The Ride of a Lifetime

Updated: Jan 24

Robert Iger

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world? Wonder no more. Robert Iger shares the lessons he learned while navigating Disney through one of the toughest times in its history!

What’s it about?

In The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger shares the lessons he learned while running Disney and leading its more than 200,000+ employees and he explores the principles that are necessary for true leadership.

Written by Iger himself, the book is a part-memoir, part-business lessons book where he takes us through his tough beginnings all the way to making Disney sustain its position as one of the world’s biggest companies!

While being careful not to go too much into detail, he talks about his humble beginnings of working part-time jobs like a school janitor. We also discover how his father was too volatile to hold down a job for long and had unstable mood swings thanks to his bipolar disorder, for which he received electroshock therapy. We can only imagine the effects that must have had on shaping young Iger.

He then goes on to talk about his first proper job as a junior staffer at ABC in 1974 and how he learned the most important lesson in leadership from his then boss Roone Arledge, someone who Iger overtook in his meteoric rise to being the CEO of Disney, taking over from Michael Eisner in 2005.

He then tells us the stories of navigating Disney through one of the toughest times in history and the acquisition of companies such as Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm (Star Wars) which make for an exciting read!

What I liked about the book?

Iger does not unnecessarily complicate anything at all. He's a simple guy, with a fixed set of values and beliefs that have helped him become one of the greatest leaders of the last two decades! He crafts the book around a handful of key principles such as optimism, courage, curiosity and focus.

If those leadership lessons were still not clear to some, or too much to take at once, he also provides a summary of all his lessons taught throughout the book, at the end.

There are so many books out there that go into the depths of what it takes to be a good leader. Some even go as far as connecting leadership to science. But not this book, Iger is very direct in his writing and lets us know exactly what are the key aspects of being a good leader according to him.

The storytelling and style of writing make it a very easy and fascinating read for readers of all genres. It’s even got enough drama to attract the fiction readers to give this book a try.

The story of his friendship with Steve Jobs is heartwarming!

“ If you approach and engage people with respect and empathy. The seemingly impossible can become real. “

What did I not like about the book?

Even though Iger clearly mentions that this isn’t a memoir, at times the book does feel like one due to the storytelling style. Not much of an issue, but worth mentioning.

Being the CEO of a company as huge as Disney for 15 years means it’s rarely uneventful. As a result, there’s a lot left unsaid. For example, he goes into minimal detail about the sexual harassment charges that led to animation chief John Lasseter’s exit.

Notable public issues were also excluded such as Iger’s reluctance to name his own successor or the backlash he faced when word spread of the abysmal pay for Disneyland employees was also not mentioned in the book.

While Iger does a great job in imparting his lessons in business, we do not get to see Bob Iger, the man. We don’t get a glimpse of how he is as a person. That’s unfortunate, as he’s a great leader and readers would have loved to get to know more about him personally.

My verdict-

Inspite of its flaws, Iger does a great job with this book and perfectly sums up what is required to be a good leader. It’s not easy being the head of Disney, let alone for 15 years. The Ride of a Lifetime is a simple yet exciting read, a glimpse into the life of a CEO. This book is not just for the aspiring CEOs of the world. It's for anyone wanting to feel less fearful, more confidently THEMSELVES, as they navigate their personal and professional lives.

Whether you’re looking for leadership lessons or just a fun read, this book has it all. One of my top reads of 2020!

Rating - 8/10

You can check out this book for yourself by clicking on the link below!

Thank you for reading my review. Hope you enjoy the book!

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