The Ride of a Lifetime | Robert Iger

The Ride of a Lifetime | Robert Iger

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

Weird observation. The first time I’ve been reading the book, I didn’t notice anything noteworthy of my attention. But now, when I am reading it for DoDo pizza book club I see small details, which with long enough thinking turn into fascinating points of discussion.

🎨 Impressions

How I Discovered It

Who Should Read It?

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

📒 Ideas

The sheer scale of a planning

  • The scale of Shanghai DL scares the shit out of me.
    • 6 billion to build.
    • 14 000 workers.
    • Thousands of singers, dancers and actors.
  • How people make such ever lasting decisions.
    • What kind of thinking is used here?
    • Management, owner, or perpetrator?
    • [[Прочь из менеджмента! Если не знаешь этих правил — Константин Мухортин#^6a27f8]]
    • I understand planning and doing are done separately, but how to reach a decision. What thought patterns do we have at every stage.
      • Can the mind be rewired to make decisions of such scale consistently?
      • How many levels of decision do you have?
        • Strategic.
        • Tactical.
        • Operational.
      • On what level do you operate. And what decisions exist on every level, and what is your influence over them?

Withstand the turbulence

  • Iger mentions that he doesn’t worry too much about failures and misfortunes.
    • Due to his upbringing in a chaotic family. How chaotic it had been?
    • Also he talks about discipline and a combination of brain patterns and will to act.

Bad news is a problem, no more

  • He tends to work with a piece of bad news as a problem, that can be broken to edible chunks.
    • And his way, is to work with something that he has influence over.
    • Like circle of responsibility and circle of influence.
      • It is sometimes called span of influence.
      • [[Intermediate Objectives map#^dd17fb]]
    • What elements are lying in your span of control and responsibility and what in your span of control?

An alligator and a shooter

  • He said that he hid his rising sense of horror.
    • Maybe and maybe not because people from such position are usually empathy blind.
    • I can’t even understand him, like I am a CEO of a Disney, and something horrible happened, what me reaction could be?
    • Will I panic, or worry? I had been there, the sense of constant anxiety followed everywhere.
    • Imminent doom, and unavoidedness of something bad.
    • Often something bad happened, and it stressed me even more.
    • Catastrophisation doesn’t work on such a scale. [[How to Think Like a Roman Emperor — Donald J Robertson#Inoculating against fear Catastrophisation]], or does it?
    • How do you cope with stress of this scale? Let’s think of techniques that might benefit everyone.

Principles to nurture the good and manage the bad

  • Iger, didn’t believe at first that this book could be helpful to people.
    • So as a result he was reluctant to write in the first place, and had been afraid to even talk about it.
    • But at last it had seen the light of the sun, and we all can read. Though in my opinion, his rules are quite obvious one.
    • Optimism.
    • Courage.
      • [[Courage is Calling Fortune favors the bold]]
    • Focus.
    • Decisiveness.
    • Curiousity.
    • Fairness.
      • About empathy and second chance for those who has committed and hones mistake.
    • Thoughtfulness.
      • [[Harry Potter and the methods of rationality#Chapter 25 Hold off on Proposing a solution]]
      • [[think about familiar concepts in a strange way]]
    • Authenticity.
      • ???
    • The relentless pursuit of perfection.
    • Integrity.
      • Connection of the two: people of organization and their product.
      • A sense of belongness.
      • The way you do anything is the way you do everything.
  • Some of them remind me 12 virtues of rationality.

Everyone has a wish to wake up early. But why?

  • Iger explains that this habit came to his life, from the period when he managed the news department.
    • And still with him after many years.
    • I have similar situation, after quitting GPN I kept a habit of early riser. It gives time and much needed time alone to think, and do some creative work.
  • Like now, I am rereading a book, thinking and transferring notes and ideas.
    • This period must be structured. Otherwise it will turn into a time waster.
    • [[Deep Work#^a04d41]]
  • Maybe have a task of planning the day or a short period of the most productive time of the day?

We are changed by environment not the other way around

  • Bob said that working in sports, has changed him forever.
    • Made him more sophisticated, since they travelled a lot, talked to influencers and important people.
    • Driving in expensive cars through Monaco.
  • But in what way working in DoDo have changed you?
  • Time has influence on the job. Innovate or die.
    • How often do you embrace technological advancements?
    • In what way you revolutionize what you do and how you do?

Strive for perfection

Maximum simplicity, leads to perfection.
– Jiro
  • How can such simple thing as sushi taste something so complex.
    • This is the hand of the master, Jiro. A man who made sushi his life.
  • The relentless pursuit of perfection look like Jiro before stall.
    • Everything must be perfect, the temperature of the rice, every movement of the hands, the way he holds a brush when he covers sushi with sauce.
  • What makes your work perfect?
  • What perfection looks like?
  • [[What is rationality#^4416a7]]

Excellence and fairness don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
– B. Iger

Managing is a hard thing to do, managing talent is even harder [[#Be humble to yourself and others]]

  • When your company consists only of talents, you have to find ways of managing that benefit company and keeps talent free.
    • Netflix achieved it through radical candor, a sense of ownership and translucent feedback.
    • What are the ropes for managing talent? In what way is it different from ordinary people?
    • What kind of tools must be used to manage effectively and be in certain level of control?

Life pivot. To be or not to be with the company

  • Have you ever noticed all crucial points in your life?
    • Like when happened something after which nothing will never be as usual.
    • I am thinking about my life, maybe it had been the moment when I parted ways with a member of my team under the pressure from senior manager, though we had different views. I didn’t stand up for her, didn’t fight, long enough and hard enough.
    • Not only that, but I can’t remember my condition, back then. Was it because I lack energy or apathy has already hit, but it, as far as I feel had been the straw that broke my back and I quit.
    • Everything worked out excellently for everyone, me included, but this was a turning point in my life.
    • I can recognize in only retrospectively, not prospectively, as many things in life are.
    • I am leaning on the pillar of my life, and when it crumbles, usually I crumble too.
      • Like lead people, and protect people.
      • Dennis, from AMC, has been newly assigned top executive, and he didn’t show omniknowledge, he asked questions and opened the road to those who knew better than him.
        • He was guided by understanding who he really is, understanding of his personal limitations and clear view of good and bad.
        • Decency and professional competitiveness are not mutually exclusive.
  • Life makes pivots only to those who do not actively oppose it.
    • If you get an opportunity, seize it and use it at full.
    • If you are offered a job, that you previously though as out of your league, go for it.
    • Do things that test your limits, unfamiliar, do uncomfortable work, sit hateful meetings, check your limits.
    • When you do such things for long enough, you’ll learn to carry your shield and not being carried on it.
    • You hold the head high and just do, without moaning and whining about the fairness of life.
    • Life is an adventure, if you don’t choose adventures path, then you are not really living.

Be humble to yourself and others

  • Humility is the only way.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to pay attention to the right stuff.
    • We are too busy with writing and talking, that we forget about thinking.
    • Like Iger, in his talks with Stu, who dissected scripts while skimming.
    • Iger had been dumbfounded when Stu did it instantly.
      • He just knew, to which part, to pay attention.
      • It comes with experience in reading and listening.
      • That’s why it is essential to develop an ability to really see and hear through the noise the crucial information.
      • And the most important parts are the quietest.
  • What to pay attention? Where attention of DoDo is directed at the moment?

Innovate or die

  • Everything is connected. Like just today I have been working with ideas of innovation horizon and the topic emerged in Iger’s book.
  • Innovation is a risky process, sometimes it works itself into something great, but most of the time the process fails the creators.
    • But it could be an excuse for not innovating and not risking.
    • Better to take risk and fail, than not take risks at all.
    • The same idea had the owner of the business from Kahneman’s experiment.
  • Innovation is a tricky procedure that demands often disruption of balanced systems.
    • Like a pond that is closed from every side with mountains. It’s always peaceful and quiet, suddenly an earthquake erupts and one mountain crumbles and behind it you see a blue ocean.
    • It’s ok to want to stay a pond, but better to merge with the ocean and become an ocean.
    • For it we have to dig and work.
    • And in peaceful oaseses lots of friction is generated by tradition.
    • In the last stream from Dorofeev a girl said the same about KPI, that in a sense modern motivational system are not aligned with company goals, but small number of companies are bold enough to destroy the system.
    • Companies fail to innovate because of the tradition that generates so much friction every step of the way.

Creators are a jittering crowd

  • Be mindful about delivering feedback.
    • Typically, they are touchy about their work.
    • That’s because creativity is not a science, it’s exclusively subjective process.
    • The reason to that, it’s not a commonplace thinking.
    • [[Creative thinking is not a commonplace thinking]]

Show actions, not words

  • Even if you have a mighty great idea, there is no use in it, until something has come out of it.
    • So if you think it is risky and not risk, then it means the idea actually is not so good.
    • The worthy idea always deserves a risk and usually it’s better to take risk than not to risk at all.
    • Better to fail than to play safe.
  • What risks do you face daily? Do you take them? Is there existential risk for your company yourself. What is your attitude towards it?
  • The same is true about any endevour, even metaphysical, such as philosophy.

Trombone oil is bad of business

  • No matter how big is your idea, make sure it brings bread on the table at the end of the day.
    • Trombone oil is a lofty business with low competition environment and low entrance threshold.
    • Why not dive into it and become the biggest manufacturer in the world?
    • The thing is, that the world needs only a few quarts a year.
    • Great example of actionable feedback.
    • It got me thinking, why it was impossible to provide the same level of candor to Ovitz?
      • Actually, in what way it could be delivered that he could see in the end that there is something dysfunctional in his management style?
      • Culture of business is all over trombone oil production.
      • The world doesn’t need it at all.
    • The piece of paper became an artifact of self reflection and contemplation of the outcomes of difficult future projects.

Respect and treasure your time and time of others

  • The straw that broke the back of executive had become nightmarish meeting routine.
    • Ovitz couldn’t be relied on. Meeting after meeting had been cancelled or ruined by his behaviour.
    • Being busy is not the same as doing your job. Management is science.
    • It as precise as math and as hard as hauling sacks in the port.
      • Managing people is always hard.
    • Do not neglect your work and pull your weight. Otherwise, you’ll become ballast yourself, and usually ballast is cut off in the end. This fate didn’t pass Ovitz.
    • I had the same example of a person who created visibility of boiling action on the surface, but below is had been as cold as in an ice cave.
      • Now I am thinking what kind of feedback could be given to a person, so he would have listened?

Ask hard questions

  • Stoics has a meditation routine, which routinely asks you hard questions.
    • [[How to Think Like a Roman Emperor — Donald J Robertson#^c0857a]]
    • [[The Practicing Stoic#^7cfc6b]]
    • Business also has some questions to ask:
      • What’s the problem that I need to solve?
      • Does this solution make sense?
      • If I am feeling some doubt, why?
      • Am I doing for sound reason, or am I motivated by something personal?
    • Almost the same as searching for the third alternative.
    • If you avoid asking hard questions or stalling them, it only means that you are afraid of answers.
      • Or blinded by your needs.
      • Don’t hope that something will work out for itself. It will eventually, but not in your favour.
      • Even if it did before, there would be some point when facts stack not to your advantage.
      • Pull the weight and do your job, don’t create the visibility of work.

Get the best out of your ambitions without vision are counterproductive

  • They keep you in place, hinder the progress (professional and personal).
    • As a leader keep an eye for those around you, who are eager to be risen, not the noisy type.
    • Give them something to care and do under supervision.
    • As long as the position they care about or future prospects do not disturb them.
  • Don’t allow ambition to bypass the opportunity.
    • Opportunity is a lifeline of and ambition.
    • If it doesn’t provide, means to fulfill the ambition, then you’ve chosen the wrong aspiration.
    • Opportunity is the driving force behind your successes.
    • The same could be said about habits, personal identity.
      • Habits and new identity emerges, only when your opportunity in physical and digital space allow it.
      • Only after you matured enough intellectually.
      • [[Atomic Habits#^f81b07]] a tangle of elements of the system. Can we build similar that support ambitions and opportunity?
  • Important to find balance between ambitions and opportunity
    • Do the work you have at the moment.
    • Be patient, track down opportunities.
    • Any senior manager must nurture this kind of people in his circle. Balanced perpetrators and ambitious, hungry for responsibility prospects.
    • Avoid spending energy on those clamoring around and noise personalities.
    • M. Ovitz?

Basics of management of hard people

  • It’s not an easy feat to enlist people to your cause.
    • Moving people from one camp to another is a science.
    • Which not many people understand.
    • Arguments and good explanation should be enough, but occasionally, they are not enough.
    • Because a person can be difficult. He is either talented or stubborn with certain influence in the topic.
    • Democracy is good in during the time of tranquility, but when we can have such a time? Only in the grave.
  • Working through people’s reservations and concerns is a heavy duty of any manager, but sometimes (often than not), we have little or no time at all.
    • It could be moments of crisis, urgency.
    • At these moments, it really comes to what you believe is right.
    • Democratic methods are good for morale, but bad and crisis management.
    • Shut up and do your thing is the approach during the rough moments. Even in the face of disagreement, it’s better to force people to do, then face losses and consequences of inaction.
    • [[Чем выше риск тем жестче коммуникация]].

Details as important as big picture

  • Every person you meet is a teacher, that provides valuable lessons, even though in the end it might turn ugly.
    • Michael, the CEO of Disney animation in 1984–2004 taught Iger the importance of seeing perspective without losing details.
    • What’s important, pattern of intricate complexity of details.
    • There is no small detail in business, especially such as Disney.
    • Everything leads to everything, and when you have trouble on one side, interconnectedness brings trouble to another side of the complexity web.
    • When I fired people from retail, then HR was stressed.
    • When we lacked a good training center, then the rate of firing increased, and HR was under even more pressure.
    • When HR didn’t provide enough staff for new stations, then retail had to move staff inside and outside the region and risk overtime.
  • Look at the big picture, but don’t miss small details, monitor connectedness and search for equilibrium.
    • [[Оргуправленческое мышление]] Shedrovitsky mentioned the need of balance between two types of managers. The same could be applied here, and in every domain of life.
  • What is balance in your line of work?

Pessimistic leader is retinueless

  • No matter that humanity exists thanks to our pessimistic world view.
    • No one for real doesn’t want to follow a dour leader.
    • It’s a task of leader to say the truth and set up the expectations for reality.
    • But it’s a bad trait to brighten the picture, on the eve of the crisis.
    • People and you should be able to steer away from rough circumstances.

Playing a good game with a bad hand

  • When a decision about him hasn’t been reached yet, and the line of succession on Disney stayed unclear.
    • Iger shown the spirit to confront his superiors and force them to do what must be done, even if he won’t be named as the next CEO.
    • What was it? Strategy or shrewdness?
  • Never blame the prior leader.
    • He didn’t exactly defend Michael before the board, but nonetheless he was able to say his mind and the very idea that struck home is that everything that is happening in any company, is not about past mistakes.
    • It’s about the future, obviously we can elaborate on the past, but we don’t get a do-over, so what’s the point?
    • Better to make a bold move and stir the company away from the cliff.

Prioritization could be done of precious few rather than a broad vague

  • In some books, I’ve read that priorities, before it became mainstream, has been only singular.
    • You couldn’t get more than one priority.
    • But now, it’s possible on paper, but impossible in real life.
    • [[Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less#^054cab]]
    • So when you choose to set up a succession of important tasks, choose one.
    • Iger picked three, and he did wisely. One of them has been Pixar, then Marvel and something else.
    • What are priorities of your company?

Respect not only your subordinates but superiors

  • It’s hard to go by the lesson, especially if superiors are stupid and cowardly enough to bring the company to its doom.
    • I had the same problem in my line of work.
    • But Iger suggest finding something to cling onto, like recognizing what a person needs, ultimately it’s respect and nothing more.
    • Bring it to the table and all problems will be solved
    • [[Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes are High#^59923b]] lesson all over again.

Boldness is an act, not a condition

  • If you wish to cooperate with people who regularly disrupt business not only their own but of the whole industries, like Steve Jobs, you have to demonstrate boldness in your every move and act.
    • And then you act in synchrony, which is important with bold people.
    • Be willing to take the risk. I actually think that disruptive attitude towards business came from his interaction with Jobs in his first acquisition.
  • With boldness, planning matter less than instincts, and instincts come from mistakes or from deep thinking.
    • The only thing certain is fuck-up, everything else is just luck.
    • No need to over plan, if you know the vector or place where you want to be, go for it.
      • Something along the way will occur, means to overcome obstacle emerge with the obstacles.
    • Even when you have dozens of cons, look for a couple of sound pros that could easily overweight the cons.
    • It’s a powerful way of thinking.
    • The strategy of Steve had always been [[#Innovate or die]] so he stuck to it and lived with it.
    • It’s like with traders who fret and worry with fluctuation of price.
      • If you have time proofed strategy, work with it and act accordingly, don’t change processes, in the face of changes.
      • If, on the other hand, you don’t believe in your strategy, then it is due time to change something.
      • Who can influence your strategy? Some role model you want to become, new identity or what?
      • Iger said that he wished for real to Steve to have and influence over Disney. And what about the rest of the businessmen?

Be ready to leave

  • Leave when you are on top. Have a back-up plan.
    • Create a failsafe mechanics from classical mistakes of the leader. Overconfidence.
    • Don’t be dismissive of others and opinions of others, take a look at multiple views.
    • It requires conscious effort.
    • Tell everyone that if they see you as dismissive or impatient or too rude, that they have to tell you about this.
    • And have a way out when you are the most effective. Accumulation of too much power brings trouble.

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