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The story from the leader of media empire

Posted May. 09, 2020 07:57,   

Updated May. 09, 2020 07:57


This book starts with a story on rather an unexpected incident, while readers would expect the first book written by Robert Iger, who is dubbed as the best CEO of Walt Disney Co. People would expect the leader of the world’s largest media conglomerate to start with a fairytale story like a Disney movie.

Rather than a memoir, “The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company” is closer in nature to a book on leadership and business strategy of the top manager, who spearheaded Walt Disney for its 15 boom years from 2005 to 2020, and who made excellent decisions whenever the company faced a crisis. Lying as the basis in the book is Iger’s principle, which anyone would wish to avoid at the moment of choice that determines the company’s fate, as well as sincerity, respect and truthfulness that obviously are the keys to the “company of happiness.” This is the principle that emerged from his sense of disdains and achievements. He learned them in person while overcoming challenges at the frontlines of business ever since he landed a job at ABC TV, which had been later taken by Walt Disney.

The most dramatic moment and crossroads in Walt Disney’s history is its acquisition of Pixar. The negotiations he had with Pixar’s leader, Steve Jobs, is the scene wherein his principle stood out most starkly. What convinced Steve Jobs, who wrote down disadvantages only from the merger for two hours on a white board measuring over 7 meters, was his understanding of what it felt like to see the company being taken over, and his promise that Robert Iger would keep Pixar’s unique culture and values. Through behind stories on successive episodes ranging from the takeovers of Marble, Lucasfilm, 21st Century Fox, and to the decision to give up Twitter, and to the launching of Disney Plus that unfolded breathtakingly dynamically, the book recites how Robert Iger managed not to lose balance, while constantly comparing the incompatible values of boldness and rightness.

In the first half of the book, the author tells the pros and cons of his former bosses, such as Roone Arledge who led the sports and news business at ABC TV, and Michael Eisner who led Disney’s another heyday. Robert Iger addressed how he absorbed them in his unique way. The second half of the book can be good enough even for a business management textbook. It narrates how he, after his inauguration as CEO, saved Disney’s animation business that was sinking, prepared for the future with Disney Plus amidst the receding of old media, and redirected the company’s strategy for the global market.

Seo-Hyun Lee baltika7@donga.com