The Ride of a Lifetime—Piecka

Author of Book: Robert Iger
Date Read: February 17, 2022

Book Report

Title: The Ride of a Lifetime

Author: Robert Iger

Genre: Non-Fiction

Why I Read This Book:

As it turns out, I had just finished reading “Start with Why” and there was going to be a small gap between receiving my next book so I found myself perusing the Prison Library for something to fill the time and I came across “The Ride of a Lifetime” by Robert Iger.

Robert Iger was CEO of Disney for 15 years and ended up returning to run the Company for a second time recently  after a short retirement. Mr.. Iger has been with ABC/Disney since 1974 and literally climbed the corporate ladder from the very bottom. Mr. Iger had no “connections” to give him any kind of head start. He used hard work, lessons he learned from his mentors and his instincts to guide him.

During his tenure as CEO, Mr. Iger led Disney through the most dramatic acquisitions the Company has ever experienced–Pixar, Marvel, and Lucas Films to name a few. Robert Iger also oversaw global expansion and technological advancements like Disney+ streaming service.

I really wanted to read this book not solely because I remembered seeing it on the Best Seller lists for weeks but also because he was VERY well respected in the business community. Why was he so respected? I believe it is because he was always up front and honest without trying to sugar coat the truth and fellow great leaders in business, like Steve Jobs, respected Robert Iger immensely. If Steve Jobs, who was known to be shall we say “prickly” toward others, can respect and be-friend someone who is trying to buy his company that he loves, I am sure there are at least a few lessons I can learn from reading “The Ride of a Lifetime”.

What I Learned:

I learned a few great lessons from “A Ride of a Lifetime” and they are not only great business lessons but life lessons as well.

“I can’t do anything about the past. We can talk about lessons learned, and we can make sure we apply those lessons going forward. But we don’t get any do-overs.”  How important is THAT for someone coming out of Prison and having to explain his/her incarceration to a future employer? I have been working with my celly (roommate) on interview skills so he is prepared when he is released soon and I tell him all the time–Own your Prison record and convince them why you are different and better NOW. We do not get any do-overs. We must EMBRACE our past but FOCUS on what we learned and how THIS version ourselves is a better version than BEFORE we went to Prison.

“In my experience…what separates great managers from the rest (is) if leaders don’t articulate their priorities clearly, then the people around them don’t know what their priorities should be.”  Now, the B.O.P. will NOT lay out their priorities or expectations clearly but they WILL punish you for not following them! Therefore, practice being a great leader by laying out YOUR priorities while you are in Prison. I would cap them at 3 like Robert Iger suggests. For me, everything I do falls under the umbrella of Bettering myself physically, mentally and spiritually. My priorities are clear and concise. When I lead a team again,  I will make sure I always make my top 3 priorities clear and communicate them constantly to my Team so they don’t have to guess what is important to me. They will KNOW.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to be bold. You never know what the chances are of something big happening unless you GO FOR IT! When Robert Iger was contemplating starting a conversation with Steve Jobs about acquiring Pixar, he was EXTREMELY nervous. Even though he and Steve Jobs had began a good working relationship, the prior CEO of Disney and Steve Jobs were enemies at best. Robert Iger feared tremendously Steve Jobs would throw a fit for just asking about his feelings toward Disney buying Pixar. Finally, after sitting in his driveway holding his phone for some time, he called and asked Steve Jobs if it was even worth discussing and Steve Jobs said….Sure!!!! You can’t accomplish bold moves waiting for them to happen TO you. You have to MAKE them happen with ACTION.

Why I Will Be Successful After Reading This Book:

When Robert Iger took over Disney (which was a battle just in itself even though he was COO at the time and the current CEO Michael Eisner was forced to retire) his beloved Company was NOT in a a good spot:

–It’s Disney Animation Studios was struggling badly.

–Decision making was slow and over analyzed.

–It’s financials were stagnant.

When we come out of Prison and return to society, we too will be behind the proverbial 8-ball:

–We will have a felony on our records for background checks that will permanently block us from certain positions.

–We don’t know how people will react to knowing we went to Prison.

–Technology and tools will have continued to move foreword and we will need to play catch up.

I can take some of the tools from Robert Iger’s tool box and use them to help me climb back to a successful business and life:

–First, there is no substitute for hard work. Even when Robert Iger was a lonely “gopher” while working on sets at ABC Studios, he made sure he was first to arrive and last to leave. Opportunities will COME your way simply by being recognized as someone who works hard and doesn’t complain about it.

–Second is Honesty. Good or bad news meant Robert Iger got right to the point. When it came to firing someone, for example, too many managers want to try and soften the blow with chit-chat or to pass the buck by saying it was not THEIR decision. Take responsibility, be honest, and get to the point. It will not make the experience easier but more people will respect your process than not.

Finally, there is integrity over dollars. Always do the right thing over what may be best for the bottom line. Coming out of Prison, there will already be a spotlight on us. Showing integrity, especially when you believe that nobody is watching, will earn you more trust and more freedom.

About Me:

My name is Jeff Piecka and I was sentenced to 34 months in a Federal Prison Camp in Oxford, WI after committing a white collar crime several years ago and finally being arrested and immediately pleading guilty. Before self-surrendering on June 6, 2022, I promised my wife and family that I WILL exit prison a better husband, son, brother, Christian, future employee, and overall better member of society because I am going to better myself in three ways:

1) Physically–Not just for vanity purposes but a better operating body equals a better operating mind.

2) Mentally–Reading non-fiction books, magazines, stories, and newspapers daily that educate and elevate my mind and expand my vocabulary.

3) Spiritually–For ME, this means learning more from the Bible but it can also mean whatever “Greater Good” you believe in.

Shortly after self-surrendering and reading Michael Santos’s book “Earning Freedom–Conquering a 45 Year Prison Term”, it inspired me to want to help just 1 person who is possibly heading to prison so I started emailing my family Posts that my sister uses to post as a Blog on reddit dot com called “Letters From Federal Prison”. I believe to date it has over 10,000 views and shares plus there are several comments from people advising that the Blog has helped them. This has motivated me to keep writing (which i have NEVER done anything like this before) and i REALLY want to help more people when I return to society in 2023.