The Top 5 Bob Iger Quotes From The Ride of a Lifetime

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The Ride of a Lifetime is Bob Iger’s retelling of his professional career with his leadership principles woven in. Iger was CEO of Disney for 15 years and led the company through momentous changes. This article contains five Bob Iger quotes from his book.

Keep reading for Bob Iger quotes from The Ride of a Lifetime.

Bob Iger Quotes From The Ride of a Lifetime

Bob Iger has had a long career—22 years at ABC, then 23 at Disney (after Disney acquired ABC). He started as a bottom-level crew member on television sets and eventually became CEO of Disney for 15 years. He led Disney through momentous changes in technology, global expansion, and its noted acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. He still looks back at his career in mild disbelief as an incredible, lucky ride of a lifetime.

This book is a retelling of his professional career, with his leadership principles woven in. Here are five Bob Iger quotes from The Ride of a Lifetime.

Avoid getting into the business of manufacturing trombone oil. you may become the greatest trombone-oil manufacturer in the world, but in the end, the world only consumes a few quarts of trombone oil a year!”

In The Ride of a Lifetime, Bob Iger quotes Dan Burke from Capital Cities. At Capital Cities, Dan Burke gave Iger a note cautioning him not to get in the business of making trombone oil. They might make the world’s best trombone oil, but the world only needs a few gallons of it a year.

The point was to avoid focusing on small projects that don’t yield much in return. Instead, focus on big projects that can produce big gains.

“Optimism. One of the most important qualities of a good leader is optimism, a pragmatic enthusiasm for what can be achieved. Even in the face of difficult choices and less than ideal outcomes, an optimistic leader does not yield to pessimism. Simply put, people are not motivated or energized by pessimists.”

A pessimistic “everything’s going to fail” attitude leads to defensiveness and risk aversion, possibly exactly when you need to be bold. Plus, no one likes working for pessimists—it kills energy and inspiration.

Optimism isn’t blindly believing things will work out. Instead, it’s about believing in yourself and your team’s abilities to get to the best outcome. It’s about looking for new solutions without prematurely giving up.

“Empathy is a prerequisite to the sound management of creativity, and respect is critical.”

Iger says to treat people fairly and decently. Even as you enforce high standards, be empathetic; realize how much the creator has put into her work. Give people second chances for honest mistakes. When negotiating, be respectful; disrespect can be very costly. 

“If you don’t innovate, You die”

Here, Bob Iger quotes Roone Arledge, the president of ABC Sports and a legend in broadcasting. Roone changed sports broadcasting to focus on the human drama inherent in sports. He also embraced technology under his catchphrase, “innovate or die.” Iger kept this idea in mind when he approved a new and controversial tv show called Twin Peaks, which proved to be a success.

“True authority and true leadership come from knowing who you are and not pretending to be anything else.”

Finally, the last Bob Iger quote says to be honest and don’t fake it. People will trust and respect you, even if they don’t like what you have to say. If you’re explaining a difficult decision, like demoting a friend, explain your thought process honestly. When negotiating, explain clearly at the start what you’re looking for. Don’t create a false expectation and then go back on it later.

The Top 5 Bob Iger Quotes From The Ride of a Lifetime

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Ride of a Lifetime summary:

  • How Bob Iger went from television crew member to CEO of Disney
  • The 10 major principles behind Iger's management style and success
  • How Iger resuscitated Disney Animation by buying Pixar

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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