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Front-Line To C-Suite | Inside The Heart and Mind of Former Disney COO and Experience Steward Jim MacPhee (Ep40)

Do you want to know what executives in world-class companies think about leadership and why they hire consultants and coaches?

Today, I'm chatting with one of my favorite executives of all time, Jim MacPhee, recently retired Chief Operating Officer and self-proclaimed Experience Steward for Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts. He is also the author of the newly released book Engage, Inspire, Lead. 

I have worked on and off with Jim since 1999, first as his Organization Development Consultant at Disney and, more recently, as a sounding board when he retired from his 43-year career.

I invited Jim to join me on the show for several reasons.

First, I have been talking for the last few episodes about the importance of not just identifying your ideal client but getting in their hearts and minds so you can position yourself, products/services, and copy to connect with them. But figuring out how executives think can be challenging for consultants and coaches if we haven't been executives before. So, I thought, why not bring on some of my former clients so you can hear for yourself?

Second, Jim is one of the best executives and lives the values driving consultants and coaches like us, especially around purpose and relationship. It's hard to stay encouraged in our short-term profit-obsessed world that these unicorn executives exist. But they do. Jim offers powerful insight into what created his leadership philosophies and practices.  

In this episode, you'll hear why:

  • Leaders must surround themselves with people who dare to think differently and will be honest.
  • All your experiences, obvious or not, add to your greater purpose and work as a leader.
  • Great leaders can't lead from an ivory tower and need to know what it's like on the front lines.
  • Consultants and coaches succeed or fail when dealing with the C-Suite.

Ready for new ways of thinking about leadership and actionable inspiration to find and work with C-Suite executives (or executives on their way to the C-Suite) like Jim? You will not want to miss this episode. This interview is THAT powerful.

Where to dive in:

[6:55] Hear about Jim's first leadership role at Disney and how he navigated that time in 1978.

[11:34] Jim shares the Disney park most dear to his heart and how he navigated the massive growth the park experienced with its opening.

[14:50] Betsy shares the seeds of Jim's philosophy as he talks about his early experiences at Disney.

[22:36] What is the difference between a leader and a manager? Hear why Jim's mindfulness approach influences how things get done and, ultimately, great leadership.

[27:56] Hear about the provocative organizational structure Jim created for Animal Kingdom, how it was ahead of its time, and his major regret.

[32:10] Jim shares why leaders must surround themselves with people who dare to think differently.

[39:09] Betsy labels Jim's superpower and talks about being a generalist leader and how it relates to his book.

[45:03] Hear about Jim's leadership principles and personal beliefs.

[52:02] Why you need a specialist and generalist mindset to balance day-to-day and a long-term vision.

[1:08] Tune in for Jim's advice to consultants and coaches advising the C-Suite.

What's next:

About my guest:  Jim MacPhee began his career with Walt Disney World in the summer of 1978 and retired on April1st, 2021 as Chief Operating Officer / Senior Vice President, Operations, at the Walt Disney World® Resort. In a career spanning over 42 years, Jim functioned in a variety of roles across all of the theme parks at both Walt Disney World® and the Disneyland® Resort in Anaheim, California.

He began his career in the summer of 1978 as an hourly cast member. In 1996 was promoted to the executive position of General Manager, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Shortly thereafter, in 1999, Jim ventured off to California to be a part of the opening team for Disney’s California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort as Vice President, Attractions & Guest Services for the Disneyland Resort. In the spring of 2002, Jim returned to Walt Disney World®, and in 2004 was promoted to Vice President of Park Operations Development, Optimization, and Standardization. In early 2007, Jim accepted the role of Vice President, Epcot®, a position he held until March 2009, when he was assigned to lead the transformation of the Walt Disney World vacation experience via the introduction of My Magic+, resulting in co-authorship of multiple patents in the creation and introduction of experience technology enhancements.

He was promoted to the role of Senior Vice President, Walt Disney World® Parks in 2010 and was responsible for the strategic direction of Walt Disney World® Theme Parks, in addition to operationalizing My Magic + across the landscape of the site. In January 2018, Jim was promoted to the role of Chief Operating Officer/Senior Vice President, Walt Disney World® Resort. This role spanned all site operations, including four theme parks, more than 20 resorts, premium experiences, college housing, transportation, Disney Springs, security, two water parks, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

In the spring of 2020, Jim played the lead role for the Walt Disney World site in managing the pandemic-driven strategic and executional phases of closure, downtime and re-opening, which included preparing and presenting the re-opening plans to local and state government officials.

Today, Jim is a consultant to large-scale organizations and C-Suite leaders looking for a transformation in leadership, culture, and front-line experience.

About me: Betsy Jordyn is a Brand Positioning Strategist that helps consulting and coaching business owners clarify their brand positioning and messaging, create a website presence that positions them as sought-after experts, land clients with ease and integrity, and take their place as thought leaders and influencers in their niche. Her mission is to help consultants and coaches monetize their best-at strengths and authentic passions to make a bigger difference in the world. Check out her brand strategy, messaging, and design services at https://www.betsyjordyn.com


Download my free guide on how to clarify and own your unique position in the crowded consulting and coaching market: https://www.betsyjordyn.com/opt-in

Learn more about my Brand Positioning and Messaging strategy services: https://www.betsyjordyn.com/services

Schedule a consult call to talk about what you need to do to get seen and paid as the expert you already are: https://betsyjordyn.as.me/schedule 

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