Bob Iger — CEO and Chairman of Disney (#406)

As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, Robert A. Iger (@RobertIger) is the steward of one of the world’s largest media companies and some of the most respected and beloved brands around the globe. Since becoming CEO in 2005, Iger has built on Disney’s rich history of storytelling and innovation with the acquisitions of Pixar (2006), Marvel (2009), Lucasfilm (2012) and 21st Century Fox (2019), and the landmark opening of Disney’s first theme park and resort in Mainland China, Shanghai Disney Resort in 2016.

Always one to embrace new technology, Iger has created an ambitious direct-to-consumer strategy that leverages Disney’s unparalleled creative content across new platforms, including the new Disney+ streaming service, ESPN+, Hulu, and Hotstar.

He serves on the boards of the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum and Bloomberg Philanthropies. He is a graduate of Ithaca College.

His new autobiography is titled The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, which offers stories and lessons about dealmaking, leadership, and much more.

Please enjoy! 

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear an episode with someone who also draws inspiration from the words of Teddy Roosevelt? Check out my conversation with LeBron James in which we discuss self-care, self-talk, sleep, wine, workouts, and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

#349: LeBron James and His Top-Secret Trainer, Mike Mancias



  • Connect with Bob Iger:

The Walt Disney Company | Twitter


  • Bob talks about the whiteboard meeting he had with Steve Jobs laying out the pros and seemingly insurmountable cons of Disney’s potential purchase of Pixar, and his impression of what was really going on in Steve’s mind at the time. [08:02]
  • Steve used to call Bob regularly on weekends. In addition to scathing movie critiques, what did these two titans of industry tend to talk about? [16:24]
  • Who was Roone Arledge, and what did he teach Bob about long shots? [19:39]
  • How — and from whom — did Bob learn to navigate the impossible and make deals that, at first glance, seem like herculean tasks — like securing the rights for ABC to cover the 1979 World Table Tennis Championships in North Korea at a time when no Western press had been permitted to visit since before the Korean War? [23:52]
  • With over four decades of education in the business, what separates a good negotiator from a great negotiator in Bob’s estimation? [26:54]
  • How does Bob communicate with others in his organization when a deal they may be emotionally invested in doesn’t get made? [29:46]
  • As someone with a reputation for taking risks, what was Bob’s early exposure to risk-taking like? [31:24]
  • How being deemed “unpromotable” by a terrible boss led to the opportunities and contacts that really set Bob’s career in motion. [32:59]
  • On maximizing luck surface area (a term coined by Jason Roberts) and the three reasons exercise has played such an important role in Bob’s life. [37:59]
  • What does Bob’s exercise regimen look like? [41:46]
  • Bob and I share a few of our experiences in China during the ’90s. [44:28]
  • As Bob likes to exercise solo most of the time as a form of meditation, what role does his personal trainer play on the days he visits, and how often does this happen? [46:42]
  • While Bob usually abstains from bread or pasta, he allows himself to indulge in pizza once or twice a month. Does he have any preferences or favorite places to get it? How does he save recommendations so he can remember to try new places later? What he indulges, what’s his limit? One slice or one dozen? [47:47]
  • From an interview they did together recently, Adam Grant says Bob prepares more than most CEOs for meeting new people. What is Bob’s prep process for first meetings? [52:27]
  • As someone who believes that leaders should exhibit optimism because “nobody wants to follow Eeyore,” how does Bob do his best to cultivate this quality in his own kids? [55:22]
  • A challenging time in Bob’s career and how he navigated his way through it. [58:25]
  • Bob shares the adversity he faced as a child with a father who was suffering from severe manic depression. [1:02:15]
  • Growing up around his father’s frequently tempestuous — and unpredictable — outbursts, what is Bob’s relationship with anger like now? [1:04:58]
  • Bob recalls a time when little things would set off his temper, but he’s since gained more control over this kind of anger. What changed to make this possible? [1:07:01]
  • “There’s a cruelty to growing old in a way because the end is near, but there’s also a lot of value in growing old.” [1:10:11]
  • Aside from optimism, what are some of the more important lessons and character traits Bob hopes to instill in his kids, and how are they taught? [1:11:33]
  • Lessons or stories that Bob wishes people would pay more attention to. [1:15:08]
  • On knowing how to identify opportunity and take it when it comes. [1:17:26]
  • Leaders, philosophies, and books that Bob has leaned on to help him stay the course and walk through these doors of opportunity. [1:19:42]
  • A memorable Teddy Roosevelt quote by which to live. [1:23:58]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:26:09]