Intro: Magical customer experiences don't happen by accident. They happen through careful planning and meticulous design. Kevin and Debbie have been engineering, extraordinary customer experiences for over 30 years. Join us as we explore corporate culture, branding, service, excellence, and much more through storytelling, technical curiosity, and friendly conversation. The Disney way for the digital age will be revealed.
[00:00:29] KK: Welcome. Welcome to Kevin. Welcome. Yeah.
[00:00:34] Debbie: Good morning, Kevin. Hello? What Deb there? Yes. What have you got on your head?
[00:00:40] KK: Oh, uh, yeah, so I finally jumped in and, and, and wanted to explore, uh, um, I got myself a pair of VR. Glasses.
[00:00:48] Debbie: Oh, there you are. yeah,
[00:00:50] KK: yeah, yeah. I, uh, I'm diving into this Metaverse thing, so yeah. Yeah. I found, I actually did buy a piece of real, uh, digital, real estate. I got myself a piece of, uh, New York city. Um, I think I bought a park in Tudor city that, uh, my wife had played a concert in. I thought that was kind of cool. I as it was time to jump into this full VR thing and get the headset on. And yes, I, I, I was walking around, uh, Meta's Horizon worlds. Um, it was pretty cool. Um, so why am I doing it on the podcast? You may ask?
[00:01:23] Debbie: It looks a little bit like you've become obsessed. If you ask me
[00:01:27] KK: A little bit . Look, so I'm exploring and feeding my head with things that inspire me to, to innovate. Good. And honestly, um, you know, also it's about trying to keep up with trends that are affecting my business and are indicators of where my business is going. If you haven't heard the word metaverse, you're sleeping under a rock. And you know, my business is about technology, leading trends, cutting edge trends. So. I just, you know, it was also somewhat self-indulgent. I wanted to try it out.
[00:01:58] Debbie: well, you know that, uh, but it really is that little grand entrance of yours actually, uh, is, is a nice segue into what we're gonna talk about today. So well done.
[00:02:06] KK: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you remember our first episode, mm-hmm we taught, we jumped right into the Disney dark years and yes, even Disney can get complacent and not only lose customers, but damage their culture. So we're here to talk plainly about the fact that you need to innovate. Adapt or die. Ouch. ouch. That's right. Harsh, but it's sorely needed wake up call for everyone. So, um, you know, we, we're also gonna talk about risk tolerance and failure. You need to know a little about your appetite for both. So welcome to episode seven of the Disney Way for the Digital age podcast, Innovate, Adapt, or Die.
Done done. Done. Yeah.
so, so how you doing Deb?
[00:02:51] Debbie: Oh, good. Yeah. Yeah. So, so we wanted to be just real about this concept of why do you need to adapt innovate? Um, can you really die as a business? Yeah, and I, I don't think anyone disputes the fact that we have seen many businesses. Die over the years because they would not adapt, couldn't adapt or wouldn't, whatever, whatever the case may be.
[00:03:17] KK: And it's hard to believe that the Disney almost came to that fate
[00:03:21] Debbie: Well, very close. Believe it or not. It was, it was a scary time and it is hard to believe because, and I think this is even more of a dangerous situation for very successful companies because they tend to be complacent sometimes. Yeah. Where they say, look, nobody can touch us. Right. Yeah. Yeah. And so we're just gonna kick off with an example before we get into yeah. The process of. What you need to do to be able to adapt or innovate and to do it in a smart way. And that example is, and it is an older example, but it's just so very relevant and that is the difference between say Barnes and Noble book stores and Borders, which is. No longer in business, they, they died. Right? Um, yeah, they,
[00:04:08] KK: this all happened while Amazon was becoming who they are.
[00:04:11] Debbie: That's right. And, and the interesting thing is, is that borders pioneered the mega bookstore phatens? I mean, they, they were the first and they pioneered it. No one, uh, did anything like borders was doing. And then they just kept doing what they were doing and not really paying attention to what was going on in, in the marketplace. Right. Barnes & Noble on the other hand had some really great success so this is the example that, that I'm going to give .When Borders announced that they were going to going to close all their stores, shutter all of their stores. They did not say we're going to keep an online presence because it apparently did not occur to the CEO. And one of the statements that he made was we've tried everything. We've thrown a lot of money at this. We've done everything to stay in business, but we just can't compete with these electronic books, these E-readers right. Right. And the fact as this had been happening for a very long time, and yeah, we
[00:05:10] KK: saw this coming and you know, I mean, Amazon, Amazon came outta the gate as electronic book company right. They didn't, they were not gonna sell widgets. They were selling books.
[00:05:17] Debbie: Right. Kindle fire right off the bat. That was an eReader. In the beginning. Right. And he just didn't see it coming. So unfortunately, Borders went outta business. Now Barnes & Noble took a very different position. They saw what was happening and they said, well, we are a bookstore and we could certainly compete in the e-reader marketplace and they created Nook. My first ere was a nook. Not because I had anything against Amazon in particular, but then the Amazon Fire, you could download and purchase eBooks, but only those available through Amazon. Oh, right. So they really cornered the market on that. I, I don't blame 'em that's smart business Barnes and Nobles said, and this was the selling point for me- you can download books from anywhere. Right so I thought, oh, okay. Now I have more access to more books, Amazon saw that and said, all right, we need to change our policy. And in the meantime, they innovated so that their Kindle Fire's as we all remember, pretty soon you had access to games, you had access to the internet, you had access to various apps and it became like a little mini thin computer that you could carry around with you and brilliantly. I thought Barnes and Noble took a step back and said, we are a bookstore. Electronic books is a great adaptation for us, but we are not anything other than that. And that's our core business and that's our culture. And they pulled out of. The E market because yeah, they couldn't compete with becoming a little mini they didn't want to, they, they said this is not us. Yeah. So this concept of innovator adapt to die means it's not just a matter of looking, which competition is doing. It's a matter of asking yourself, what's right for me, if I'm going to change something in my business, what is the right thing to change?
[00:07:16] KK: Absolutely.
[00:07:17] Debbie: Because there's risk involved, right?
[00:07:19] KK: Yeah. There's, there's definitely risk. But what I like about this example so much is that it has several examples of innovation, adapting and choosing, you know, I, I think it was, uh, courageous for Barnes and Noble to say and smart to say, I know who I am, what I am, I'm going to be smaller. You know, everybody talks about growth, growth, growth, growth is the right thing for me, sometimes the right choice is shrinking is smaller. Yes. You know, it's funny friend of mine. Yeah. Uh, Alex B told me this years ago in an interview, you know, we're talking about, uh, I it actually the next, uh, guest was the, a chief growth officer and, and he said, well, what if, what if growth isn't even the right idea? What if shrinking is the right idea and Barnes and Noble was smart enough to see that'll shrink to a size that we can sustain as a retail bookstore. Mm-hmm and that's what they've done. And you know, they're still there. They're still around. What else I like is that Amazon recognized something. Barnes and Noble and the Nook was doing better. And they adapted, yes. Look, I mean, there's no excuse for not researching all of your competition, buying their products, calling their services, secret shopping, you know, there there's so much data out there that you can just get by simply going and getting it, you know, taking a test run. So, um, I thought that was a great example. And the fact that you said your dad, you know, your dad, uh, loved the fact that he could get his books for free was one of the reasons, uh, you and he both chose the Nook. So,
[00:08:52] Debbie: yep. And now he, of course has, uh, a nice big Amazon Kindle fire that he, he loves. Yeah. And, uh, if for some reason it's not working, you should see the panic.
[00:09:19] KK: Yeah, I know you get that call
[00:09:08] Debbie: I said Dad, don't don't go into the system. Just leave it alone. That's right. That's right. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:09:13] KK: And your example of Borders who just, you know, didn't see it coming. Uh, Amazon started in 1994. Borders closed their books in 2011. That was plenty of time to figure this.
Right. Yeah. You know, see what's coming. What, where's my place Uhhuh, uh, or, you know, maybe I'm just gonna roll over and die. that's, that's kind of what they did. There's really no, no good excuse for that.
[00:09:35] Debbie: No there, there truly isn't. I mean, if you do the due diligence and you try to adapt or innovate and it doesn't work, um, That's an example of doing the right thing and it just didn't work out. Then you have to ask yourself, what's next? Do I step back? What do I do? And you mentioned it this morning, CNN + is, uh, a great example of that. They launched their streaming service realized very quickly nobody was using it and said, yep, we're outta here. yeah. Pay attention to the data. Yeah. That no shame. That's smart business. Right? That's all there is, you know,
[00:10:11] KK: So, so let's talk a little bit about that. Yeah. They took a risk, right, right. Didn't work out. They pulled the plug. So you know, this idea of, uh, innovation, adapting or dying, kind of, we've tied to this idea of no risk, moderate risk and high risk. Right. Mm-hmm . No, there's no risk with no change and yes, you'll die. Yes. So let's just be clear. That's why we're being so abrupt and using the term die. I've got a couple people say, boy, that's harsh. I'm like, well, it's harsh. I mean, look owning a business. And you know, I know there's a lot of small business owners, including myself, you know, a lot of small business listeners out there and they, it is hard every day. Yeah. So, you know, um, this, this idea that your business could die, any given month is, is a real feeling for a lot of folks. So mm-hmm, , it's not a joke and that's why we've made it as serious as it is. Your business will die if you don't at least adapt, keep up with trends. So, right. It's we kind of tie it to your risk tolerance and I think Deb's gonna go into a little bit more, but, but this simply put, you know, no risk. Yeah. You'll die. Low risk. Well, let's, let's talk about adopting, uh, watching trends. And that's, if you have a bit of a, um, higher tolerance for risk, and the means we'll talk about that too. You can't just say I have high risk tolerance and I'm going in well, have, have the ability to fail two or three times and take the, the, the financial, um, hit on the head that comes with it.
[00:11:33] Debbie: Mm-hmm exactly. You know, and that kind of really brings us to, to the meat of that topic of risk is your ability to innovate in a high risk situation directly correlates to your ability to suffer failure. Right? So it's exciting maybe to take a big risk and do something really exciting, but you have to ask yourself if this risk results in a 3 million dollar loss, for example, can my company sustain a 3 million loss and keep going so the plan has to include, maybe you adapt in smaller segments and keep the risk low, um, because that correlation between risk and your ability to stay in business is absolutely huge. Now. It's true that the higher, the risk, usually the greater the reward we've heard that. Right. Right. Um, and we've also heard the saying that if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten true. right.
[00:12:35] KK: Well, yeah. With one exception. I would add that there will be a diminishing return yes. On what you got. Right. That, that won't stay forever.
[00:12:42] Debbie: Well, and, and that's the way I look at that saying, I don't think that's an accurate saying either. I think if you always do what you've always done, you may die. right. You know, let's, you, won't always, let's just throw that awful word out there. Um, but if you always do what you've always done, you probably won't stay in business. So there. All businesses have to consider some level of risk. And is it, uh, a low risk? I just need to adapt what I'm doing. Like Amazon Kindle fire did. They said, okay, they've got their e-reader and they're letting people order books from everywhere. So we will adapt ours and let people order from everywhere. Right? Right. Yeah. So is it a small adaptation or is it a huge innovation? And those are, those are things that you have to consider. You have to measure the data in order to figure out what is the best plan to move forward that's going to get a success and, and maybe as little damage as possible. If it doesn't. If it doesn't work out.
[00:13:42] KK: Yeah. There's no shame in taking the adapt approach. Right. You don't have to be of an innovator to be successful. Right. I'll remind people that Apple was number two in a lot of things. Apple got the mouse from Xerox, Apple got their windows from, and their operating system from Bill Gates and DOS and you know, so they didn't innovate those things they did take them and then improve them. And. That's an approach that has brought tremendous success to so many. So there's no shame in being that middle ground, you know, I'm saying, oh, I'm, I'm low risk. You know, I'm not gonna get the big reward. There is, that is a fantastic approach. You know, innovation has also, you know, let's go back to that CNN plus say, you know, that's a great idea, you know? No, well, no, it wasn't. So, you know, innovation like that in established companies has taken them down. So let's say they, you know, they stuck with that and said, CNN+ plus is gonna, it's gonna succeed no matter what. And it kept dumping money in and it took down the whole Warner brand. Um, that would not be a wonderful outcome. So, yeah. Right. Adapt is a fine approach. Uh it's and it works.
[00:14:44] Debbie: It's a great approach. Yes.
[00:14:46] KK: How do you know which one is right for you, Deb? What do you think? Yeah,
[00:14:58] Debbie: so there is a certain amount of due diligence that has to be done this idea of just saying, oh, look what everybody else is doing. Is not a good business plan. I think I expressed it earlier as keeping up with the Joneses is usually not a good business philosophy because first of all, what the Joneses are doing may not be right for you because you take it back to what we've talked about in earlier episodes. What is your brand. What is your brand image? What is your culture? So anything that you do, you have to make sure that you are still delivering on your brand, delivering on what you promise to your customers and maintaining your culture throughout. Absolutely. And the way to think about that is that anytime you are thinking about adapting or innovating, you have to remember that what you're really doing is making change. Right and change is that word that people hate. And many people fear, you know, right. Change is scary. Employees don't adjust well to change. So you've got to have the right action plan in place. Now to develop your action plan, you want to have a very specific process that will number one, get you to a plan that will make you as successful as you can be at your adaptation or your innovation, and also help you to avoid analysis paralysis. Yeah. Right. I, I have an engineer, husband. I am very familiar with analysis paralysis. This is the man that it takes him two years to buy a car. You know, because he's got to analyze every model out there and all the stats. And then by the time he gets done with the first round, everything's changed, he has to go back and he has to do it all again, I I'm serious.
[00:16:40] KK: And he buys a car based on how many cup holders it has at the end of the day.
[00:16:44] Debbie: I drive him nuts I go to, I go to my favorite car place and I say, I, I saw that online. Let me see it. Yeah, that's great. I'll take it. I wait two hours, they clean it and I bring it home. He says, you cannot buy a car in one day. I said, yeah, I just did it's out in the driveway. um, so see,. So maybe that is not the best way to make business decisions, but somewhere in the middle. Okay. Somewhere in the middle. And so. I'd like to just tell you that there are three questions that I think will help businesses because adapting and innovation is about making change. There are three really key questions that you have to ask. Once you've got the plan, you think pretty much formed even a draft of the plan and a process for launch, ask yourself before you launch. These three questions. How does this change affect my employees? How does this change affect our customers and how will this change affect the bottom line? Right? Because obviously you're looking at, you're gonna be putting some money out to make this change, will there be a significant enough return on investment to continue to move us forward and hopefully not damage the company?
[00:17:04] KK: Right. Absolutely. So. That concept of critical decision making means to figure out those three things. If you take the time to do that, you will come up with ideas that pop up that you say, well, wow. I'm not sure that we have employees capable of using this new technology, for example, right. Which means we're gonna have, we are going to have to do some training to make sure that they can be successful. And these may not have been things that you originally thought about when you were planning your adaptation or innovation. So these three questions help you to really think about, will my employees be able to deliver successfully on the new process? Will this impact the customer? Can we minimize negative impacts to the customer because you know, when things change, sometimes customer suffers, right. And how is this going to impact the bottom line. And can we sustain a loss if it doesn't take off right away or it doesn't take off at all? Right.
Absolutely. You have to figure out, you know, how will this affect your bottom line? Right? Let's talk a little bit about, uh, decision making and this idea of going with your gut and actually have a couple concepts that I wanted to introduce around that and around what you just said.
So, you know, again, let's get back to, we've got a lot of founders and CEOs that are listening like myself. We got a business and you have this great idea. You have to ask yourself a few things, you know, and, and I did this too infrequently. I had a, uh, an interactive agency. We build apps and websites. We grew and we became this and then suddenly we were a full service agency. And I, I, you have to go back every once in a while and say, does this idea, this innovation or this direction, I'm going align with why I started this company and, and does it align with my passions? You know, So you're never going to be a great leader for your company, unless it does also align with your passions. Don't go chase the dollar mm-hmm . Um, it really typically won't work out. So, you know, this, this process of innovation and adapting is kind of a microcosm of the business Genesis. Um, why'd you start the business. So stop. Ask yourself that say, does that align? I love your, your, your reference to analysis paralysis. Mm-hmm um, you know what I think if you talk to entrepreneurs and business, business owners about their number one biggest challenge, they will typically say time. Oh, you started out, you said? Yeah. Uh, when we were talking before we started, uh, yesterday, you were saying I'm running on that hamster wheel. yeah. And hamster wheel got the better me and I'm just spinning around I'm the hamster that just spinning around the holding on for dear life. yeah. So, you know, time, we don't have more time. So this idea of spending too much time on analysis. Look, I, I totally agree. You've gotta do your research. You gotta check things out. Um, but you're doing that. My, I would contend that it is your business to keep up on trends every day, right? Yes. There's so much data available. So it that's something you should be doing not as a function of, I'm gonna just try this idea. I am very well aware of the status of my marketplace. What's my competition doing? Not because I decided to look into it today. It's because what I'm doing every day, right. Mm-hmm , you know, and then there's this idea of going with your gut and if you know me, I am a little impulsive. I always say if there's two hills, you know, to run up. I don't take too much time looking at the hills. I pick one and I run up and if it's not the, the right hill, I go back down and I run up the other one. um, always reminds me of that funny movie reference. Do you ever watch Monty Python? The Life of Brian. [AUDIO CLIP of Life of Brian] And they're like, this calls is for immediate discussion. Yeah. I think it's phenomenal. So . Going with your gut doesn't mean flying by the seat of your pants. I think a lot of people think that, right, right. It is scientific. There is some science around mm-hmm, what you're feeling in your gut. Um, and, and how that can, um, inform decisions. But again, there's better batters than others, right? Some batters bat, 150 , some batters bat, you know, three, 300 and more, um, I, I would also contend that idea of, of. Um, staying up to date on everything in your business on a daily basis makes those gut decisions more effective. Mm-hmm so that's my thought about, you know, impulsive decisions. Is now Deb. I think you had pointed out when we were chatting about this later. Yes. The reptilian part of the brain, uh, can be dangerous. Right. Not to say, uh, you know, it is very impulsive. It's not always based on fact it's based on want and emotion, so yeah. Yeah. Don't make all those, you know, shiny new car decisions based only on that .
[00:20:00] Debbie: AB absolutely. Right. You know, one things I used to tell my daughters all the time is they were growing up and getting out on their own was, I would say, never make a business decision based on emotion. Right. And sometimes that impulsiveness is based on emotion. So that is not what we mean when we, when we say, go with your gut. What we're saying is avoid analysis paralysis by doing the due diligence first. And then once you've got the information together and it feels right, 1, 2, 3, go! you have to go. Right. Yep. Yeah.
So I wanna just talk about three things that will help you with the 1, 2, 3 go. And, um, we've talked about just a little bit already, and one has studied the data. You have to figure out where you and your business stand in the marketplace. Um, again, something that Borders didn't did not do at the time. You have to look at the internal environment and the external environment and the internal environment is very specific to your company and your culture. Who are we today? How do we maintain our culture? How do we get things done today? So you really have to look at that internal environment and you have to look at the external environment. Well, what is the economy like? What's trending. What is the competition doing and understand that what's trending and, and the things that the competitors your competitors are doing are not necessarily Right Fit for you. So you, you have to sort through this concept of what's going on in the marketplace, who are you? Who are they? And what's the best thing for you to do in order to adapt innovate be successful. Um, you know, we, we talked a little bit about Barnes and Noble versus versus Amazon, um, good decisions on, on both their parts based on who they were at the time. Right, right, right. Uh,
So the second point is to create a comprehensive action plan. So this, this is not going by your gut by being spontaneous and winging it. This is saying after we've analyzed the data and after we've looked at our internal environment, the external environment, we have to create some kind of an action plan. You have to do that due diligence, and that action plan will enable you to adapt or innovate on whichever one is most relevant for you .When you are creating this action plan it has been my philosophy, most of my business life and I can't say enough about it. You should be involving as many people as you can at all levels of the organization. Just as many as you can get involved. Yes. It takes time, but no one knows what's going on in the front lines better than your employees, right? No one knows what it looks like to support that frontline and faces the issues day to day, whether they're product issues, process issues, or customer issues, than your frontline managers, when executives begin to create an action plan in their ivory towers, in their, in their silos. There are big holes in that action plan most of the time, and they are not always successful. So I'm a huge advocate of when you start working through your action plan, get input from your, your employees, get input from your supervisors and managers. Get the executives together, right. If it's applicable get your customers involved, do round tables with your customers. Any way that you can put all the pieces together as accurately as possible while you're creating that action plan.
And then the third step is you have to assess the risk. We've we've discussed this. So we have our action plan. We've got everyone's ideas. We think we've got a good strong action plan, but we don't wanna do one, two go. We have to do 1, 2, 3 go. And the third piece is, is assessing the risk, the potential cost of the risk in the event of failure, calculate the return on investment in the event of success. You have to look, you have to look at both sides and if the loss could be greater than you can sustain, it could put you outta business. And you you'll be a, uh, another company that we will talk about on our die list. in our next podcast, right? So
[00:27:17] KK: I'll, I'll give a quick example, a simple, small example that we went through all the time as an agency and all agencies do this, um, RFP responses and pitches. So, um, there's an opportunity. Um, yes, this sounds crazy for those of you that get paid for all the work you do. Um, uh, the plumber doesn't come and, and do the work and you get to see if you like it and then, you know, decide if you're gonna pay for it. Well, in the Agency world, we do something called pitching where we show up, uh, with as many as, uh, four to sometimes 10 other Agencies. And we decide that this is a risk we wanna take. We really would like this account. We go through the pitch process, which very often very costly and actually is the development of a complete campaign. And, uh, this is before the, the, uh, the brand is spent a single dollar. So they'll get six agencies that come in and present ideas. Um, those can cost us 10, 20, 30,000 bigger agencies. I know that's is they get into the six figures, believe it or not. And they have to decide whether they want to do this, um, to get a brand. And then to your point, what's the ROI, is it worth 10 grand to get a, uh, you know, a $5,000 a month retainer client? Probably not and you know, maybe it is, you know, maybe that does those numbers work out, but you gotta figure out those numbers and decide, is this a risk we want to take and we can sustain. Yes.
[00:28:34] Debbie: And I do that frequently in my business when I have been contacted to help an organization through cultural change or leadership development or whatever it is. And we start talking about project fees and costs. The, the question very quickly becomes for me as I'm working things out, how many hours will I be spending on right, the work of the work. And then what are they willing to pay for a fee? Yeah. You know,
[00:29:06] KK: We had a means for evaluating the risk involved in pitching new business. We actually called it the five PS of the new business pitch process, which can be expensive. Right. Um, the five PS were passion, profit portfolio potential, and people. We will post a graphic on the DisneyWayDigital.com and you can check that out in more detail. So yeah, you should have, you know, if it's something like, like in our world pitches that you do over and over and you're making these decisions of risk, um, you should make an evaluation list like that. Yes. You just. You have the same parameters every time you're making those decisions.
[00:29:38] Debbie: Yeah. I'm huge fan and I do it and you do it. So we know that that that's an important step because it works right. Yeah. Um, so, you know, when we talk about, and I'll just wrap up this piece with, you know, 1, 2, 3, go, like I said, not one, two, go. 1, 2, 3, go, once you've got this information, you've done everything you can do. So now make a decision and move. Okay. Move forward. Right. And that's the very best you can do, but track results. Is this working out the way we thought like CNN, plus it. Whoops, this is not working. We're outta here. Um, yeah, you have, you can't just roll it out and then ignore it. Say, well, that's done onto the next, you know?
Um, so we're talking about examples and, and so forth and I talked about involving everyone in this process. And I, and I'll just give you a, a Disney example. After we got through the dark years, Michael Eisner came on board and, uh, you know, things were changing, not rapidly, but, but were changing. And then because the executive team in California had done a tremendous amount of work around we are going to take Disney to the next level while maintaining the culture. And so that's when the Disney decade, what we call the Disney decade came about. Where Michael Eisner announced the growth of the property hotel after hotel, after hotel was announced and they were all previewed to us, the cast members in great detail. Wow. And it was, it was, it was a double edged sword. It was exciting. But those of us cast members that had been around for a while thought, oh my gosh, these guys are crazy.
[00:31:22] KK: Yeah. That's a big change.
[00:31:22] Debbie: We are barely making, making it right now. The guests have dropped off our attendances weren't so great. And this guy wants to build four more, uh, hotel properties and they were talking about new theme parks. Studios and Magic Kingdom and they were talking about theme park gates. And, and we, we went around as cast members going, oh my gosh, because we weren't privy to all the work, the data work they had done so there's a lot of trust involved here and we're saying, gosh, you know, these guys are crazy. They're gonna, they're gonna put us under. We had to adapt our beliefs and our trust in the new executive team. They gave us a lot of information. So the, as we started to build the Grand Floridian, as we started to build the economy, hotels, guests were excited about it. So we adapted as saying from the movie Field of Dreams , you know, We started to walk around saying, "build it and they will come" because , as they built these hotels, guests flock to this new, exciting part of the Disney company, something they hadn't seen in a long time. Innovation had pretty much died with the Disney company and it was something Walt was known for. So it took us back to our culture. And as we are building and building and building, and yes, they were, they were coming, but there was a tremendous amount of work done by the teams. Executive teams. We were in the loop. And, and the guests did come because the innovation was back on board and it was a very exciting time, you know?
[00:32:56] KK: Yeah. As, as someone who was going to the parks, I mean, I, I think from high school days, I visited Disney every other year, at least. Um, since, you know, since I've been 20 and it was exciting to see something new and get to a new, you know, which, which place are we gonna stay? It was not even about which parks are we going to, you know, it was like, where would he stay? Because every piece of the experience was now a Disney experience, right? But a lot of people were staying outside and coming, you know, and traveling to the parks. So this was a nice opportunity to give folks the, uh, ability to be immersed in Disney 24 /7 for their whole vacations. Yes. And it, I think it paid off right?
[00:33:43] Debbie: It, well, it did. And I, I think a brilliant concept that they had was realizing that there were many levels of people who had different levels of, of income, desires. Not everybody wanted to go to the Grand Floridian. Not everyone could go to the Grand Floridian at the cost. So the concept of let's build a series of, um, economy hotels is what they were dubbed at first, you know, your all star, your all star sports, your all star music and so forth, opened up. A means for excited Disney fans. Yeah. Yeah. To come and stay on Disney property when, before it wasn't possible for them. When, when we had the Contemporary, the Polynesian and the, um, right. Grand Floridian. And so it opened up a whole new world of customers to be able to come and stay on property and en and enjoy staying on a Disney property. Uh, so yep. Absolutely. That's an adaptation born out of innovation. That was hugely successful, you know?
[00:34:47] KK: Indeed. Absolutely. Well, we are getting close to the end here. I'm gonna give you a little bit of tech talk and we'll give you some great advice and tell you what's coming up next episode. So, um, yeah, I, I, my piece of advice from the tech side is, um, The data you can gather is so much greater than it was, uh, even 10 years ago. Right? So there you have no excuse for not being well informed. You have your website analytics and your traffic trends on your website. You can secret shop, you can, um, do competitive reviews. You can actually develop custom profiles from your email lists yourself or better yet, there are third parties that can do data overlays, and that can give you more information extracted from your email list than you ever thought you could about customer profiles that can build very detailed customer profiles with, of course not accessing anyone's personal information. So you get these personas that you can extract. So again, knowing more about who your customer is, and there's so much more available. Whereas years ago it was trade magazines, business pubs, trade shows. Dinner in drinks with colleagues, um, and all that still exists, but there's no excuse for not being well informed about your business and where it's going.
[00:36:02] Debbie: So true.
[00:36:03] KK: And then a term that we use in the tech world called heuristic learning this idea of learning from experience it's, it's applied very often to, um, machine learning in AI. Honestly, it's something humans have been doing for years and. You try, you fail, you learn, you try, you fail, you learn, you try you succeed. So this idea of failure is integrated with the idea of innovation, even adapting. You can adapt something that worked for someone else may not work for you recognize it's not working quickly. Um, as I've heard some say, fail fast and learn fast mm-hmm . Um, there was an agency that I love called Wieden Kennedy, and they had a motto called fail harder. They had a group of, uh, the agency, uh, team stay for, I think four days and night straight, they did a push pin thing on a wall about 10 feet tall called . And it said fail harder. And it, they did not spell the words with the push pins. They, they filled in the background and the words were spelled from the negative space. So, um, fail harder. That's cool. That was a great model from a great Agency.
So, and then I will leave you with my, one of my favorite. League of Their Own Jimmy Dugin, one of the best characters ever in movies that, um, Tom Hanks portrayed as Gina Davis' character came out and said, I'm not gonna the championships. It just got too hard." Jimmy leans in and he says, "If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great." And I love that. What a great scene. Anyway, I think we gotta give them some advice, maybe the greatest piece of advice I'll ever get Deb. Yes. For this week. for this week, we think we think right. Exactly.
So look.. Innovative, Adapt or Die. It, it, it's pretty self explanatory says a lot. Don't forget it. Maybe put it up on your wall somewhere, but you really need to understand your risk tolerance level. Your willingness and ability to handle failure. And I think armed with this, you can look forward and never look back. So. That's a wrap, um, on to next week, we have our first guest, a former colleague of Deb's from Disney Institute, right? Deb?
[00:38:06] Debbie: Yes. I'm very excited. That's exciting. Yeah, she is, um, was a colleague of mine at the Disney Institute and a very good friend. Her name is Mary Flynn. She is one of the most creative people I've ever known. She has unbounding energy and absolutely amazing business acumen. So we're going to hear from her and let her tell you a little bit about her philosophy around creativity and risk taking and success and failures. So, um, I, I'm very excited to have her. Hmm.
[00:38:41] KK: Yeah, it sounds great. Me too. So thanks everyone. We will see you next week on the Disney way for the digital age. Thanks so much.
[00:38:49] Debbie: Thank you.
[00:38:50] Outro: You've been listening to the Disney Way for the Digital age!
Our producer and engineer is Steven Byrom. Show coordinator is Taranpreet Trehan. And voiceover by Cindy Clifford. Kevin and Debbie can be reached for free advice or paid consulting at [email protected] or [email protected]. A new episode is released each Tuesday morning. We hope you’ll continue to listen!
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