Just Read – The Ride of a Lifetime – Robert Iger

After a long pause, back to the earlier speed of reading books. Finished this book The Ride of a Lifetime in just about 15 days. Even though its just 272 pages, its a great achievement for a lazy reader like me. Robert Iger is the man who has bought Disney back into the limelight after it spent the early decades of this century wandering aimlessly. As someone who started off at the absolute lower rungs of ABC television, its a good read about his climb up the corporate ladder and the various boardroom coups and fights he negotiated. The book is just concentrated on Iger’s experiences of his corporate life. It barely touches his personal life except a few mentions here and there about his wife and the divorce from his first wife or about their kids.

robert iger

Its phenomenal that in the 15 odd years as the CEO of Disney, Iger managed to turn around the company from a safe and boring company that just produced stuff for kids into a media powerhouse that today owns brands like Pixar, Marvel, 20th Century Fox, ESPN and Lucasfilm. Its not easy managing and massaging the egos of people like Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch or George Lucas but Iger managed to woo the legends and take over their companies while not stepping on their toes. The list of studios that Disney manages is simply mind boggling. Coupled with it is the resorts, hotels, radio and tv channels and not to mention the various Disneylands.

The biggest challenge for Disney in the coming decades is from the OTT categories like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Roku, Hulu, Apple TV etc. Disney has already launched its own streaming services in the form of Disney+. Its combining ESPN and HULU alongwith which will provide programmnig for adults which cant be telecast on Disney+. Also it has pulled back the huge library of content that it had leased to its competitors like Netflix, Amazon etc. This will lead to significant losses in the form of licensing fees but Disney hopes to make it back with the millions of subscribers it plans to sign on.

A few of the lessons to lead by according to Robert Iger

  • To tell great stories, you need great talent.
  • Take responsibility when you screw up. In work, in life, you’ll be more respected and trusted by the people around you if you own up to your mistakes. It’s impossible to avoid them; but it is possible to acknowledge them, learn from them, and set an example that it’s okay to get things wrong sometimes.
  • When the people at the top of a company have a dysfunctional relationship, there’s no way that the rest of the company can be functional. It’s like having two parents who fight all the time. The kids know, and they start to reflect the animosity back onto the parents and at each other.
  • As a leader, if you don’t do the work, the people around you are going to know, and you’ll lose their respect fast. You have to be attentive. You often have to sit through meetings that, if given the choice, you might choose not to sit through. You have to listen to other people’s problems and help find solutions. It’s all part of the job.
  • If you walk up and down the halls constantly telling people “the sky is falling,” a sense of doom and gloom will, over time, permeate the company. You can’t communicate pessimism to the people around you. It’s ruinous to morale. No one wants to follow a pessimist. Pessimism leads to paranoia, which leads to defensiveness, which leads to risk aversion.
  • Technological advancements will eventually make older business models obsolete. You can either bemoan that and try with all your might to protect the status quo, or you can work hard to understand and embrace it with more enthusiasm and creativity than your competitors.


This was the first ever book i read on the Kindle app. I absolutely loved the comfort of reading the book on my computer and phone simultaneously. The Kindle automatically synced between the devices and took me to the exact page between the computer and the phone. Am a huge fan now. Even though the feeling of holding a physical book in the hand is something special.

A list of all the previous reads that i used to document diligently is here.

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
Author – Robert Iger
Pages – 272
Publisher – Random House