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The Ride of a Lifetime

Lessons in Creative Leadership from the CEO of the Walt Disney Company
Written by: Robert Iger
Narrated by: Robert Iger, Jim Frangione
Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
5 out of 5 stars (287 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The CEO of Disney, one of Time’s most influential people of 2019, shares the ideas and values he embraced to reinvent one of the most beloved companies in the world and inspire the people who bring the magic to life.

Robert Iger became CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 2005, during a difficult time. Morale had deteriorated, competition was intense and technology was changing faster than at any time in the company’s history. His vision came down to three clear ideas: Recommit to the concept that quality matters, embrace technology instead of fighting it and think bigger, think global and turn Disney into a stronger brand in international markets.

Fourteen years later, Disney is the largest, most respected media company in the world, counting Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox among its properties. Its value is nearly five times what it was when Iger took over and he is recognised as one of the most innovative and successful CEOs of our era.

In The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger shares the lessons he’s learned while running Disney and leading its 200,000 employees and he explores the principles that are necessary for true leadership, including:

  • Optimism. Even in the face of difficulty, an optimistic leader will find the path toward the best possible outcome and focus on that, rather than give in to pessimism and blaming.
  • Courage. Leaders have to be willing to take risks and place big bets. Fear of failure destroys creativity.
  • Decisiveness. All decisions, no matter how difficult, can be made on a timely basis. Indecisiveness is both wasteful and destructive to morale.
  • Fairness. Treat people decently, with empathy and be accessible to them.

This book is about the relentless curiosity that has driven Iger for 45 years, since the day he started as the lowliest studio grunt at ABC. It’s also about thoughtfulness and respect and a decency-over-dollars approach that has become the bedrock of every project and partnership Iger pursues, from a deep friendship with Steve Jobs in his final years to an abiding love of the Star Wars mythology.

©2019 Robert Iger (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Ride of a Lifetime

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Makes me never want to be an American CEO

To clarify, it was eye-opening.

You'd expect a CEO would have to make hard decisions, dream big and take huge risks. But what was a bit of a reality check was how much time and energy goes into massaging people's egos, and managing a Board with their own agenda, who criticize from an ivory tower without ever getting their hands dirty. The politics and games, especially those played with Disney's former CEO Micheal Eisner, left me somewhat unsettled. The median tenure for CEOs at large-cap (S&P 500) companies was 5 years as of 2017. That's absurd to me.

Overall, I preferred the second half of the book (which focused on Iger's leadership as CEO) to the first half (which focused on his long and bumpy road to the top, from a nobody at ABC). There are some amazing stories about the very difficult and far-reaching decisions he has had to make as CEO. Here's one I'll always remember: 30 mins before Disney was to announce their acquisition of Pixar, Jobs confided in Iger, telling him he has 4 years left at best. At which point Iger had to decide, on the spot, whether to call off the deal (a deal that he has fought his Board tooth and nail for), now knowing that Jobs was no longer part of the package for the long run (He goes ahead and the rest is history).

Iger's story is also a great case study on mergers and acquisitions. Every major decision he has made focused on three fundamental pillars of his strategic vision: generating the best creative content; fostering innovation and utilizing the latest technology; and expanding into new global markets. Content and IP, for example, are one of Disney's key to success. Disney characters make Disney what it is. Which is why Pixar, and it's ability to create immortal characters, (along with its cutting edge animation technology) made sense as an acquisition. Iconic Characters. The same thing that drew him to Marvel, and later, Lucasfilms. Because what can be more iconic than Star Wars and the Avengers? All these characters have extended to generate revenues across the Disney empire - from films, to TV, to theme parks, to licensing. And with every aquisition Iger is keenly aware of how to manage people, and how to retain the culture that made the company worth acquiring in the first place.

There's a lot more in there on leadership lessons in a creative world. It's a really lovely read. I strongly recommend it.

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This is the best management book I have read in 10 years

The book will be a modern day classic like Made in Japan. Bob Iger provides us strong management guidelines for senior managers to follow as a blueprint. His decision making style and ability to disassociate ego from decision making is in contrast to many senior executives. This is a must read and must implement book.

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Simple, direct and hard impact

Loved it all the way from chapter 1 to end. Enjoyable and Highly recommended.

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Another Apt Title could be - How to become a CEO

It's so simple but it's so hard. Instilling hard work and being a good person is the biggest asset. , but you need support, luck, mentors.

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A good listen

Bob Iger’s journey from the lowest rungs of an organisational hierarchy to the topmost level is very well written and shared. Through his eyes we can see how the sports and entertainment industry has moved over the last four decades. There are quite a few nuggets of wisdom that one can pick up in this journey.


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great lesson on leadership... definitely inspiring

just amazing & very inspiring. beautiful thought how leader should behave and solve difficult situation

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Lessons in business leadership

The book gave a beautiful narrative of the life of Robert Iger with nuggets of business leadership lessons intertwined so well that listening to this book had a profound impact on the notion of leadership and qualities one should embrace. The book offers amazing insights and i look forward to re-reading it to get full value it offers. Most of the incidents are relatable to your own professional work and settings which makes this book a genuine masterpiece.

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Great leader, great story and great narration

Loved this book from the word go. Great story telling and greater lessons of leadership. Equally Great narration makes it must listen

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Insightful and Entertaining

An insightful and inspiring read, beautifully structured making it extremely entertaining. A must read for aspiring leaders.

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Feedback

Really awesome book, quite exhilarating. I didn’t know about this journey of Walt Disney. Cheers!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-04-20

Amazing book on leadership and life lessons

If I can summarise, the book is like having a mentor that assists you through their own experience of life and business to make sense of the world, leadership together with what it takes to create a successful business. It also gives one a view of what Disney is all about. I had little knowledge to the scope
Of the business and the priority of the organisation but through Robert Iger book. I can see myself as a future investor in this organisation.

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  • Bert
  • 06-11-19

Awesome Insights

Gives good insight into how Robert ran Disney and made it into the success it is today in an ever more volitile business environment.

1 person found this helpful

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  • John Eccles
  • 19-07-20

The Ride of a Lifetime was also a great listen.

It was really interesting to get an insiders perspective on the recent history of Disney. And valuable to get to know Robert Igor, one of the great corporate leaders of our time.

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  • Jasraj S.
  • 23-06-20

Read of a lifetime!

Must read for aspiring CEOs, people leaders or managers. Loved the story telling, leadership examples, anecdotes, personalities illustrated. Five stars

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  • Bradley Shaw
  • 20-04-20

Achievements everywhere

Listening to this book really puts into perspective whag Bob Iger achieved over his tenure with Disney. He transformed the business more than I think even Walt homself could ever have imagined. If you work in Technology. Telecoms or Media. This book is a must read.

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  • Vikram Koppikar
  • 05-03-20

the most powerful man in entertainment.

contains some great business lessons. gets too self congratulatory at times! the voice performer was great

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  • Hassan Jameel
  • 27-02-20

What a journey!

What a journey! I have always respected Mr. Robert for the way he transformed Disney, and after finishing the book I have became an admirer of him.

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  • warwick jackson
  • 21-02-20

Leadership is important

Excellent book with interesting historical component . Lessons on leadership and relationships that are as useful to small business and regular life , as they are to big corporate life.

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  • Bisher Dukmak
  • 14-02-20

Amazingly concise and beneficial

Amazing book, enjoyed every second of the story of this amazing man. I've always adored Bob Igor for his sense of compassion, respect and honesty in the business world, and how it benefited his career. But it was beautiful knowing the realities of the events and how everything was going on.

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  • Frank Zane
  • 10-02-20

Insightful

A phenomenal insight into the latest iteration of Disney. I have learnt so much!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-06-20

Good, but what it is felt a bit missleaded

I really liked the book and the reader. It's an interesting story about his work life.
I did not feel like I got a lot of lessons in creative leadership. There are some tips and he explains how he made choices, but I feel it's more his personal experiences than concrete advise.

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  • Lenny McCarthy
  • 01-06-20

interesting but far to much self praise. .

It's an interesting story in terms of his journey but i expected more insight into various career roles. He doesn't talk enough about day to day difficulties or challenges and learnings from mistakes. The appendix was of most interest to me - maybe i wasn't the target audience and should have researched the book more before hand.

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  • Tarjinder
  • 25-09-19

Disney and leadership

I enjoyed this and i found it helpful as a buissness information source the constant quest for continual perfection is one of the things i found useful such as the constant quest for improvement and great political speeches. also im very impressed with the job the bob iger has done for Disney his actions where roseanne bar and john the dirty exec were honourable

1 person found this helpful

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  • Remy
  • 02-08-20

One take away- avoid getting in the business of selling trombone oil

There is a lot to take in with some brilliant nuggets of knowledge.

Good leadership isn’t about being indispensable, it’s about willing to let others step into your shoes.... I wish we all saw the world from his eyes.

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  • graham Crews
  • 30-07-20

Excellent book

I really think this is the best books I’ve listened to this year

Really found the subject matter - and the detail and how honestly it was explained really fascinating

Highly recommended

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  • Sophie27
  • 29-07-20

Inspirational and enjoyable book.

This was one of Bill Gates summer roads so I thought I'd give it a go. I really enjoyed it from start to finish. I found the readers voice quite calming to listen to and i enjoyed it so it was a quick read. I recommend it as an inspirational listen to those in business ...and beyond!!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-07-20

Refreshing

I can’t state enough how much I enjoyed this book - it’s not only an interesting story. But thought provoking and an accessible piece of writing about leadership, creativity and the work place.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-07-20

Great listen!

I really enjoyed this. it was a great listen and narration. I'm not into autobiographies but this was good because of the lessons learned.

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  • Alex
  • 15-07-20

Insightful story by authentic leader

While story was fascinating, what I enjoyed even more is how authentic it felt to me. It would have been so easy to avoid touching so have raw spots that Iger reflects upon here, the interaction with so many people. If he did, that would be understandable. The fact Robert Iger did not avoid is admirable.

Thank you for writing and sharing, Mr. Iger.

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  • CHADGS
  • 15-07-20

WOW! What a listen

I've taken up a lot of walking during this strange time we live in, and with this as a companion it made it effortless. The ups and downs of an exceptional career.

Worth a listen

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-03-20

Could have read this on Wikipedia

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a wasted book. However, I feel like most of the information that was in this book could have been summarized on his Wikipedia page.
The book lacked that edge that makes you want to keep reading, the piece that keeps you enthralled.
Not disappointed that i read it, but wouldn't reccomend it to my friends

3 people found this helpful

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  • Komal Rehman
  • 19-10-19

great story of an ordinary mans rise to the top

the one thing i could've used more of was a slightly deeper analysis of the creative process and what makes separates good creative decisions from the bad ones.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Josh
  • 02-01-20

Great read!

Really informative book about Robert Iger’s career with Disney. Traces the highlights of a long work history.

Book is well written and narration is great. I would have preferred a little more detail on some of the financial analysis and predictive models used in the acquisition process, but that’s just me.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Daylan
  • 01-10-19

Great look behind the curtain

I really liked this one. Quite different from other leadership/business books. Tangible insights and advice. A very interesting peek behind the curtain of the effort and process of landing a big wig job. The first chapter was incredible. Unexpectedly heart breaking. Really enjoyed this

1 person found this helpful

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  • Miti
  • 04-08-20

Very good book and very good narrator

I liked the book, it was very interesting. Narrator voice is perfect for this book.

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  • Raechel Ford
  • 16-06-20

Amazing story, shame about the narrator

An excellent account of one of the business worlds biggest jobs and how important authentic and values based leadership is to succeed commercially while bringing people on the journey. The small sections narrated by Bob Iger himself were beautiful to listen to and I did wish the entire book had been read by him. Jim Frangione’s tone is too harsh and clipped to tell this humanistic story.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-06-20

Worth the time!

Well worth the listen as you are taken not just on a personal journey, but the many changes in the information and entertainment industries.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-05-20

one of the best autobiographies I've read

one of the best autobiographies I've read

Great leader, inspirational, heartfelt. so many great stories inside

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  • Jodie Nixon
  • 05-05-20

A great read

Such an enjoyable book from a great leader. You should be mindful that Bob Iger only reads the first chapter of the book before another narrator takes over

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  • W*BvK
  • 28-04-20

Inspirational But Snap and Crackle

Having read the publishers summary, I thought this would be a Harvard Business Review or London School of Economics level of young Roberts career and the unparalleled success this man has earned and enjoyed. I regret it was more snap and crackle.

In the first chapter, read by Robert, I wanted to call in Jimmy Cricket, Walt's fixer as Robert needed Disney motivation.
In essence, this is a good book, a light enjoyable inspirational book about a man who would have made Walt proud. I have studied the Pixar/Disney business models and history and smile, about some parts.....

If you like me, wanted a more in-depth explanation of Robert's exemplative life, the postscript or appendix is the primary reason to buy this book. I kind of pray, Robert would consider taking a chair at Harvard or London School and teach his genius.

I would highly recommend also reading To Pixar and Beyond, By Lawrence Levy as this explains a lot more about the Pixar / Disney relationship and opens up about Robert's real success, taking Disney from complacency to the industry dominate powerhouse it is today.

I highly recommend reading but hope there will be a more in-depth HBR book to follow young Robert.

Inspirational.....