071: Making Magic is Less Complicated Than You Think: Interview with Lee Cockerell [Podcast]

Disney theme parks are filled with magic. You can see it in the faces of every kid and kid at heart. But the secret to making Disney magic is not as mysterious as you might think.

071: Making Magic is Less Complicated Than You Think: Interview with Lee Cockerell

It all comes down to people. By hiring the right people, Disney establishes a strong foundation of talented, passionate people who deliver a signature experience for their visitors. But a slow, intentional hiring process is only the beginning. There’s still training, culture creation, and taking risks.

Our guest today was the mastermind behind all of that for many, many years.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Lee Cockerell and I talk about his journey from working as a banquet waiter to ending his career as the Head of Operations for Disney theme parks in the U.S. Listen in as we talk about how Lee used a positive attitude and self-discipline to move forward in life.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email, please click here).

You can also listen via iTunes or on Stitcher.

Clarity is everything

Any parent knows the frustration of repeating yourself to your kids. Everything from cleaning their room, to remembering to flush the toilet, to keeping their elbows off the table. Retention requires repetition.

However, if your communication isn’t clear it doesn’t matter how often you repeat yourself. The same thing applies to our work.

At Disney theme parks you rarely see a confused guest. There are maps, signs, and cast members everywhere. Each attraction is clearly marked and guests know where to find food and fun. Clarity is key.

BONUS: Get the full interview transcript here.

Show highlights

In this episode, Lee and I discuss:

  • Starting a new job with zero experience
  • Launching a Disney Park in Paris without speaking French
  • The immeasurable benefits of traveling and living abroad
  • How changing your environment leads to person growth
  • Two essential characteristics of versatility
  • The detrimental impact of a bad attitude
  • Cultivating discipline as a competitive advantage
  • Creating a legacy of character
  • The positive correlation between hard work and satisfaction
  • Avoiding survival mode and the fear of getting stuck
  • An integral key to forging a successful career path
  • The courage to step up and take the risks
  • Intentionally spending time on activities that provide value
  • Three truths to unlocking time management magic
  • Big struggles of time management for teams
  • Clarity as the secret sauce

Quotes and Takeaways

  • Do the hard things. It will make life easier for you.” —Lee Cockerell
  • You don’t realize how much you don’t know until you get into a new situation” —Lee Cockerell
  • If you have a good attitude and you’re organized, you can get by for a long time” —Lee Cockerell
  • Learn to have resilience, be organized, and keep your promises.” —Lee Cockerell
  • A life without risks is a shame. The fun is out there on the edge.” —Lee Cockerell
  • Be a person who doesn’t have to know everything.” —Lee Cockerell
  • Manage like a mother. They’re tough, but they’re looking out for you.” —Lee Cockerell


BONUS: Get the full interview transcript here.

What risks do you need to take? What hard work do you need to stick with to become better? Share in the comments