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Notes on The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

Raffy Banks • February 27, 2021

Want to know what it takes to make great things? Iger’s book on business and leadership is one of my favorite reads of the year so far.

I’m often asked what aspect of the job most keeps me up at night. The honest answer is that I don’t agonize over the work very much.

And I tend to approach bad news as a problem that can be worked through and solved, something I have control over rather than something happening to me.

Sometimes, even though you’re “in charge,” you need to be aware that in the moment you might have nothing to add, and so you don’t wade in. You trust your people to do their jobs and focus your energies on some other pressing issue.

At its simplest, this book is about being guided by a set of principles that help nurture the good and manage the bad.

If you run a business or manage a team or collaborate with others in pursuit of a common goal, this book might be helpful to you.

I hope they’ll serve you as well as they’ve served me. Optimism. One of the most important qualities of a good leader is optimism, a pragmatic enthusiasm for what can be achieved. Even in the face of difficult choices and less than ideal outcomes, an optimistic leader does not yield to pessimism. Simply put, people are not motivated or energized by pessimists.

Chronic indecision is not only inefficient and counterproductive, but it is deeply corrosive to morale.

This does not mean a refusal to accept mediocrity or make excuses for something being “good enough.”

Make great things and make things great. You have the choice to be present and become your best each and every time or to pick and chose based on who will notice. Do it every time because it matters. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a proposal or an email to a customer. Put the effort in to make it great. It won’t always end up being great – or received the way you intended.

The end result or outcome you want is not guaranteed. All you’re doing is increasing the likelihood if you know no one is going to read your article do you write something that is “good enough?” Or do you write something that’s great, even if no one reads it? It’s about the practice, as Seth Godin says. It’s about doing the work.

The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

As I grew older, I became more aware of my father’s disappointment in himself. He’d led a life that was unsatisfying to him and was a failure in his own eyes. It’s part of why he pushed us to work so hard and be productive, so that we might be successful in a way that he never was.

Interesting how much of raising a child is about providing what we personally lack.

I didn’t have a clear idea of what “success” meant, no specific vision of being wealthy or powerful, but I was determined not to live a life of disappointment. Whatever shape my life took, I told myself, there wasn’t a chance in the world that I was going to toil in frustration and lack fulfillment.

He wanted to try every new gadget and break every stale format.

You have to have the courage to try new things knowing full well that they are likely to fail. People fear the new because they fear change and potential failure that may be coming along.

He was also a relentless perfectionist. In my early years in Sports, I spent most of my weekends in a basement control room on Sixty-sixth Street. My job entailed taking in feeds from all over the world and delivering them to producers and editors, who would cut them and lay in voiceovers before they went to air. Roone would often show up in the control room, or if he didn’t appear in person, he’d call in from wherever he was. (There was a red “Roone phone” in each of our control rooms, as well as in the mobile units at every event we covered.) If he was at home watching a broadcast—he was always watching from somewhere—and saw something he didn’t like, he’d call in and tell us. This camera angle is wrong. That story line needs more emphasis. We’re not telling people what’s coming up! No detail was too small for Roone. Perfection was the result of getting all the little things right.

Obsess over the details. Customers don’t always notice them but they can feel them. When find yourself agonizing over the details you’ll discover it’s because you care deeply about the experience you want your customers to have.

He wasn’t a yeller, but he was tough and exacting and he communicated in very clear terms what was wrong and that he expected it to get fixed, and he didn’t much care what sacrifice it required to fix it. The show was the thing. It was everything to him.

If you truly care about something you will not find it difficult to persuade others come along for the journey. Man on Wire is a doc about Philippe who tight rope walked between the Twin Towers in New York. His excitement and energy was toxic. He had no trouble gathering people to help him because of he inspired them. Promise people an adventure and you’ll always be surrounded by people ready to do great work alongside you.

His mantra was simple: “Do what you need to do to make it better.” Of all the things I learned from Roone, this is what shaped me the most.

It’s a mindset, really, more than a specific set of rules. It’s not, at least as I have internalized it, about perfectionism at all costs (something Roone wasn’t especially concerned about). Instead, it’s about creating an environment in which you refuse to accept mediocrity. You instinctively push back against the urge to say There’s not enough time, or I don’t have the energy, or This requires a difficult conversation I don’t want to have, or any of the many other ways we can convince ourselves that “good enough” is good enough.

He is described by some as being the living embodiment of the Japanese word shokunin, which is “the endless pursuit of perfection for some greater good.”

I feel this leads to the detriment of everything else in your life. You’re fooling yourself to think it is okay because it is for he greater good. But the greater good more times than not means giving in to authoritarian control. While I think you should give more than you take – or expect to receive in return – you should not do it to the point where you lose control of your life. Taking pride in ones work for the sake of the work means loving the journey not the outcome.

Roone never knew the lengths I’d gone to to get it done, but I know I wouldn’t have done it had I not been driven in part by his expectations and my desire to please him.

How much effort was given out of fear or disappointment versus drive and optimism? Does it matter? When you work for the sake of work, you lose out on the regulating factors we impose on one another. This is one example of how surrounding yourself with highly capable people can have a huge impact on your success.

Roone looked around the table at his senior team, wanting to know who was at fault. From the outer edges of the room, I raised my hand and said that it was my mistake. The room went silent; two dozen heads turned toward me. Nobody said anything, and we moved on, but after the meeting, various people came up to me and murmured, “I can’t believe you did that.” “Did what?” “Admitted it was your fault.” “What do you mean?” “No one ever does that.”

Admit your mistakes. Don’t fear lab els that mY come your way. It’s the right thing to do and more often than not you’ll earn respect and trust because so few people are willing to fess up.

There’s a related lesson, though, that I only came to fully appreciate years later, when I was in a position of real leadership. It’s so simple that you might think it doesn’t warrant mentioning, but it’s surprisingly rare: Be decent to people.

Excellence and fairness don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

when I was given the chance to lead, I was instinctively aware of both the need to strive for perfection and the pitfalls of caring only about the product and never the people.

Where does the instinct for perfection come from? Are you born with it? Can you cultivate it? Or is it born out of practical necessity?

I needed to look at the situation not as a catastrophe but as a puzzle we needed to solve,

Everything has a solution. You just have to know where to look. Or not stop until you find it.

My instinct throughout my career has always been to say yes to every opportunity. In part this is just garden-variety ambition. I wanted to move up and learn and do more, and I wasn’t going to forgo any chance to do that, but I also wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of doing things that I was unfamiliar with.

Once you’re in the door it becomes a matter of ambition. If you can get the job done your experience doesn’t matter nearly as much. It’s easier to laterally once you’re in the door.

True authority and true leadership come from knowing who you are and not pretending to be anything else.

The task was to not let my ego get the best of me. Rather than trying too hard to impress whoever was across the table, I needed to resist the urge to pretend I knew what I was doing and ask a lot of questions.

People love to talk about their working lives . As them questions and watch them open up. They will surprise you with how much they will share. Be genuinely interest and you will earn their respect. Not k owing a lot about an area but having access to the top minds is a gift.

This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and we have to do this.

He fought to put Twin Peaks in the air. Innovate or die. It’s the only choice you have but it does mean more failures than successes. It can feel like death by a thousand cuts until out of the blue something works and your miraculously saved.

I felt that network television had become boring and derivative, and we had the chance with Twin Peaks to put something on TV that was utterly original. We couldn’t just fall back into our same old stance while everything changed around us. It was the Roone lesson all over again: Innovate or die. Eventually, I convinced them to let me screen the pilot for a younger, more diverse audience than a group of older guys from ABC in New York. The test audiences didn’t exactly support putting the show on network television, particularly because it was so different; but it was just that—its being different—that motivated us to give it the green light and make seven episodes.

There was even an article on the front page of The Wall Street Journal about this buttoned-up guy at ABC who was taking huge creative risks.

I never start out negatively, and unless we’re in the late stages of a production, I never start small. I’ve found that often people will focus on little details as a way of masking a lack of any clear, coherent, big thoughts. If you start petty, you seem petty. And if the big picture is a mess, then the small things don’t matter anyway, and you shouldn’t spend time focusing on them.

Diligently working on the details when the big picture hasn’t been properly worked out is a form of laziness. It’s tempting because it’s fun. You’re worming with a known factor. If you’re a front end developer understand the constraints of a browser so you can’t start typing away without asking any questions. Whats harder to figure out is making sure you’re solving the right problems.

I got up and addressed the cast and crew. “We tried something big and it didn’t work,” I said. “I’d much rather take big risks and sometimes fail than not take risks at all.”

What’s the point if you’re not taking big risks? Do you want to spend your days ensuring tomorrow looks exactly the same as today?

I didn’t want to be in the business of playing it safe. I wanted to be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness.

He and I consulted with the censors and came up with a template for what we could and could not do on a “PG-13” show. We made a glossary of all the words that were technically inbounds. (Asswipe was okay; asshole was not. You could use prick to describe a person but not a body part.) We pulled out a notebook and drew stick figures, basically, of naked people, figuring out what angles would reveal enough but not too much.

Rules tend to be arbitrary but we need to understand them. They’re something put in place before our time. Once you understand them you can then turn the dials in ways no one imagined before to make something special.

It’s a trust that Brandon Stoddard, my predecessor, never earned. He refused to respect them, and therefore they didn’t respect him, which in turn meant they were determined to tell him no when he fought for things he wanted.

Disagreement is fine – and often good. But the disagreement should stop when a decision has been made. At that point you need to be 100% onboard. Otherwise you’re just sabotaging the team.

if I had a strength, it was my ability to urge creative people to do their best work and take chances, while also helping them rebound from failure.

I’m often in meetings with someone from outside the company and that person will look only at me, even though I’m surrounded by colleagues at the table. I don’t know if other CEOs feel this way, but it’s embarrassing to me, and in those moments I make a point of directing praise and attention to my coworkers. Similarly, when I’m the one attending a meeting with a group outside of Disney, I make sure to connect and speak with every person at the table.

People usually notice when you’re looking at the. People ALWAYS notice when you’re not looking at them. Make the effort to look people in the eye and converse with them. Especially in situations where it’s not so common to do so – for example engaging with an assistant during a meeting.

I was forty-four at the time and I still had a lot to learn, and in any event, there was nothing to be gained by getting off to a bad start with either of them. I wanted to make things work.

there was no corporate staff, no centralized bureaucracy, and very little interference with the business units.

“Avoid getting into the business of manufacturing trombone oil. You may become the greatest trombone-oil manufacturer in the world, but in the end, the world only consumes a few quarts of trombone oil a year!” He was telling me not to invest in projects that would sap the resources of my company and me and not give much back.

I didn’t like it—my first six months at Disney were the most dispiriting and unproductive of my career—but I was still new to the company, and because I was based in New York, I wasn’t exposed to the pain quite as much as others were.

those instances in which you find yourself hoping that something will work without being able to convincingly explain to yourself how it will work—that’s when a little bell should go off, and you should walk yourself through some clarifying questions. What’s the problem I need to solve? Does this solution make sense? If I’m feeling some doubt, why? Am I doing this for sound reasons or am I motivated by something personal?

You can’t let ambition get too far ahead of opportunity. I’ve seen a lot of people who had their sights set on a particular job or project, but the opportunity to actually get that thing was so slim. Their focus on the small thing in the distance became a problem. They grew impatient with where they were. They didn’t tend enough to the responsibilities they did have, because they were longing so much for something else, and so their ambition became counterproductive. It’s important to know how to find the balance—do the job you have well; be patient; look for opportunities to pitch in and expand and grow; and make yourself one of the people, through attitude and energy and focus, that your bosses feel they have to turn to when an opportunity arises.

Master your job before you set your sights higher.

At its essence, good leadership isn’t about being indispensable; it’s about helping others be prepared to possibly step into your shoes—giving them access to your own decision making, identifying the skills they need to develop and helping them improve, and, as I’ve had to do, sometimes being honest with them about why they’re not ready for the next step up.

Make yourself redundant. You want your team members to be able to carry things forward when you’re gone.

In Japan, for instance, we had a studio office in one part of Tokyo, a consumer-products business in another, a TV business somewhere else. None of them spoke with another. There was no coordination around back-office functions like accounting, say, or IT. That kind of redundancy existed everywhere.

This seems okay for companies of smaller size. It worked for them up to that point. in smaller companies, people tend to be generalists. In larger companies, people tend to be specialists. This means smaller companies will go with the tools and methods that best fit a project. If systems normalize across the entire organization then the smaller company could suffer.

He was at his best when his ego was least threatened.

Everyone is driven by ego from time to time. As a leader its important to know when to disarm yourself so your team makes clear decisions that benefit them and the company. If you always take an authoritarian approach they will either always give in – whether is a good idea or not – or they’ll always fight you thinking they’re right and you’re wrong.

In this case, I absolutely believed I was right, and I wasn’t going to let anyone, even the vaunted Roone Arledge, dissuade me.

Have confidence in your convictions. But only if you’ve genuinely listened to and understood all available options.

So I resorted to a kind of “soft autocracy,” showing respect but also communicating that this was going to happen no matter what. “Roone,” I said, “if there was ever an idea that people would assume came from you, this is it. It’s big and bold. It could be impossible to execute, but when has that ever stopped you?”

Good ideas don’t always win out. They still need evangelizing. People don’t get on board – fully on board – just because. They need a good reason. It could to be to learn, be part of something great, be the critical element, Et al. It just needs to be made clear to them what it is that’s in it for them.

To this day, I find myself awed time and time again by their ability to envision something fantastical and then make it real, often at a scale that is enormous. When I visited Imagineering with Michael, I’d observe him critiquing projects large and small, reviewing everything from storyboards detailing the experience in one of our attractions to the design of a stateroom on a soon-to-be-built cruise ship. He’d hear presentations about upcoming parades, or review the design of the lobby of a new hotel. What struck me, and what was invaluable in my own education, was his ability to see the big picture as well as the granular details at the same time, and consider how one affected the other.

“Micromanaging is underrated.”

What he describes seems less like micromanaging and more like caring about the details – and helping others care about them as well.

Michael often saw things that other people didn’t see, and then he demanded that they be made better.

Michael was proud of his micromanagement, but in expressing his pride, and reminding people of the details he was focused on, he could be perceived as being petty and small-minded. I once watched him give an interview in the lobby of a hotel and say to the reporter, “You see those lamps over there? I chose them.” It’s a bad look for a CEO. (I should confess that I’ve caught myself—or have been caught—doing the same thing a few times. Zenia Mucha has said to me, in a way only she can: “Bob, you know you did that, but the world doesn’t need to know, so shut up!”)

A great leader will rarely take credit but will give lots of praise.

Michael’s natural pessimism often worked for him, up to a point. He was motivated in part out of a fear of calamity, and that often fueled his perfectionism and his success, although it’s not a very useful tool to motivate people.

His level of anxiety sounds horrific. I imagine it could become toxic.

Pessimism leads to paranoia, which leads to defensiveness, which leads to risk aversion.

With optimism you are way more likely to succeed simply because you are expecting to succeed.

The tone you set as a leader has an enormous effect on the people around you. No one wants to follow a pessimist.

“You cannot win this as an incumbent,” he said. “You cannot win on the defensive. It’s only about the future. It’s not about the past.”

How can you help people get from here to there? All they care about is their current situation and where they want to go. you can either spend time thinking about the past or your can set your eyes forward. Figure out where you need to go, figure out how you’re going to bet there, and then execute.

Then he added, “You’re going to need some strategic priorities.” I’d given this considerable thought, and I immediately started ticking off a list. I was five or six in when he shook his head and said, “Stop talking. Once you have that many of them, they’re no longer priorities.” Priorities are the few things that you’re going to spend a lot of time and a lot of capital on. Not only do you undermine their significance by having too many, but nobody is going to remember them all. “You’re going to seem unfocused,” he said. “You only get three.


the centralized decision making had a demoralizing effect on the senior leaders of our businesses,

A centralized, authoritative run company does not feel good to work for. You never know why certain projects are allowed and others not. There tends to be a sense of complacency throughout the organization. its not clear where responsibility lies. its slow and doesn’t inspire confidence .

Hollywood Kremlinology

It’s easy to be optimistic when everyone is telling you you’re great. It’s much harder, and much more necessary, when your sense of yourself is being challenged, and in such a public way.

You can influence and persuade people but you cant control peoples perception of you. They will see what they see. Their perception and treatment of you will change over time and in different situations. All you can do is control who you are and who you want to become.

I told Willow that if bad news came, I was getting in my car and taking the cross-country drive that I’d long dreamed of taking. A solo trip across the United States seemed like heaven to me.

It’s like he’d rather keep torturing himself than simply doing the one thing he dreams of doing. It’s like giving a prisoner a key to his cell and every night he locks himself up.

Don’t let your ego get in the way of making the best possible decision.

And the ego of others in the bud.

I knew that it would have an immediate practical effect, but the announcement that they would no longer have such an iron grip on all aspects of our business had a powerful, instantaneous effect on morale. It was as if all the windows had been thrown open and fresh air was suddenly moving through. As one of our senior executives said to me at the time, “If there were church bells on the steeples throughout Disney, they would be ringing.”

The crippling effect of centralized power is immeasurable. The negative repercussions don’t kick in until down the road so at fist things seem okay. But the complacency catches up and can have disastrous consequences. Problem is that unless people are honest the wrong things are blamed for those consequences.

I spent the morning building up the courage to make the call, and finally did so in the early afternoon. I didn’t reach him, which was a relief,

Even the CEO of one of the most beloved companies in the world gets nervous to make a tough call sometimes.

PEOPLE SOMETIMES SHY AWAY from taking big swings because they assess the odds and build a case against trying something before they even take the first step. One of the things I’ve always instinctively felt—and something that was greatly reinforced working for people like Roone and Michael—is that long shots aren’t usually as long as they seem.

I hear this over and over again. E.g. Ask for $25M when all you need is $5M – you’re much more likely to get it. When you ask for too little you end up only working harder. When you ask for more you work smarter and think more creatively.

I then spent a few hours with Ed Catmull and the engineers on the tech side, who described in detail the technological platform that served the whole creative enterprise. I saw firsthand what John described when he’d welcomed me into the building that morning. He said the animators and directors were constantly challenging the engineers to give them the tools with which they could fulfill their creative dreams—to make Paris feel like Paris, for instance. And Ed and his team on the engineering side were always building tools on their own, which they then brought to the artists to inspire them to think in ways they hadn’t before. “Look at how we can make snow, or water, or mist!” Ed showed me the most sophisticated animation tools ever invented, technological ingenuity that enabled creativity at its highest form. This yin and yang was the soul of Pixar. Everything flowed from it.

“I know what it’s like to be taken over by another company,” I told him. “Even in the best of circumstances, the merger process is delicate. You can’t just force assimilation. And you definitely can’t with a company like yours.” I said that even if it isn’t purposeful, the buyer often destroys the culture of the company it’s buying, and that destroys value.

Having gone through this twice now, the process is painful and confusing. Trying to normalize completely different cultures didn’t go well. Its destructive to the organization and people. One purchaser was honest and open about their intentions and the process – and kept to their word. The other lied from the start – and cause damage throughout.

We also negotiated what we called a “social compact”—a two-page list of culturally significant issues and items that we promised to preserve. They wanted to feel that they were still Pixar, and everything related to protecting that feeling mattered. Their email addresses would remain Pixar addresses; the signs on their buildings would still say Pixar. They could keep their rituals for welcoming new employees and their tradition of monthly beer blasts. A much more sensitive negotiation took place over the branding on films, merchandise, and theme-park attractions. Our research showed that Pixar had eclipsed Disney as a brand—a fact that they were well aware of—but I felt that over time the strongest branding for the Pixar films, especially since John and Ed would now be running Disney Animation, would be Disney-Pixar. Ultimately, that’s what we settled on. Pixar’s famous “Luxo Junior” animation would still open each of their films, but it would be preceded by the Disney castle animation.

Before the meeting, George came into my office and said, “Look, I think you’re going to get this. But it’s not a done deal. You have to go in there and pitch your heart out. You have to do the equivalent of pounding your fists on the table. Show your passion. Demand their support.” “I thought I’d already done all that,” I said. “You have to do it one more time.”

Sometimes you just have to suck it up and put on a show – even if it’s the same one you’ve performed thousands of times before.

Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” speech, which has long been an inspiration: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

There was an assumption at the time—internally, and among members of the board—that Disney was a single, monolithic brand, and all of our businesses existed beneath the Disney umbrella.

If the parent brand is strong and well liked i can see this at least making some sense. But if an unknown brand builds a monolith then are they starting from scratch – in terms of brand and culture? Would they have to build their public image from the ground up? And the brands they own, melding of all those cultures would be tricky.

Fighting with Harvey and Bob Weinstein was a constant source of stress, on top of dealing with the board’s opinion that Miramax was fiscally irresponsible. As the pressure increased on him in the last few years, I watched Michael grow weary and wary. So when he got pushback from some executives over the Marvel idea, his default was not to force the issue.

The past is not a good predictor of the future. Past decisions impact the future but decisions should not be made based on what you fear will happen. Each new project you’re excited about should be independently considered – within the current context.

Once Disney Animation was solid, I was open to other acquisitions, even if they weren’t obviously “Disney.”

Once you accomplish something you’ve never done before – something that seems difficult or impossible – doing it again all of a sudden seems simple. Not easy, necessarily. You’re no longer held back or frozen to tale action. Things feel possible.

Would we possibly destroy some of their value by acquiring them? Kevin Mayer’s team researched that question, and after several conversations with Kevin, I felt comfortable we could manage the brands respectfully and separately, that they could exist side by side and neither would be negatively affected by the other.

He seems highly considerate in his thinking and acting.

“It doesn’t make any sense for us to buy you for what you are and then turn you into something else.”

This shows consideration for the brand and customers.

Brian then told me he’d been talking with Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, which owned NBCUniversal at the time. (Before long, Comcast would buy NBC from them.) Jeff had apparently told Brian that our Marvel deal confounded him. “Why would anyone want to buy a library of comic book characters for $4 billion?” he’d said. “It makes me want to leave the business.” I smiled and shrugged. “I guess we’ll see,” I said.

Amazing how right Iger was.

He said something else that I kept in mind in every subsequent conversation we had: “When I die, the first line of my obituary is going to read ‘Star Wars creator George Lucas…’” It was so much a part of who he was, which of course I knew, but having him look into my eyes and say it like that underscored the most important factor in these conversations. This wasn’t negotiating to buy a business; it was negotiating to be the keeper of George’s legacy, and I needed to be ultra-sensitive to that at all times.

George had come way down from his “Pixar price,” but I could tell he was not going to accept anything lower than Marvel.

Interesting how ego was weighed into the offer.

It’s subtle, but there’s a difference between communicating that you share their stress—that you’re in it with them—and communicating that you need them to deliver in order to alleviate your stress.

One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve seen film studios make is getting locked into a release date and then letting that influence creative decisions, often rushing movies into production before they’re ready.

Same with software development but you can sometimes drop non critical items.

At some point over the years, I referred to a concept I called “management by press release”—meaning that if I say something with great conviction to the outside world, it tends to resonate powerfully inside our company.

“I know why companies fail to innovate,” I said to them at one point. “It’s tradition. Tradition generates so much friction, every step of the way.”

I also started studying like crazy, reading papers and articles about everything from healthcare to taxation, from immigration law to international trade policy to environmental issues to Middle Eastern history and federal interest rates. I also read some of the greatest speeches ever delivered, including Ronald Reagan’s speech on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day; Robert Kennedy’s impromptu speech in Indianapolis when Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed; Franklin Roosevelt’s and John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speeches; Obama’s speech after the massacre at the A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina; and numerous Churchill addresses. I even reread the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. (I don’t know if this was a sign that I should or shouldn’t run, but I was waking in the middle of the night with nightmares about being on a debate stage and feeling unprepared.)

I became comfortable with failure—not with lack of effort, but with the fact that if you want innovation, you need to grant permission to fail.

Don’t be in the business of playing it safe. Be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness.

My former boss Dan Burke once handed me a note that said: “Avoid getting into the business of manufacturing trombone oil. You may become the greatest trombone-oil manufacturer in the world, but in the end, the world only consumes a few quarts of trombone oil a year!” He was telling me not to invest in small projects that would sap my and the company’s resources and not give much back.

Optimism emerges from faith in yourself and in the people who work for you. It’s not about saying things are good when they’re not, and it’s not about conveying some blind faith that “things will work out.” It’s about believing in your and others’ abilities.

People sometimes shy away from big swings because they build a case against trying something before they even step up to the plate. Long shots aren’t usually as long as they seem. With enough thoughtfulness and commitment, the boldest ideas can be executed.

You have to do the homework. You have to be prepared. You certainly can’t make a major acquisition, for example, without building the necessary models to help you determine whether a deal is the right one. But you also have to recognize that there is never 100 percent certainty. No matter how much data you’ve been given, it’s still, ultimately, a risk, and the decision to take that risk or not comes down to one person’s instinct.

what people think of you is what they’ll think of your company.