Tag: Disney

Spreading Pixie Dust

Spreading Pixie Dust

Oh, how I love my job! It’s not without its quirks, but I look forward to going to work every day.  I have had the most amazing experiences so far.  Some of my favorite moments has included catching moments of magic being created, such as testing of the lights on Cinderella’s castle, walking through snowfall in the middle of the night at Hollywood Studios, and witnessing the Magic Kingdom switch over from fall to the winter holidays overnight!  The one thing that really stands out and makes the biggest impact to me is the passion of the cast members and the commitment to excellence.  It’s the Disney level of service that creates a level of awe, even internally, many refer to as Pixie Dust.  There are high expectations for this company.  The CEO Bob Iger has the vision for Disney to be the Most Admired Company in the World.

Through the many efforts across the company we focus on our four key areas: Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. I am honored that I get to be an integral part of safety.  While I am still learning about standard safety practices, I am applying my project management skills to support the training of Engineering Services Cast Members with safely executing ride motion protection.  It’s driven by a worldwide need to give cast members and employees the comfort that when they come to work at a risky job, they can expect to go home in the same state that they came into work – with all fingers, all toes, and just in general in one healthy solid piece.  Disney has many people working to ensure our cast are taken care of.

My team has recently been looking for ways to make training more engaging to take it to the next level by encouraging critical thinking from cast members using gaming methods. We want to add value to the training.  Recently, the onboarding experience has been significantly improved through gaming strategies that encourage team work and challenges based on information learned during the onboarding process.  It’s the ways that the Disney goes above and beyond even internally to make the cast feel like they are valued that helps make a huge impact.  Through efforts like these, the pixie dust spreads.

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I Shouldn’t Be Here

I Shouldn’t Be Here

The imposter complex or feelings of being a fraud in a leadership role apparently occurs in the minds of many female leaders. Studies have shown that women prefer to know their chances of success before making a decision and stepping into a role.  In fact when it comes to applying for a job, most women tend to go for positions in which they meet nearly all of the requirements, while men reach for ones in which they meet about half.  While we may know we are technically competent and have good intentions, sometimes when we look at where we are, we can feel like we don’t belong.

I love my new role working as a project manager at Disney and I want to do great things. I want to understand the culture and how things work so I can make an impact and make it better.  I read about forward thinking leadership and empowering your team to extraordinary performance.  I need to change my mindset from I want to be an inspirational leader to I am an inspirational leader!  I truly am an inspirational leader, I have been told that before.  From the teams that I have led and even my colleagues.  At times I feel as if I am not ready, but other times I feel like I could do so much more.  At Disney, for me, it is more than just climbing the corporate ladder, although I would like to move to a prominent position.  At Disney, my ultimate goal is to be a part of something great, to create amazing experiences, help people make extraordinary memories, and create happiness.

So while the negativity may creep in and make me feel like I shouldn’t be here, I look around and know that through my drive, creativity, and passion I need to be here!

Using Efficiency to Make Magic

Using Efficiency to Make Magic

At Walt Disney World the top priorities include Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency.  Together these priorities are called the four keys.  Out of the four keys, efficiency is a foundation the other keys can leverage.  Efficiency can improve safety, provide more opportunities for guest interaction for increased courtesy, and enhance show.  Everyone can play a role in efficiency at work.  Disney strives to deliver high quality service.  At work, employees or cast members can think about how to be more efficient in order to deliver extraordinary service?

Disney has processes in place to support the mission of being one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.  For Disney, efficiency means process innovation and empowerment.  This means that Disney Cast Members have the opportunity to be innovators.  They have the power to propose ways to innovate processes to grow our service to be extraordinary quality service, to feel magical.  Lee Cockerell, former Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort understood the principle of magic.  He said. “It is not the magic that makes it work, it’s the way we work that makes it magic.” So whatever your job or role, leader or front line individual contributor, make magic and strive for efficiency to help deliver extra ordinary customer service.

 

Perseverance Pays Off

Perseverance Pays Off

After five months of working hard and saving lives as a lifeguard at Blizzard Beach, I have been offered an opportunity with Disney’s Safety team.  After two months of showing my dedication to the company, I sat down to share my plan and goals with the leader of the Blizzard Beach water park.  Due to her ongoing support I had nearly two dozen Meet and Greets / interviews across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.  It was an amazing opportunity to learn about different business segments and expand my professional network.  Nearly every single free day I had during the week was dedicated to growing my professional influence through expanding my network, researching Disney business units and potential opportunities.  It was exhausting work and a little stressful hoping that I would connect with the Disney leaders that I had the privilege to meet.  My resume got tuned up, my response to tell me about yourself was refreshed to focus on what I could highlight about myself to be of interest to the audience, and my business professional wardrobe was extensively used (thanks again Ann Taylor for helping me dress professionally!).  Repeatedly, I have seen the formula for success, sometimes it was tweaked, but overall it follows the simple equation:

Success = (Leadership + Management) x Technical Skills x Relationships

I have recently achieved a huge success, starting yesterday I am a Disney Professional!  I proudly wear my Disney badge over my professional personal clothes, seek to better the company through managing a project for safety performance alignment, and am growing my knowledge of the workings of the company.  So far I have witnessed the emphasis the professional cast place on business relationships.  I look forward to helping drive the number one priority Safety through my new role!

Team Members Value Regular Recognition

Team Members Value Regular Recognition

Every day at Disney’s Blizzard Beach the lifeguards and slide operators gather together for two quick stand up meetings also known as Break Outs, one in the morning before the park opens and one in the evening after the park closes.  This is very similar to what is formally done with Software related Agile development to discuss the plan for the day as well as provide recognition, notices, and reminders.  The Blizzard Beach Coordinators are similar to the Agile Scrum Masters with the task of leading these stand up meetings and provide support throughout the day.  These roles are very effective in helping to maximize the potential of the day by setting focus items and consistently rewarding the team efforts.  The coordinators leading Break Out rotate between about a dozen individuals that have established themselves over time, generally about a year, as front line leaders.

The Break Out at the end of the day at Blizzard Beach reviews prominent happenings during the day such as reminders over the importance of hydration in the intense Florida heat.  One of the Coordinators has promoted the phrase, “Hydration Starts at Home”.  The team also gets an overview of what went well and what needs improvement during this time.  Last night during break out when the Lifeguard of the Day was announced, my name came up.  It made me feel really great that my efforts were recognized after the long day in the heat while maintaining a positive attitude.  The Lifeguard of the Day becomes eligible for Lifeguard of the Week.  As Lifeguard of the Week, you can sign the official Lifeguard Tube that hangs over the Base Operations center and choose your favorite area to work on for the week.  It’s simple awards such as this that provide motivation and make team members feel appreciated.  I am proud to work for a company that finds ways to show it values it’s team.

Networking with the Disney Leaders

Networking with the Disney Leaders

Disney is a company that is built on relationships.  I have been informed by multiple people that a key to grow your career in Disney is to network.  Disney has an informal policy on meeting other cast members around the company for current cast members.  If you are a cast member you can schedule a Meet and Greet through cast members or their admins.  While it is allowed to randomly schedule meetings, it is more appropriate to get someone to introduce you and be your champion.  With a champion it is having someone recommend you and helps the people you want to meet realize that you are someone worth meeting.

Through my management chain, I have been able to meet with the proprietor of my location.  She was very excited about my skills and interests.  During that meeting, we talked about approaching meet and greets like an interview.  Dress professional, bring your resume, and be prepared to answer with your 2 minute elevator speech, “Tell me about yourself.”  It is also recommended to be prepared with questions.  Great questions to ask can reveal critical competencies of potential team members and the priorities of the team.  Don’t attempt to solve a problem during the meet and greet, but if faced with the question discuss the process of resolving the problem.  Due to the great conversation we had, she helped steer me in the direction of the engineering leaders.  She sent off emails of introduction to a couple people and I followed up with requests to meet.  These meetings have helped to consider focusing on the organizations that oversee engineering design as well as facility asset management.

I have had several meet and greets and look forward to continuing to network around the company.  Hopefully it won’t be long before I get to move forward with my dream career!

Magic Happens Here

Magic Happens Here

While walking to my lifeguard stand under an endless blue sky with a slight breeze, one of my favorite songs came on over the speakers, Groovin.  One of the lines in the song says, “I can’t imagine anything that is better.”  The entire park just felt magical at that moment.  It was a feeling of serenity.  At Blizzard Beach and all of Disney, people are having a great time and making memories with their families.  They can be chilling in a slow moving float along Cross Country Creek, or building a sand castle by Melt Away Bay.  We have planned magical moments such as the Ski Captain being chosen to be the first one down Summit Plummet, but there are the unintended magical moments that even as a cast member I get to experience such as a great song on a perfect day.  I feel like every day I get to make an impact on others and I am so grateful for this experience.  I look forward to furthering my career at this amazing company.  I love being a part of the magic at Disney!

Excelling in Customer Service

Excelling in Customer Service

Horst Schulze, Chairman and CEO of Capella Hotel Group and Founding President and Former COO of The Ritz-Carlton Group, identifies to his teams three things that customers want:

  1. Defect Free
  2. Timeliness
  3. People to be nice to them a.k.a. Service

Creating an environment of striving to achieve simply customer satisfaction is not going to be enough to sustain a company throughout this competitive environment.  For Disney in the entertainment business, attracting customers is vital.  In order to transition from customer satisfaction to customer loyalty, Disney’s first step is to recognize all customers as V.I.Ps., Very Individualized People.  They are not just customers, but they are our special guests.

At the Disney Parks and Resorts, cast members are encouraged to treat each guest as if it is their first and, potentially, only time visiting.  This encouragement for the cast members will help enhance opportunities for excellent service to help create wonderful memories for the guests.  This excellent service has developed many guests to be loyal to Disney.

The key product in the entertainment industry is service.  Set the foundation for loyal guests through employees by showing the employees they are valued and remind them that they make an impact.  The empowered employee is the front line influencer on the customer, so inspire them to create excellence and watch as customers move from simply satisfied to loyal.

Tips for Visiting Blizzard Beach

Tips for Visiting Blizzard Beach

The story of Blizzard Beach begins with a freak snow storm in Central Florida.  Some inspired entrepreneurs decided to take advantage of the situation and build a ski resort.  Being Central Florida, the warm weather quickly came back and the snow started to melt. Ready to give up after getting everything place for their ski resort, the entrepreneurs heard a loud exclamation of excitement and turned to see a local alligator, the Ice Gator skiing down Summit Plummet, a very steep slope, sail over some of the village buildings and crash into the large store they built.  The event gave them a new idea, to turn their once ski resort into a water park!  If you want to visit Blizzard Beach here are some things to keep in mind.

What to Bring:

  1. Bright Bathing Suit, especially for children and individuals that are not very strong swimmers, it helps the lifeguards to see you.
  2. Your own towels.  Yes, you can bring your own towels, please don’t forget to bring them home with you afterwards.  If you do not bring your own towels you can rent some very plain white towels.
  3. Sunscreen.  I have seen many adults and some children get severely sunburned, even when it is cloudy out.  I personally wear waterproof SPF.
  4. Sunglasses, it can get very bright on the slopes!
  5. Swim Diaper for little ones still in diapers, regular diapers will just swell up and get very messy.
  6. Credit card or cash.  I don’t recommend bringing your entire wallet, just something to buy snacks and a secure a locker.
  7. Snacks, Food, and Drinks.  You can bring your own lunch, snacks and beverages.  Glass containers are not allowed.

 

Seating and Storing Your Stuff:

Parking at the water park is free.  Once inside the park, there is a plethora of seating options.  You can purchase premium space, private patio or semi-private sand areas with nicer chairs and umbrellas, or search out a place in the various areas around the park.  There is a somewhat hidden sand area near the Red Slope in the back.  The lifeguard stand nearby is called Lonesome, since they are generally all by their lonesome self guarding the creek.  Your stuff is pretty safe at your chair, you can rent out a locker for the day if you want to be extra cautious.

 

What to do:

Enjoy some fun ski related slang while riding the slopes (about a dozen various tube, mat, and body water slides with a wide range of intensity), chilling along the cross country creek (lazy river),  or splashing in melt-away bay (wave pool).  Kids under 12 can train at  Ski Patrol with many quick slides, iceburg walks, and zip line.  Tots under 5 will love it at Tikes Peak, a scaled down modified version of the entire park for the little ones.  The park can be seen from the ride to the top of Mt. Gushmore on board a chairlift!.  Blizzard Beach also has some unique tasty treats such as a Sand Pail Ice Cream and Mini Donuts!

Only a few of the attractions have height restrictions such as the extreme slides, Ski Patrol iceberg walk and zip line, and most of the slides at Tikes Peak.  Lifeguards and operators are all over the park to help direct guests with their fun adventure and ensure their safety.  The rules that Blizzard Beach does have is focused on making sure everyone can have a safe enjoyable time.

 

Blizzard Beach is a lot of fun with a couple hidden mickeys, Christmas and Caribbean music playing year round, fantastic snow resort theme with reminders of the Ice Gator all over, and a fantastic team of cast members supporting the park.  So whether you are a snow-poke on the cross country creek, or seeking the extreme thrills of slush gusher, I hope you will have an “Ice” day at Blizzard Beach.  “Ski” ya later!

 

Admiration

Admiration

According to Fortune, The Walt Disney Company is the most admired company in the entertainment industry for 2016, ranking 5th overall.  Sallie Krawcheck, Chair of Ellevate Network and Former President of Bank of America’s Global Wealth & Investment Management understands the value of integrity, independent thinking, and admiration.  During the huge financial downturn, Sallie was identified as the Last Honest Analyst on Wall Street.  Through her struggles, she persevered while balancing work and raising children.  During the Global Leadership Summit of August 2015, Sallie stated that her children were a source of confirmation for her.  She knew that if she worked every day as if your children are watching you, she would make the most admirable decisions.

Working at Disney, I recently brought my children to see Blizzard Beach.  Their response was phenomenal and filled me with pride.  My daughter couldn’t wait to get back to school and let her teacher know that her mom worked at one of the coolest places in the world!  My kids have asked to go back nearly every day since their visit.  I am so grateful for places like Disney that inspire so much happiness and awe in people.  While Disney has the fun job of entertaining people, being admirable can be challenging.  I strive to be a great role model, to seek out my dream career and inspire my family.