Success According to Michael Eisner

Former chief executive of Walt Disney Corp. and head of Paramount Pictures, Michael Eisner discloses why success is more than simply strategic business moves; it’s a culmination of life’s experiences. As revealed in several articles and sources, Eisner explains that the key components to success include an attitude of leadership, a loyal support system and a McKinsey strategy to business; also, how the New York Times crossword puzzle may also benefit your success.

Stir your past experiences into a collective knowledge stew: “I would like to say I have a McKinsey study of a strategy,” Eisner said, referring to the management consulting firm. “It doesn’t work that way. You just take your history and your education and your instincts and you put them all into a melting pot and out comes something.”

Act like the owner, even if you’re not :Eisner’s tenure at Disney was so long—21 years—that his persona became synonymous with the brand, even though he was a hired gun, not a founder.

“I always felt, up until the somewhat difficult ending, that I was the owner,” he says. “I tried to act in the long-term interest, like Rupert”—referring to Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation—“and not focus on meeting the quarter.”

Keep sharp with the New York Times crossword puzzle: “I’m kind of back to doing things the way I did at the beginning of my career. When I started, I was the lowest person on the 37th floor at ABC. Everything is given to the lowest person to do. Now I do it all myself with a few people to help. All of a sudden delegation is not as available to you as when you had 125,000 people working for you. And that’s good. They say if you do the New York Times crossword puzzle it sharpens your mind, it keeps you young. Maybe being closer to the action does the same thing.”

Adapt or die: “We shouldn’t complain about how technology is ruining our lives and our businesses. It’s not. You’ve got to adapt and move on.”

Pick a partner. A good partner: “I don’t think individual achievement in business is the most meaningful way for it to operate,” Eisner says. “Many people you think are individual achievers in fact have either a strong spousal partner over many years or a business partner who’s either in the background, not given enough publicity or less egocentric.

“Often those people who are truly, truly individual get themselves believing their own invincibility. Sometimes they become arrogant. Sometimes they even go beyond the line ethically and morally and that’s often when you see real problems. Obviously there are exceptions but I find that even with the exceptions if you dig deep enough, you find long-term sounding boards and anybody who thinks they can do it alone is probably doomed at some point.”

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