What can you learn during a business management talk that begins with a guy doing a spot-on impression of Donald Duck?
It turns out plenty, when the guy is Doug Lipp, a Disney veteran who helped open Tokyo Disneyland and gained invaluable customer insight working for the consumer-facing entertainment company.
I recently got to hear Lipp, author of “Disney U, How Disney Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal and Customer-Centric Employees” during a presentation in Ohio. On its face, what he had to say seemed so simple but it made me wonder why more businesses don’t follow the advice. Though he never met Walt Disney in person, Lipp nevertheless worked alongside several people who worked with Walt.
One of the most important habits Walt Disney had and encouraged others to keep was to “walk the park.” During construction of Disneyland in California, Disney was often seen bending down and looking at buildings and features of the park from a child’s perspective. He knew his customers well. On one occasion, Lipp related, Disney saw the windows of park building were too high for a child to look into. Changes were promptly made to fix it. If Disney found trash on the ground, he didn’t order someone to pick it up. He picked it up himself. He constantly looked at his park from the perspective of the customer.
Lipp illustrated the importance of training by relating a story about Tokyo Disneyland. Tokyo Disneyland was the company’s first oversees entertainment park and in preparation for opening, a few, rather important details slipped through the cracks. The Japanese cleaning crews didn’t realize the cobwebs, dust and broken windows in the Haunted Mansion ride were intentional. Artists had spent weeks applying these decorations to the attraction only to have the cleaning crew replace broken windows and sweep the dust and cobwebs clean.
Lipp related a story where a young child dropped his newly acquired box of popcorn at the park. The kid, of course, burst into tears and as any parent knows, this can quickly spiral out of control! That was, until a Disney cast member quickly fetched a new box of popcorn and promptly delivered it to the delighted child whose parents were relieved a crises was averted. It was a nickel’s worth of popcorn that created a lifelong memory.
It was a reminder of one of Lipp’s favorite quotes from Van France, the man who founded Disney University, where every Disney employee goes to be schooled in the Disney way before learning their particular job: “Budgets might be tight, creativity is free.”
For more information on Lipp, visit www.douglipp.com.