Book Review: Creating Magic

I love reading leadership books. So when I had the opportunity to read a leadership book from one of the former top executives at Disney, I knew it would be a great read.


Yesterday I finished the book, “Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney,” by Lee Cockerell. I really enjoyed this book because it provided unique insight into leadership from one of my favorite companies in the world. Below are the highlights from each of the 10 strategies that Lee talks about.

Strategy #1: Remember, Everyone Is Important

Lee introduces the concept of RAVE (Respect, Appreciate and Value Everyone). Good leaders create an environment that makes every employee and every customer feel special. Give everyone, regardless of his or her position, the opportunity to be heard.

Strategy #2: Break the Mold

Leaders, as well as all employees, must question everything. This does not mean being argumentative. It simply means asking if there is another way to perform a task, for the betterment of everyone involved.

Strategy #3: Make Your People Your Brand

Finding and keeping great employees is critical in leading excellent companies. Lee’s mantra: “I knew I had mastered the art of hiring once every person who reported to me was someone I would gladly report to myself.”

Strategy #4: Create Magic Through Training

The more an employee understands and appreciates his or her own mission and vision in the company, the more their individual “usefulness” factor will be enhanced.

Strategy #5: Eliminate Hassles

In order for an organization to run well, leaders must ensure all rules and policies make sense for all involved. Leaders welcome problems, as they are opportunities to make better policies, procedures and processes.

Strategy #6: Learn the Truth

Truth is defined as “complete information and accurate, pertinent facts.” Leaders will benefit from learning how to use feedback to access meaningful, necessary truths for all decision making. Leaders listen not only to words, but to nonverbal messages.

Strategy #7: Burn the Free Fuel

Lee uses the ARE (Appreciation, Recognition, Encouragement) method. It’s a cost-free and invaluable resource; one begins each day with a new “full tank.” This method helps employers and employees alike foster greater productivity, which is important in any industry.

Strategy #8: Stay Ahead of the Pack

Leaders need to be “knowledge sponges” by filling the gaps, keeping up with colleagues, and expanding horizons. Nowhere is this more important than within fields where change is rapid and cutting-edge techniques appear almost daily.

Strategy #9: Be Careful What You Say and Do

Leaders should always display passion and commitment by maintaining a positive attitude. Set the bar high, and personally live up to every standard you set. Know when to step back and let others lead. Remember: leaders are always “onstage”!

Strategy #10: Develop Character

Leaders should know what they stand for, and live by those values every minute of every day. Be kind, sensitive and respectful to all, even when you are coaching and counseling them on their performance. Create a diverse workplace, and then respect the differences in everyone around you.

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