ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Allen Iger, popularly known as Bob Iger is the Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney Company. Previously, he served as the CEO of Disney from 2005 to 2020. He recently stepped down from his position as the company CEO. Before working for Disney, Iger had served as the President of ABC Television and as the President/COO of Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. Iger’s debut novel, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons in Creative Leadership from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, reveals his journey as the CEO of Disney during the most turbulent phase the company had experienced since its inception.
In The Ride of a Lifetime, Iger shares the highs and lows he underwent over his fourteen-year-long stint as Disney’s CEO.
Iger started out as a production assistant at the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). He went on to become ABC’s head fifteen years later. However, Walt Disney acquired ABC in 1996. Multiple rounds of interviews and endless discussions with the Board members saw Iger emerge triumphant in the race to become the company chief. While being named as the top executive of such a reputed company would be a matter of great pride for anyone, Iger had no time to celebrate this outstanding success – the company had hit rock bottom and its future looked bleak.
After he took charge as the CEO, Robert presided over major acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, among many other top companies. He put in enormous efforts to open the renowned Shanghai Disneyland Park. Fourteen years after Iger’s appointment as the CEO, Disney now proudly stands as the largest and most respected media company in the world. Its value has shot up by almost five times as compared to when Iger had taken over.
Back to the book, The Ride of a Lifetime does not have a plot but rather offers a casual flow of interconnected experiences. It provides marvelous insights into the continuous workings of the busy mind of an even busier CEO.
Iger has shared many interesting details and tiny snippets of information about the major acquisitions during his reign at Disney. He juggled multiple responsibilities while keeping up with Hollywood stars and the Silicon Valley. Iger skillfully dealt with the pressures that come with being at the helm of such a multinational behemoth. He recalls how Steve Jobs had revealed that he had pancreatic cancer, 30 minutes before the public announcement of Pixar’s acquisition. Steve Jobs had given him the option to back out, but the stunned author had decided to go ahead with the deal nonetheless. That day, Iger had turned Steve Jobs from a notorious stakeholder into a good friend.
Other incidents of his career such as his strained relationship with George Lucas, and Frank Sinatra handing him a gold cigarette lighter adds to the charm of the book.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME
The Ride of a Lifetime is quite aptly titled. It summarizes the ups and downs faced by a person who made it big in life, purely on the basis of his sheer determination to excel. It shows us that, with the right mindset, you can be a somebody even if you are presently a nobody.
WHAT WE DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME
The Ride of a Lifetime leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to exploring Iger’s personality and, more importantly, how his career affected or shaped him as a person.
True authority and true leadership come from knowing who you are and not pretending to be anything else.
If you’re in the business of making something, be in the business of making something great.
Fear of failure destroys creativity.
Working your way up from a mere production assistant to a CEO and turning a troubled company into a thriving business is no mean feat. The Ride of a Lifetime merits a respectable score of 3.5 stars out of 5. This book is articulated in Iger’s own words and the first-person narrative makes for an exciting read. Oh, and if you are into audiobooks, you will not be disappointed with this unique experience. Narrated by the man himself, the audiobook version feels more like a personal conversation than an insipid, self-eulogizing autobiography.
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