Episode 79: The Disney Dining Plan Returns!

Jun 13, 2023

We’re kicking off summer with a brand-new series! Join us as we discuss the highly anticipated return of the Disney Dining Plan. While it may seem more expensive than paying out of pocket, we explore why people still love it. The convenience of upfront payment and the elimination of worrying about expenses make it a popular choice. We discuss ways you can incorporate convenience into your business offerings, such as offering automated payments and additional services. Tune in to discover how you can make your customers’ lives easier and boost your business in the process.

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Episode 79: The Disney Dining Plan Returns! (Transcript)

Jun 13, 2023

Nicole (00:00):
Hi everyone. Welcome back to the Pixie Dust & Profits podcast. I’m Nicole. And

Yasmine (00:04):
I’m Yasmine.

Nicole (00:04):
And we’re doing a short and sweet summer series for you where we are just kind of getting into like 10 minute episodes, bite snack sized episodes for you to be thinking Disney and your business. We know that the summer is the time of year where you kind of, I don’t wanna say drop off in your business, but you kind of go in and enjoy the outside, especially for people like Yasmine and I who live in the north and we don’t get a lot of warm weather. We get outside, so usually around the summertime we’re just working on the client projects we need to do and probably not focusing on our own businesses quite as much as we used to in the fall and in the winter. So we thought snack size summer series. Here we go. So today’s episode, speaking of snack size, is all about the Disney Dining Plan. We have talked about this a few times in our episodes, and the big news right now is that it’s returning, it’s coming back to Disney World, starting in January. You can add the dining plan back to your reservations. Yasmin, have you ever used the Dining plan? Have, have you added that to your trip at all, ever?

Yasmine (01:16):
I have not. And the primary reason for me personally, for not adding it is it would’ve ended up being too much food for how, like I like to eat and snack at Disney.

Nicole (01:27):
That’s such a good point. I think the last time I did the Disney Dining Plan, was it, it had to be at least 12, 13 years ago, like, I think it was before I met my husband because I remember this from trips with my mom and my brother, where the Disney Dining Plan used to include an appetizer, your meal and a dessert, which was a, an amazing value. They’re also the way the dining plan works is you tend to get credits. There’s different levels of the plan, and so you get credits for snacks, which is, you know, a water bottle or a Mickey bar, and you get credits for a quick service restaurant, which is kind of that like grab and go burger, chicken fingers and fries, and you get credits for table service, which is where you sit down, you have a, a waitress or a waiter who comes and, you know, does your meal or the buffets, especially the character dining.

Nicole (02:19):
So way, way, way, way back when the dining plan first came out, everything was kind of like one credit except for I think Cinderella’s table, where it was like you needed two credits for a table service to, to equal out how expensive that restaurant is. And so slowly over time, some more restaurants started getting added to the list where it costs two table credits instead of one. And so there’s, there’s a lot of ups and downs with the dining plan and you know, we’re not a travel blog here, but suffice to say it’s a lot of food, it’s a lot of scheduling time to go eat. So those are the downsides, but there’s also some bonuses here and that’s what we really wanna talk about when it comes to your business.

Yasmine (03:00):
So one of the bonuses of the dining plan is it essentially allows you to prepay for, I would say all, or almost all of the food and like meal experiences you wanna have at Disney. So you can add a package depending on how much you wanna get. So they usually have the quick service dining plan, which has like one quick one or two quick service meals a day, and then I think two snacks a day that you can eat. Then they have the like medium level dining plan and I just wanna carry that. This might change with what’s happening in January, but this is how it traditionally worked, which had one table service credit, one quick service credit, and two snacks per day of your trip. And then they had like the Deluxe dining plan, which had basically three table service credits per day and two snacks.

Yasmine (03:45):
So that basically means like you would be sitting down to have a sit down breakfast for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus two snacks a day. Or if you wanna go to a lot of those like signature experience restaurants like Cinderella’s Castle, I think beer Guest is now a signature experience that would take up two of those credits. I could be wrong, I could be wrong. But one thing that I hear a lot of people being excited about the dining plan is that it’s like one and done. Like you pay for it upfront when you’re planning your vacation and then you don’t really have to worry about budgeting for food or keeping track of your food expenses. Now I will say there’s still an additional expense above the Disney Dining Plan, which is gratuity. You still, you know, are expected to tip your waiters, but beyond that, everything is pretty much covered. And only certain plans include alcoholic beverages, not all of them. So that’s,

Nicole (04:39):
Yeah. And so the interesting thing about these plans, I mean we’ve, there’s a lot going on with them, right? So you talked about there’s the three levels. Again, we don’t know if this is what it’s going to look like in January, but I imagine the way that Disney markets everything where even annual passes, there’s four tiers, right? They, they wanna shuffle people probably closest to the middle tier mm-hmm. . So that there’s three, one is kind of like the, the quick service. Like, you know, that you’re just getting chicken fingers and fries. I think a lot of families probably get this one. It’s also really nice, you know, if you don’t want to have the full dining plan experience, you can still do table service restaurants. It doesn’t prevent you from doing that. You’re just paying out of pocket. Mm-Hmm. . But the quick service plan at least covers your basic, like, I’m getting lunch and a snack every day and those are paid for.

Nicole (05:21):
So that way, you know, it kind of loosens up the control of every time your kid is asking, can I have that? Can I have that, can I have that? And you can say, well, we all got two treats today and you spent yours. It kind of takes some of that off of parent’s shoulders. It also kind of moderates yourself if you’re just going with Disney adults. So that’s like the lower plan. And then the middle is the one table. So when we’re talking about our business stuff, we’re talking about convenience here and we’re also talking about upselling a little bit into more than someone probably needs. And, but still giving them that choice so that way they feel like they’re getting exactly what they need. Now I have actually sat down at spreadsheets and tried to say, we’re gonna eat here. I’m gonna eat this. I’m, I’m usually the person who gets like the chicken dish. I don’t get like a huge steak or anything like that, especially at Disney. I’m always so hot. I can’t eat a really big hardy meal. I’m kind of more of a snacker throughout the day. And so

Yasmine (06:19):
Even then, like yeah, if I could jump in, like I remember every time we would go to Disney I would come like with like, I wanna try this, I wanna try this, I wanna try this. I barely had room or the ability to try half the snacks on my list unless I was like gonna take a bite and throw it out. Which is wasteful in my opinion. So I never get through my entire snack list. So even with like, you know, having the option of like two snacks a day, it’s, it’s a lot of of food.

Nicole (06:48):
Yeah. And so you’re giving people that like option or appearance of flexibility while also kind of upselling them into probably more expensive option than if they had just paid out of pocket for the experience. Mm-Hmm. . And so they really try to market this months before the trip. Like this isn’t something you add on at the last minute. They might mention it in emails along with everything else, but you know, if I were looking at Disney’s marketing stack, it would be, you booked a trip. Okay, let’s get you locked into this dining plan. And before you had to make your dining reservation six months before your trip mm-hmm. . So they kind of coincided with when it, they marketed it, but now they’ve made so many changes that you actually can cancel your reservation for a restaurant, I think like two hours before now, which opens up a lot of reservations for people who are on site.

Nicole (07:39):
And so it’s actually really nice. You don’t have to necessarily plan your restaurant six months in advance. Problem with that, with the dining plan though, is that kind of takes away the sense of urgency that people needed to buy it or add it onto their trip. So I’m really curious to see how that falls out in January. But I still think this is something they’re going to market like toward the beginning of the relationship with your vacation. Right? This is something that like, oh, add this on for convenience cuz as you get closer to your trip, they’re gonna start pushing Genie Plus at you mm-hmm. because that’s much more urgent. You’re thinking about the rides you wanna go on and the things that you wanna experience. So yeah, when you’re a business owner and you’re thinking about the marketing of, especially if you have some sort of program group membership coaching, relationship consulting, you can do this to another extent in, in your product based businesses where you have different tiers or levels of things, you know I see this a lot, especially with like subscription boxes where it’s like you can have, you know, you get one small item and one large item every month, or you can add in you know, a special experience or something.

Nicole (08:46):
So when you’re thinking about this, like think about the long-term plan of the marketing, right? When, what are they buying from you? What can you convince them on early on? And then what can you add on a little bit later? And so the dining plan is, in my opinion, I would never tell people who are on a budget on their Disney trip to, to get that. But I have family members who are much more anxious in how they VA vacation. And so when they’re talking to me about going to Disney, I tell them, you know, this is probably more than it would be if it was out of your pocket, but you don’t really have to think about these things when you’re filling out the check at the end of the day. And if you like to have everything paid off ahead of time, you really should consider getting the dining plan. And so that’s how we can talk about it with our customers.

Yasmine (09:31):
Yeah. And like other ways that you can incorporate this sort of like, mentality into your businesses. Again, thinking about that convenience. So Nicole covered off the idea of like subscription boxes especially if you’re a product-based business. Well, if you’re a service-based business, what are other ways that you can again, continue to bring in revenue while decreasing that sort of mental load on your customer while doing automated invoices every month? So, you know, a lot of businesses often go through a task of like, you know, sending their invoices to their clients every month and then their clients have to, you know, go pay them every month. And, you know, that’s great and business as usual, but if you have sort of a reoccurring fee, like a retainer fee or a service fee that you’re charging your clients every month, get them on automatic payments, it automatically bills your credit card on the date that you designate and neither you, or they have to worry about sending out the invoices on time or making sure that they pay on time. It’s just one thing that they don’t have to think about that makes it easier to work with you.

Nicole (10:32):
Yeah, and I, I think when we start thinking about some other ways to implement this, it’s just convenience is a cost in and of itself. And I think that some people struggle, especially women, we struggle in our businesses to value our time accordingly. Mm-Hmm. . And so if you’re looking at something and you’re saying, oh, this will be a hundred dollars, but you’re really spending hours making it happen. So for example, if you’re just doing a, a, a 30 minute consultation session, whatever it may be, it could be about like the color seasons, your color palette, or it can be, you know, a marketing plan, whatever that 30 minute session is, we often see people who are like, oh, here’s, you know, $50 for half an hour of my time, and they completely forget about the fact that they have to go back and forth and do the scheduling with the person to even get them on the call.

Nicole (11:26):
You have to do the marketing to get people to want to book a call. And then after they have a call with them, they have to send them their notes about what we talked about and what your next steps are. And that might not be something you say is included, but you should still be doing because then that person’s gonna leave, you know, remembering who you are. You can’t just like leave the call to drop off. You want them to book another call, right? And so some of these things you have to think about the convenience for your customer, but also the experience that they’re expecting. So we would love to hear from you. Have you ever used the dining plan? Do you have a dining plan in your business? How do you give that value and give that higher level of service and roll it into your fees? Like, what is, what is your package look like?

Yasmine (12:13):
So you can let us know on Instagram, we’re at pixiedustandprofits. Or you know what, send us an email if you feel up to it. We love hearing from you. You can email us at hello@pixiedustandprofits.com.

Nicole (12:24):
We’ll see you real soon. Our summer series happens every two weeks. So tune in for our next episode.

Yasmine (12:30):

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Episode 78: Backstage Pass: Pixie Dust LIVE (Transcript)

Feb 21, 2023

Yasmine (00:00):
Did you know that Disney has a whole business teaching you about the business of Disney and also taking you behind the scenes? Welcome to Pixie Dust & Profits. I’m Yasmine.

Nicole (00:10):
And I’m Nicole.

Yasmine (00:11):
And today we’re gonna be talking a little bit about behind the scenes at Disney and how you can pull back the curtain and see all of the magic. And also talk about another project that we do behind the scenes of this podcast called Pixie Dust and Profits Live.

Nicole (00:28):
Yeah. So Disney Institute is a different arm of the Disney business and talk about using your content to the fullest, right? We, we’ve talked about this a little bit here and there throughout the podcast, but if you haven’t heard about it before, essentially Disney has a whole stream of leadership lessons, conferences, events that executives and SVPs at different corporate companies usually can go and attend and learn the Disney Way, right? How they treat employees, how they approach operations how they keep the magic happening during the pandemic. They actually took a lot of these lessons online so you can purchase them virtually to attend. It’s on our bucket list to do. We haven’t gotten there yet, but I did actually a few years ago take a tour. It’s called the Backstage Magic Tour. They have not yet brought that back after C O V I D, but it was fascinating.

Nicole (01:22):
I’ve shared many of the stories on this podcast, but we got to go see the costuming department, the workhouse, which is the warehouse where they do all of the mechanics and, you know, just the machine operations and cleaning all of the rides and repainting the carousel horses and everything you could think about to maintain all of the rides that Disney has. So they had that. We also saw, saw the laundry operations, which I’ve talked about many times cause it was fascinating to me. But, you know, it’s really cool that they’re able to take this entertainment business and have a completely separate arm of it to teach people how to run businesses and how to run them well. And it was really interesting because there’s clearly different audiences, right? You have Disney people who are going on their Disney vacation, they’re taking their family, they’re having a good time.

Nicole (02:12):
Well, when I went on the tour, it was full of engineers and just marketing people and people who were just really interested in how things work. So it’s a lot of fun to do and it was really fun to see how Disney actually does things because this was, I think, even before this podcast started we had the idea to do the podcast and that just kind of spurred it even further of this is actually really cool stuff and people probably would be entertained by this. So yeah, we wanna peel back the layers a little bit on one of our own processes or programs that we have here called Pixie Dust Live. If you haven’t heard of it, it is an in-person retreat that happens at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. And this will be our, our third round. This is our third year of doing this.

Nicole (03:03):
The first round kind of got postponed by the pandemic, but we still ended up holding it when, once it got safer to do so. And so this will be our third year running it. It happens in October every year. And it’s just a really awesome way to get together with other female entrepreneurs who run their own businesses and exchange ideas, get feedback, and also have some fun because it’s really important to separate from the four walls of your office or that surroundings you usually find yourself in and have some fun in order to spur some more creativity and, you know, look at the next phase of your business or how can you change things up in your business. So we love Pixie Dust Live and you have questions. So we thought we’d answer them.

Yasmine (03:51):
So the first question that we received is, is pixie dust live like the podcast? And I would love to say that I and Nicole and I are gonna walk you through Magic Kingdom and, you know, break down all of the things that happen behind the scenes and relate it to your business, but it’s a little bit more focused on your business individually. And we just incorporate a bit of Disney fun. We truly feel that big ideas and creativity happens when you can relax. And as small business owners, we have a really tough time taking breaks from our business to think about that bigger picture, to think about the strategy when you’re so into the day-to-day. So while it doesn’t quite operate like a pixie Dustin Profits podcast episode, you do get a little bit of that Disney magic while talking about your business. So why don’t we go through what each day looks like, Nicole?

Nicole (04:44):
Yeah, yeah. So the event is Sunday to Thursday. Everyone travels their own way. We have people who drive by car, some fly and you will have the opportunity to meet and connect with people before the event. We have a call with everyone. We have like a little community so we can get excited together and share introductions and things like that. So some people actually carpool together from the airport. And then we get there Sunday and it’s really low key. We don’t really start until the evening when our rooms are available. We say our hellos and then we go out for dinner and just, you know, break ice. Ask everyone, you know, what’s something you’re excited about in your business? What’s, you know, why, why did you decide to come here? What are you hoping to get out of the week?

Nicole (05:30):
And, and we have a really good dinner that first night. And then the next day Monday is like our, our big masterminding day. And this is where everyone takes a turn to talk about, you know, what is going on in their business, something that they’re struggling with or an opportunity. They think they have a new product they wanna create and they can kind of share that whole ecosystem. Like the floor is theirs. They can get feedback from the other women in the room if they’re open to that. But also feedback from us as the coaches. And then later in the day we will break out into one-on-one sessions and small groups of like two, two people to one coach. And then we’ll also have some one-on-one sessions. So we actually have three coaches coming. The first year was me and Yasmin, and last year we trialed bringing in another coach was, which is Latasha Doyle of uncanny content.

Nicole (06:27):
And it was so amazing we asked her back this year. So basically we have Yasmin who Ty typically helps who, who’d have like products or physical product operations, e-commerce shops. I help people with like the employee contractor operations side of things, some marketing and strategy as well, mostly service pace service-based businesses. And then Latasha is a content strategist who runs an agency. And so she really helps people connect what is the value that you’re creating for people and how do you need to talk to and market your message about these products that you have? Like, what’s that theme that you need to be making sure you connect with your audience on and how can you engage them through your content to eventually get to the sale? So it’s a really robust team that you’ve got at your fingertips for a few days. And yes, we have the one-on-one sessions there.

Nicole (07:21):
We also have one-on-one sessions after the event. So, you know, once you, once you’re home and things have kind of settled in a little bit and you have more questions, don’t worry, we’re there for you still. But that’s not the only time you get to talk to people, you know, at, at different dinners. You’ll sit next to somebody else and you’ll be able to pick their brain about something. And so it’s really four days of access to a lot of really great minds in the industry. So that’s, you know, a really heavy day of talking about our businesses. So the next day is our fun day and that’s where we’ll go to. I mean, some of the things we’ve done before is we’ve gone to Magic Kingdom. We’ve gone to one of the holiday parties they had at night. We’ve even done a fireworks cruise that was hosted by Debbie of Chime t q m, and we were so thankful for these experiences. So we can’t reveal what 2020 threes fun experiences will be, but just know we like to enjoy Disney and we have been there enough that we kind of try to use our strategies to get through the lions and get in as many reds as we can or eat as much food as we can depending on which park we’re at.

Yasmine (08:34):
Yes, when you go to Pixie Dust live, you get a lot of Disney packed into a short period of time. I mean, we have in the past cleared all of the marque riots at Hollywood Studios by like 1:00 PM

Nicole (08:48):
Yeah, I remember one person who had come with us her first time to Disney had been a few weeks prior, and she was like, I did not enjoy Epcot. And that turned around like instantly with our trip because there’s a strategy to doing it in a way that is enjoyable and there are ways to do it that are just not as enjoyable. You get stuck in the crowds, you get stuck in lions and maybe don’t get the experience you were hoping for. And it’s also really hot. So sometimes like all of those things compounding can make a trip less ideal than it looks like on the videos online. But yeah, so we’ll have our fun day at, you know, whichever park we’re going to and whatever experiences we’re choosing to do. And that’s a little more low key. We’ll be able to have conversations while waiting in line.

Nicole (09:41):
We’ll, you know, have lunch and dinner together. And then on our very last day our last full day, we’ll get together again. We’ll talk about those big projects you have in mind for your business. We’ll break it down into manageable steps. We’ll start that project plan together and make our action plans. And that usually ends around noon, 1:00 PM ish, somewhere around there. We have lunch, and then take a break r and r and go out for a nice dinner together on that last night and fly out the next morning. So it’s, it’s a lot packed into a few days. And I mean, I really think the value here is getting away from your home surroundings so that way you can get into a place where you can disconnect enough from the day-to-day to think about the bigger picture in your business. And it’s, it’s done like, you know, we start talking about it on Monday, you start getting like clarity around what this looks like with the coaches Monday afternoon, Tuesday.

Nicole (10:40):
You’re kind of like, okay, that’s been simmering in my brain. It’s kind of in the back there. You’re, you’re on a ride having fun and then it pops back into your brain. And then on Wednesday we’re actually making this action plan. So you leave on the plane home and we, we have one attendee who I swear gets like everything we talked about done or the whole action plan, she’ll crank it out at the airport waiting for her flight to get home. And so you can get so much done in in a few days because of everything around you. So that’s a lot about like how it operates and I like, I can go on forever about that. But Yasmin, I would love for you to share just your experiences with Masterminds and what makes this one special and unique.

Yasmine (11:26):
Yeah, so I’ve attended a lot of like in-person masterminds and retreats in the past. And depending on the scale it’s like, you know, one of two or three things. One is, you know, there’s like a hard set curriculum and it’s basically like finishing a workbook in person, which can be fine. Sometimes you need that like extra support and stuff. But what’s really guiding what you get out of it is that workbook. And it doesn’t always leave a ton of room for you to deal with like the individual challenges that you’re facing in your business. And one of the things that Nicole and I have mentioned a million times on this podcast is that we believe that every business is unique and we wanna help you build a uniquely you business. We don’t think putting you through like, you know, a 12 step plan necessarily always solves your problems.

Yasmine (12:16):
And in fact when we had first created Pixie Dust Live, we had that sort of like action plan. But what we learned was that everyone was at slightly different stages in their business. And while that helped, you know, being able to give you a little bit more freedom to come to the business with the specific challenge that you’re facing, and I can think of, you know, when we were at Pixus Live this past October, everyone had something different that they were working on. One person was looking to really map out like their content strategy for the rest of the year. We had another attendee who really wanted to get started on a project and was trying to fit it in amongst everything else she had to do. And we needed to look at how to make space and how to break down this giant project so she can make that progress without it feeling overwhelming.

Yasmine (13:03):
We had another attendee who wanted to map out her sales calendar for the rest of the year. And by giving y’all that flexibility to focus in on the thing that you need in your business right now with our guidance, you accomplish a lot more than maybe necessarily having you revisit, you know, one specific thing. On the other hand, I’ve also been to like masterminds and retreats where again, it’s just a bunch of like speaker sessions and there actually isn’t any like time to specifically work on your business, more of like an info session sort of thing. You’re learning information kind of like a mini conference versus a mastermind retreat and that’s,

Nicole (13:43):
Yeah, I’ve been to some like that. And what’s interesting about those is like, speakers generally have some good topics, but if you’re not in the stage that they’re at or that’s not something you need, at least my brain, I get a little squirrely and I start thinking about something else and then at the end of the session they’re like, I’m giving you 15 minutes to do this workbook I’ve given. And I’m like well but I don’t need that. Or I’ve already done that. And so it, you just awkwardly kind of sit around like, what do I do now? Mm-Hmm. it, and it’s great if you’re at a stage where you want to take in all of the information cuz you’re maybe starting out but when

Yasmine (14:19):
Or expanding into another area of your business. Yeah. And you just need to learn more. Again, nothing wrong with either of the formats that we’re talking about. Yeah. But I feel like what makes Pixie Dust very unique is it really ends up in a lot of ways being an individualized consulting session. And that’s in, that’s really what brought this about when we first started Pixie Dust Live. It stemmed from a special like consulting session Nicole and I would do for our clients that I would refer to as Dis and Biz because, you know, you went to Disney, you had some fun, but then we also really focused in on their business and their specific in vigil business and how are we going to replicate that with a group of women. It turned out that yes, we have some guided sort of prompts to start things off that get everyone’s like juices going. But once that happens then we zero in on what you need to focus on and help you create that action plan for that stage of business where you’re at and for your project.

Nicole (15:22):
I have worked from home for, oh, like nine years now mm-hmm. even before I started this business I was working from home and that means that I can have a successful business. My clients have successful businesses, all virtual. There’s nothing like, I am not an advocate for, you gotta be in the office five days or your hybrid or any of that stuff. But there is something very important about getting with other people in person or having a connection with people. Yes. And so when you operate your own business, and maybe you’re not at that level where you have an employee or you have even a virtual assistant who’s regularly there. You might have someone who does a couple of tasks, but you don’t have like a weekly meeting with that person. You can feel really isolated and the ideas can be hard to come across.

Nicole (16:09):
You might be trying to talk to your spouse or your sister or your parents or your siblings or whoever about your business and what your ideas are. And it, it’s just they, they’re not, they don’t know, they don’t know this industry. They don’t know what, how marketing works. They don’t know any of that. And so getting together in person, we have the tools and framework to walk you through like, okay, let’s, let’s do this first, let’s talk about this opportunity. Let’s talk about this challenge. Okay. And now here’s three coaches who all support multiple clients. I mean, between me, you and Latasha, there’s probably a history of somewhere between 60 to 80 clients, businesses we’ve been in where we can kind of say, well we learned this from this person. And if there’s one thing I can say about coaching programs that are out there sometimes they will teach you what they did mm-hmm.

Nicole (17:04):
And sometimes that feedback is received as I need to completely copy everything they, they did and then I will be successful or then my product will sell more. And that’s just not true. You need to take the bits that work among all the different things you’re learning, combine it with what you know about your products, your audience, how you show up. Cuz if you’re taking advice from someone who loves to do video content and you are the introvert who would rather write emails and blog posts, you need to adapt the strategies that they’re sharing for your audience and your personality and how you show up. And so sometimes these coaching programs exist and they’re not, not meant for your unique business. Mm-Hmm. , they’re kind of giving a framework and telling you follow this, and then you end up following it and it doesn’t have success and you’re left standing at the end with, I thought if I did these things, it would work. And so that’s where when you come to Pixus live, it’s, well, what have you tried? What haven’t you tried? Where are your strengths? Where are your weaknesses? And so we kind of go through that strategic planning process because Yasmin and I both have corporate backgrounds mm-hmm. . And so we’re bringing that in in a scale that is a more micro level and we’re really getting into the weeds. We know your businesses like before we get to Disney. Yeah.

Yasmine (18:28):
We’re not do that download in Orlando. We’ve done,

Nicole (18:32):
We we’ve already talked to you and understood your business and checked out everything that you’re doing. We, we understand that when we get in. So it is very much like a personalized consulting session.

Yasmine (18:41):
So that brings me to our next question, which is, is Pixie Dust live for Disney businesses only? And the answer is no. I don’t think we have a, we, you know, we have one sort of adjacent Disney business. One of the attendees in the past has been a Disney travel planner, but everyone else comes from different industries. We have one person in the biotechnology genetic space. We have one person who you know, teaches makers about safety and compliance. We have another attendee who’s a software developer, another attendee who designs stationary and paper goods. We really have a lot of spread in terms of where everyone’s coming from, which I think is fantastic because it really allows different viewpoints and perspectives to come together. You know, one of the things they say is like, look to another industry and see what they’re doing well and how you can adapt that to your own business.

Yasmine (19:42):
And you get that here. Now, if you have a Disney business, you’re gonna be right at home because I mean, I am a regular consumer from Di Disney Small Shops. I don’t, you can’t really see my ear collection, but it’s, it’s massive. So we love Disney businesses and we have a lot of experience with, you know, how to succeed on Etsy and other e-commerce platforms. But no, you don’t have to have a Disney business in order to come to Pixie Dust Live. You can be from any industry. And honestly, between Nicole and I, we probably have some perspective from just past experience working in it. Like my career spans from doing like everything from like marketing and public relations to pharma technology. So we, we’ve, when C P G, like we’ve run the gamut. Nicole’s worked in like at banks and then like policy

Nicole (20:33):
Yeah. Fraud collections, yeah. Risk management, like a lot of things like that. And I would just add to that you also don’t need to be a Disney fan. Yes. we have obviously had some people come who they take vacations to Disney with their family or, you know, we had someone who had started a Disney planning, a terrible agent planning business, but we, we also had people who hadn’t been since they were children or hadn’t been at all. And that’s part of the fun and awe and wonder that you get when you come, is you just kind of be, can separate from your everyday life. And that is so helpful to the creative process. Mm-Hmm. . And so you, you don’t have to be a Disney fan beyond I’ve seen a couple movies or I really like singing the songs from Encanto.

Yasmine (21:24):
But you will become a Disney fan after going

Nicole (21:26):
With us. You’ll, I mean, what was our, one of our guests had not been to Disney ever, or maybe she was very young. And so she did Pixie Dust live in October, then brought her husband in December because she was like, no, we just need to experience this together and had a blast. And I think I just saw on her Instagram that she was there a week again. Yeah. so

Yasmine (21:49):
She’s gone back like four or five times I think since we went together in October of 2021.

Nicole (21:56):
Yeah. So I, I, you know, the disclaimer at the bottom of the page, it’s like results not guaranteed. I, I we’re not responsible for future Disney fanatic status . But yeah, so you don’t need to have a Disney business and you don’t need to have any familiarity with the parks, honestly. This is all about branching outside of your comfort zone a little bit, meeting some other people, having intentional strategic focus time in your business. And then we’ll have the fun experiences for you. And honestly, as a mom, there’s nothing more amazing than leaving my house and having everything planned for me when I arrive. Like meals like you, you get to choose what you want to eat, but we’ll tell you which restaurants and give you the menu. So you know, it’s, it’s really freeing to not have to think about those things either. You, you come, you arrive, someone else is telling you what to do and where to go and you just get to enjoy it.

Yasmine (22:53):
And the best part is for us, like planning a Disney trip is like 60% of the fund. So , we love doing it. That’s how you know you’re gonna have a good time.

Nicole (23:03):
Yeah. So I mean, if you’re interested in attending, it is an application basis. We have five spots this year and two have already been taken up as of the recording of this. I don’t know how many will be when it airs, but if you have questions, please email us. Hello@pixiedustandprofits.com. We’re happy to hop on a call and give you a more full picture what the experience is like, although I think it’s pretty well represented and what we talked about today. And it is application based and that’s just so we can make sure that there would be a fit among other attendees. And also we’re not here to just take someone’s money. We feel very strongly that you need to be in, be in the right business level for this. And that’s not to say you need to be like a six figure business or anything like that, but I would say that this isn’t for the person who is thinking about starting a business but has not started one yet.

Nicole (24:00):
This is a little more advanced than that. And while you would be able to absorb some information here, I think you’ll have to have, you know, at least some sales have been in business for like a year, maybe two. And you don’t have to have steady, consistent like five figure months or anything like that, but just enough to know what your business is, who your audience is, is, or who you want your audience to be. So I, I would say that the application is more for us to make sure that, you know, you’re in a stage where this information will be helpful to you because there’s nothing we would dislike more than for you to come and b realize mm-hmm. , oh, this is a little more advanced than what I need. We have been in that situation before. It doesn’t feel good. We have other opportunities for you, so there is an application for it. And you can fill it out right at pixiedustandprofits.com/live. And again, if you have any questions, hit us up on Instagram or send us an email.

Yasmine (24:58):
Thanks so much for joining us. Again. We hope you learn a lot about what goes on behind the scenes at Pixie Dusts Live and we hope to see you in October. But until then, this is our last episode of the season. Can you believe that, Nicole?

Nicole (25:12):
I know I was looking at the list earlier and realizing this is episode 78, season six, that means season seven is around the corner. And first of all, I don’t feel like I have known you long enough to have had six seasons of Pixie Dust & Profits and we knew each other for years before this started. So we hope you’ve been enjoying these episodes. If you have ideas for things that you wanna hear more about, like we talked a lot about leadership in the last half of this season, if there’s something you wanna hear more about, please reach out to us on Instagram. Let us know. Pixie Dust & Profits, email us at hello@pixiedustandprofits.com. We love hearing from you. We love seeing your shares of podcast episodes on Instagram stories. So go ahead and do that and we’ll see you real soon with season seven.

Yasmine (26:01):

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Episode 78: Backstage Pass: Pixie Dust LIVE

Feb 21, 2023

In this week’s episode, we’re looking at everything you can expect from us at Pixie Dust Live! We’ll cover the itinerary, mastermind sessions, and what kind of fun-filled Disney activities are in store for you during the retreat! If you’ve ever wanted to know if this was the right move for your biz, then you’ll get all the details in this episode.

P.S. — Pixie Dust Live is by application only. We are accepting 5 spots this year and they are filling up fast. If you know this is where you need to be in October, send in your application here!

Download Episode 78 transcript right here

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Leadership Lessons from Bob Iger

Feb 7, 2023

As you may have heard…the best Bob (Bob Iger, that is) is back! In 2022, Disney seemingly decided overnight that they would replace CEO Bob Chapek with Disney’s most beloved leaders (aside from Walt Disney, of course)!

We’re big fans of Iger. His 15-year story as head of Disney is pretty inspiring — from acquiring three major film/production companies to countless box office hits (some of which even broke a few records!) to launching Disney+; it really seems like the man has done it all. 

But more than those accomplishments, Bob Iger was also a great leader who we, as small business owners, can learn a lot from. 

So in today’s blog, we’re going to be recapping our two-part series (listen to part one here) on the leadership lessons found in his book, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, and how we can use them in our own businesses. 


One of the things Bob Iger is best known for is his optimism, which is also what drives his creative ideas. He says, “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.”

But optimism is one of those things that’s easier said than done — putting it into practice is tough! However, having this type of approach to your business can keep it moving forward. 

And while we may be in a recession, staying optimistic can help you stay true to the values that your business is known for. It can draw new people into the mix and attract good talent. 

Even if you’re worried about the future of your business, optimism can keep you going and give you something to look forward to.


Focus, as Iger explains it, is allocating your time, energy, and resources to the tasks with the highest value. This is basically what we mean when we say, “Don’t get caught up in shiny object syndrome.”

Part of being a good leader is knowing what to do and when. You can’t effectively lead the people around you if you don’t even know what to do with your business. But focus? It can keep things clear for you and for your team and ultimately keep things trucking along. 


That brings us to our next point — decisiveness

You don’t see a lot of businesses progress without making decisions. Lack of decisiveness slows us down, holds up projects, and can cause many revisions. 

But honestly? Not making a decision is still making a decision. You have the choice to either stay where you are or take the risk of moving forward. And Iger reiterates that it’s okay to make mistakes. That failure can better you in the long run. 

If you never get your foot out of the food, you will always be stuck in the house. 


There have been several times when Disney has experienced valleys and low points…and we’re not just talking about when Bob Chapek stepped into the role of CEO. In 2005, when Iger came on as CEO, Disney wasn’t doing too hot at the box office. 

It had been a while since anything groundbreaking came out, but after he stepped in, box office hits came back, and the parks became more enjoyable.

He knew that Disney couldn’t stay where it was if it wanted to continue on. People were getting tired of seeing princesses and only princesses. So what did Iger do? He conducted SEVERAL IP acquisitions (acquiring Pixar in 2009, Marvel and George Lucas’ Lucas Films in 2012, and 21st Century Fox in 2018).

That’s what skyrocketed Disney to the next level. And it’s all because Iger could step out of the four corners of his office and visualize what things were like for his audience. Because when you have curiosity, you promote creativity and foster an environment that innovates. 


Being a good leader isn’t just about coming up with good ideas. It’s also about having empathy and compassion for the people who work under you. 

Mistakes are going to happen, but don’t purposely make your employees feel about it. Fear and anxiety are not productive conditions. And just like curiosity breeds innovation, so does reassurance and knowing you have room to make mistakes and improve them. 


We couldn’t talk about fairness without also talking about inclusivity. In recent years, Disney has become more inclusive by supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as having much more representation for people of color both on and off the screen. (Another reason Chapek wasn’t a big hit: He didn’t speak out against Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill.)

Bob himself says that a good leader needs to be more than a good leader; they need to also be good. Values drive pretty much everything we do in business, and it’s important that those values also involve being fair and inclusive. 


Part of the reason Bob Iger was so successful in his time as CEO was that he thought everything through with intention. He listened to his audience and made sure that what Disney did as a company reflected what they wanted to see

Since his return in 2022, he’s already decided to roll back many things fans complained about — higher prices, no free overnight parking, and TONS more. Because of that, we’re seeing those same fans enjoy their experiences again. 

Are you listening to your audience? Do you know what they want? If not, it may be time to tune in. 


If you want to talk about integrity, just look at what happened when Disney replaced Bob Chapek as CEO. Instead of secreting Iger back in and acting like everything was fine, Disney’s teams were open and honest about it.

No one knew that it would happen, and it stunned the internet. But Disney gave their cast members and employees the heads up before telling the media. 

And when they did, they admitted that Chapek’s time at Disney wasn’t successful. They owned up to the fact that he wasn’t the right person to lead Disney during a global pandemic and then some. But Iger was. He had the ability to see long-term, and to deter Disney from potential problems in the future.

And if that doesn’t show you that it’s okay to make mistakes and pivot when you realize you did, we don’t know what will!

More magic for your small business

Don’t forget to subscribe to Pixie Dust & Profits and tune in each week as we share more tips from the Mouse that can help you grow your small business. Be sure to follow us @pixiedustandprofits and sign up for our mailing list to get some fun extras! See ya real soon.

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Episode 77: Leadership Lessons from Bob Iger: Part Two (Transcript)

Feb 7, 2023

Yasmine (00:00):
Hello, and welcome back to Pixie Dust and Profits. I’m Yasmine. And I’m Nicole. And today we are kicking off part two of our discussion of Bob ER’s core leadership philosophy. So in our previous episode, we talked about optimism, courage, focus, and decisiveness. And if you haven’t listened to part one, we highly encourage you to do so. We dive into you know, some pretty big themes that drive the success that Bob Ira has had. In this week’s episode, we are gonna be looking at curiosity, fairness, thoughtfulness, and integrity. So curiosity is where we’re gonna kick things off. And the quote that he said about that is something that we’ve heard quite a bit, and that is the path to innovation begins with curiosity, innovate or die. And I’m not gonna lie, as a former mba, former mba, I still have an mba. As an mba.

Yasmine (00:57):
I kind of love that quote because one of my favorite favorite books in business school was Michael Porter’s, like Five Forces Theory about you know, how innovation has to happen in businesses. And, you know, the classic example is like Netflix and how Blockbuster was given the chance to buy them. And they said no, and now they’re left in the dust. And Netflix is like this huge streaming company that has sparked other more traditional media companies to also launch into the streaming space like Disney. Disney Plus we know has been you know, a pretty big success until recently where kind of lost quite a bit of money under the helm of the former Disney c e o, Bob Chapa. But I feel like innovation was key to how Bob ier ran Disney and really transformed it. I mean, when he came in, in 2005, Disney was in trouble.

Yasmine (01:58):
We’ve gone through some of the challenges that Disney had in earlier episodes and we’ll link them down below in the show notes. But he came in and basically took a company that was starting to crumble and completely revolutionized it. Disney’s theme parks grew, those like hit movies came back and all of this happened under Bob I’s Home because he knew that in order for Disney to really grow it had to look beyond what it was. And that included a lot of IP acquisitions. We talked about how he bought, or he, not he bought, but he led the purchase of Marvel. The greater partnership with Apple and Pixar Lucas Film and Fox. The, that was his brainchild and that was what he led to like really grow Disney’s ip. So, you know, we have more than just our Disney princesses. He really expanded Disney’s presence across the globe. It took him two decades to build Disney Shanghai. And he knew that if Disney sort of went along the current path of just like animation and you know, theme parks that would only go so far. They needed a new audience. I mean, back then people thought once they kids became teenagers, they were a little bit too old for Disney. Nicole, I don’t think you ever really felt that way, but, you know, we’re, we’re of a, we’re a different breed. We’re a different breed

Nicole (03:24):
Of people. Yeah. Yeah. And we also, you know, everyone has different kids who value different things. Yeah. My, my niece and nephew are all about the roller coasters and my son wants to do scavenger hunts for Chippendale in Epcot. So . Yeah. Very different personality types. That’s all good. And there’s times for different things. Absolutely. I think what’s interesting about curiosity when it comes to Bob Iger is that it also pairs with focus, which is what we talked about mm-hmm. in the last episode because he really just adamantly said he had, you know, three strategic objectives for the company and that was it. And everything that he, every decision he made, every, everything that he asked people to do revolved around that. And one of them was about basically content, you know? Mm-Hmm. , making sure that they have that storytelling library to pull from.

Nicole (04:14):
So the curiosity side of things comes in when you sit in a room and it’s like, alright, what, you know, if our goal is to, you know, have the best storytelling and the best stories ever, what can we do? And, you know, someone throws a dart out there and they’re like, that would be amazing if we had Star Wars. And then it, it goes from there, you know? And so the playfulness and curiosity, you can still have focus barriers around it. But I think some of this is why Bob Chap was, you know, taken down from the role of CEOs because

Yasmine (04:52):
He was not a storyteller.

Nicole (04:53):
He was not a storyteller. And also one of the first things he did when he became c e o was to centralize. And basically, if you’re ever worked in corporate, like you’re trying to make the org chart a little bit leaner and just have straight up lines instead of having all these branches everywhere. And so he was trying to consolidate a lot of the creative teams. And the easiest way to stifle creativity is to make everyone feel fearful that they’re gone next. That they have to choose safe ideas or, you know, they won’t be the chosen one. All of that, I feel like we’re starting to get into fairness, which is the next one. Yes. But they all go hand in hand. And that curiosity, that playfulness, that creativity was stifled under the previous short term c be because he brought that pessimism into the workplace of, you know, have a hit or we’re not doing it.

Nicole (05:51):
He made some interesting choices with what to release on Disney Plus versus the theater. And, you know, there was that lawsuit with Scarlet Johansen. Like, those things aren’t great for pr and it also sends a very clear message to your creative team that, you know, you’re not important to the business anymore cuz I’m just gonna do what I want and accept the lawsuits. And that definitely messes with people. And so, you know, getting into fairness, which is his next point, he talks about how strong leadership embodies the fair and decent treatment of people. That empathy is essential. People commit honest mistakes, they deserve second chances. And judging people harshly just gives fear and anxiety and discourages communication and innovation. And so we, we just kind of talked about that, where like, you know, centralizing, firing, getting rid of some key staff members just breeds that fear and anxiety.

Nicole (06:50):
And the other thing with fairness, I think we talked about this a little bit in the last episode, where you have very strong fans of this brand. Whether it be the entertainment side or the park side or, or whatever may be. And it’s, it was an interesting choice to kind of punish your biggest fans with the park changes mm-hmm. in lieu of something else. And so it, it, it was a very interesting time to be someone who liked Disney. I I obviously have friends who are big Disney people and we would talk about how, you know, I’ve never thought about selling my D V C before, but I’m kind of considering cuz I’m just not seeing an end to all of this nickel and di I believe we actually mentioned this on an episode back in October before the Bob Iger news, we were talking about how, you know, we’re just feeling like the magic is gone, that we’re just a paycheck to, to this brand.

Nicole (07:55):
We’re not, you know, celebrated in any way. I know the pandemic had some things to do with that, but there were things called gosh, what are they called? Those magic nights that they have for DV c owners. And it’s just like, you know, after the park closes, you can get three hours in a park and they have a couple of rides open and you get a free dinner voucher, and things like that. Were going away. And, you know, they don’t guarantee parks for Moonlight Magic and other events just by buying a timeshare. Absolutely. But it really took a swung to, is this fair? I feel like this is the one-sided relationship right now.

Yasmine (08:32):
I just love to talk about another aspect of fairness that we really saw come into play under Bob ER’s leadership, and that is the inclusivity mm-hmm. that Disney is accepting to anyone and everyone, no matter what family you come from, whether they’re like, you know, a traditional nuclear family or not. You know, we saw Disney come out with a bit of a, a pride collection a couple years ago and, you know, you could say it’s just rainbows, but they were really, you know, taking a stance and showing their support for Disney fans regardless of, you know, who you love. We’re also seeing it with the exploration of different cultures. You know, over the past couple years we’ve been seeing different, like princesses of different ethnicities and really diving into their cultures in a more like genuine manner In term, like with Encanto for example. You know, we’ve,

Nicole (09:29):
Well, you know, there’s still problematic elements to it. Absolutely. We could talk about how Tiana is a frog for half of the movie . But they are redoing Splash Mountain. It’s actually closed as of the other day, two day two or three days ago. They, it was down and they’re reaming that, and so I hope they do a really great job with the theme. One of the stories he talks about is Black Panther and giving the green light to that project and having that project move forward. I mean, he was repeatedly told that no one would go to the box office to see a black superhero. Like people actually said that to him. And he said, no, they will. And, you know, green lighted that project and it went on to be one of the biggest Marvel sellers there were. And, you know, whether he saw that as dollar signs or the right thing to do, he talks so much about fairness, integrity, which we’ll get into later.

Nicole (10:21):
And just, you know, being a decent person because that’s what will translate to your business, you know mm-hmm. you’re not gonna say, oh, they’re a really good person, but they’re, you know, their business is terrible. Like they’re ex exploiting people or something. Mm-Hmm. , they usually don’t go hand in hand because if your values are here, you, you can’t change your values so much that the company is completely different. Absolutely. So I think that that’s just like great examples of how he’s bringing fairness into everything and, you know, how can we do this in our businesses?

Yasmine (11:01):
There’s so many ways. I think like, one is if you’re looking at, just like inclusivity is really thinking about like your hires and ensuring that you’re bringing in people from different backgrounds and perspectives that can add so much richness to how you move forward with your business. Because different perspectives really help you look at things through a different lens and help you improve your product, improve how you’re delivering your product and messaging to your audience. I mean, I’m, I’m gonna throw in like just a couple of stats for Disney, but you know, 50% of their employees worldwide are women, which is pretty sweet. 49% of their series leads and regulars are people of color. And we’ve been seeing that more and more, especially with like Disney Plus. We’re seeing a lot more representation on those channels. And 46% of their US employees are people of color. So I really feel like they’re not just, you know, doing it for the sake of saying like, we’re inclusive. Like they’re, they’re walking the walk.

Nicole (12:03):
I think they recognize that they’re a brand about storytelling and mm-hmm. , you can’t tell just one specific a

Yasmine (12:10):

Nicole (12:10):
Percent subset of human beings stories. Right. I mean, the whole focus on getting Shanghai Disney was a huge talk about all of this, where it was making something authentically Chinese but distinctly Disney. Or maybe it was the other way around, but it, it was about translating the Disney Parks experience to a different culture in a way that was respectful, appreciated, fun for them. You know, just the different belief systems that people have, the haunted mansion is completely different in China and there’s a reason for that. Culturally. They really made sure to think about that in a holistic view. And I, and I just wanna add this quote he has, which I think is so important. I mean, this may, again, this is probably my scars from working in corporate, but he says, when hiring, try to surround yourself with people who are good in addition to being good at what they do, genuine decency and instinct for fairness and openness and mutual respect is a rarer commodity in business than it should be.

Nicole (13:14):
And you should look for it in the people you hire and nurture it in the people who work for you. And I think that is so important. Even as small business owners, making sure we have fair hiring practices, even if it’s just a contractor, we’re paying them fairly. We’re paying living wages, you know, we’re not taking their labor and using it to make multimillions, but paying our staff 5,000 a year, you know, it’s, it’s just being fair and nurturing that in your team and yourself. I I just think it means a success, more successful long-term operation than just a get rich quick mm-hmm. type of scheme.

Yasmine (13:57):
A hundred percent. So this kind of leads us into the next point, which is thoughtfulness. And, you know, we can talk about thoughtfulness in terms of just like consideration, fairness, but in the context that Bob Iger mentioned, it was about taking time to really like, think things through with intention and to develop informed opinions. And again, I feel like we saw this in play very recently with some of the big decisions that he made where he took the time to really like listen and review the feedback of, you know, what ultimately makes Disney money, which is its audience, right? And think about the long term impacts to make these decisions to roll back some very unpopular either like slightly pre pandemic or post pandemic things that rolled out like the, we talked about this in the previous episode, but it was parking at resource.

Yasmine (14:54):
You had to pay about 2015 to 25 bucks a night to park your car. That’s gone. It’s free if you’re staying on site. He’s rolling back the limitations around park hopping before you couldn’t really go to park until like one or 2:00 PM Now it’s being rolled back to 11:00 AM as of February 4th. Another big thing is Disney has been increasing their chicken prices, like it feels like nonstop, literally. So pandemic, like, I feel like it used to be like once a year, I, it might still be, I mean, I’m sorry I didn’t fact check this before like saying this point, but like, it honestly feels like, like every like couple months it’s like, oh, prices are increasing again. Better get your tickets and looking at the price of tickets, for example, that I paid in just before 2020 and now it’s like almost 50% more expensive, which is wild.

Yasmine (15:45):
And I know, I know there’s inflation going up, but like not 50% inflation, especially considering Disney Parks has been more profitable post pandemic than it was even pre pandemic. It’s wild. So one thing that he decided to do was not necessarily roll back prices. Cause I think that’s a little bit hard to do, like once you release them to take make tickets cheaper immediately. But the days in which Disney tickets are going to be at their cheapest, they’re expanding that significantly. So rather than it being like, you know, 30 days out of the year that you can get tickets starting at like 1 0 5, it’s being expanded to like 90 to a hundred days. So he’s really trying to, you know, bring back that sense of inclusivity and fairness. So that Disney really can be for everyone. And he’s taking these ti he’s take, lemme do backtrack and it might seem like it was like, you know, a rush decision. But keep in mind Bob Iger was chairman this entire time, so he’s been taking in this feedback. He’s been really looking at how these changes have been impacting the Disney community. And while the decision seems swift now that he’s CEO again, I’m sure that they’ve been percolating for quite a while.

Nicole (17:00):
Yeah. And it, it talks about I mean the thing with thoughtfulness is he says it’s so underrated, right? Mm-Hmm. . And he actually said in an interview years ago when he stepped down as c e o, that he resigned for a very specific reason. There was just a light bulb moment he had and he was like, it’s time he had tried to resign before they renegotiated another year, and then it turned into two. And it it’s something you so rarely see in leadership. And he said that he just started listening less to other people. And whether that was cockiness or ego or the fact that he had so, so many successful deals along the way, or just that he had been CEO for 15, 16 years and he had gotten complacent. He said, I used to listen to people, people a lot more.

Nicole (17:49):
I used to defer to others. And I just started listening less. And he said, you know, that was an early sign to him that it was time and it wasn’t like the only reason why he decided to resign, but it was a contributing factor, right? And so I think that’s such a level of thoughtfulness to like sit back and take a moment of like, okay, I’ve been leading the charge and I’ve kind of been telling people like, this is what we need to do. And you know, when you are running a creative business, you can’t be making all the decisions. And so I, I think thoughtfulness is huge there. And this also plays into integrity, right? Not only did he have those feelings personally about why he should resign because he was like noticing that maybe there’s some things going on here and maybe it’s time, but he actually said it in an interview.

Nicole (18:34):
Like he actually stood up and said, you know, I want to be a good leader. I want to be remembered as a good leader. I make mistakes too, and it’s time, it’s time to move on because I’m just not at the point where I can be leading this creative company anymore. And the other part of integrity that I think came across really strongly and his book was about the high quality of the storytelling mm-hmm. you know, when he took over Disney from the last Bob when he had took it over, they were in a point where they had had multiple flops in the box office back to back to back. And Pixar was really what was saving the brand. And Pixar felt like they were the ones saving the brand, and that’s why the relationship with Disney started going sour. And so, you know, he talks about that high standard of quality quantum, that timeless feeling.

Nicole (19:30):
And, you know, that was his number one goal with the brand. And he started in 2005 as c e o. And you know, if you think back to maybe the last 10, 15 years, you’ve got Frozen and Moana and I mean just so many blockbuster timeless stories in the last 15, 20 years. And I think that it just goes to that high quality product and treating people with high integrity. And this is also why we’re starting to see some of those rollbacks from the decisions that Chap made. Mm-Hmm. . So he talks about integrity being like this how you look at your business in the long term, right? It’s knowing who you are, understanding what’s right, what’s wrong, and it’s really about trusting your instincts to lead the business forward, that you’re not putting the business in a place that is not going to be in a few years.

Nicole (20:28):
And when you look at some of the decisions traffic made, they were very short term decisions that if continued could have brought the brand to a different place in the long term. And I think the board saw that and they saw this is not the direction that we want this brand to be heading into. We need to course correct and get back to where we we were before. Because even though it was time for a new c e o, that path was the path to success that we wanna see. That’s the path we feel like we’re connected to and that this brand stands for. And so, you know, they just were going in two very different directions and they needed to course correct and talk about a brand like Disney making an overnight decision almost , it was like a weekend decision to not only get rid of the c e o that they had just extended a contract to a contract renewal, but to bring back the one before it.

Nicole (21:21):
If there is no case study big enough for you as a small business owner to say it’s okay to make mistakes, to admit it publicly and course correct publicly. Just look at that. I mean, that is insane to think about how Disney just flipped a switch over a weekend. News was breaking out on a Sunday night on Twitter. I mean, and they told cast members first. They told them before they told the media. I mean, when you think about that, like it’s okay to make mistakes and move on, that’s such a level of integrity that people need to be aspiring to. Absolutely. All right. We hope that you loved this Ted talk around all of Bob ER’s leadership lessons. We barely scratched the surface and I don’t even know that we did an amazing job doing it, but hopefully something in these two episodes spurred some sort of like, yes, rallying cry, I can do this, I can leave my business.

Nicole (22:12):
These are, you know, things that, you know, I mean, he quotes Brene Brown on the book mm-hmm. , if you, these are all such related storytellers and concepts, please just go read his book or watch his masterclass. You will learn so much. You’ll, you might not think you’re working on your business by doing it, but you are. And I, I don’t recommend books lately and it’s easy to, you know, tongue in cheek look at things and be like, oh, this is, you know, it was probably ghost written or whatever. You know what, even if it was, it was his words coming outta his mouth and sitting and watching his masterclass. It was his words coming outta his mouth. He didn’t look like he memorized this stuff. It looked like he was sharing these stories that he knew well. And he has an entire history in broadcast and TV and storytelling. So he knows how to tell a story. So it’s, it’s a good non-fiction book that I think will really get you thinking. We have one more episode left to this season y’all. So make sure you join us for that one. Subscribe on iTunes, send us a DM on Instagram @pixiedustandprofits. We would love to hear from you. And we have some, a special last episode of the season and we’ll see you real soon.

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Episode 77: Leadership Lessons from Bob Iger: Part Two

Feb 7, 2023

In part 2 of our series on leadership lessons from Bob Iger, we dig into what curiosity, fairness, integrity, and thoughtfulness look like as a business owner. 

If you missed part one, you can catch it here! There, we talk about some of Iger’s greatest achievements and how his unwavering optimism played a role in forging some of the most successful years in all of Disney history. 

Download Episode 77 transcript right here

Text us! 207-203-6769 

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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):

Nicole (14:13):
Do you like that

Yasmine (14:14):

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):

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

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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):

Nicole (27:43):

Yasmine (27:43):

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):

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