Lee is the former Executive VP for Walt Disney Resort, where he lead 40,000 cast members for 10 years. He's the host of the podcast "Creating Disney Magic" and author of many books, his latest one being "Career Magic."
It was a miracle.
I grew up in Oklahoma on a little farm, extremely poor. My mother ended up being married five times. I tell everyone I was adopted twice.
I got my name, Cockerell, from my mom’s fourth husband when I was 16.
Because he had money I had the opportunity to go to college, but I flunked out after a couple of years. After flunking out of college I’d went to the army and met someone who was going to Washington DC to be one of the chefs at the Washington Hilton Hotel. I decided to go with him to DC and applied for a job. At the time they had limited positions available, so I landed being a waiter.
I was fortunate to find someone who started teaching me about the business. After two years I’d applied for a food control position opening and was turned down because of my lack of experience.
Three months later I was offered the position because the company couldn’t find anyone to fill in this position. At this point, my career took off. I moved up to higher positions after staying with Hilton for eight years. Eventually, I joined Marriott and worked here for 17 years, where I became the VP of food and beverage.
After Marriot, I was recruited by Disney in 1990 to go to France and open Disneyland Paris. I had a great experience of being in France for three years. I retired about 12 years ago and now travel the world with my wife.
I took a course in time management about 35 years ago that totally changed my ability to get things done.
Think about what you would be working on this week. Think about yesterday, how you could have done better. Then, put all this in your planner.
A huge part of America is suffering from severe anxiety because they’re overwhelmed with tasks. The reality is, most people aren’t overworked, they’re mainly spending their time in the wrong places.
It’s easy to waste time when you don’t want to do the hard things. Instead, think about how much your life will get easier if you do the hard things.
I wasn’t always the most empathetic person.
For the first 15 years in my career, I wasn’t empathetic. I eventually realized that I needed to quit intimidating people. So, I decided to trust people more and slowly began showing more empathy.
Today, I wake up in the morning, and I try to figure out how I can help make people’s lives better. You can have a choice, you can make people’s lives better or worse. Whether it’s at home or work, you own this outcome.
People need to start thinking about helping others more. When you start doing this you’ll be happier with yourself and people will appreciate you more.
With a bad attitude, there’s no upside to that for you.
Throughout my career, I lacked many credentials but having a positive attitude helped me land better positions. Realize that having a positive attitude won’t always be easy but things will be a lot more challenging having a negative outlook of things.
I beleive you have to view money as a resource.
When wife and I started out we had nothing. But we were both frugal and reviewed our finances regularly. Today, I sleep better knowing I have my finances in order. My advice would be to first manage your money well so that you can make the most out of any money you bring in.
First, I’d let them know they are able to get help in managing their finances.
Whether it’s working with a credit counseling company or family, you’re able to find help. I’d recommned listing all your expenses, and cutting the ones you don’t need.
This will be a challenging process, but you’ll reap the benefits of this exercise in the future.
I’ve always put in the same effort regardless of what I was being paid.
Nowadays I enjoy giving my money out to others. Money gives me the freedom to help others and travel with my wife.
Chris writes personal finance and productivity articles for software companies. He gets fresh ideas through continuously investing in himself and interviewing successful entrepreneurs.