Close this search box.
Close this search box.

How Bob Iger Remade the House That Walt Built

Instead of the easy fixes, Bob Iger played the long game by addressing Disney’s cultural issues head-on, by making it stronger and more profitable with greater depth.

I liked being challenged by him in that regard because even if I disagreed with him, there was always a kernel of truth to what he had to say. There was always something; it wasn’t completely wrong. It drove me to want to demand even more perfection and excellence. He had that impact on me. In fact, I talked about this at our management retreat last fall—the relentless pursuit of perfection. While it can easily be a turnoff, something that you’d want to run from because who needs that kind of criticism, I always took it as being constructive.

Steve Jobs may have been Disney’s largest shareholder, but if I ever said to Steve on a call, “You are a member of the board,” or “You are our largest shareholder,” he’d say, “Stop. I do not want to be called either. I want to be thought of by you as a trusted advisor and a friend.” Anytime I mentioned board member or shareholder, he reminded me of that. Finally, I decided to accept him as a trusted advisor and a friend, and he proved to me over time that that’s exactly what he was to me.

If Walt were alive today, what do you reckon he might say about you?
Funny you would ask. I spoke with Diane Disney, one of his daughters, about that before she died. I actually wrote her a note: “If Walt were to see those gorgeous cruise ships plying the oceans, or even Walt Disney World, or imagine Shanghai, what would he think?” Interestingly enough, for a guy from the Midwest, he had a real curiosity about the world. He would be blown away to know that China would be the home to a product that was so much a part of who he was and what he stood for—Disneyland.

But if he also saw Pixar, or Star Wars or Marvel—think of the storytelling and the characters and the places that these stories exist. [Take] ESPN, for that matter. I think he would be unbelievably proud. This is a bit presumptuous of me, but what the heck, maybe I’ve earned the right to be and also to see, on any list about brand respect and admiration that exists in the world today. [This is] a company that he founded; the brand that he created is still at or near the top of those lists. I mean, what could be a better affirmation for the principles that he embedded in the company that he created?


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.