Disney DNA from a 43-year Cast Member

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Last night, December 5, 2017.


Date: December 5, 2017 at 5:39:18 PM EST
Subject: Take your shoes and socks off and stand barefoot in the dirt….

Years ago I worked at the Polynesian Resort with General Manager Hideo Amemiya. I had just joined that team as a Front Office Manager. I asked a friend about him as a boss and he said, “He is good. But you will REALLY like him when he rants.” Shortly after I arrived Hideo held an all-salaried meeting and he got up in front of us with some fairly routine announcements. “Make sure your Cast are punching (clocking) in on time… CPs (College Program students) are arriving soon… (the Cast) Cafeteria will be closing for a few weeks…“. After a short pause Hideo abruptly shifted gears. “And when you walk around the resort I want you to be a warrior! Never walk the same path twice… I want you to LEAD like you have eyes in the back of your head!” (My friend looked at me and said… THIS IS IT!) Hideo went on… “When you walk rooms I want you to go where the Guest goes… on hands and knees where their kids crawl on the floor… I want you to SNIFF the phone because that phone gets up in our Guests’ faces! AND then when you go home at night… I want you to take off your shoes and socks… stand barefoot in the dirt… and let all of the energy from the day drain out of you…”


Passion oozed out of Hideo and learning from him and so many of you, I have always believed that passion is what separates our company from any other. Today I wanted to let you know that after a wonderful run of 43 years here with you, I will be retiring from our company on Dec. 21. I am extremely proud of all of those times… beginning with a Custodial Host role in Fantasyland, working at 15 of our Resorts including 3 Resort openings, Operations Development, Labor Strategy Team, our Lodging Line of Business and today at Epcot. With all of those experiences, in every case, the importance was in how we made our Guests and Cast feel and the memories that come from that…


… And, of course, the people. All of you. It took me two days just to come up with a list of your names, and I know I have missed so many. I would love it if you would feel free to forward this to anyone you know that should have it.


I want all of you to know that my passion and pride in what Disney means will continue forever, and as I am handing off the ball to the rest of you, I am counting on you to carry the torch. Families all around the world are counting on you, too.


I am fortunate that I will be having a retirement party on Monday, Dec. 11 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at Disney’s (name-removed) Resort, invitation to follow.  I know how busy everyone is, but I would relish the opportunity to offer you a beverage, shake your hand and share a funny story. No long speeches. Just a celebration for all of us.


And after we have a sip and a laugh… you should go home… take your shoes and socks off and stand barefoot in the dirt…


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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.