44):
Been disappeared into the Disney Vault

Yasmine (01:48):
. Yeah. Yeah. So obviously with the pandemic, Disney had to re-look at some of the projects prior to the pandemic. They announce a reimagining of Epcot. There was a DVC resort that had been announced at brand new one called Reflections. And now it’s kind of hard to find mentions of some of these things from the website because they scrubbed it. And that’s sort of Disney’s way of either canceling or postponing projects because perhaps they didn’t have the finances at the time with all of the uncertainty around the pandemic. And now that we’re sort of, you know, I’m using air quotes here, but coming out of the pandemic, we’re not quite, but things seem to have gone back to normal. Disney hasn’t really made any mention of those projects again.

Nicole (02:34):
Yeah, it’s definitely really interesting because when they announce a project, you can imagine how many drafts get left on the floor that don’t even make it to the public’s eye. Mm-Hmm. . And so when something does get to the public’s eye, it’s a huge fan affair. There’s, you know, artist renderings. In Epcos case there was actually a space in Epcot where they had like this 3D model of what Epcot is going to become. And it was really interesting to be in that room. I did get a chance to do that. And some of those projects have been scrapped. So they were supposed to be a Mary Poppins ride or experience of some sort that has been confirmed to not be happening anymore. There’s also a whole section of the park where they, right now it’s kind of like the, they have space and then they have future world, but future World was made so long ago it doesn’t feel much like the future anymore. So they’re really updating what all of that looks like. And they were supposed to have this like, play experiences area and we’re not sure if that’s beneficially canceled, but there’s really no word of it at all. Yeah. And

Yasmine (03:46):
We should have heard something by now, like they would’ve either announced the progress. And again, mentions have been erase from all Disney websites. So that kind of tells us that’s probably not gonna move forward as planned. And it’s in the middle of construction so they’re abandoning ship like midway.

Nicole (04:03):
Yeah. And when we were talking about this, Yasin actually brought up such a great point that, you know, sometimes you need extra time to get things done or you know what, you announced something and you realized when you’re getting into the nitty gritty of actually creating it, that it doesn’t work anymore either for financial reasons or you don’t have the right team, or you don’t have, in Disney’s case, often you don’t have the technology for this to exist yet. It’s okay to kind of silently move away from it. You don’t even need to make a big announcement. For small businesses, people probably aren’t paying attention as hard as you are to your own business. And in Disney’s case, you know, they’ll, they’ll have another piece of news coming out the next day so it, it doesn’t go unnoticed for Disney. But they’re willing to admit by not sharing updates that, you know, this wasn’t going to happen right now. I mean, they have other things too, like the tron rollercoaster in Magic Kingdom.

Yasmine (05:06):
Something done already.

Nicole (05:07):
Yeah. This is something I think they wanted done for the 50th anniversary. For point of reference, the 50th anniversary started in October, 2021. Mm-Hmm. and went to, it’s gonna end in January, 2023. And so Toronto is still not open. I have heard that they’ve been testing the cars, but it won’t be open until this spring. And that ride actually already exists at a different Disney park in the world. So it took them that long to build something they already know and have you

Yasmine (05:38):
Have the blueprints for and everything.

Nicole (05:40):
Right, exactly. So, you know, it’s okay that it didn’t meet the deadline and they’re, you know, still very excited for this project to come. And I don’t know this, it, it’s very interesting being a Disney fan cuz you think when you see it on hard paper the 3D rendering, like this is something that’s going to happen. I was excited to see those models of the Reflections DBC Resort. I have no intention of purchasing anymore dbc, but it looked like a very pretty resort. And knowing the Riviera resort, which was their latest one is absolutely beautiful. Maybe not this taste I have when I’m going on a Disney vacation, but beautiful, loved staying there. We spent a night there, it’s gorgeous reflections. Just had a feel that felt more like home to me. Mm-Hmm. , I was really curious to see what that would be. So maybe it’s something we’ll be working on in a few years, maybe it’s just completely gone from the potential list of projects.

Yasmine (06:38):
Yeah. And like Nicole, just to echo sort of what you said, that it’s okay, like if Disney is able to give themselves some grace and either take longer to finish a project so it’s done right or you know, move away from a project that’s not working altogether, that’s okay for you to do too. In a previous episode, I think it was our last episode, we talked about how Disney is going away and doing away with the Star Wars Galactic Cruiser experience, which costs a ton of money to build and maintain. And it brings me back to, talked about this business school Nicole, but your son costs fallacy. It’s when you put so much money, time and effort into creating something and you don’t want all that money to sort of like be a waste of time that you continue investing in a project that’s basically a money pit.

Yasmine (07:26):
And you know, we think that maybe Star Wars Galactic Cruiser didn’t pan out because it was like cost too much in terms of like the price for the experience and it was a one and done thing and we’re not in the boardrooms discussing why it basically failed. But, you know, good on them for at least realizing that this isn’t going to continue to make them profit. And rather than continuing to sort of air quotes like waste money on a project that wasn’t like fulfilling the needs, they’re cutting it and reallocating hopefully that budget to other experiences and other projects that are coming up. So if you spent a long time billing something and it’s not working sometimes like throwing more money at it doesn’t necessarily fix the problem. And sometimes you just gotta like walk away and, you know, chalk it up to a learning lesson and understand what didn’t work. So the next time you do a similar project, you get it right. The fir on the second go I was to say get

Nicole (08:26):
Right the first time you probably do some surveying of your audience to see tolerance level is, and you know, with Galactic Star Cruiser in particular, like they still have that asset. They still have that building mm-hmm. , whether they turned it into just a themed Star Wars hotel that maybe doesn’t have the live acting cast or the special experiences, or they completely re them it into another value resort. Like who knows what they’re going to do with that property. It it has prime real estate being right next to Galaxy’s Edge. So there might be something they’ll do with it, but like you said, they could be sinking costs every single day into paying like actors and chefs and you know, these are specialized roles. They’re not the traditional role that they have in their resorts. So it’s almost like a cruise ship on land. Mm-Hmm. .

Nicole (09:13):
So having that specialized crew was, you know, costing quite a bit of money when the rooms were only half full. And I think that also probably played into how the experience was experienced by people who were there. Right. You know, if you only have half a crew for an experience or an event that was meant to have 40 people there and you only have 10 people show up, it also takes away from the fun of being a participant mm-hmm. in it. Absolutely. There’s, there’s probably a lot of factors as to why that failed, but you know, just in terms of your projects, like it’s, it is interesting to look at these things because, you know, they’re cutting something like a Mary Poppins ride but they green lighted the building of the Star Cruiser hotel and that was being built during the pandemic. They could have, you know, used that construction staff elsewhere maybe.

Nicole (10:01):
So just really interesting to look at the choices and how they all, you know, panned out. You know, but to like bring this back to the small business world, right? So sometimes we have too many things going on, we have too many projects. And so to that I always say like prioritize, it could be a simple exercise of what’s important, what’s urgent, what needs to be done today, what can wait, like, just to get that first level gut check of like, am I doing this one thing because it’s the easiest thing on my list. It’s really easy to ignore the big important giant red flashing lights because you know, they’re, you don’t know where to start sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

Yasmine (10:45):
Absolutely. And one thing that we frequently do when we wanna get started is either a, look back on previous work or b honestly, sometimes we buy templates or we buy you know, swipe files or something. And it’s not necessarily something that will completely use in its entirety in the finished product, but it’s enough to give you a jumping off point that it sparks the flow of work. So a great example is like, I will often like buy graphic templates. I’m not a designer. It will take me hours and hours and hours to put something together for a simple project where may not make sense to hire a designer, but, you know, spending $97 on a bunch of Canva templates will literally save me hours in work and make the finish product a lot nicer too. So I’ll go that route.

Nicole (11:35):
Yeah. Even for something that you’re, I wouldn’t say expert, like I don’t know where you hit expert level, but even something you’re proficient in and feel like you’re experienced in, it’s still really helpful to buy a template. I I think this was like this summer or last summer, I had a client who needed some copywriting done for our project and we just couldn’t find someone who was able to do the job that we needed in the timeframe that we needed. And so, you know, I have an English degree, I worked as an editor for a while. I don’t write per se anymore as a way of making money. And I was like, you know what? I have the skill set. Let’s figure this out. Let’s do it. We just need to get it done. And so I knew what it needed to be said, I knew how it needed to be said, but I’m not the best at starting from zero.

Nicole (12:24):
Like if you’ve ever taken the strengths finder assessment, I highly recommend it just to understand your work style a little bit better. But one of mine is a maximizer. I like to take things that are, you know, pretty good and bring them to like amazing. So I’ll take something that’s, you know, at 50% or 75% and you know, bring it to 110, but starting at zero is very difficult for me. And so I knew that about myself and I started like kind of investigating a couple of things and I found someone who had email templates and they were not like full blown sales page length emails. It was just enough framework and guidance for me to be like, okay, yes, this is the cadence I need, this is, this is the type of language I need to be using. And it helped me get that project done in two days and I think we had to write like 30 emails.

Nicole (13:12):
It was, it was a huge, it was a huge undertaking. So there’s no shame in starting with a template, even if it’s something that you feel like you’re very experienced in. I have a shop that has templates on it, and I can tell you that my procedure template that started with a project when I worked in corporate 15 years ago, I was tasked with figuring out a standardized procedure format for an entire department. And so me and my team were working on this and you know, after research we came up with something after 10 years of using these in some form or other, in both the corporate world and in a small business world, they still get updated and changed when I have new ideas or new ways of using things and I open up that template every time I need to make a new procedure for someone. It just makes sense to use tools that already exist instead of starting from nothing.

Yasmine (14:13):
Totally, totally. Sometimes it’s just helpful to see it laid out in front of you, even if all the information’s in your head just makes the process easier.

Nicole (14:22):
I do this with my kid too. He, he struggles with writing and so we actually have some templates and tools and so sometimes it’s like, go back to what it’s like to be like a second grader, right? He has a paper that says, who are the characters that are gonna be in this piece that you’re writing? What’s the setting going to be? What’s the first thing that will happen to them? What’s the second thing and what’s, what happens at the end? That’s it. It’s like five boxes that are really easy questions to answer. And by doing that he can write so much better than if he just had it all jumbled in his head and he is trying to write this story and ends up running it out of order or forgetting what character he wants to talk about. He just has that like planner next to him.

Nicole (15:02):
So, you know, use, use tools, invent tools, leverage other people to, to get what you need. And speaking of other people, like sometimes one of the best things just to get started or to flush through a project is talking about it out loud. It can be with your spouse, a partner or friend, if it’s with someone who also is in the same type of business. I wouldn’t say it has to be like same industry or anything, but it, it’s really helpful for me to just like tell a friend who works in this online business space, like, here’s what’s going on. Like, can

Yasmine (15:35):
We talk about even if they are in the same industry, that can be okay. Like we’re big believers in community over competition. Nicole and I frequently talked about the fact that we can do each other’s job, but you know, we specialize in things different enough that makes it great for us to like work together on teams. But before we hopped on this call, we were also talking about some of the projects that we’re working on and Nicole was, you know, talking about something she had to do and I gave her like, Hey, this is something that I did that really helped me and it helped her out. So, you know, talking something through with a biz bestie or like a peer mastermind where big believers in those can be really beneficial and just getting another perspective and getting out of your own head a little bit to, you know, get guidance on how to either about your project or even just get started with it.

Nicole (16:19):
Yeah. And that group of like Pure Mastermind or other people who kind of, they might not even sell the things you sell or do the things you do. Yeah. But we all, at Essence, businesses are there to make revenue, probably reduce expenses and, you know, deliver a product or have a customer experience. They all have operations. So when you like look at business from that perspective, we can certainly all learn from anyone. That’s one of the things I love the most about our community membership program. The party, you can find that at pixiedustandprofits.com/party. We have women who do different types of jobs and we can all learn from each other. So it’s a really great place to be to just have that accountability check in or know that, hey, I can talk about an email marketing platform and talk about tags and automations and it it, it won’t sound like Greek, like when I’m trying to tell my spouse about it.

Nicole (17:18):
And, you know, we’ll get some ideas from other people about how to, how to do something a little bit differently or an idea we haven’t thought about before. You know, you can easily copy and paste by right clicking or by using shortcuts, but you can also write a program to do that for you too. So there’s a lot of different ways to get things done and you won’t discover if you don’t talk to other people about it, so. Exactly. Yeah, I think, I think those are all like great tips. Like use a template so you don’t feel overwhelmed with starting, you know, don’t start from scratch. It’s okay to delay a project or cancel a project and not make a big fan fair about it. Make a fan fair if you’d like, but don’t

Yasmine (18:00):
Have to, that’s optional.

Nicole (18:02):
And, you know, have someone to bounce ideas off of or, you know, talk about your business projects with.

Yasmine (18:08):
Thanks again for joining us for another episode of Pixie Dust and Profits. If you don’t follow us on Instagram, we highly recommend that you do. We’re @pixiedustandprofits and you will see real soon.

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Episode 74: Should You Abandon Ship?

Dec 13, 2022

If you’re a perfectionist like us, you want to see a project through to the very end. But in business, not every project is going to make it. And if you’re not careful, something that was meant to be fun and exciting could very quickly turn into a money pit. 

So, how do you know when you should or should not abandon a project, and what are some ways you could avoid that fate? Listen to this episode to find out!

Download Episode 74 transcript right here

Text us! 207-203-6769 

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Episode 73: Disney Business: Bob Iger is Back in Charge! (Transcript)

Nov 29, 2022

Speaker 1 (00:01):
Pixie Dust & Profits is a podcast for small business owners who love Disney and want to sprinkle some of that magic onto their own businesses. Join your host, Nicole Boucher and Yasmine Spencer as they explore the Mouse’s 12.6 billion operation and break down exactly how you can apply these big scale concepts to your own business.

Yasmine (00:26):
Holy wow. Okay. I wanna die straight into this episode cuz Nicole and I have just been talking before we started recording about the big Disney news that just happened in like the past 48 hours. Uh, but before I get into that, hi, I’m Yasmin and welcome to Pixie Dust & Profits, and I have my wonderful co-host Nicole here. Hello. And the big news that we are talking about is the fact that Bob Chapek has been ousted by the Disney Board and our, our Brain crush. I’d call him her brain crush, right? Nicole, Bob o is back a CEO of Disney after he had retired, after he had sort of stepped down and, you know, sort of wa you know, was retained on the board for a little bit longer to oversee things. He is back and I think Disney fans are rejoicing everywhere.

Nicole (01:23):
Yeah. Um, so this news broke Sunday evening and it actually was in a communication to cast members, it sounds like, before the media found out. So Bob Iger, who, uh, you know, we’ve talked about many times over the course of this podcast, um, sent a email to cast members letting them know that he was taking over a CEO again. And I, I’ve heard reports from every ounce of the Disney sphere that I’m in on the internet where cast members were just rejoicing and happy. And, you know, that’s, that’s kind of a sign that it was the right decision. Um, I don’t even know where to start with this discussion, but let’s give a little bit of background in case you’re not into the Disney leadership team like we are. Um, so Bob Chopek, I think it’s, I’ve heard both Chap and Chap. So, um, we’re talking about a Bob .

Nicole (02:16):
He was the CEO of Disney for the last 999 days. We’ll get to an inside joke about that later. But he took over from Bob Iger, who had been the CEO for 15 years and he had also worked for Disney for many, many decades before that. Um, so Bob Chopek, along with him came managing during the Pandemic and a lot of changes. And actually if you listen back a couple of episodes, we were talking, I think it was episode 70 where we were just talking about things we’ve been unhappy with as long time Disney consumers and how things just don’t feel as magical as they used to. I actually remember about two weeks ago telling Yasmin like, you know, I kind of feel like I should sell my dvc and that is never a thought that has crossed my mind before. Um, and so anyway, that’s a lot of the sentiment that I think cast members and other, you know, affixes have been feeling cast members, especially, you know, we’ve heard reports about how they were treated not so well during the pandemic.

Nicole (03:17):
They, you know, were laid off in droves and also when they, things started opening back up, they, you know, made them reapply for jobs they already had. And so it was making it difficult for them to even come back to work the magic. And having been to Disney a couple times during the pandemic, it’s still very significantly understaffed. Parks are closing at seven or 8:00 PM Um, there’s just not a presence that I remember there being before, especially when it comes to the cast members. And some of this definitely feels like Disney trying to cut corners on expenses as they’re, you know, raking in profits from nickel and diamond, everyone on things like Genie Plus and Park reservations. And, you know, it’s a lot. And this is just the parks side of the business. Disney’s obviously a much bigger company, it’s a media company, but I think people have also noticed the significant lack of movies coming out, like animated movies in particular.

Nicole (04:16):
Um, Disney plus, I remember last year when my subscription renewed, it was like double what I had initially paid for it. And you know, I don’t watch a lot on Disney Plus because they don’t have as many content releases as Netflix, but I do enjoy the things that I get from there. And so, you know, I justify paying for it because it’s nice to be able to download a couple of movies or watch some of the behind the scenes things, but it is a little bit pricey for a streaming platform that isn’t constantly putting out new content. So anyway, a lot of people associate these ideas and these implementations and rollouts with Bob Chopik who was CEO at the time. And, you know, I’ve, I’ve kind of given him the benefit of the doubt throughout, you know, I, I really thought early on that he was chosen as CEO to do some, implement some of the things that were probably ideas of other leadership teams because these things are never decided in silos.

Nicole (05:12):
Um, and, you know, kind of let him fall on the sword, right? You know, he’s like a sacrificial lamb, let’s get some of these, you know, unpopular things rolled out. Um, and we have, you know, one kind of interim CEO to blame for before we bring in someone new. So that was kind of my theory a few years ago. Um, of course the pandemic hit, so it definitely I think allowed Disney to fast track , intentionally punned, um, some of these changes. And what really was interesting to me, and I know I’m talking a lot here, but Yasmin and I were talking about this this summer, Chex, um, contract was up for a renewal and they renewed him. And I remember seeing the news come out and, you know, sending a, a sad message over to Yassin saying, you know, I really thought that he was just gonna be like the interim CEO and they were gonna get these changes in the door and then change him back to someone who could really make things feel magical again. So I was really sad that day. Um, and now here we are.

Yasmine (06:15):
What, one thing I’ll say, it’s like we’ve noticed a definite shift in how things have been performing at Disney over, I would even say the last couple of weeks. One factor I think that plays into it is, at least with the park side of the business, a lot of these pandemic changes seem like they’re here to stay. Things like park reservations, which kind of makes it difficult to go with the flow and, okay, let me backtrack here. Like, Disney’s never a go with the flow of vacation. You have to like do your meal planning in advance, your dining reservations, you kind of need to know which parks you’re going to in order to do that. But the requirement of Park reservations made it difficult for, you know, families who may have wanted to play it a little bit more loosey goosey maybe like DVC members like us who have annual passes that don’t necessarily, um, need to map out what we’re doing every second. We just kind of wanna go to the parks to relax and, um, play it by ear sometimes that has completely got out the window and the park reservations has made it really difficult for anyone to plan a last minute trip to Disney World. The other thing is, oh my goodness, prices have been insane. Let’s just talk about ticket prices. Oh yeah, I know we voiced this in previous episodes, but they’re going up again as of December 8th and I, which,

Nicole (07:34):
Which you know, is a whole different thing than they, they used to always do price increases around February or March. I remember because I would always be like right after Christmas is when I need to like pull the money together from hopefully if my spouse gets a bonus at work to buy our tickets for our next trip. Like that’s been such a routine of mine for years. And now they go ahead and they announce a price increase for like December 8th or something. Like, they know, they know that we are used to these things happening at a certain time of year and I’m just blaming Eck, it’s probably not him, but, you know, Ecks out here, like, let’s increase the ticket prices just before Christmas. Like, you know, now I’m actually debating not going in April. Like my original plans were because I, I don’t wanna drop the money on tickets right now, not before, right before Christmas when like I’ve got oil bills that are, you know, piling up and everything. So it just, it feels like such a money grab.

Yasmine (08:29):
It definitely does. And I was looking at a post in a Facebook group that I’m in again, as a Canadian in the past, we would occasionally get the offer to get like a slightly discounted multi-day pass in order to incentivize this to come. It was like a 20% savings. So this one woman was comparing the cost of her like discounted six day trip compared to booking a six day ticket. Now, and again, I know the discount factors in, but the price difference was 800 US dollars for the exact same timeframe, exact same ticket, $800. Like that’s, that’s a couple days at the park, you know what I mean? And if you’re extending your, um, trip to like, you know, 10, 15, 14 days, like that was the equivalent of what that ticket would’ve cost if she had stayed for like 12 days versus six. So they are definitely increasing prices across the board and we have heard from many people who want to go to Disney, who used to love going to Disney, that it’s getting harder and harder to afford.

Yasmine (09:36):
And I think they’re seeing the upper limit of what they can charge because we’re getting negative sentiment from customers who just can’t go to Disney and are stating that Disney is no longer a place for like middle class families to go. You kind of have to have a love disposable income to go there. Too. Big attractions like the Star Wars Galactic Cruiser that they have invested hundreds of millions, probably let’s be real millions into building, is closing in March of next year. We have recently learned that they cannot basically fill the ship. I’m using air quotes. You can’t see that, um, sufficiently to justify running this experience. When they at first opened it was like packed full, but they’re seeing an upper limit on how many people are willing to spend about five grand on a two day experience. It’s kind of a one and done these days.

Yasmine (10:30):
The ships are a maximum of 50% full and it’s an expensive experience to run because there are cast members who are actors in there. Um, you know, the building itself was ridiculously expensive and this looks like a negative return experience for Disney. And knowing how popular anything Disney has put out, as of light has been, I think we are starting to see the upper limit on a consumer’s willingness to pay for the Disney experience. And that pushback and that negative sentiment and frankly the hate, um, that has been put towards Bob Eck has been a deciding factor in them deciding to bring back the beloved Bob Iger. But there’s more to it. Nicole, have we talked about the media side of the

Nicole (11:18):
Business? Yeah, so on the media side of the business, um, you know, Disney Plus launched two years ago, three years ago. It was just before the pandemic hit and it was like 6 99 a month. And the entire plan was, you know, get a ton of subscribers, sell them on how good the content is. Cuz I will tell you like you can open up Netflix and you can choose something to watch and you might end up watching something and that’s pretty terrible and you back out of it right? On Disney plus, I don’t have that feeling. I can open up anything, even things I’m not interested in and I know it’s gonna be good quality content and, you know, that was always the intention for the platform and they were gonna slowly raise prices over time. Right. You know, most of us don’t notice when things go up a dollar a

Yasmine (11:59):
Dollar two,

Nicole (12:00):
You know, especially when you get the yearly promotions or the discounts for signing up for a year instead of monthly. We’re used to that. But at earlier this year, I, I can’t remember when exactly they announced there’s gonna be 10 99 a month. That’s, you know, it’s not double, but it’s, it’s a pretty significant increase for something that, you know, doesn’t have constant content coming out. And I’m not as well versed in the media side of the company, however, you know, when Disney Plus came out a 6 99 a month, and we don’t tend to notice when things increase, you know, a dollar a year, especially when we’re choosing pay yearly instead of pay monthly. And I think the intention was always to like slowly increase pricing to get to a point where you break. Even with Netflix, they never went into the Disney Plus, um, model with the intention of it being profitable right away. They knew that this was a gamble, they knew it was an investment, they knew it would be incurring losses. However, what’s happened recently is it went from, I think it was 600 million in losses to 1.5 billion in losses in a quarter. Um, that’s a, it’s

Yasmine (13:13):
A significant

Nicole (13:14):
Difference in, in just one quarter. Um, and, and it came after price increases were announced, right? So they, they changed the price to 10 99 a month, which is not double, but pretty close to double. Um, and it’s also a different platform. You know, there isn’t content coming out every week on Netflix. You can go to the What’s new section and then see six new things you didn’t see like the next from one Friday to the next. And so Disney Plus was kind of built as this platform where content releases come out a lot slower, but it’s very good content, it’s quality level. You could open up Netflix and try to watch a movie and get 10 minutes in and decide, you know, this isn’t for me. But in Disney plus I don’t feel that way. Even if it’s something I’m not completely interested in, I will get sucked in because Disney knows how to tell a story and you get sucked in so easily. So it’s a different type of platform and it can’t be priced the same way as Netflix. I mean, Netflix didn’t raise places prices for how many years. Right. Um,

Yasmine (14:13):
And even when they did, they got a loss of subscribers as well.

Nicole (14:17):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. There’s definitely a limit to how much you can, um, squeeze out of people, especially, especially, and they know this because they have parks and they know people are traveling right now, this isn’t the time where people are sitting at home watching streaming services because we’re all excited to be back out of our houses and we’re traveling. So definitely an interesting time to try to raise the prices. But, you know, going from a 600 million deficit, which again, Disney knew Disney Plus was going to take years to be profitable, they did not anticipate that this would be an operation that would be, you know, in the black from the beginning. They knew that they would have to wait a while, a few years for it to get profitable. But when you’re going from a 600 million loss on the books to 1.5 billion, um, in a very short timeframe, that’s just showing that something is not working, that was previously working.

Nicole (15:13):
And what has changed in the last quarter for this to have, you know, happened. And I think there’s also reports about the last quarterly earnings call mm-hmm. where earnings were not so great to the point that the stock dropped 11% the next day, which is unheard of with Disney’s stock. An 11% drop is about how much it dropped the day after nine 11 mm-hmm. , which is when people knew no one would be traveling the same way again. And so if that gives you an idea of the magnitude of how bad this earnings call was. But the weird thing was that Bob Chopek was so just, he wasn’t portraying it as if it was bad. He was trying to give it this light that like, you know, this is a really good thing for us. And if you’ve ever sat in a meeting where someone’s trying to deliver bad news by making it sound really positive, you’re just feeling very gaslit and like mm-hmm. ,

Nicole (16:11):
Am I just not understanding like, am I reading things differently than this person is telling it to me? Um, and I think there were probably already cracks in the foundation, but I think this call really spurred the board on to have to figure out what’s going on with their leadership and what they can do. So if you don’t know how, um, a business like this typically runs, there’s usually a board of directors that, um, you know, could be some people who have significant shareholders in the company, also people that are elected. There’s a chairman, you know, I don’t know how many people are on Disney’s board, but typically this is around seven to nine people. And the board is the one that chooses who the CEO is. Basically, if a CEO is getting hired, they report to the board of directors. And so they’re JPEG’s boss.

Nicole (17:02):
So after this quarterly results call, not only did they already have a couple cracks in the foundation, but they started hearing from senior leaders at Disney who were just completely beside themselves and started talking openly, not just like to their best friends behind closed doors, started talking openly about resigning if Jpx stayed a ceo. And that is such a red flag. I, you know, this is a shocking development. Like CEOs don’t tend to just disappear overnight without some big scandal. Um, and, and there’s no indication here that there’s a scandal. This is just Disney making a really effective quick decision based on what they needed to do. And so I I I wanna reiterate, there’s no signs of a scandal or anything, anything, but this is really effective leadership at work because you could hem and haw and sit on decisions for a really long time.

Nicole (17:56):
You can say, oh, let’s give it another quarter. Bob Chap’s contract was actually just renewed in July on unanimous vote. And so what does that say when the board four months later decides, oh, we need to fire him. Like that’s, that also hits your own reputation because you voted four months ago to keep this guy in place. And so I, I just wanna highlight the leadership and the level of in intelligence and, and business acumen that has gone into this decision because, um, from what we’re hearing, they started talking about this seriously on Friday night, came to a decision by Sunday afternoon and, um, somehow convinced Bob Iger to come back. Bob Iger had been in the public eye multiple times over the last year saying he had no intention of returning to Disney. And

Yasmine (18:48):
He’s also 71 years old. So like that man, he, he looks like a

Nicole (18:52):
Younger 71 young, but he is not a spring ticket.

Yasmine (18:56):
It must be all that charisma keeps him young, but he, he’s ready to retire, you know what I mean? Like, you know, do things here and there. But he’s, he’s done his service to Disney. He’s coming back through the end of December, 2024. So this is a limited return while Disney figures out who the next CEO is going to be. Um, but one of the interesting things that Bob had said in, um, an interview is that he thinks it was just talking about the media side of the issue. It was, um, chap x’s lack of like, empathy and just like char kind of, he didn’t say charisma, but basically charisma, um, as his reason of not being able to relate with the creative community at Disney and the Hollywood creatives. And that’s one of the things that caused such a huge rift in the relationships on the media side, the chair of the board, I think it was Susan Arnold had said that Bob Iger was uniquely positioned to help Disney, um, turn things around. And we know that he is responsible for the massive creative boom and the resurgence and revival of Disney animation and Disney’s movies. So, um, that, that big loss was probably a massive factor in them realizing they needed to bring Bob Iger back before they continued to hemorrhage money.

Nicole (20:22):
I think what’s really interesting about this too is that stocks immediately went up 6% the next day. Mm-hmm. on a day that the stock market was going down. Yep. Um, and so that really shows the confidence level that people have in Bob Iger. And, and I’m so glad you mentioned the emotional intelligence part of this because we have both read Bob Agers book. I have actually watched the, I can’t re I think it was on Master Class. Master Class. Yeah. He, he, it was basically just a video retelling of his book. It, it wasn’t, there was nothing there that wasn’t in the book. So if you’ve read one, don’t feel like you need to watch the other. But it was obviously very interesting to see his own face delivering his own words. And I think emotional intelligence is something that is often overlooked in leadership positions.

Nicole (21:11):
Mm-hmm. , and I’ve talked about this before, female business owners tend to perform better to their goals to male business owners. And, and I think so much of that comes down to that emotional intelligence piece when you are a relationship based person or understand how relationships work, even if you’re looking at it from a very like, technical point of view of like, oh, I need to make sure I nurture this because I need to get this output out of it. You know, even if you break it down to something that feels very clinical, it’s such an important piece. And PIC constantly felt like he was at odds with cast members who, you know, are your biggest fans. Mm-hmm. , um, imagineers who, you know, echoed so much of the story before, um, Bob Iger days where imagineers kind of got iced out of things and guess what the creativity suffered and the company suffered mm-hmm.

Nicole (22:06):
Because the entire company’s based on Disney magic. Mm-hmm. . And I just think that emotional intelligence is something that really can’t be taught there. Obviously you can take classes and you can kind of become more aware and work on it, but Chopik was constantly at odds, not only with employees, but also with with fans. You know, um, I, I have played World of Warcraft in my day and there was a developer at one point who people said, we want the old game back. Bring the old game back. And he very famously said, you don’t actually want that. Nobody would play it. And then they launched, um, what they call Warcraft Classic, uh, three, four years ago now. And it had a huge fan base. It’s still running today. And it’s, it’s become this meme in the community of someone telling you like, you don’t actually want that.

Nicole (22:57):
You don’t know what you want. And I felt that way with Eck all the time. He actually said in an interview back in September or something, like, adults don’t watch animated films, they’re just made for kids. Talk about being out of touch with your audience. I mean, just some of these comments, I mean, he flat out said, and I know that we have talked about this on the show, DVC members don’t make them enough money mm-hmm. , and he said that it’s in quotes and no, maybe we don’t pay for our hotel rooms, but I can guarantee you the only reason I have an annual pass or I buy merchandise is because I’m not paying for my hotel room. Mm-hmm. , um, I, the, the years before I was a vacation club member, when I would go to Disney, I would try to get the most budget friendly room, and I would never buy any, any merchandise. It was too expensive.

Yasmine (23:49):
I,

Nicole (23:50):
She just felt totally outta touch with, with every relationship.

Yasmine (23:53):
Yeah. I routinely drop like a hotel reservations worth of cash on merch when I go Disney, Nicole’s witnessed it. She sees my like frantic run-ins into like the emporium where I spent like 15 minutes, like buying all the things that I had my eye on during the day checkout and then go, um, and it’s because I’m a DVC member and I sort of like prepaid for that portion. So I’m Will, I’m able to, you know, allocate budget to, to Disney merch. And I know I’m not the only one. Like Nicole definitely does it. DVC members are amongst the most fanatic about Disney merch that I’ve seen at least. So

Nicole (24:31):
I’m also willing to go to restaurants, um, that I wouldn’t have gone to

Yasmine (24:36):
More expensive, like sit down experiences versus just like having a quick service thing or bring your lunch. Yeah,

Nicole (24:42):
Absolutely. So, you know, emotional intelligence and leadership very important. And I think that it’s the soft side of business that often gets overlooked, but clearly has an impact. The other thing I wanna mention is turning to people for help when you need help. Mm-hmm. , just because you’re the CEO does not mean that you have every answer or know what path forward to take or what to prioritize next. And the advisors that you keep around you are just as important as the decisions that you make. Um, and it was routinely said throughout all of Jpx tenure, there was some ice between him and Bob Iger. And I know, um, Bob Eger had stepped down as ceo, but he was still the chairman of the board for a while. So he was still technically chap’s boss and should still, you know, be reported to or have communications with or, you know, he was there to be available. And so when you stumble into situations like the Scarlet Johansen and the, uh, don’t say gay rules in Florida, like some of these really big things that happened in the last two years in the Disney world, especially politically, PAC never turned to Iger for any insight into how he should respond to these situations. And so I I think it’s like a humbling lesson.

Yasmine (26:04):
Yeah. And that didn’t really sit well with, um, Bob, who basically saw, um, PAC take control away from creatives to, aside from like these decisions and put ’em in the hands of like MBAs, which I know we are, we’re MBAs, but like there ha we also acknowledge the fact that like business decisions are more nuanced than just numbers, right? The human element, the creative element. And I do wanna add that, um, Bob Chek had put, um, someone in re, sorry, let me rephrase that. Bob Chek had put, um, an executive in charge of Disney streaming who didn’t have a ton of experience and is also being blamed as one of the reasons why they had that 1.5 billion loss. And on Monday morning, so we’re recording this on Tuesday, November 22nd, this was yesterday morning, Bob Iger out said that executive and put the p and l and just all the decisions back in the hands of creatives in the company.

Nicole (27:08):
And if you read, uh, Bob Bagger’s book or you look into the movie with him, um, he talks about how creatives are like the backbone of the Disney brand. And if you have good content, you can do so much with it. So I, I think like the couple of lessons here, whether you’re looking at it from the perspective of just like, this is some Disney shocking news, or if you’re actually trying to get some business lessons out of this, and we talk about leadership, have some emotional intelligence surround yourself and utilize the people around you for making decisions and for finding clarity of your path forward. Survey your customers, we talk about this so much, but survey them and actually do something actionable with what they’re saying. I mean, especially the ones that have been around the longest, you know, um, people will always complain and I, Bob Iger didn’t have glowing reviews the entire time he was ceo, and I think he was on the decline as he was leaving. He definitely put Disney in some debt buying Star Wars, you know? Mm-hmm. , it’s not everything wasn’t amazing, but when people start feeling like the essence of who you are is gone, that’s a problem. Um, make quick decisions, that’s another good one. You know, sometimes you can really think about things for a really long time and sometimes you just need to kind of pull off that bandaid and, and get that decision moving. Um, gosh, I can’t even, there are so many lessons I think we can pull

Yasmine (28:42):
From here. I think one big one that I would just wanna add, Nicole, is look back on past successes. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel If something is not working, go back and see what did work and how you can continue to implement those strategies or incorporate them into your newer strategy. I think we, in our industry as like online business owners are so obsessed with what is new, what like this guru is telling us to do right now. Because it’s like the hot thing that we look away from our uniquely you business or I guess in my case, uniquely me business, um, and lose the essence that of who we are and what basically attracted our audience and brought us to the position that we are right now. So it’s okay to maintain something, look back and repeat things that have worked while trying to grow, but going from one direction, doing complete 180 to another because that’s what you think people expect of you, can basically blow up your business as we’ve, um, saw things might go up for a while, but it’s not sustainable. So I really, really, really wanna encourage any business owner who’s listening, um, that while change is good, changes don’t always need to be big, little subtle changes can grow your business in a sustainable way that maintains that brand sentiment and maintains that unique element of who you are.

Nicole (30:13):
All right. So thanks for joining us for this kind of off the cuff episode because we’re just rolling with the Disney news as it comes in, um, when this errors, I’m sure Bob Iger will have made some more decisions in the meantime. So definitely go take a look at some of the news articles about what happened in the last two weeks because I’m sure that we’re gonna hear more and more and plans for the future. So a couple of things to wrap up this episode. First of all, follow us on Instagram at Pixie Dust & Profits. If you are interested in reading or audio books or anything like that, we highly recommend getting Bob Iger’s book. Even if you’re not a Disney fan, it is such an amazing story of how to be a leader in your company. Mm-hmm. . And so I cannot recommend that book enough.

Nicole (30:59):
And my favorite part is that all of the best takeaways that I remember underlining while reading are actually in the back of the book already ready for you to, um, read through. So, um, go get that book. And then lastly, if you’re looking for some business partners who can advise you about things going on in your business, or you need a sounding board because you feel like you’re a solo CEO doing it alone, check out the profitable and productive party. It’s at pixiedustandprofits.com/party. It’s, you know, coaching with me and Yasmine. Every month you get two sessions where we just get to work and two sessions where we can actually talk through the different things that you, you know, want advice on. And there’s also an online forum where you can leave notes and thoughts and other people can get back to you on super small group. We love, you know, supporting all these business owners and we’d love to see you there too. So thanks so much and we’ll see you real soon.

Yasmine (31:52):
Bye.

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Episode 73: Disney Business: Bob Iger is Back in Charge!

Nov 29, 2022

I don’t think ANYONE could have predicted the latest news — Bob Iger is back! 

After stepping away for 999 days and telling us that he wouldn’t be returning as CEO, Iger has returned to replace Bob Chapek, the CEO with arguably the rockiest reputation in Disney history. So, why did this happen, and what can we as business owners learn from it? Listen to this episode to find out!

Download Episode 73 transcript right here

Text us! 207-203-6769 

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Episode 72: Magical Onboarding Experiences: Client Gifts & Small Touches They’ll Remember (Transcript)

Nov 15, 2022

Intro (00:01):
Pixie Dust and Profits is a podcast for small business owners who love Disney and want to sprinkle some of that magic onto their own businesses. Join your host, Nicole Boucher and Yasmine Spencer as they explore the Mouse’s 12.6 billion operation and break down exactly how you can apply these big scale concepts to your own business.

Nicole (00:26):
Hi everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of Pixie Dust and Profits. I’m Nicole.

Yasmine (00:30):
And I’m Yasmin.

Nicole (00:31):
And today we’re talking about onboarding experiences, which is something I know we’ve talked about before, but the inspiration behind this episode is very specific. I recently signed up for a Disney Rewards Visa card. You get a couple of perks with that and it just kind of worked out that I really needed to have that at the time that I took that out. But what really impressed me was that I got that welcome pack in. If you have ever opened a new bank account or a credit card or anything like that, you know what I’m talking about. You get the letter in the mail that has your card in it and it just tells you go to this website to activate it. And you get pages and pages of disclosures that are on those little pamphlet papers with, you know, size eight font that you probably don’t even look at.

Nicole (01:18):
Um, and so that’s the typical experience when you open a new account. And this is not the experience I had because of course Disney has to mag Gify everything. So I got this package in the mail, it had my disclosure information, but it also had, you know, this laminated sheet colorful, magical with, with all of my Disney parks. It talked about how as a Visa card holder you could go to special meet and greet events with the characters. You had, you know, 0% interest on vacation packages for six months and a couple of other little things just, you know, making some of these parks that I already knew about. It was the reason I signed up for the card reminding me of them making it seem more magical like I made a good choice. But that is not all. They also gave four little postcards that were all different designs.

Nicole (02:13):
Um, they were beautiful, they were cute. There was one with the castle with like magical stars around it. I think there was one with Dumbo. Um, just really adorable postcards and it was so unexpected. Um, of course I could send a letter to someone on those postcards, but I opted to keep them and hang them around my office cuz they were so adorable. They were nice art prints almost, even though they were, you know, designed to be used as a postcard. So it was just something that really stuck with me when this happened that I took all the notes on it and I was like, this is gonna be a pixie dust episode.

Yasmine (02:46):
You know, I love Disney and how they take a very like boring, mundane and frankly kind of like stressful experience. Cause like when you get that pamphlet with all of that like legalese, it’s just, it’s a little overwhelming. And I’m one of the people who goes through like all the benefits and you know, elements of, uh, features that come with my credit card because I like to know what I can benefit from but also like what I need to be aware of. And I love that Disney really does magic that unfortunately as a Canadian, I’m not eligible to sign up for that credit card. Otherwise that would be like my daily personal um, card cuz who doesnt love Disney Rewards? Right?

Nicole (03:28):
It’s, it’s wonderful because we were just at Disney for Pixie Dust Live. Mm-hmm . And when I was going around the world in Epcot for food and wine, I used my rewards points. I had $200 in rewards that had been saved up over probably the last two years because during Covid we didn’t go to Disney. So it had built up and I just, you know, went around the world eating and got a couple of souvenirs for my family while I was out all on those rewards.

Yasmine (03:56):
$200 gets you a lot of Mickey pretzels.

Nicole (03:59):
It does. I did have a Mickey Pretzel

Yasmine (04:02):
And beer cheese if you get it in Germany, . So we obviously want to talk about what you can do in your business and what we can learn from that. And one of the things that Nicole and I were just talking about as we were playing this episode is how gifting as part of the onboarding experience just has such a positive impact on the brand and also the experience. One way that we actually applied this at Pixie Dust and Profits live was when we had people register. We actually sent them little, um, luggage tags.

Nicole (04:37):
I love our luggage tags.

Yasmine (04:38):
They’re so cute. They’re so cute. I have them on my suitcases and like, you know, if you have sort of like a common colored black standard issue suitcase, if you’re checking your luggage, a bright pretty luggage tag definitely makes it easier to pull it off of the carousel when it comes out. But we sent it out because we wanted to have a touchpoint in between people signing up for the retreat and the actual retreat to get excited and to hear from us in advance of us all getting together. And I would say like more than half the ladies showed up with the little luggage tag on their luggage.

Nicole (05:16):
It’s so fun. It says, I bring the magic. I love it. It’s my favorite.

Yasmine (05:20):
Other ways you can apply gifting into your business is sending something out with your orders if you have a physical product based business. So I see this all the time. If I order something from a shop, often a small shop on Etsy or online, they’ll send stickers, um, along with their order. And again, you know, I may not have ordered those stickers, but they’re just like a f fun, cute thing that I will hold onto. And like, I maybe unfortunately am in the camp where I just like hoard my stickers cause I’m afraid of like sticking them on

Nicole (05:51):
Things. I am the same. I am the same. I do not put my stickers on things because I I just don’t wanna not use that thing anymore. And then I don’t have my sticker

Yasmine (05:59):
exactly. Or like, I’m worried that I place it on the wrong thing. So like, I have this like one Disney sticker that I put on my iPad. Cause I’m like, okay, this, this is the one thing I’m gonna stick on. And you know, it was beautiful, but like I used my iPad every single day and after about a year it started to fade and I had to peel it off and I was just like sad at the loss of that like totally free but cute sticker that I got. Uh, so instead what I do is I just hoard them in an envelope in a drawer and I just look at them, uh, from time to time. I, I was, while

Nicole (06:27):
We’re talking about stickers, this episode comes out just before Black Friday. So if you have ever seen our t-shirts on our website, they say pixie dust and profits. I bring, I make small business magic. They are the most comfortable t-shirts I’ve ever worn. Those will be on sale. And hint, hint, you might get some stickers if you order them. So take a look at the website over Black Friday. We have some deals for you.

Yasmine (06:53):
Yeah, we had some cute ideas as we were planning it out so you don’t wanna miss out.

Nicole (06:59):
All right, so we talked a little bit about product based businesses, um, and sending something along with your order, but I also wanna talk about service based businesses or even coaching businesses like agencies where there might be multiple people working with a client. So of course the onboarding experience we’ve talked about this before, is so important. And that could include sending a gift. Thank you for working together. Um, I personally like to send gifts maybe toward the end of a project saying like, Look how hard you worked. So I don’t always send a gift right on onboarding. I, it’s kind of personalized to what the situation is or what the project we’re working on together. So that’s how I like to gift my clients. Um, but there’s also the gift of being responsive available and interested and engaged in their business. These are things that are soft skills, but so important.

Nicole (07:50):
Especially when someone has just invested in you. This might have been a scary investment for them. Mm-hmm. , it might have felt risky. Especially right now with the way the economy is having your own business and keeping it running can feel a little bit scary or isolating. And so being available and even if you’re not available to be available, you can say, Hey, I will be out of the office for pixie dust live during these dates. If you have an emergency, this is how you get in touch with me. Those proactive, and I hate that word, but those proactive steps can really mean a lot to the relationship. And that’s what we’re talking about with onboarding experience. Knowing going into Black Friday, who is taking time off, who isn’t, who’s available? If there’s something that’s gonna go down on the site, I know who I can turn to.

Nicole (08:38):
I know who’s moving during that weekend and who not to bother. Those things are so important. And so I want you to keep in mind that gifting and experience doesn’t have to be a physical item. It doesn’t have to be a huge package. It could literally just be remembering a conversation you had during your consulting call and moving on from there to say, Okay, we talked about this, let’s make sure that we address that and we don’t lose sight of it. So taking something traditionally boring, jazzing it up, like your credit card disclosure statements, um, there’s some other things too. So, um, I talked a little bit about how I like to gift my clients. So whether you’re work project based or you have like a certain engagement that you do with people or someone says, you know, I’m moving in this other direction and it’s like an offboarding process.

Nicole (09:29):
You can also gift then, so I, you can call them parting gifts. Um, and so what I like to do is just at the end of a project, I helped someone do a summit last year for example. And as we got close to the date, I know how stressful that is when you’re trying to field emails from 30 different speakers and in your head you’re thinking about, how am I gonna do this? It’s, it’s like a live event. What’s going on? Getting that gift in the mail of, Hey, you’ve got this, look how far you’ve come, this student exists four months ago and look all of you’ve done. So, um, it’s election day here. I’m really involved with my local community and so I am looking for that gift tomorrow, . So, you know, it’s, it goes a long way to recognize that someone’s worked really hard, even if the results may not have been what they expected, good or bad. It’s, it’s an acknowledgement that you were here, you were present, you worked hard. We see you.

Yasmine (10:22):
I love the acknowledgement of the progress and the work that you’ve done together. Cuz again, you typically see gifts in the onboarding process for, um, contractors that I worked with for a really long time. I, you know, I’ll get a little holiday gift. I send out holiday gifts to my clients. Um, but just to acknowledge the end of a big project I think is such a nice touch.

Nicole (10:45):
I think we can also go beyond just the clients that you’re working with or the customer who purchases from you. And I am really big on this. We’ll have some upcoming episodes about leadership and team building mm-hmm. . And so if you have questions on that realm, please dms s on Instagram, send us an email, whatever it may be. But this also extends far beyond just the customer and client. It also extends to your team. Recognizing when they’ve gone above and beyond. The onboarding experience for a new team member can mean so much to their success on your team. Letting them know exactly what you expect from them, what their daily tasks are, what their weekly tasks are. Having regular check-ins and expectations. It goes such a long way versus the contractors who come on and they’re like, Okay, so what is it that you wanted me to do? And they really don’t have an idea for how they fit on the team or what you’re expecting or, um, get surprised by the amount of feedback they get because, you know, they thought they were doing something the way you might have wanted, but they don’t know what you want yet. So this goes far beyond just your customers and bring it to your team.

Yasmine (11:57):
Well, I hope that gave you a few ideas on how you can incorporate gifting in your business beyond just even onboarding. We wanna thank you again for joining us and wanna remind you to check us out on Black Friday. We’ll have more information up on our Instagram and on pixiedustandprofits.com. If you have any questions about leadership, please send them our way. That’s one of the topics Nicole and I really, really love talking about, and we can’t wait to dig into it in a future episode. So email us hello@pixiedustandprofits.com with any questions you have about being a leader in your business.

Nicole (12:32):
Thank you so much for listening today. Follow us on Instagram @pixiedustandprofits if you’re not already. And stay tuned for our next episode.

Yasmine (12:39):
We’ll see you real soon. See you real soon. Bye.

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Episode 72: Magical Onboarding Experiences: Client Gifts & Small Touches They’ll Remember

Nov 15, 2022

Have you ever had a magical credit card onboarding experience? Probably not, huh? 

It always feels boring at best, and stressful at worst, to sign up for a new credit card. Unless, that is, you’re signing up for a Disney credit card! They’ve managed to make signing legal disclaimers feel fun with a few simple elevations to their onboarding packet — and they included gifts! Let’s talk about how you can implement a similarly fun experience into your own customer onboarding process, with client gifts and thoughtful touches.

Download Episode 72 transcript right here

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