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Advice For New MBA Students

Prepare for obstacles on the road to an MBA

Shortly after completing my Fast-Track MBA at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Management in 1992 (now Rotman School of Management), I was invited to address the new incoming Fast-Track class to share my experiences and observations. Read more

Walt Disney’s Method of Optimizing Success Through Failure

Walt Disney’s Persephone: The Goddess of Spring

Looking back at the long and varied career of Walt Disney, it seems that almost everything he touched – from Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse to Disneyland and Florida’s Walt Disney World – resulted in success.

Walt Disney surely had the golden touch.

The truth isn’t quite as kind. Walt wasn’t always right and his ideas weren’t always successful.

But Walt Disney was curious and honest, and therefore also committed to recognizing and assessing his own failures and learning from his mistakes. “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles have strengthened me,” he said. Read more

Walt Disney, Pinocchio, and Lessons for Leaders

Walt Disney’s Pinocchio

One of the attributes that made Walt Disney unique amongst movie studio heads in Hollywood was that he was both a businessman and an artist. Walt worked everyday with the sensitivity of an artist and the hardheadedness of an entrepreneurial business owner, leading and directing his artistic and technical staff to create high-quality entertainment that would bring joy and happiness to ordinary people.

Long-time Disney animator and director Wilfred Jackson (1906-1988) provides insight into how Walt worked on his earliest feature-length films in a series of retrospective correspondence letters with author and musician Ross Care from the mid-1970s through the early-1980s that are newly published in the book Disney Legend Wilfred Jackson: A Life in Animation (Theme Park Press, 2016). Read more

Walt Disney’s Secret to Making Dreams Come True: Courage

In doing research for a 1955 article for Woman’s Day magazine to correspond with the opening of Disneyland, writer Don Eddy spent time with Walt at the Disney studio and the park. He summed up Walt’s “special secret” to making dreams come true with “four C’s. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy.” Eddy wrote:

“From his insatiable curiosity, as persistent and all-embracing as a child’s, he gets his ideas. When he settles on one idea, his confidence take supreme command; nothing can shake it. His courage keeps it alive and active against all obstacles, and he has plenty of obstacles. And he is constant to it until it becomes reality. Then he drops it abruptly and rarely mentions it again.” Read more

Author Barry Linetsky

Former Allegan CEO David Pyott on Performance and Purpose

Former Allergan CEO David Pyott

A lot of companies think that they need to make themselves more friendly, not just to stockholders but to employees and to society. Having a broader purpose – something beyond simply making money – is how you do that and how you create strong corporate cultures.

I don’t believe that strong performance and purpose are at odds, not at all. My own experience tells me that in order for a company to be a really high performer, it needs to have a purpose. Money matters to employees up to a point, but they want to believe they’re working on something that improves people’s lives. I’ve also found that employees respond really favorably when management commits to responsible social behavior.

Quoted in HBR May-June 2017, “The CEO View: Defending a Good Company from Bad Investors. A conversation with former Allergan CEO David Pyott.”

Author Barry Linetsky

Are Corporate Leaders Adhering To Their Corporate Purpose?

Is my company customer-centric?

The question of the underlying purpose of business and the role of corporate leadership has come up again in an excellent article by Joseph Bower and Lynn Paine, “The Error at the Heart of Corporate Leadership,” in the May-June 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

There are two general schools of thought about the purpose of a business, note Bower and Paine. Read more

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Fossil Fuels

It is rare to find anybody writing about ethics (as distinct from politics) from a serious point of view these days, and rarer still to find book as clearly written and persuasive as The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

This excellent book succeeds on every level by addressing a wide range of issues in a clear, factual, and reasoned manner. It should be required reading by anyone interested in the science and morality of using fossil fuels and alternative energy resources, whatever their ideological perspective on this issue. Read more