- Relationship building expert within the business environment
- Sixth executive to hold the position of Vice President, Magic Kingdom, since the inception in 1971
- Regular keynote speaker for Disney while an employee of the company
- Participated in the 2015 Sodexo Quality Life Worldwide Conference Panel
Dan Cockerell was a top Disney executive before starting his own company. A Boston University graduate, Dan gained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1991. His love of rugby saw him selected to the USA Collegiate All-American rugby team in both 1990 and 1991, with him captaining the side during his second year. He earned his MBA at the Crummer School of Business at Rollins College in 2001.
Dan Cockerel first started working at Disney in 1989 as a participant in the Walt Disney World College Programme. He worked at the front desk of the resort. His graduation in 1991, however, saw him move to Florida and participate in the Disneyland Paris Management Trainee Program. He was transferred to France in 1992, a mere three months before the opening of Disneyland Paris. He stayed and worked there for five years before being transferred back to Orlando, Florida.
Over the years, Dan Cockerel has held down many positions in the organisation and was only the sixth executive to hold the position of Vice President, Magic Kingdom, since the theme park opened in 1971. Relationship building, according to Dan Cockerel, is one of the key elements of leadership success. He approachability and work philosophy have been the cornerstones of his leadership success.
During his time at Disney, Can Cockerell, besides his operational responsibilities, was also a keynote speaker for the organisation. This role hs seen him address thousands of open-roll participants and attendees in customized programmes. Amongst those he addressed, Dan Cockerell counts the likes of General Motors, Porsche A.G., United Airlines, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Ary, and the Southern Methodist University Business School, to name but a few. In 2015, Dan Cockerell also participated in the Sodexo Quality Life Worldwide Conference Panel. The event was moderated by Arianna Huffington.
The years 2004 to 2018 saw Dan Cockerell as a member of the board of Junior Achievement of Central Florida, with him elected as chairman during 2010.
After a 26-year career with Disney, Dan Cockerell decided it was time for a change. This led to the establishment of Dan Cockerell LLC, a speaking and consulting company.
Dan Cockerell – Speaker
As a speaker, Dan Cockerell provides audiences with a customized, authentic presentation. His focus is on leadership and management practices. Dan draws on his extensive career with Disney, using relevant examples from his own life and his unique, storytelling talent to confine audiences to their seats.
- Managing Self – Emotional Intelligence: In order to lead others, you must lead yourself. In order to respect others, you must respect yourself. In order to understand others, you must understand yourself.
- Communication: When talking to front line employees and managers, lack of effective communication is typically in the top 3 concerns that employees have about their organizations and leadership.
- Balance: Many articles have been written about what life balance is, how to define it, and how to attain it. Dan believes that balance is about prioritization and sacrifice.
- Organisation Skills: 80% of success is showing up at the right place, on time. However, even the most talented leaders have trouble doing this. People underestimate the limitations they put on themselves by not planning, prioritizing or having a system to manage their life.
- Self-Awareness: The Johari Window shows that we all have blind spots that limit us from being 100% self-aware. Having a sense of confidence in your talents and being self-aware of your shortcomings is essential to leading a team.
- Authenticity: We all leave some part of ourselves at home. The more of our authentic selves we can bring to work, the more credibility we have.
- Vulnerability: The strongest bosses have the ability to lead, at times, with strong command, and at other times are willing to defer to their teams, and admit that they do not have the answers.
- The Corporate Athlete: Professional athletes and corporate athletes experience the same mental and emotional stresses; however, their approach is much different. Professional athletes train 95% of the time and compete 5% of the time. Those of us in business do the opposite.
- Luck: Are some people luckier than other people? Dan says yes and will explain how you can create opportunities for yourself in business and life.
- Managing Others – It’s not just about your people, it’s all about your people: Creating the right environment for your team to thrive in is your number one job as a leader.
- Training & Development: What is the difference between training and development? And how do you put plans in place to be sure you are providing both to your team members to improve their performance, their results, and their retention?
- Relationships: Technology, design, intelligence, and creativity are important to success; however, as a leader, nothing can get done if not through people. How do you manage your relationships proactively and with the same focus and detail as you manage projects? It can be done.
- Talent: Understand that talent selection is the most predictive indicator of success.
- Clarity: We spend 8-10 hours a day with our teams, and expect that they will understand our expectations through osmosis. It does not work this way.
- Reward / Recognition: Why are reward and recognition important? To improve morale? To make people happy? No, it is to reinforce behaviors that you value.
- Leading Teams: Work teams mirror sports teams. There are workhorses, superstars, unsung heroes, introverts, extroverts, big and small egos. You are not there to lead these teams. You are there to work for them, guide them and make sure they are successful individually and as a group.
- Accessibility / Approachability: In most companies, big and small, hierarchy is used to structure the business. This limits the boss’ ability to find out “what is going on” on the front lines.
- Performance Expectations: Do your direct reports know what you expect of them? Have you told them, or just assume that they know. Have them make a list of what they think great performance looks like to you. If they cannot, you have some work to do.
- New Teams: Once you select – or, more likely, inherit — a new team of direct reports, a dance happens over multiple months for everyone to figure each other out.
- Leading, Managing, and Improving the Organisation – Safety and Wellness, the base of Maslow’s pyramid: If your employees are injured and unhealthy, all other goals get harder to reach. Creating a world-class safety culture requires not only expertise, planning, and prioritization, but most importantly requires visible leadership support, and an eye on leading indicators.
- Metrics and Alignment: If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it. If it is not aligned it is not effectively contributing.
- Collaboration: The best results are achieved when there is a diversity of input. Time constraints and reluctance to share information often get in the way of attaining this.
- Strategic Speed: In order to move quickly, organizations must slow down.
- Lagging / Leading Indicators: Most metrics that we pay attention to are lagging indicators. They simply report what has happened in the past. If you want to drive results, you must identify what your leading indicators are in order to change the results you expect.
- Strategy: In Dan’s opinion, “strategy” is the most overused and least understood word used in business.
- Accountability: When people are held accountable for delivering results, the results get better. However, clarity, relationships, and candor need to be part of the process.
- Customer Satisfaction: The customer pays our salary. We had better give them the experience they want and then some, to ensure they talk about their experience in a positive way and come back again!
- Big Mistakes: Fast Recovery, Fast Learning: We all talk about our successes but do not spend enough time studying our failures. Dan talks about mistakes and failures he has experienced in his career and how he recovered from them.