If you are one of the unlucky among us that hasn’t visited a Disney park, there are a few things you should know:

1.) The parks are pristine. You never see trash on the ground, buildings are immaculate, and renovations are intentionally kept from view.

2.) The Cast Members (employees) have one goal: to make each Guest’s (visitor’s) experience magical.

3.) Even waiting in line is part of the show. Every part of the experience has been optimized.

4.) Yes, it’s expensive!  But, given that 70% of guests are repeat visitors, Disney must be doing something right.

In the book, “The Disney Way”, authors and business consultants Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson reveal the secret sauce behind Disney’s century-long success and outline how you can apply the principles in your own business, big or small. I recently read the book, and I’d like to share with you some of the more valuable nuggets I took away from it:

Valuable Nugget #1: Dream, Believe, Dare, Do

The success Walt Disney had bringing his fantastical vision to reality was no accident. In 1937 when Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs was released, the major studios didn’t believe anyone would watch a 90-minute-long cartoon. Not only did he prove them all wrong, he created a brand new form of family entertainment. His team created amazing, life-like animation the world had never seen before by following his four pillars of success. “Dream beyond the boundaries of today, believe in sound values, dare to make a difference, and then just go out and do it. Dream, Believe, Dare, Do.”

Valuable Nugget #2: Creativity is Everyone’s Job

Walt knew that all his cast members had the capacity to dream, regardless of their role. As part of their rigorous culture training, he made sure this value was well understood. Organizations that limit creative thinking to specific roles fail to recognize the unique potential that we all have within us. Workers on the front lines are usually closest to the customer and understand the frustrations and desires better than anyone but are too often left out of creative discussions.

Valuable Nugget #3: All For One and One For All

The importance of cooperative teamwork is a core theme discussed in the book and requires a strong culture that rewards collective accomplishments rather than individual ones. This means that whether your role is Marketing Manager, Graphic Designer, or CFO, your mindset should be, “How can we accomplish this big thing together?” Disney found that output was greater, far more efficient, and of higher quality with many heads together.

Valuable Nugget #4: Treat Your Customers Like Guests

If you ask any company leader if they highly value their customers, they will all say, “yes.” But how often are you left on hold for 20 minutes and are continually told, “your call is very important to us”, when you actually need help? More than just lip service, Disney’s culture prioritizes the guest experience above all else. In Disneyland’s early years, Walt and his brother Roy, who managed the company finances, would often clash about an expensive parade or holiday celebration that Walt would put on in the park. But Walt was insistent that there were some expenses that were worth the cost if it meant delighting their guests. Companies must always consider their bottom line but realize that long-term success depends on treating each customer like you would a guest in your own home.

Whether you are part of a multinational corporation, a city worker, or a humble company of 1, Disney’s battle-tested values can all apply. 

Dare to dream.

Be creative.

Better together.

Love your customers.