The Importance of Trust in Leadership by Lee Cockerell
On Episode 120 of The No Limits Selling Podcast, we have Lee Cockerell, Disney Retired & Founder of Cockerell Academy. Lee Cockerell retired as the Executive Vice President of Operations for the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, a position he held for ten years. His responsibilities encompassed a diverse mix of operations, which included 20 resort hotels with over 24,000 Guest rooms, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 5 golf courses, a shopping village & nighttime entertainment complex, the ESPN Sports Complex, and the ancillary operations support functions.
Lee joined the Disney organization in July 1990 as Director of Food and Beverage and Quality Assurance for the Disneyland Paris hotels. Before joining the Walt Disney World Co., he spent seventeen years in various executive positions with the Marriott Corporation and eight years with Hilton Hotels.
Lee is the best-selling author of four books on leadership, management, and world class customer service;
Creating Magic…10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney is now available in 21 languages.
The Customer Rules...The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service is currently available in 15 languages.
Time Management Magic…How to Get More Done Every Day
Career Magic…How to Stay on Track to Achieve a Stellar Career
Lee and his wife Priscilla reside in Orlando, Florida. Lee enjoys teaching leadership, management, and service excellence seminars, traveling, dining out, and most of all spending time with his three grandchildren, Jullian, Margot, and Tristan.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This podcast is sponsored by No Limits Selling. It is a fun, fast-paced podcast that delivers hard-fought business advice that you can implement today to improve your sales and performance]
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Introduction and Guest Background
The podcast episode features Lee Cockerell, the former VP of Operations at Walt Disney Resorts, as a guest. The host, Umar Hameed, introduces Cockerell and highlights his significant role at Disney, managing thousands of employees and maintaining high-quality operations.
Cockerell's Career Journey
Cockerell shares his career journey, which began in the hospitality industry after his stint in the army. He started as a waiter at the Washington Hilton and worked for Hilton for eight years in various locations, including Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. He then joined Marriott, where he spent 17 years and rose to the position of Vice President of Food and Beverage. In 1990, Disney recruited him to open Disneyland Paris. After three years in France, he returned to Orlando to oversee operations for another decade.
Military Experience and Its Impact
Cockerell's time in the army played a significant role in shaping his professional life. He served as a cook in the military, which later influenced his focus on the food business. The army taught him discipline, the importance of following orders, and doing things the right way. He also learned about his capabilities and resilience during his military training.
The Importance of Process
The conversation emphasizes the importance of processes in both the army and businesses. Cockerell and Hameed agree that having a process in place leads to consistency and the possibility of improvement. They discuss how without a process, things can become chaotic, using the example of vaccine distribution at the time of the podcast. They also address the misconception that processes stifle creativity, arguing that processes are essential for achieving excellence in any field.
In this episode of the No Limits Selling Podcast, host Umar Hameed interviews Lee Cockerell, the former VP of Operations at Walt Disney Resorts. Cockerell shares his career trajectory, starting as a waiter after his military service, progressing through the ranks at Hilton and Marriott, and eventually leading operations at Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Resorts in Orlando. His military experience, particularly the discipline, and resilience he gained, played a crucial role in his professional development.
A key theme of the conversation is the importance of process in achieving consistency and excellence, whether in the military or business. Despite common misconceptions, Cockerell and Hameed argue that processes do not stifle creativity but rather provide a framework for continuous improvement, as exemplified in Cockerell's successful career in the hospitality industry.
Questions & Answers
Who is Lee Cockerell and what is his background?
Lee Cockerell is a renowned figure in the hospitality industry, known for his role as the former VP of Operations at Walt Disney Resorts. He started his career as a waiter after his military service and climbed the ranks at Hilton and Marriott before joining Disney.
What did Lee Cockerell do in the army and how did it influence his career?
Lee Cockerell served as a cook in the army. The discipline, resilience, and process-oriented approach he learned during his military service played a significant role in shaping his professional life, particularly his focus on the food business.
What was Lee Cockerell's role at Disney?
Lee Cockerell was recruited by Disney in 1990 to open Disneyland Paris. After three years, he returned to Orlando to oversee operations at Walt Disney Resorts for another decade, managing thousands of employees and maintaining high-quality operations.
What is the importance of process in business according to Lee Cockerell?
Lee Cockerell emphasizes the importance of having a process in place for achieving consistency and the possibility of improvement in business. He argues that processes do not stifle creativity but rather provide a framework for continuous improvement.
How does Lee Cockerell's career journey inspire leaders in the hospitality industry?
Lee Cockerell's career journey, from a waiter to the VP of Operations at Walt Disney Resorts, serves as an inspiration for leaders in the hospitality industry. His emphasis on discipline, resilience, and the importance of process provides valuable insights for achieving excellence in the field.
What are the key takeaways from Lee Cockerell's interview on the No Limits Selling Podcast?
The key takeaways from Lee Cockerell's interview include the importance of discipline and resilience learned from his military service, the significance of process in achieving consistency and excellence in business, and the inspiring journey of his career in the hospitality industry.
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