Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Ride of a Lifetime

Robert Iger was Disney's CEO for fifteen years, and retired only a few months ago. In The Ride of a Lifetime, Iger discusses his rise to the top and the lessons he learned along the way.

The book was outstanding. I'm not the world's biggest fan of biographies (though I do prefer autobiographies), but this book has many of the elements I like in one, including:

1) It spent very little time discussing the guy's life as a kid

2) He discusses a lot of the lessons he learned at different stages of his career. Not everyone will agree with all of them, but the fact that he's sharing what he thinks works is what I like, especially when backed up with specific examples.

3) I learned a lot about the business. Disney is an iconic franchise, but also one that I don't follow very closely because it's always expensive. Understanding the key success factors from Iger's eyes helped me better understand its moat. The company has tremendous reach with its network TV, parks and merchandise. All of these things need top content in order to reach their full potential. When the content goes stale (as it did in the period before Iger took over), the company suffers as it can't attract the families it counts as its consumers to its properties. For this reason, Iger went on a buying spree by adding Pixar (which was kicking Disney's butt in animated films), Marvel and Star Wars (which both include a ton of IP in sequel-ish content where films can be churned out to existing fan bases). Disney can even afford to "overpay" to secure good content, because it's reach is so strong that it can probably still generate a reasonable return.

I highly recommend the book to anyone looking to learn more about business.

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