Lead a Life You Can Love

The Secrets to Creating Magic In Our Lives with Lee Cockerell from a Career at Disney

June 06, 2023 Jamie Smith Season 2 Episode 42
The Secrets to Creating Magic In Our Lives with Lee Cockerell from a Career at Disney
Lead a Life You Can Love
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Lead a Life You Can Love
The Secrets to Creating Magic In Our Lives with Lee Cockerell from a Career at Disney
Jun 06, 2023 Season 2 Episode 42
Jamie Smith

The secret to creating magic in our lives both personally and professionally is outstanding leadership; according to former Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World, Lee Cockerell. If you want to learn how to ultimately just be a good human being and lead a good life...you need to listen to this episode. Check out the highlights below for a glimpse of all the amazingness covered in this conversation with, in my opinion, a living legend.

Episode Highlights:

  • What outstanding leadership looks like
  • Difference between management & leadership
  • How to live with integrity 
  • The importance of continuous learning and teaching
  • How to be a good coach
  • How to “burn the free fuel”- Appreciation, Recognition, Encouragement(ARE)
  • How to respect, appreciate, & value everyone (RAVE)
  • Why time management is most crucial skill to living a successful & happy life.
  • How to live with more intention and the importance of reflecting on your life
  • How you’re a product of the decisions you make every day
  • How having a positive influence is more important than fame
  • 3 questions to ask ourselves often in life that will help us gain self awareness, keep us humble, and keep us in control of our lives.
  • Lees fondest memories from Disney

Lee Cockerell Bio:
Retired Executive Vice President of Operations of the Walt Disney World Resort. Prior to his 16-year career with Disney, he spent 8 years with Hilton Hotels, and 17 years with Marriott International. Before entering the hospitality industry, he attended Oklahoma State University and enlisted in the United States Army. Lee has authored multiple titles, including Creating Magic, The Customer Rules, Time Management Magic and Career Magic. He's a popular keynote speaker around the globe and continues to speak and teach on behalf of the Disney Institute.

Click here to check out his books
Cockerell Academy.com
Creating Disney Magic Podcast
Lee on LinkedIn

Support the Show.

Book a Complimentary Discovery Call
Become a Supporter of Lead a Life You Can Love
Suggestion or topic you'd like to hear me explore?
Send it to Jamie@JamieSmithCoaching.com
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Show Notes Transcript

The secret to creating magic in our lives both personally and professionally is outstanding leadership; according to former Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World, Lee Cockerell. If you want to learn how to ultimately just be a good human being and lead a good life...you need to listen to this episode. Check out the highlights below for a glimpse of all the amazingness covered in this conversation with, in my opinion, a living legend.

Episode Highlights:

  • What outstanding leadership looks like
  • Difference between management & leadership
  • How to live with integrity 
  • The importance of continuous learning and teaching
  • How to be a good coach
  • How to “burn the free fuel”- Appreciation, Recognition, Encouragement(ARE)
  • How to respect, appreciate, & value everyone (RAVE)
  • Why time management is most crucial skill to living a successful & happy life.
  • How to live with more intention and the importance of reflecting on your life
  • How you’re a product of the decisions you make every day
  • How having a positive influence is more important than fame
  • 3 questions to ask ourselves often in life that will help us gain self awareness, keep us humble, and keep us in control of our lives.
  • Lees fondest memories from Disney

Lee Cockerell Bio:
Retired Executive Vice President of Operations of the Walt Disney World Resort. Prior to his 16-year career with Disney, he spent 8 years with Hilton Hotels, and 17 years with Marriott International. Before entering the hospitality industry, he attended Oklahoma State University and enlisted in the United States Army. Lee has authored multiple titles, including Creating Magic, The Customer Rules, Time Management Magic and Career Magic. He's a popular keynote speaker around the globe and continues to speak and teach on behalf of the Disney Institute.

Click here to check out his books
Cockerell Academy.com
Creating Disney Magic Podcast
Lee on LinkedIn

Support the Show.

Book a Complimentary Discovery Call
Become a Supporter of Lead a Life You Can Love
Suggestion or topic you'd like to hear me explore?
Send it to Jamie@JamieSmithCoaching.com
Interested in being a Guest Speaker or a Sponsor?
Click here to book a Podcast Introductory Call

Jamie: 00:08

Welcome to All Things Leadership, where together we will explore and discover what leadership is all about, so that you can start leading the life you want to live.My mission is to inspire, motivate, and excite you to become the best version of yourself, at home, at work, and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Jamie Smith, now let’s talk leadership.


Hey leaders! I am really hoping that I can contain my excitement today. Because the “excituration” level, as my husband would say because he likes to make up his own words from time to time, but my “excituration” level is through the roof right now. And I’ve really just been pinching myself all day about the fact that I’m about to have the conversation with… [drumroll noise] Lee Cockerell.


Lee is a former Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World. You heard me correctly, Walt Disney World. To say that I am fan girlin’ out over here is to say the least. But prior to his 16 year career with Disney, he spent 8 years with Hilton Hotels and 17 years with Marriott International. Pretty darn impressive if you know anything about those two companies. Before entering the hospitality industry, he attended Oklahoma State University and enlisted in the United States Army. Lee has authored multiple titles, including Creating Magic, which we’re gonna talk about today,The Customer Rules, Time Management Magic, which we’ll talk about a little bit here too, and Career Magic. All of which I own and all of which are amazing. 


So, Lee continues to speak and teach in leadership and professional development on behalf of the Disney institute. He is an extremely popular keynote speaker frequently addressing Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofits across the country.I am beyond excited to welcome Lee onto the show so without further ado, let’s welcome him on. 


Well welcome to All Things Leadership Lee. I know I've already expressed this to you just a little bit, but I just want my audience to know just how excited I am to have this opportunity. So I don't know if you know this Lee, but I talked about your book Creating Magic on my very first episode. And it's just extremely surreal for me to be having this experience with you right now. I’m incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to learn from you. So, just thank you a million times over for being here today and just taking the time. It's just, it's unbelievable to me that I’m in this situation. 


You’re too kind. Thanks so much. I’m glad to be with you. 


Yeah, well thank you. Well, I really want to make the most of our time together today. So, I know how much good stuff you're going to have to share with our audience, so I just want to dive right in if that's okay with you?


Yeah, sure go right ahead.


So let's start off with one of your wonderful books Creating Magic 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies From A Life At Disney. I feel like it just makes sense for us to start with talking about this book in this conversation because it's where my journey with you as a part of my life really started. This book made such a huge difference on my life as a leader, in my career as a young leader when I was just getting started, and then continuing on through the years. You've just been such a big part of my leadership journey and I think that, well I know that actually, you are definitely the one that taught me the difference between management and leadership. And I'd like to talk to you a little bit about that today, but first I wanted to share a quick quick story with you about my first ownership experience with your book Creating Magic. So this copy right here wasn't the first one. So I had your book…I think I first purchased it probably 2010, had it for about five years. Loaned it to a friend of mine. Long story short, her dog tore it to shreds. I was completely devastated because I always highlight all of my favorite little nuggets inside of all the books that I read. And so they become sentimental to me after that. And so I was just devastated that this happened. And so I just wanted to let you know that I love your book so much that I bought another one. And I have not loaned it to anybody since then. And I've just decided that from here on out that I'm just going to buy it for them as a gift and not loan mine. 


I don’t think that most books you loan out get returned. The library seems to have a problem with that too.


Ya know? It’s so true. Well in the front sleeve of Creating Magic one of the very first sentences that it says is “The secret for creating magic in our careers, our organizations, and our lives is simple; outstanding leadership. And what I love about this is that it's the message that I share too. That leadership applies to everyone, no matter what you do, you'll do it better if you learn leadership. If you learn how to lead. And what I love the absolute most about this statement Lee, is that you were the first person to teach me that. So I think that the secret to our lives being outstanding leadership and you being the person that inspired me to really have that belief early on… it's just very full circle. So, I think it's a great place for us to start. I'm just so thankful for your inspiration. I may not be sharing this message on this podcast every couple of weeks if it hadn't been for your work. 

Lee: 06:03

Good to hear. You’re a good student.


Yeah. Well thank you. So what is...so I want to talk about outstanding leadership. What does outstanding leadership look and sound like to you?


Well, I must say early in my career and early in my life I don’t think I ever heard the word leadership. I mean we heard it, but we kind of thought that was the president of the bank, or your congressman, or something like that and so I just grew up. I didn’t really think about management either, you know, managers are managers. Those are those people you don’t like. Those people you don’t want to work for. And, of course when I got into business the first few books I read were focused more about management. How to get things done. How to organize yourself. How to use a system to remind yourself. So, getting things done, management. I always tell people management is you know I’ve always talked about its how to do. How to get it done. It doesn’t mean you’re a nice person. It doesn’t mean anything. I went through my career pretty much getting things done. Slowly but surely, I learned that my autocratic style probably from growing up insecure about myself. So, I found out I could get things done by just pushing people hard and demanding. And I finally came to the conclusion that that was not a way to get people. They would do things while I was there but how do you get people to want to do it, not have to do it. 


So I started thinking about it. And thinking about leadership, and going to seminars, and reading about it, and reading about people who have a lot of influence in the world that had no authority. People followed them, people listened to them, people trusted them. And I wanted more of that kind of thing. So, I slowly but surely started trusting people more. I quit trying to control people. Helped my marriage too. I quit trying to control my wife and she got better immediately. Yeah so, I came to, over time, understanding the difference and how important each were in their own different ways. And I think sometimes we blend the two. We think management’s leadership and leadership is management and it’s not true. As I say, management’s how to do and leaderships how to be. How to be there for your people. How to be a person of integrity. How to be a person who can tell the truth. How to be a person who can make hard decisions and have hard conversations. I even tell people if you can’t have hard conversations and make hard decisions, first of all don’t have children. And number two don’t be in a position where you have high influence over people’s careers, and lives, and future. And the best way to do that is become a teacher instead of a boss.




Think about how you teach people. Just like mothers do. Mothers teach. That’s their main job. It’s not to intimidate your children, or to scare them, or make them feel unsafe. It’s too teach them. And you do that through role modeling. You do that through different ways. Reading to them every night. And telling them you love them and discipline sometimes.




So, I found out it was a little more complicated than I thought to be successful and to make a bigger difference. People got better because they worked with me. And I liked that a lot. And I would consider today, I’m a teacher. That’s what I do. I want to be remembered for that. I don’t want to be remembered as a boss. I remember reading, somebody said, you’re not dead until everybody who knew you is dead. So I try to keep meeting young people so I’ll have a long long life. And you know, you leave a legacy that’s all you can do in life is your legacy. You can take it with you, and you can leave it behind, and that’s about it. What people say about you, behind your back, and you know, the things you do now can influence your great great grandkids cause it flows through the family. And that’s, I had to learn that. I just didn’t realize the power of influence and behavior. And yeah…so it’s a big awakening for me about halfway through my career.


I love what you said earlier. You said management is about how to do and leadership is about how to be. I love that so much. And I agree with so much of, you know, I resonate with so much of your story. I'm sure so many leaders do that are, especially new leaders that are just emerging into that new position, or that new title. There's no playbook that's given to you on how to be a great leader. They teach you the functionalities of the job and how to open the cash box and close it and all that. But after that, you know, the soft skills side of leadership is not something that is taught. Unless that's a company that's truly investing in their people and adding the bells and whistles to what they have to offer. But you know, I started, shortly after I was promoted, I started looking at books and looking up podcasts about how to manage and about how to lead. And that's when I stumbled across your book Creating Magic and then I went down the rabbit hole and read all of them. But you talk a lot about how we have to be continuously learning. And we have to invest in ourselves. I just listened to one of your recent podcast episodes about investing in yourself and yeah, I mean that's what you did as a young leader. You took the time to invest in yourself, to grow yourself. You saw that there was something that needed to change. I had a similar path and I just think that we all have that opportunity. Don't blame it on, “ohh they didn't teach me how to do that”, or whatever. You can read a book. You can listen to a podcast. And you can learn some really amazing things about how to do your job better so yeah…


And how to be better just in general you know?

Jamie: 11:58



I had a talk this morning with the lady from Mongolia. She and I were talking about the environment you grow up in, and live in, and how you’re affected. Usually, you have to get out of that environment and get away from the wrong kind of people. Or get into a more positive environment. A place where people support you, and help you, and it was an interesting conversation about, you know, all you know is what you know. And if you're living in the village and you might not know anything, you gotta get out. One way to get out is read. One way to get out is go online and look at things you want to know cause’ if you don't know something it’s your own fault because you can get access to it right away.


 Lee: 12:47

We’re not in prison. If we want to know more, we can. And I frequently, every day I look up words I don't know. I'll be reading something. I don't know what the word means and I look it up and I go, ‘wonder why I didn't know that, I bet my wife did’. Or a country I didn't know that was there, I think oh good grief, I look it up…5 million people live there, and I’ve never even heard of that country. So, I think you can learn every day. And I think all knowledge pays off eventually. It improves your self-confidence. It improves your way of learning, how to get knowledge. Knowledge goes in your brain and it just sits there until you need it. Then it’ll come back out your mouth.


Yeah.That’s right.


Hopefully the right stuff. But just keep filling it up. It's kind of like, you know, feeding your brain is better than feeding your face.


Yes indeed. Indeed. 


Most people feed their face but they don't feed their brain and then they wonder why they don't know things. Or they don't have a lot to call on to make hard decisions. Or I mean it's just amazing what, how much it makes you so much happier to know, to know, and to know. 




I found out I didn’t know a lot of things when I was about 25. I thought wow I don’t know anything. That was scary. 

Jamie: 14:08

Yeah. So, going back to that, in those early years. I mean looking at the manager that you used to be and recognizing that there's, something needed to change, and you know, seeing yourself flourish into the leader that you are. And that you're still growing into. We're all still growing I think, but what do you think are the biggest most identifiable differences between management and leadership?


Oh, I think your influence. You know, you can influence for good or bad. We all know those people, in high school we hung around the wrong people, we got in trouble. Hung around the right people you got A 's you know? Or you got your homework done on time and that's… don't underestimate the influence you have with people. Don't underestimate what you can achieve in your life. This is… our brain is our most destructive part of our body or the best part. Because you think you can't, well, that's just coming out of you. Nobody else knows that. And so. I think it's… for me it's a lot about being mindful. About treating people right and helping people that have problems. Not making their problems worse. Everybody's got enough problems in their life. They don't need me coming into their environment and making their day worse. And teaching I mean… I think if you know something you ought to be teaching. I said teach everything you know, because you first learn it, and then you'll go do it. Get experience. You might learn that from books, you might learn it from experience, you might learn it from your parents. And then go teach it.




And hopefully you’ve learned the right things so you’re teaching the right things to people and not the wrong things.




And the more exposure and experience you get to the world, the better you will be at that, because you'll have more appreciation for people from everywhere, anything in the world. I mean and as we said the best way to destroy bigotry and racism is to travel and get to know people from everywhere. And I was thinking about that the other day of how many people I know from everywhere that I didn't know when I was twenty, but I do today. And I'm a totally different person. I could never go back to where I was. I mean it would be impossible. It would be like going back to work for a corporation after being retired for 17 years. I couldn't do it! It's too good, what I’m doing now




When you get a comparison and there’s one good, one …it strikes you. And I love that people say thank you and appreciate the work I do for them. I mean what you said today, I love that. You know? I mean I said, people say why do you do this Lee, and I said because people clap and I'm insecure I need the recognition. When I play golf nobody claps. So I quit doing that. 


Oh my goodness.

Lee: 16:53

Do what ya good at.


Well you're really good at teaching. Which you've mentioned a couple of times, how you love to teach, your big teacher. So I would love for you to teach us a little bit about three of these wonderful acronyms that you have in your book Creating Magic. And I love acronyms in general. I think that they just they make things easier to like go out and do. And so when I used to be a manager I literally remember writing down your acronyms on our wall in our office. Because we had one of those white board paint walls where you could just, with an Expo marker, write on the wall. And I wrote those acronyms on the wal. I even remember teaching those acronyms to my managers in manager meetings. And so the reason that I mentioned that is because I think a lot of times we can just read a book and be done with it. Or we breeze through it and we forget about what it was that we read. Or we don't actually go and put that stuff into practice a lot of the time. But I just want people to know that this is a book that I read and I actually went and put these teachings into play. And I actually saw them be effective, and have an impact on my team, and my culture. So I just wanted to share that this is a book with some really valuable takeaways. And these acronyms really kind of changed the game for me and how I led so that's why I wanted to talk about them. So…

 First acronym I'll ask you about is C.O.A.C.H. So, the C standing for care, and then observe, act, communicate, and help, would be the rest of those letters in C.O.A.C.H. And the first thing that came to my mind like when I look at this acronym, and obviously me being the life coach this one kind of hits home for me, but I always say that you can't teach someone to care. They either care or they don't. So, if you have a manager or a leader that's in position that doesn't care, to me you're never going to see them do a good job at observing, acting, and communicating, and helping. The rest of those letters in that acronym. So do you agree and then also just yeh, speak to this acronym.


Yeah. Caring is an interesting word, ya know, I mean…We know what it feels like when we care. Mothers really know. They’ll do anything. Ya know I care about you. I think a mother would say I care about you more than I care about me. And I would do anything for you. Before even I would do it for myself. I think people who don’t care, maybe we have too many hang ups, too many things happen in the past, or disappointments, or people let us down, or we’re insecure. I think to me, it’s even hard for me to think about how you get there. I think you get there because of all the things you do. By being reliable, having a good attitude, being available when people need you, making hard decisions to help people. And I think the care, you know, think about what you do care about and think about how you’re going to move that over to what you do every day. I mean I try to make sure when I come into contact with people, and I get a lot of calls. I got one from a lady from Afghanistan a few nights ago. She relocated to the US in 1980. She became a, she went to medical school. She got her undergraduate degree and then she took some time off for a couple of years to take care of her mother, who was very sick. And then she couldn't get back on track. She couldn't get her residency. She kept getting turned down. They were hard to come by and you know, for whatever reason, people turn you down, for further education, and now she wants to be a coach in the mental health business. And she's taking courses on that and she cares a lot . She said I'm not happy with myself because I don't feel like I'm very successful. You know, I feel guilty because I'm not making money and contributing to the family. She and I had a long talk. I said listen you've achieved a lot. You left Afghanistan. You came to the US. You got your undergraduate degree. You went to medical school. You’re taking these coaching classes. You know a lot. And sometimes when we don't get that big thing we want, we think we're a failure. And I think we just all got to help people understand that you may not be there yet. It's hard to go out and get a coaching business. Because, she said well you've done it, I said yeah because I worked for Disney. They're hiring Disney, they're not hiring Lee. They think I know, you know,  it’s, that's what branding’s all about you know? You establish your reputation, and that reputation usually comes, you know, I worked for Hilton, Marriott, and Disney. People go oh well he must know something… but if I had worked for Joe's hotel company down in nowhere, nobody's gonna hire me. I said you know, you just gotta keep chipping away. 


You gotta get up every morning, you know, it's like when you hate your job, you gotta get up every morning and look for a new job. Not just occasionally. You gotta be on it! It's kind of like you gotta get committed to whatever you're doin’. When I wrote my books I wrote every single morning, seven days a week, from 8:30 to 10:30. And then you get done. But you gotta get scheduled, you gotta get committed, you gotta… yeah. And so my point is I cared enough to spend time with her. And she's sending me her resume and I'm going to help her and I don't know the lady from man in the moon, but it's the least I can do. She called me.




You know? She's asking for help and so I could say no. Why would I say no? A lot of people would.




And so that's how you gotta think about it. If you've got influence and you've got the ability, why wouldn't you?




And I think more people ought to think about that.  And then thinking about what's in it for me.




I could share what I’ve done and I can help her probably and maybe one day we'll connect something for her. Who knows what’ll happen.




If you care you'll find a way to help others




If you don't care you won't. You know?


Absolutely. Yeah. You’re right about that. Well one of my favorite chapters in the book is “Burn the Free Fuel”. And this is where the next acronym of A.R.E comes into play. So this one stands for appreciation, recognition, and encouragement. So when I read this chapter, and I read about burning the free fuel, I thought that this was the most genius thing I've ever heard in my life. Especially working in an organization that's got an employee incentive budget that you're trying to stay tight too, and you're going wait a second, there's free fuel that can keep this engine going? Right? And so tell us what are some of the, well tell us a little bit about what does “burn the free fuel” mean, and what are some ways you can burn it?


Well I came up with that after I, just kind of popped in my brain when I was writing this book,and I said oh man there was a good one. And I think you can give people a pizza, or you can give them some appreciation. And you can give them some recognition, or you can give them encouragement. Which everybody needs right now. And often you need it in your life. 




When things happen… so I think people would choose appreciation, recognition, and encouragement to build their self esteem, and self-confidence, over a pizza, or being employee of the week, or all these other things we do. And by the way it costs nothing! You don't have to pay for it! It's not like a pizza. You gotta pay for the pizza.




And it’s nothing, people appreciate, people want to matter. Every human wants to know they matter. And if you can make people know they matter through appreciation, recognition, encouragement. Which is many different things. It’s training them, developing them, helping them get an interview, tell them what a great job they did, and how much you appreciate it. And all free! 




And mothers already know this. Mothers do this every day with their children. Children become great because mom loves you, and tells you, and disciplines you, and has empathy, and talks to you. It doesn't come from buying em’ a car. It comes from those things. It's early and it, it's ongoing. And once you feel like somebody cares about you… appreciation, recognition, encouragement… your performance goes up, your attitude goes up, your health gets better, you sleep better. Everything happens good when you feel good about yourself. And I can make you feel better about yourself if you're down and out because if you work for me, I have a big influence on your life. You know, you’re at work more than you’re at home almost. I just think everyday people miss opportunities to do this. Every. Day. You know? Every day. And so I think just keeping in mind, people that are trying to reduce costs, well this one you don’t have to worry about. Your CFO will love it. 


Yeah, so true.  Yeah I think, I don't know if it was in this book that I read it, or where I heard it but, nobody ever complained about getting too much appreciation, recognition, and encouragement right?


Exactly. Nobody’s gonna push back and say stop it I can’t take anymore. My wife never says stop telling me you love me. 

Jamie: 26:19



You’ve overdosed me. 




No. No…


Nope, keep it coming. Keep it coming. 


Chances are you will not give enough. Not too much.


Yep. Alright so the next acronym that I want to talk about is R.A.V.E. And this one, it’s a good lead in because it also has that appreciate in there. But this one stands for respect, appreciate, and value everyone. I talk a lot about adding value to everyone's life, and in every way that you can, and when you have the opportunity, all of that. So , I love this R.A.V.E acronym. What ya got to say about this one?


Yeah, again I mean who doesn't want respect? I’ve been all over the world and I can't find anybody who doesn’t want it.  It's probably why we have more wars and things going on in the world…because people don't feel respected. They don’t feel like their opinion counts, they don't feel like anybody cares about them, anywhere from how they grew up, to who they worked for. Respect is, it's an intangible, we all know if somebody respects us or not.

Jamie: 27:16



And you've got to just be on your toes. You gotta pay attention, you gotta learn more about people so you, I mean how many people don't respect somebody else's religion today


A lot.


It’s unbelievable. How many people don’t respect somebody's sexual orientation? How many people don't respect even simple things, the car you drive, you know? I mean it's like …and just let it go you know? People have enough problems, and you don't know about them anyway. You don't know what they've been through. You don't know what they're going through. Mr. Marriott told me once, “When in doubt give people the benefit of the doubt. When in doubt give them the benefit of the doubt.” You know? Why not? Don't jump to conclusions and they'll start thinking… blah blah blah… No these are human beings. You know hardly anything about the average person. You can't even know what's going on in their life. And so I, you know, they get angry, and they yell at you and all, still… that's… so what? They're not yelling at you. They're yelling at all their frustrations with their life. They don't even know you. So don't worry about it. If your wife yells at you that's a different thing, but the stranger, or guest, or customer, or an employee, they're struggling from something else. And I'll just say let it go. See how you can help them. Value, you know, that's what I think we need… to value people. I mean we value our kids, we value our family, sometimes… sometimes not… but the people are valuable. I would say everyone, because that's the problem with the world right now, we're choosy about it. We don't like your country, we don't like your religion, we don't like your politics, we don't like your education level, we don't like your… you know… I mean it just… get over right? We don't like people from New York, we don't like people from Louisiana, we don't like people from California, ya know, those people are a problem. So, everybody's a problem. So, I think just get over it. You can’t do anything about it anyway. Well forget it, just become a better person. And once you do that, your life is going to become a whole lot better to. 


Yes. Amen to that. 


And by the way, you got enough to do without worrying about everybody else, none of your business anyway. 


Yeah, that’s right. 


You better get your life under control and quit worrying about mine. And so I think people they just need to get over it. 


Yeah. One of my favorite quotes that I share with clients a lot is what other people think about you is not your business. You have your own thoughts and opinions and that's all your business. What they think about you is theirs. Leave it over there




Well Lee, I wanted you to touch just a little bit on some of your teaching background. I just think that I want to spotlight, you know, what you do with Disney Institute, your involvement with them, as well as your Cockerell academy that I was a part of in 2020. I thought it was fantastic. And so tell us a little bit about the teacher side of you and what you've got going on with that.


Well I think the book is a tool for teaching obviously. And so you write your thoughts and hopefully you live by those things you wrote. And that you’re a good role model for those. But I just keep thinking of new ideas, of how to reach different people, and my Creating Magic is in 22 languages now all around the world. It's in Japanese, Chinese, I mean it's everywhere. And so that, I get a lot of exposure that way. And every country seems to appreciate those points of view because they're pretty universal. And who doesn’t want to be appreciated. So that and then I just had an idea about the, I was doing a blog when I first retired. I never heard of a podcast, so I was doing a blog. Early days from 06’ on. And then for a couple of years, I mean hundred maybe more blogs that I just wrote about things I was interested in I thought people could learn from. And then Jody Mayberry contacted me, my partner, and said you want to do a podcast? I said I don't even know what a podcast is. So, we just started. That was eight years ago. We’ve never missed a Tuesday. They're 15 minutes. And they’re about any subject you can come up with. From anxiety and depression to how to raise teenagers to watch your own behavior to…anything…we talk about everything cause we get listener questions, they send us questions and we answer them. 




Then the Cockerell Academy, during the pandemic we decided we had nothing to do except stay home for a couple of years, so we just developed the Cockerelll Academy. Which is 10 courses now. Constant. Is going to be a lot more coming every week and every few weeks. And people, they like it. It's not theory, it's reality. I think that's decaying. Students today and young people, they're sick of theory, they want,  tell me how to do it. Tell me what to do. Don't tell me a theory about something. And the way we can do that is because I have a lot of experience. I mean I’m old. I know a lot. I keep getting lots of experiences, and travel, and understanding, and learning, and that's what people want to know. As soon as they can, how not to make the big mistakes in your life. And to get some new ways of thinking. And that's what we do. And so that's been great. And right now, I'm thinking about, I'm working on a book about what young people need to know.


Oh good!


When they're getting out of high school, college, and that first management approach.


Good love that!


What they need to know, you know? How to prepare for your first interview.


It's so needed


How to overcome angry guests, customers. How to overcome an autocratic boss. How to…


All the real stuff that you face.


Yeah. You're gonna run into them and we need to tell them now, so they are not surprised. And these are basic things, but most people don't know.


No it's true.


They just don't get it because nobody's told them. And then there's some, it can be a simple one page on each subject. Kid, you read this thing, you look at it before you go for an interview, read this page again, before you hire somebody, read this page on how to hire the right people, how to terminate the wrong people, how to, how to….and quick and to the point. Not more than one page. 


Yeah, so you're talking about creating the playbook that I wish existed.Aand that you probably wish existed back in your early days.


I had no idea about these things. I thought life, you just wake up, you live and you die, I didn’t know you had to learn. Ya know?




Learning before you get in trouble is much better than learning because you got in trouble. And so yeah, we’ve all been there, ya know? Don’t repeat those mistakes you don’t have to make.




And then you got to present it in a simple way. People don't read much anymore. They need it fast and to the point, not a bunch of blah blah. 


Yes. Which I told you last time we spoke. I love that about you. Very simple. You're very direct. You get straight to it and it makes sense. I love it. But yeah, I will definitely include, Creating Disney Magic is the name of his podcast, so I'll include that in the show notes, as well as the link to his website or somewhere you can get to that Cockerell Academy and check that out. Lee has so much amazing stuff to teach any leader at any level guys. I highly recommend y'all start following his work. Well now I'd like to get into Time Management Magic with you. So, one of the kind of take away, the big take away from that book is really that time and life management is probably the most crucial skill that a person needs in their life to be successful and to be happy. That's probably the main message that's communicated. Tell us a little bit about maybe some of, what are your best tips, or best practices from your daily routine that you feel like have contributed to your success over the years around time management, around your career, all of it. Around your life. 


Yeah I mean I was having a good career and I was kept getting promoted. And as I got promoted the worker was loading up. And then I had a child, and then I had a wife, and then I have a, you know, a new job, and moving, and boss wants everything on Friday at 5:00 o'clock, and your mother-in-law is flying in, and everything was going... and I was I was getting it done. I was working late every night and I was taking work home. I was working on weekends. I had no life and my boss made us all go to a time management seminar about 1980-81 and I didn't want to go. I don't have time to go to that crazy… I went because I didn't have a choice so I went. I sat on the front row. It was amazing. It was two days of teaching us how to think about this. And I'm one of those people, man when I hear a good idea, I just go implement it. I mean I was ready to go and in four days I had this thing set up with my day planner. And basically the plan is that every day you wake up in the morning, and go brush your teeth, eat breakfast, do whatever you done. Before you start your day, sit and think about what you want to get done today, tomorrow, maybe this week, this month. Think about the responsibilities in your life. So you can think about your spouse, or your partner. Then you can think about your children, anything you need to do for them, and you need to get them signed up to the camp in June before they're all sold out, maybe you have to wonder, the right age, you have to talk to them this weekend about the birds and the bees. Maybe you… I mean whatever. There's always something to do for your children. Sit down and talk to them about something. Go visit their teachers. See how they're doing. So the teachers know you care. And then you can think about your parents, your grandparents, or do they need you? They're getting older. How are you and your husband or your friends? You need to talk about…how I'm gonna deal with that, how much it costs, do you understand Medicare, Medicaid, all this stuff. It's gonna be in your lap one day as you, as your people get older in your life. 


Think about your career. What do you need to be doing to get to that next job? Do you need to go back to school? Do you need to start reading more about it? Do you need to ask your boss for a different experience so you could get that under your belt? Marketing, or finance, or whatever it is. You think about your retirement. Get ready now so that you got enough money that you can retire. Most people start too late. Literally. I mean a huge percentage of Americans can't retire. They didn't get started. They meant to, they were going to, they wanted to, but they didn't. Then you think about the people who work for you. Do you need to sit down with some of them this week and talk about their careers, about the things they need to do better? Your boss… sit down with your boss… I'm going to make an appointment, talk about my career, whether he will support me for that. I mean you go through your life, you've got more responsibilities than you believe you do. You ask people what do you, what's  the most important thing in your life? They say family and work. 




Well there’s more to both of those. 

Jamie: 38:46


Lee: 38:48

There’s life and there’s your health. Taking, how to schedule your annual physicals. Get those mammograms, get those colonoscopies, get your annual checkup, get your blood work done. Because you don't want to go in and the doctor says, well we could have caught this if you'd come in, you haven't been here in four years, it's too late now. That's time management. And I practice that. When I leave the doctor I make the next appointment right there in the office, in my calendar.




I have all my teeth. Since I heard that little thing, floss the teeth you want to keep. 


Oh my goodness, that’s so great. 


Even when I was, I don’t drink anymore alcohol but when I was drinking when I drank too much I still flossed, now that’s discipline. You gotta just think through everything. You gotta, I would say to most people, make a list of what you think your responsibilities are. To yourself, to your husband, to your kids, your parents, to your people who work for you. You got a lot of things on your plate. And then think about, every day think about yesterday what you didn't do as well as you should have and why didn't you? And well, how are you gonna fix it today? Before they even, the people know about it? Call that customer before they even figure it out you didn't put everything in the contract. When you fix yesterday, which is called reflection. Reflecting on the past. You get better in the future because you’ve thought about it. So the next time your brain says hey look don’t screw this up again. 




But if you don’t reflect and go back and think about how you could’ve done something better it doesn’t register.




You just got to go through the process. So, the book is very easy to read. It’s very simple and it will change…If you…IF. You know, It’s like everything, you’re going to learn it. Can you implement it? Same old story. You’re not born disorganized, you become disorganized. The doctor doesn’t have the baby pop out and say, “Oh there’s another disorganized one, put him on the right side here.” 


This one’s going to be chaotic.


Yeah. You’re not born with a bad attitude, you become a bad attitude. 


Same goes for leadership, right? Like, you’re not born a great leader, you learn how to be a great leader. 




I love that. Love that so much. 


People think oh poor me, I was poor, blah, blah, but no forget that crap. You know?


Mmhmm, yeah.


Nobody knows that but you. Nobody knows about the past but you.




You’re the problem. Get over it. Yeah.


The next thing that I wanted to talk to you about Lee. You talked about some pretty simple questions that you can ask yourself in life last time that we spoke, and one of them was, when you have a problem in life ask yourself, is it my fault? Because it usually is. You just talked about having problems, so I felt like that was a great segway into that. But tell us a little bit about that question. 


Well I think about that when people you know, how you doing, what do you need, and they're going blah blah blah and I said you know when I think about the problems I have in my life it's usually my fault. You know, if I don't feel good that's probably my fault. If I don't sleep well, that's my fault. If I don't learn something, that's my fault. If I don't put on my seat belt, that's my fault. You know? Just think about what's not your fault? If I have somebody working for me and they're not doing a good job, they're coming to work late, well that would be my fault! Not theirs. because I'm letting them be there if I have people working for me and they don't they're not trained properly that's not their fault. That's my fault.




Just everything.


Yeah, and I think what the question does is it puts the ownership back in your court. It gives you the control back. It lets you know that you have the power to change what it is that there’s a problem with, that you’re seeing. So it’s a really helpful question for you to humble yourself. 


And if you don’t do that, it won’t get better, 





You keep looking for its your mother’s fault or somebody else. No. That’s the problem right there.




As soon as you recognize the problem. You know, I sit the people down. When you wake up in the morning if you don’t feel well, you ought to sit for half an hour and think why. You’ve just been in bed for 7 or 8 hours, why don’t you feel well? Did you drink too much last night, did you go to bed too late, did you go back for the third meatball at dinner, did you eat too late, is the room not cold enough, is it not dark enough? Is it… are you worried about something because you had a big fight with your husband before you went to bed. There’s a reason. And also if you’re not happy in your life, there’s a reason and you know what it is, so deal with it.


Figure it out.


You may need to get a new husband, you may need to get rid of your kids, you may need a new mother in law, you may need a new job. I don’t know what you need. But if you’re not happy, well…you need to write it down, look at it, and then what are you going to do about it? 




You just going to stay unhappy because its too hard to deal with it?


Right. Last time we spoke you said it’s not just the way it is, it’s the way that you let it be. And I love that.


It is and it took me a long time to understand that too, but that’s what age does. You know as they say information is quick, wisdom takes a long time. Information you can get in ten seconds. Information doesn’t help you unless you know how to use it. How to, that you believe it. And that you’ve had enough experiences that it makes sense. And you’re not trying to blame somebody else because that’s where we all get in trouble. I love that quote, it says, “You’re not a product of your circumstances in your life, you’re a product of the decisions you make every day.” You decide to do the things that get you in the situations you’re in. 

Jamie: 44:26



So maybe, I even told Jody one day, decisions are probably more important than time management. Make the wrongs decisions it doesn’t matter how you organize them.


You’re right. So true. 


So, I think you got to think about it. And if you can’t solve it yourself, go get help. Go see a psychiatrist, a psychologist, go see somebody to give you, somebody who's good at it, and ask them what they can help you. And you don't have to do anything, you just got to get it done. And a lot of people will help you. People are very helpful. Go to your church, go to wherever, you can find somebody.




Your parents, your grandparents, your somebody you know… a girlfriend's father, but get it done.


So those three questions then guys… I wanna just read those back because I feel like they’re just great questions to kind of do a check in, in life, with yourself, and get clear with yourself, gain some self-awareness. And they're so simple. It's: When you have a problem in your life, ask yourself, is it my fault? Right? When you don't feel good, ask yourself, why you don't feel good. And when you're not happy, ask yourself why you're not happy. And then do something with that information. Then change it. You have the power to do that. Or you can get help to start creating the change that you want to see in your life. I love it.


Yeah. Life’s pretty simple, we make it very confusing. 


Yes indeed. Indeed. Well as we’re starting to come to an end of this episode here, which is very sad for me but, I think with me just being the big Disney fanatic that I am, I’m going to spend the last bit of our episode together kinda “fan girlin’” out. I want you to just share maybe what are some of those most magical memories that you have from working for Disney as long as you did?


Yeah, you might find it strange, but one of my best memories is 9/11. When everybody did what they were supposed to do. It was amazing when 5000 cast members and managers, and we closed those parks down perfectly, we took care of the guests, we got them back to their hotels, we closed everything down in 90 minutes. We sent characters to the hotels to entertain because a lot of people from New Jersey, and New York, and were stressed out, and they had family there. And to watch people do the right things and just be responsible. And we've practiced many times on crisis. We practice two or three times a year at random. We have a company that puts us through it we call on. So, that day it was just, we knew what to do. Everybody opened, everybody did what they were doing. We implemented the systems to give passes to come back and all that. We gave people free rooms that didn't have any credit cards left. We put people up because they couldn't get out. There were no rental cars, no airlines were flying, we did a lot. We spent millions and we still hear from people that couldn't believe that we handled it so well. And when you're a leader and you see everything happen…there's nothing I could do that day. It was over if I hadn't done it already, we're dead.




Everybody just got their job. But other things that were different. We had a little girl come see her golden life. And she had leukemia and she wanted to see Cinderella. And they brought her here because we can bring people within 24 hours for those kinds of wishes. And she got here she was so sick they had to take her to the hospital instead and Cinderella went up to visit her. And she died. And her parents said that was the most amazing experience. That the thing she wanted most happened.


Yeah. Wow.


You know?




Man. So we see a lot of that because most people come here, their happy and it’s a big deal. And especially watching children just go crazy and their mothers so happy to see them happy. You know? It’s like you make the kids happy moms happy. 




So, it’s very unique. I had a good job. I wasn’t selling cigarettes or oil. Most of my guests were happy. 


You’re selling dreams.


You know? Yeah. I tell nurses you know our, most people in the hospital are not happy. At Disney they're happy. And they're the same guests, they know what it looks like so be nice to them. Be kind.




So, we all just gotta remember we have the ability to make a difference. You know, everybody knows how. We know what to do. We know not to be mean. We know not to… and we just got to start waking up in the morning, and slapping ourselves, and behaving.


Yeah. Yeah. That's right well last time we spoke, and I think this is where I'd like to wrap it up and just leave our audience with this. But I asked you if you could go back and tell your younger self something, which is ironic because you're working on a book that's basically a book that you probably wish you could have told all of it to your younger self, but if you could go back and tell your younger self something, do you remember what you told me last time?


I don't remember what’d I tell you?


You said “Don't think you're a big deal.”, and I loved that.


Well, I learned that growing up in Oklahoma. They always talk about, everybody going around bragging, how great they are. That's because I lived next door to Texas and they always tell us how big they were, and how great they were, and we didn't like Texans. And then Alaska became a state and we liked that because they were bigger than Texas. And when you think about it, people that go around being a big deal, thinking they're hot stuff, they have a lot of problems in their life. And I think about if you become a big deal, then you need security, you need all, you got to have all kinds of problems in your life. Everybody's watching everything you do. And I said to somebody, I don't need to make a lot of money, I just need to make enough. I don't need excess. And don't become a big deal. Just be nice. That'll be good enough. Because being a big deal is stressful. Wanting to be famous is stressful. Famous for what? Because you’re here and you’re gone. Your fame is short so keep that in mind and behave yourself. 


Yeah. Will do. Love that. Don’t make yourself a big deal. Just be kind. Alright Lee. Well thank you for an incredible conversation today. I hope the rest of your day feels as magical as it has felt for me talking to you.

 Yeah, it was great. 


And I will remember this day for the rest of my life and I hope that our audience enjoyed it as much as I did cause’ I just know that I’m gonna be beaming for the rest of the afternoon.


Well, thank you. 


And probably the rest of the year.


That’s good. Thank you so much, I appreciate it.




It’s a fun conversation. I love talking about it. 




Because your leaders, your listeners will probably learn something.


Yeah and this is your legacy like you talked about earlier. Right? I mean all of your books are your legacy. Me passing on your book to everybody I can, you know talk to, and inspire them with your content. It’s all being passed along my friend. So just thanks again for everything that you do. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day today. 


Thanks Jamie. You take care of yourself. 

Jamie: 51:35

You too. Bye. 

Jamie: 51:39

OMG. What an honor that was to have a conversation with Lee Cockerell. I hope that you guys enjoyed that as much as I did, and got as much out of that as I did. I know that I am going to be thinking about this conversation for a long time. And so many good takeaways, so this is one of those episodes that I think you might have to go back to and listen to again, because there's just so much good stuff in here. Alright guys well, you know the deal, if you enjoyed today's podcast, please take the time to leave that five star review. And I wanted to give a quick shout out to Wino1970 for leaving me the most recent review on my podcast. I appreciate you so much for taking the time to write that review for me and thank you for your 5 stars. Wino1970 you rock!


And if you ever want to hear me talk about something on this podcast. Lee even mentioned while mentioned while he was on the show that so much of the topics of his podcasts have come from what his listeners have requested that he talk about. So, I'd love to have a similar relationship with you guys, my audience, my beautiful audience, please tell me what you'd like to hear from me! I want to know! And I will gladly create an episode about whatever it is that you need to hear about.


For life and leadership coaching information or to sign up for inspirational goodness in your inbox visit allthingsleadership.com. You can find my podcast episodes there, my blog is there, as well as all of the information about a coaching partnership with me. And I just hope that the content that I’m sharing is adding value to your life in some way. I hope you guys have an awesome rest of your day and until next time, go out there and lead the life you want to live.