Book Notes #013 - The Ride of A Lifetime by Robert Iger.

Updated: May 1

Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐️

Topics: Non-Fiction - Business: Leadership, management & the media industry.

“I didn't want to be in the business of playing it safe. I wanted to be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness.

- Robert Iger (former CEO of the Walt Disney Company).


  • Main Ideas & Information - Good.

  • Examples & Stories - Great.

  • Engagement - Great


This book contains the lessons, stories and personal challenges of running The Walt Disney Company for 15 years as the CEO. Robert Iger shares his beginnings in the media industry, conversations he had with Steve Jobs when buying Pixard, George Lucas when buying Lucas Films and "Ike" Perlmutter when buying Marvel.



"The way you do anything is the way you do everything."

As a leader, you are the embodiment of your company.

What that means is that your values, your sense of integrity, decency and honesty are reflected in your company.

Take responsibility when you screw up. In work and in life. You'll be more respected and trusted by the people around you.

It's impossible to avoid mistakes; but it is possible to acknowledge them, learn from them, and set an example that it's okay to mess up as long as you make up for them.

If you trust your own instincts and treat people with respect, the company will come to represent the values you live by.

What people think of you is what they'll think of your company.


"There's no innovation if you operate out of fear of the new."

Too often, we lead from a place of fear rather than courage, stubbornly trying to protect our old ways of doing things.

It's hard to change old traditions. It takes courage.

"It means intentionally taking on short-term losses in the hope that a long-term risk will pay off.”

Routines and priorities will get disrupted and that's a big ask for anyone.

You are basically saying, don't worry about what has worked in the past, worry about this instead, even tho this is not certain that it will work.

Eventually, new models will take over and disrupt the old ones. So you have to embrace disruption rather than fear it.

“If you're in the business of making something, be in the business of making something great."


"My overall vision lacked clarity and inspiration. A companies culture is shaoed by a lot of things, but this is one of the most important ones.”

You have to convey your priorities clearly and repeatedly. This is what separates great managers from the rest.

"If leaders don't articulate their priorities clearly, then the people around them don't know what their own priorities should be." As a result, you waste.

  • Time.

  • Energy.

  • And capital.

"People in your organization suffer unnecessary anxiety because they don't know what they should be focused on."

Inefficiency sets in, frustration builds up, and morale sinks."

You can do a lot for the morale of the people around you by having a compelling vision for the future.

A compelling vision for the future is a clear message that says: This is where we want to be and this is how we are going to get there.


"As a leader you can't communicate pessimism to the people around you. It ruins morale.

No one can handle stress perfectly but optimism in a leader is vital, especially during challenging times.

  • Pesimissms lead to paranoia.

  • Which leads to defensiveness.

  • Which leads to risk aversion.

"The people you lead need to feel confident in your ability to focus on what matters, and not to operate from a place of defensiveness and self-preservation."

Optimism in a leader is about believing in yourself and your team's ability to get it done. The tone you set as a leader has an enormous effect on the people around you. No one wants to follow a pessimist.


"Perfection is the result of getting all the little things right."

The relentless pursuit of perfection in practice means a lot of things. But in essence, is a mindset you need to adopt.

"It's about creating an environment in which you refuse to accept mediocrity."

You instinctively push back against any excuses. such as "There's not enough time", or "I don't have the energy". It's about having the difficult conversations when no one wants to.

Is about forgetting that "good enough" is good enough, because sometimes, it isn't.

If you are asked to do something, exhaust every possible method to accomplish it. If you can't come up with anything. Find another way.

The endless pursuit of perfection means taking immense personal pride in the work you do. It means to have the instinct toward perfection and the work ethic to back it up.


  • "I've always woken early, and cherished those hours to myself before the rest of the world wake up." - Bob Iger.

  • "I didn't become a serious reader until I was in high school, but when I did finally fall in love with books, it was because of [my dad]." - Bob Iger.

  • "The worst thing you can do when entering a negotiation is to suggest or promise something because you know the other person wants to hear it, only to have reverse course later. You have to be clear about where you stand from the beginning." - Bob Iger.

  • "Excellence and fairness don't have to be mutually exclusive. Strive for perfection but always be aware of the pitfalls of caring only about the product and never the people". - Bob Iger.

  • "But being present for your people–and making sure they know that you're available to them–is so important for the morale and effectiveness of a company." - Bob Iger.

  • "Success has many fathers and failure is an orphan." - John Kennedy

  • "A few solid pros are more powerful than dozens of cons." - Steve Jobs

  • "To tell good stories, you need great talent." - Bob Iger.

  • "Of all the lessons I learned in the first year running prime time, the need to be comfortable with failure was the most profound. Not with the lack of effort but with the unavoidable truth that if you want innovation–and you should, always–you need to give permission to fail." - Bob Iger.

  • "It's not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood" - "The Man in the Arena" by Theodore Roosevelt

  • "A lot of companies acquire others without much sensitivity toward what they're really buying. They think they're getting physical assets or manufacturing assets or intellectual property (in some industries, that's more true than in others). But usually what they're really acquiring is people. In a creative business, that's where the value lies." - Bob Iger.


  • 1) Ask yourself: What's the problem I need to solve? Does this solution make sense? If I'm feeling some doubt why? Am I doing this for some other reason or am I motivated by something personal?

  • 2) When making decisions, make a list of pros and cons. Sometimes, a few pros are more important than a dozen cons.

  • 3) Trust your intuition; Your own sense of who you are and be guided by your sense of what is right and wrong. "If something doesn't feel right to you, it won't be right for you."


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