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.

Caught on ABC News in Mickey’s 90th Birthday Spectacular

Some of my favorite “Pixie Dusting” memories included behind-the-scenes tours of Walt’s Office and various attractions, participating in Minnie’s Moonlit Madness (an after-hours puzzle/scavenger hunt night at Disneyland), participating in the 2017 Candlelight Processional at Disneyland with Chris Hemsworth, performing with the Cast Choir at Mickey’s 90th Birthday Spectacular, working the movie premiers, and test riding the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride.

Remember who you are

Exploring the new Pixar Pier at Disney’s California Adventure

Ok, not really who you are (Lion King anyone?), but I did want to note that another key lesson I’ve learned is the importance of reminding myself constantly of our company’s mission and finding how the work I do is tied to that mission. This can be done in the day to day efforts, listening to leadership broadcasts and investor calls, or by simply going to the Parks or attending a Disney movie and seeing the pure delight and pleasure this company brings to people of all generations. Regardless of wherever you work, there is so much value in seeing the big picture and reminding yourself of your purpose.

Make it magical

I love the smile that people get when I tell them I work for Disney  So many people have special memories associated with the stories Disney tells that it’s an immediate connection.  When opportunities allow, I love enabling friends and family to participate in fun experiences or even some of the Pixie Dusting experiences above.   I also love connecting new employees to their own Pixie Dusting moments.

Performing with the cast choir in Mickey’s 90th birthday spectacular. (I’m on the far right)

Another way to realize this lesson is to spread the “magic” through day-to-day interactions.  I’ll never forget how, when I messaged my soon to be manager to ask if there was anything I could do to  prepare for the position, she responded that my “homework” was to watch my favorite Disney movie.  She also modeled (and I now emulate) looking for opportunities when I’m at the park to help others have a wonderful time.  Whether that’s offering to take a nice picture for a group trying to fit into a selfie or wishing people “Happy birthday!” or “Congratulations on your first visit!”, people like to be noticed and engaged.  I also have adopted along with some coworkers the phrase “Have a magical day!” at the end of an email or occasional phone call.  Cheesy?  Perhaps, but it sure leaves them with a smile at the end of the conversation!

Become a story teller

Disney is the king of timeless stories that inspire children and adults alike.  At Disney, we’ve discussed the fact that Disney is really in the storytelling business, and that all other fields we engage with are tied directly into the stories we tell.  This mindset is pervasive in all areas of business – even technology! 

Supporting our cast members after a technology training

The ability to effectively tell the story of the current challenges or needs, the proposed end goal, and the journey to get there in a way that even non-technical people can understand is critical in this business.  One of my roles as a Customer Success Manager at Disney was as a trainer in various software products.  Through this experience, I realized that the more I spent helping the cast member connect with and believe in the story of how this software applied to the specific way they worked, what their new day-to-day would look like, and how they and their teams would benefit, the more successful we all were.

These are just a few of the many lessons I’ve learned while working here and I’ll be sharing more in future posts. I am forever thankful for this opportunity to learn and grow at this incredible company and am excited to share the journey!

Do you have a favorite Disney memory or story? Leave a comment below.

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One thought on “Four lessons I learned from working at Disney

  1. Many of my favorite memories involve taking you to Disneyland, and especially when your Dad and I let you and your twin, Amy, go off “by yourself” around Fantasyland. Of course, you never saw us following you from a discreet distance! I think you fell even more in love with the Park that day.