We invite you to listen to our podcast. In our interviews with fascinating people, we ask all sorts of questions, particularly focused on lessons about business and finance that they learned as children. Scroll down to click on specific episodes. There you will find more detailed biographies for each guest and our show notes. You can also subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and YouTube. Enjoy!


Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World Resort, discusses Disney, hardship, one-to-one time with children, and more.


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Lee Cockerell is the former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort. “As the Senior Operating Executive for ten years Lee led a team of 40,000 Cast Members and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping & entertainment village and the ESPN sports and recreation complex in addition to the ancillary operations which supported the number one vacation destination in the world.”

One of Lee’s major and lasting legacies was the creation of Disney Great Leader Strategies which was used to train and develop the 7,000 leaders at Walt Disney World. Lee has held various executive positions in the hospitality and entertainment business with Hilton Hotels for 8 years and the Marriott Corporation for 17 years before joining Disney in 1990 to open the Disneyland Paris project.

Lee has served as Chairman of the Board of Heart of Florida United Way, the Board of Trustees for The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the board of the Production and Operations Management Society, and the board of Reptilia, a Canadian attractions and entertainment company. In 2005 Governor Bush appointed Lee to the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Public Service for the state of Florida where he served as Chairman of the Board.

He is now dedicating his time to public speaking, authoring a book on leadership, management, and service excellence titled Creating Magic…10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney. which is now available in 13 languages and his latest book The Customer Rules…The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service. Lee also performs leadership and service excellence workshops and consulting for organizations around the world as well as for the Disney Institute. Lee has received the following awards:

  • Golden Chain Award for Outstanding leadership and business performance from the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operations Association (MUFSO).

  • Silver Plate Award for Outstanding Operator in the foodservice industry from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA).

  • Excellence In Production Operations Management and Leadership (POMS) from the Productions and Operations.

  • Grandfather of the year from his three grandchildren, Jullian, Margot and Tristan.

Lee and his wife Priscilla live in Orlando Florida.



  • Which of your business successes most defines your professional legacy? What was the biggest accomplishment at Disney World? [0:37]

  • What is it about Disney that attracts autistic children? [4:25]

  • As a child, did you watch Disney films? [5:37]

  • How did your mom's multiple marriages impact you? [7:24]

  • With all the hardship you underwent during childhood, what were the factors that prevented your childhood from being worse? [11:32]

  • What is the most positive experience you remember having with your grandmother? [13:11]

  • What is the importance of having one-to-one time with your child? [14:33]

  • Did you ever make time to talk with your son about business and money? [19:51]

  • How did you get started with your podcast? [23:57]

  • What is your favorite charitable cause? [26:33]



© 2018 Choose the Nickel. Logo created by Jeremy Beck. Website created with


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