Four lessons I learned from working at Disney

6:10 PM

Receiving my one-year pin at the Rotunda restaurant on the Studio Lot

In May, 2017 I embarked on new stage of my career as a Customer Success Manager and more recently, a Service Manager, for The Walt Disney Company.  This was really a dream come true!  My family is a big Disney fan and I’ve always dreamed of working for the company that brought so many wonderful memories, stories, lessons, and adventures to me and millions more around the world.

It’s been a whirlwind 2+ years at Disney and I’ve learned a lot through my time.  As I reflect back on the journey, I decided to share a few lessons I’ve learned on the journey. Through the course of getting my thoughts in writing, I decided to split this post into a mini-series to keep it at a reasonable length.

Look for the “Pixie Dusting” moments

Gearing up with fellow cast members for Mickey’s 90th Birthday Spectacular

If you attended one of the orientation days for new employees, you might hear the term “Pixie Dusting” referenced.  “Pixie Dusting” means those magical (pardon the pun) experiences that you can only get as a Disney cast member.  In essence, it’s when the fact hits you that “Oh wow, I actually work for Disney!!!”.

The reality is that no matter how good the company is, some days on the job can be harder than others and it can be easy to be bogged down by the technical details.  When I started at the company, a dear family friend who also works at Disney encouraged me  to take advantage of every opportunity I can to keep myself inspired and remind myself how special it is to work here.

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What it’s like to grow up in a GTD household

Eric Mack and Wendy Haddad at the GTD Summit

The Getting Things Done methodology has provided tremendous value to so many drowning professionals over the past several years, but have you ever wondered what it was like to grow up in a GTD household? I’ve had the privilege of being trained in the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology since I was a little girl.

My family’s a little “Type A”, and as I grew up around the time GTD was being developed, my parents decided to run an experiment with their homeschooling family and tack on Productivity 101 as an extra “subject” in school (Thanks, Dad). I fell in and out of love with GTD as I grew up, but once I hit university, I was shocked to realized that the habits I was taking for granted were missing in many of my peers.

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5 Observations to Improve Discipline

“Discipline equals freedom” – Jocko Willink

That bold statement by Jocko Willink on the Tribe of Mentors podcast resonated deeply with me and sent me on what is becoming a year-long journey to understand the meaning of discipline and better apply those principles in all areas of my life (not just productivity). Inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, Happier I set “Discipline” as my one-word theme of the year.

Throughout the past six months, I’ve been struck by five observations about discipline:

Discipline needs a positive reward

Discipline is inherently hard.  It’s the act of denying ourselves something now for future benefit.  Charles Duhigg shares that every habit has a reward that reinforces that habit in our brains. We can effectively change our habits and be more disciplined by being intentional with how we use those rewards.  My favorite example of this is the jar of chocolates Duhigg has on his desk that he can only eat from once he’s finished a weekly review.

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5 Ingredients to Maximize Your Rest

Ove-Kennith Nilson, GTD Summit

Have you ever thought through your philosophy of rest?  Is rest something to be achieved after the work is done or equally as important as the work itself?  Are you intentional about deciding how to rest? These are some of the thoughts that have been swirling through my head in the aftermath of the GTD Summit.  I mentioned in a previous post that one of the quotes that hit me hard during the Summit was:

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Reflections on the 2019 GTD Summit

GTD for the family panel discussion with Eric Mack, Wendy Haddad, Mike Williams, and David Allen

Last week I had the incredible privilege of attending and participating on a panel at the 2019 GTD (Getting Things Done) Summit in Amsterdam.  This was a special opportunity for me as I have grown up with the GTD methodology my whole life and was able to participate on a panel in the first GTD Summit in San Francisco ten years prior. David and Kathryn Allen are dear friends of my family and it was wonderful to see them again and hear how the productivity techniques they developed have helped so many people. 

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4 Reasons Why You Should Consider Starting a Blog

Photo credit Damon Duncan, Creative Commons

I have been blogging ever since I was nine years old.  Yes that’s right, nine years old!  We setup a blog for our robotics team, the LEGO Imagineers and I became a regular contributor there and for our family blog. 

Initially I was skeptical of the value of blogging and it felt like a chore, but over the years I’ve become convinced of the value of blogging.  I often see posts that promise incredible financial benefits from blogging, but I want to share five other reasons why I found blogging to be invaluable:

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4 Ways Competitive Robotics Gave Me A Professional Edge

Robot

I can still remember the pressure as my sister called out, “three, two, one, LEGO!”.  We had worked toward this goal for the past year – drastically revising strategies and even the physical construction and program of our robot at the last moment to achieve what we had originally thought impossible – a perfect score.

“One minute remaining.”  The pressure mounted, but we fought to stay calm and focused.  While stress could help us get in the zone, it could also cause us to make rash decisions or become imprecise in our alignments of the robot.

“Ten, nine, eight, seven…” I will never forget that moment.  One January 23rd, 2008, the LEGO Mountaineers scored a perfect 400.  Even nine years later I haven’t forgotten what that felt like or the essential life lessons I learned through competing in the FIRST LEGO League competitions

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Extending the Classroom Through Video Conferencing

When I worked as the Educational Technology Specialist at The Master’s University, I was always looking for ways to help professors maximize their impact. I designed a workshop entitled “The Canvas Next Steps”, where I taught the faculty how to make use of a variety of tools that would expand their reach beyond the classroom.  One professor who attended this workshop  decided to tuck away the Canvas Conferences, a video conferencing tool, for future reference.  He messaged me a while later to share how this technology had enhanced his class and helped a student:

Tonight I had a student text me that she was not coming because she was in bed sick. ¬†Well tonight was a very important class and the first half of the class would be a brutal lecture to miss for the semester…We set up a conference in Canvas (in about two minutes) and had her join the class remotely. ¬†Since she was ill, we had her mute her line and message in her questions. It was extremely successful!

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The Mindsweep: Emptying Your “Psychic RAM”

Digital Brain

I’ve been using the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology over the past 10 years as my personal productivity system.  I love GTD because it doesn’t just provide a way for me to keep on top of everything; it also provides a way for me to recover if – and when – when life gets out of control.

This recently happened as my family moved and my sense of order was completely eradicated.  My desk became a dumping ground for papers and mail until it was almost unusable, and my brain was overwhelmed with the next “to-do’s” or things to remember. Ever been there? I felt stressed and burned-out and it was hard to know where to start.

Sweeping out your mind

Enter one of my all-time favorite productivity tools:  the Mindsweep.  One of the core principles of the GTD methodology is to get things out of your head – fast – and store it in a trusted system. Our brain can do some wonderful things, but it can also be our worst enemy.  We can wake up in the middle of the night worrying about something we need to remember to do that we can’t do at that moment, or we go shopping and forget that one item we needed to buy.  Writing things down and processing it into a trusted system helps take the mental load off and allows us to stay focused on the task at hand.  We’re less stressed because we’re not spending our mental energy trying to remember everything.  At that point, we are working smarter, not harder and we are quickly approaching the point of “stress-free productivity”.

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How I Got Over Career Impostor Syndrome

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This morning an interesting article popped up in my feed entitled “6 Ways to Get Over Impostor Syndrome and Get the Job You Want”.  According to the author, Jillian Kramer, Impostor Syndrome is “”the feeling that we just don’t stack up to our coworkers and job competitors, that we sneaked in on pure luck, and that we just don’t belong.”  I certainly know what that feels like.  I had struggled with these feelings when I first started working as the Educational Technology Manager at The Master’s University.

My Problem

In early 2015, the University decided to expand the support of their Learning Management System (then Joule/Moodle) from a 10 hr/week support position to a full Educational Technology Department.  I was hired to head up that initiative.  Immediately feelings of inadequacy and fear came crashing in.  There was little documentation and even less training.  What if I wasn’t good enough? How can I possibly support users in a field I hadn’t studied? What if I let my employers down? What business did I really have being here anyway? 

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