038 – Leadership with Lee Cockerell

038 – Leadership with Lee Cockerell




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[In This Episode][Guest Bio][Additional Notes][Text Transcript]

In This Episode

 How does a cook in the army learn to become the Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World?  What is the importance of Role Modeling?  How important is having dinner together as a family?  Listen in for the timeless answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation!  My guest today has connections in one of the most magical places in the world!  I won’t spoil the surprise yet, so let me distract you for a moment with a great insight from James Baldwin:

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

Unfortunately, I have observed this to be true with my own kids!  Kids seem to have a sixth sense for seeing the difference between what we say and what we do.  In today’s episode we’ll touch on this topic, and I think it is a particularly poignant topic.  In our Inventor’s Bootcamps, we encourage kids to explore, tinker, try stuff because the process of trying something new, varying the approach, and iterating until success is the only way to learn anything.  It is such a powerful idea that the best business leaders encourage it, and we use the same process in our company whenever we try a new idea.

If you’d like your kids to learn this success formula in a fun and engaging Inventor’s Bootcamp environment this summer, visit ttinvent.com and click on the Inventor’s Bootcamp button.

And now to break the suspense about today’s guest!  For 10 years, Lee Cockerell was directly responsible for the Disney Magic at Walt Disney World Resorts in Florida.  Since then he has focused in on great leadership and training another generation of great leaders.  Let’s listen in as Lee shares some timeless treasures of leadership.

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About Lee

 Lee_Cockerell_and_MickeyLee Cockerell is the former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort. “As the Senior Operating Executive for ten years Lee led a team of 40,000 Cast Members and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping & entertainment village and the ESPN sports and recreation complex in addition to the ancillary operations which supported the number one vacation destination in the world.”

One of Lee’s major and lasting legacies was the creation of Disney Great Leader Strategies which was used to train and develop the 7000 leaders at Walt Disney World. Lee has held various executive positions in the hospitality and entertainment business with Hilton Hotels for 8 years and the Marriott Corporation for 17 years before joining Disney in 1990 to open the Disneyland Paris project.

Lee has served as Chairman of the Board of Heart of Florida United Way, the Board of Trustees for The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the board of the Production and Operations Management Society and the board of Reptilia a Canadian attractions and entertainment company. In 2005 Governor Bush appointed Lee to the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Public Service for the state of Florida where he served as Chairman of the Board.

  • Golden Chain Award for Outstanding leadership and business performance from the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operations Association (MUFSO).
  • Silver Plate Award for Outstanding Operator in the foodservice industry from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA)
  • Excellence In Production Operations Management and Leadership (POMS) from the Productions and Operations.
  • Grandfather of the year from his three grandchildren, Jullian, Margot and Tristan.

Lee and his wife Priscilla live in Orlando Florida.

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What is the Purpose of an Education?

“To be able to go out and help other people.”  —Lee Cockerell

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Lee’s Quotes

 “I’m a good learner.”  –Lee Cockerell

“Learn it.  Do it.  Teach it.”  –Lee Cockerell

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Lee’s Books

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Additional Notes



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Full Text Transcript – Coming Soon!

“Tell your people the truth whether they like it or not.  They will then come to trust you.” –Lee Cockerell

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