Book Review: The Ride of a Lifetime
My review of Bob Iger's memoir as he shares lessons learned as CEO of Disney
By Daniel Bate
17 Jan, 2021
One of my goals for 2021 is to read a book a month so I started off with 'The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons in Creative Leadership from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company' by Bob Iger. This came highly recommended by Bill Gates who described it as one of the best business books he's ever read. Although I am primarily a software developer, I'm gradually trying to become more business savvy and would love to have my own venture one day so it seemed appropriate to try gain insight into running a company. Better still, getting first hand insight from Iger on being CEO of Disney during one of the most transformative times in its history.
I'm a little sceptical of the corporate world and cautious to try enter into it, as I don't believe I associate with most people that thrive in corporate environments. My preconceptions are that most of the time it lacks humanity and that you can't get anywhere without bullish extroversion. A stark contrast to the tech community where I am judged on my ability to build and create, and being human allows me to stay true to myself and allow my technical ability to shine through. However, Iger's book has given me a lot of comfort as he prevails time and time again over corporate aggression and remains true to himself throughout.
Iger is a great story teller and his recollection of the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and Fox were captivating. As well as his portrayal of colourful personalities including CEO Emeritus of Marvel Ike Perlmutter and tech giant Steve Jobs. Although I am a huge fan of Apple and big believer in their products, I'd heard concerning stories about how Jobs conducted himself in business, however arguably he just had incredibly high standards for his company. So hearing Iger's recollection of their close and important relationship, was incredibly refreshing.
My key takeaway from Iger is his view of perfectionism. Throughout the book he discusses the importance of the relentless pursuit of perfectionism. But this is not to be confused with perfectionism at all costs, and that you should lose sight though pursuing perfectionism. But instead that you are continually pushing back against mediocracy. This is something that really resonates with myself and the attitude of continual growth and improvement. I know that I can't realistically achieve perfection and that it can be counter productive to try and achieve it in everything I do, but instead to become better every day, and not settle for less than what I know I can deliver.
I haven't read many books (and this is one of the reason I've set a goal to read one a month) - but this is honestly one of the best things I've ever read. Although he is the CEO of a huge company, Iger is incredibly relatable. I'll certainly be coming back to this book and would strongly recommend it.