Bob Iger on Leadership


My notes don’t do justice for the videos I watched. Clarity in his words and their crispness, careful selection of insights of his time as CEO. No nonsense beating around the bush kind of lessons.

I personally believe leader needs to have clarity, eye for details and empathy for people. But there are other facets of being leader, which is:

Good Negotiation skills Risk Taking Ability Oozing Optimism Fairness But what I believe is being reinforced and opening new set of skills into the toolbox, these lessons are priceless.

On Starting his day

4:15 am

  • Starts with a workout. In solitude.
  • Listening to Music, it is a sort of meditating
  • I think about things.
  • I don’t look at my email. It can be mood changing.
  • Clarity of Thought

6:30 am.

  • I reach office and I turn the lights on

  • I am easing into my day and organize.

  • Create Agenda and be prepared for the day.

  • 8 am—4 pm : Meetings

  • Home for dinner.

  • Family is important part of my life

  • After dinner, I return to my homework.

  • 8-10 pm do something little distant from my job.

Infuse creativity

  • Have I got things done.
  • Infuse some creativity in everyday
  • Helps to put a smile on your face.


  • Focus is imperative
  • Define and reinforce your priorities regularly
  • Clarity is an essential ingredient for leadership
  • Evolve and adapt to times. Critical. Constant Learning

Focus Strategy and Priority

  • Focus determines reality.
  • Critical for leadership
  • people need priorities
  • Ties to strategic focus!
  • 2004 After he became a new CEO. This was his list of priorities
    • Interview with board members
    • How I intend to run the company
    • where we are going to allocate capital
    • I need to articulate the strategy
    • Have only few strategies—so you can focus better
    • Invest in creativity
    • Embrace Technology
    • Grow Globally

How to communicate

  • Clarity in thought and the ability to articulate them clearly
  • Tying a value proposition—If we do this, what’s the expected outcome


  • On a constant basis, marketplace conditions needs to be evaluated.
  • Usually Requires a lot of input to leader
  • Fair amount of face-to-face basis
  • Articulate the priorities
  • Get the feedback and what their challenges are , give and take advice.
  • Never worry about putting truth to table. Doing it regularly is important as businesses are dynamic

Pixar’s acquisition case study

  • Didn’t have end in mind.
  • Decade of struggle as of 2005
  • was to turn Disney animation around. Talented leadership.
  • Best animators are need of time. Pixar was good at that time.
  • Steve Jobs was CEO of Pixar and had disputes over Disney over contracts and split finally.
  • Bob was to repair the relationship
  • Bob had this idea of iTunes TV just like iTunes for music.
  • Steve came down and showed him the first video iPod.
  • Agreed on deal to put ABC’s shows on the video iPod.
  • Board believed Disney Animation was in good shape.
  • They weren’t aware of it. It’s all about future in terms of animation.
  • We know what was Pixar worth. We’d pay premium over stock price. Cannot justify.
  • If Steve to run the Disney as he was owning 50% share on Pixar. He said it would be good for company.
  • I was certain to buying Pixar. To bring in great technology and animators to Disney. Thereby increasing my idea of staying as CEO for longer period of time.

Getting Steve Jobs on board

  • To Steve Jobs : what about Disney acquiring Pixar ?
  • Tell me more about the idea.
  • One idea notion of buying Pixar. Why don’t we talk about it.
  • Steve & Bob : on boardroom.
  • Steve took the marker. He discussed the Pros and cons. He arrived at 3 pros and more cons.
  • Bob said it is not happening and Steve asked “Why do you conclude that ?”
  • Steve said, “I am seeing the Pros outweigh all the cons”.
  • Steve had ability to see essence of something.
  • Disney and Pixar would thrive together.
  • Steve and Pixar discuss pros and cons. Steve was worried about process making the technical people go crazy and Disney would not take risk.
  • Pixar people were not happy. Steve asked them to hear the pitch.
  • Pixar team should them the stories in progress.
  • Bob was excited about technology and what this could meant to Disney.
  • Bob successfully pitched the idea to Creators. over Dinner and a lunch.

Merging Company’s Culture

  • Pressure to create bottom line results
  • We need to assimilate a company fast. But there is a culture.
  • Make sure the culture thrive.
  • Being sensitive to Pixar culture. Culture is valuable.
  • Preserving culture is important.


  • Acquisition is a risk. It was a 7+ billion merger.
  • Identify weakness and develop solution
  • Creative talent.
  • Relationships can be repaired.
  • Respect Culture
  • Confidence in your instincts

Art of Negotiation

  • No two people have same negotiation.
  • Put things in table quickly and directly.
  • Get to the essence quickly. It might give them some advantage.
  • It should be win-win.
  • If winner-take-all negotiation, it takes long.
  • Forge a personal relationship. To convince them.
  • With Steve Jobs, it was honest, no ego, and focus on what needed to be achieve.
  • Understand what other side needs.

Brand Value

  • When you say the brand name, what are the specific attribute that comes to the consumer.
  • Brand can convey, what the product is, so consumer can decide quickly. Trusting that they can derive value in doing so.
  • Brand being relevant is important.
  • Battle Traditionalist, has to be revered but not to be touched. But Brand has to be respected.
  • If you revered something, no one can touch it. It cannot be changed.
  • If you respect a brand, you bring the values, but it also progresses.
  • Keeping Brand modern. For example show young woman empowered.
  • Example is Frozen.
  • Ability to mine brands, monetize the businesses. Example: Frozen as consumer products for kids to enjoy. Walk around characters in park.
  • Brand is a relationship between consumer and product.
  • Experiencing Brand in multiple places. Like Lego land.
  • Understand the essence of brand. Understand what that brand stands for.
  • Don’t abandon the core values in order to be relevant.
  • Never do something to brand for short term profit, thereby destroying the long term value.

Marvel Acquisition Case Study

  • Spend time is going to be enhanced the brand value/reputation.
  • Potential damage when buying a company. Core Value for Marvel shared many core values.
  • Should we tame down Marvel, doing that would damage Marvel brand.
  • So Brands are managed separately.
  • Fan is short for Fanatics. Should be used as base to build upon.
  • What customers want
  • storytelling is our universal appeal
  • modern technology is important and story having its relevance
  • reflect the world we live

Limitations of Data

  • you give customers before they know they want it. This needs guts
  • how a marketplace reacts depends on gut instinct
  • talk with customers and know them
  • touch the market direct and feel the real essence of it.
  • Example : doing business in India. You need to go there and experience the market directly.

Risk Taking

  • If you adopt status quo, it is doomed for failure
  • anything new and creative is risky but necessary
  • great risk taking has great benefits
  • creativity has inherent risk
  • After failure of “Cop Rock” which failed
  • “NYPD Blue” → was a success which was also risky
  • Being conservative after failure is going bring more failure
  • Do your homework
  • Risk taking is result of well thought process
  • Thoughtfulness → understand how risk will play out if their success or a failure taking it.
  • 21st Century Fox
  • Rupert Murdoch of 21st Century Fox.
  • Want to know which assets of 21st Century Fox to buy, so it fits the Disney’s strategy.
  • It was fitting the direct-to-consumer business strategy
  • not how assets would perform but how that affect new strategies
  • Comcast was bidding for 21st Century Fox.
  • Idea was to bet significantly higher to Comcast would budge.
  • High stakes come the High stress.
  • Whiteboard makes easier to get a sense of scale and long term strategical thinking.
  • Restructuring can be good for your company


  • Has Foot in the present & a foot in the future.
  • Embrace disruption is to “Embrace change”.
  • Evolving ESPN
  • ESPN was affected by technological disruption
  • Acquire the technology necessary to absolve the change.
  • BAMTech - Direct-to-Consumer
  • Bring the Disney to ESPN way, and more like Netflix
  • Having content creation ability helps for the future platform
  • AI based personalized content delivery to consumers directly


  • Foster Curiosity. It’s vital. Desire to learn new things. If not you never innovate.
  • Be Authentic : Never faking anything that you don’t believe.
  • Operate with Integrity: Setting and adhering to high standards.
  • Perfectionism: work hard to make things great. Always attempt for high quality product.
  • Brain, Energy, and Integrity.
  • Never accept mediocrity.
  • Opportunity to make them great. It always pays off.
  • Treat people as leader.
  • Being empathetic
  • giving second chance for honest mistakes.
  • Owning up mistakes. People are impressed by the fact to take responsibility of failure or an honest mistake.
  • Making decisions in a timely manner. Indecisiveness is counterproductive. People need to know what they need to do and when.
  • Communicating good and bad news is equally important. Creating safe environment for openness and honesty.
  • Optimism can inspire.
  • Have some humor.

On a closing notes, some of the key take aways,

  • Have limits on future thinking. Be definite like 5 or 10 years.
  • Work with integrity and make the future a bright one.
  • Successful people put lot of efforts on Integrity and have a vision
  • Communication is one of the pillar of their success

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