The Story of Perseverance and Optimism

I am reading Bob Iger’s ‘The Ride of a Lifetime’ which is his journey of becoming Disney’s CEO and subtitled as ‘lessons in creative leadership’. At the outset I wasn’t too charged about what I was reading, because it seemed just as glorified and fancy as how we imagine Disney movies to be.

But this one section which is dedicated to Disney’s acquisition of Steve Jobs’ Pixar is what stands out. Within days of taking over as CEO, for which he had to strive and go through a series of interviews spread across a crazy amount of time beyond six months, Bob knew he wanted Pixar in the kitty to turnaround the plight of Disney and build its core which was animation. While the thought is easy, its the action towards making it happen that’s a racy read. Right from setting ties right with a demanding person like Steve, to getting the right passion across to him, to addressing the Board who wanted to test how far can he go, Bob held on to the entire deal with a thread. All he was doing was moving ahead, with the right numbers and information at hand, few very important confidantes at hand like Tom the CFO and making sure his streak of authenticity remains un-wavered throughout this time.

For someone who was confronted by Steve Jobs with a pros and cons live list making in the first meeting, it would be hard to not go in the spiral of self doubt. But Bob was clear that he was not giving up at all, and till the last dice was rolled. There were challenges and obstacles that were overcome, so much with the ex-CEO also calling in the Board to not opt for this deal. But the man did not loose sight of what he wanted to achieve, and ensured everything moved in that direction.

While perseverance kept the momentum going, it was his optimism, his enthusiasm for having Pixar on board that others caught on. Not just Steve Jobs, but John and Ed too, who were the ‘souls of Pixar’ as Steve put it. It is very easy to want something, but to be able to convey your energy to another person and make them see things the same way as you, takes a lot more. From the time I’ve been reading this book, it is Bob’s optimism that has been ruling the roost which gets to you because life can’t be seen from one lens only. This episode of his life is a learning for those persevering and not reaching their results. Its that dash of optimism, that spark in the eye, that thing called hope which you need to keep till the very last second of it materialising or not. They say its the energy of the mind that holds things together, that make (so called) overnight successes, that make dreams look attainable. This energy is run by the stories of perseverance and optimism we feed ourselves with.

There is another side to this episode where Steve Jobs okays the deal after others on his board give a go ahead. He is known to be relentless and a hard taskmaster, but was equally motivated to ensure this deal happened because he saw the big picture — where he wanted the good work to continue beyond his life. He knew his illness could be a deterrent and made no bones about it when mentioning this to Bob Iger few minutes before the big press announcement, asking him to back off the deal if he so desired and blame Steve for it. Its this authenticity that plays in good stride with leaders of such stature. The fact that he knew Pixar would maybe get its due better with Disney after he’s gone, would have definitely crossed his mind. So he persevered to keep the best of his company too, his passion flowed through the work he wanted to continue creating, despite not being there. And all this with the optimism of a team backing him, being with him, none of who knew what he was suffering from at that time.

For a lot of things in our lives, there are no substitutes. Perseverance and optimism rank highest. The stories they create become legendary. Just like Bob and Steve’s or Disney and Pixar as we know it!



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Akankasha Singh

Akankasha Singh

Writer|Entrepreneur|Experiences Junkie|Marketing Aficionado|Foodster|Passion8@bout: Businesses|New Forms of Thinking|People Who Walk the Talk|Mesmerising Ideas