Robert Iger’s Ride of a Lifetime is a stereo-typical autobiography sprinkled with clichéd insights and dry stories. It does an okayish job in describing the challenges in the entertainment business, as Bob rises through the ranks to become the CEO of Disney. Going into the book, I expected to learn more about Bob’s management style along with the conflicts, but I didn’t expect:
- How the Pulse shooting could have inadvertently happened at Disney World
- Bob’s close friendship with Steve Jobs was an unusual curveball
- Writing an autobiography presents a good opportunity to be vulnerable and talk deeply about the different bad decisions one has made through their life. Bob was empathetic, but there were also significant passages in the book where I wished to see humility or credit given to lower ranking officials!
Although the majority of the management lessons were trite (take responsibility when you screw up, money isn’t everything, be an optimist etc.), I’d like to share a few which passed my originality sniff test:
- Value ability more than experience, and put people in roles that require more of them than they know they have in them.
- Micromanaging is underrated. Sweating the details can show how much you care.
- Hold on to your awareness of yourself, even as the world tells you how important and powerful you are.
In more than one way, Bob’s success at the helm of Disney can be attributed to his relationship building skills. This played a huge role in the Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Fox acquisitions. His other notable success was re-shifting the company’s focus from tried and tested licensing deals to their stand-alone streaming service. I’m pretty sure Bob did focus on improving Disney’s existing processes, but the book sure didn’t delve much into that (big bummer).