Business, Politics & Society

Focus, Strategy & Priorities

Bob Iger

Lesson time 8:51 min

Bob believes you must narrow your focus to develop a successful strategy. He illustrates this point by explaining how he ultimately convinced the Disney board that he should become the next CEO.

Bob Iger
Teaches Business Strategy and Leadership
Disney CEO Bob Iger teaches you the leadership skills and strategies he used to reimagine the future of one of the world’s most beloved brands.
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- Always remember, your focus determines your reality. - Focus is very important for good leadership, because people need to have a sense of what the priorities of the organization that they work for are and what their priorities need to be-- meaning not just a set of values and how they behave, but how they spend their time. What's important in terms of what they do at work? And that obviously ties directly to a strategic focus of the company. In 2004, the board decided that a new CEO needed to be chosen for the company. And I was the only internal candidate. And I was beginning a process that ultimately would lead to multiple interviews with board members. And a couple of interviews were the entire board and myself. And I knew in entering that process that I was going to be pressed by board members-- not just once, but maybe throughout the process-- about how I intended to run the company, what the company's priorities needed to be, what our strategic focus needed to be-- essentially, how were we going to operate the company. And just as important as that, how were we going to allocate capital. As I began to think that through, a friend of mine who had been a marketing and political consultant-- and quite a successful one-- came in and handed me a deck, basically a 10-page document, that he said was my campaign. And I said, campaign? And he said, this is a political campaign-- essentially, describing to me a process that would mirror the same process that a candidate may go through to convince voters to elect them. And he wasn't necessarily defining what the strategies needed to be, because he was not in our business and he certainly was not considering running the Walt Disney Company. But essentially, what he was telling me was that I had to articulate what the strategy needed to be. And in doing so, I couldn't have 10 strategies. I needed to have just a few. And in fact, he asked the question, what are your priorities? And I started to list them. And when I got to five or six, he said, stop right there. I think he actually faked the yarn. And he was suggesting to me that if you are going to have strategies for the company, they needed to be just a few of them. They couldn't be many of them. The reason for that was that the more you had, the less focus there would be and the more spread out the allocation of time and capital would be. And so he caused me to focus, which was a great thing, on just what the strategies or the strategic priorities needed to be. And I came up with three of them at the time. The first one was to invest most of our capital in creativity. What I actually said at the time was high-quality branded content, or creativity. The second one was using technology in a way that would enable us to tell our stories or to make our content more compelling and higher quality, but also to use technology to reach people in more innovative ways. And then the third strategy was to grow globally. W...

Embrace risk, build resilience

In an era of disruption, Disney CEO Bob Iger led one of the world’s most beloved brands to unprecedented success with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Now, through case studies and lessons from 45 years in media, Bob teaches you how to evolve your business and career. Learn Bob’s strategies for expanding a brand, leading with integrity, and making big moves—from risk management to the art of negotiation.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Very insightful, would have liked a little more detail about the strategy around the big deals. But overall a great class.

Absolutely loved this class! Getting to hear what Bob Iger has to say and just to learn from him was the whole reason why I subscribed to this.

This class was inspirational and makes me want to work at being a better, more effective leader. My biggest take-aways were to always be forward-thinking without neglecting the present and to be more decisive in order to be more productive.

I have only watched the videos as of now and haven't read through the PDFs of each video, so I am sure there is more content within the PDFs.



I totally understand his points on solitude and working out...although I changed my workout time from early morning to evening...put in my music and concentrate on me!

Trey W.

I love this lesson. I have used these principles repeatedly, since this lesson.

tuphr N.

I'm finding Bob's lessons a bit vague. OK so he has focus, talks to people, has meetings, has breaks, does nothing, but what does he actually focus on? It's too theoretical. Any practical examples?

Marcus M.

So many gems here. Focusing on one or a few key objectives is far greater than trying to focus on many. After all, someone can only aim at one target at a time...

Jason A.

This was really the eye opener for me. Focus and clarity of strategy and vision, and more importantly how to each of the parts of the business play into that strategy, is something that Is far more rare, in my experience, from business leaders than it should be. Clearly this is one of the reason that Bob, and by extension The Walt Disney Company, have been so successful for such an extended period of time.

A fellow student

It's no Walt Disney Co. but I've been using these business strategies to run my high school's Student Council as President. I've read Ride of a Lifetime and just began this MasterClass today. Going to readjust our priorities based on this lesson. 1. We have a lot of unkept promises right now and I think our first steps should be committing to our word. We have been saying we'd get new shirt designs since September! 2. While our general meetings go well I don't think we use our time effectively enough during our after school meetings with top members, which conveniently we do on Mondays too. Restructuring those to be more effective will be huge as it will create a ripple effect as say each Class President can be more prepared when they go to each of their individual meetings. 3. All of our strongest events happen in the first half of the year and it is a major priority that we start a new tradition that can be done in the second half of the year. Right now we are doing research into events that the teachers and faculty want to get involved in, and our goal is to hold something new this March. This was all more of an exercise for me on using this lesson, but I comment it here because I think it shows the effectiveness of your work and strategies Mr. Iger. Whenever I finish reading a chapter of your book or one of these videos I can't help but feel motivated to go work and adjust how I'm leading. You are a great example for leadership and I can't state enough how helpful your lessons have been. Yknow, assuming you actually have the time to check the comments on your MasterClass and read this.

Jose C.

I'm a fan of turning complex strategies into simple and accessible priorities. I once participated in an excellent training session on fundraising that taught me to put things in threes, because people are more likely to remember things in threes. Bob ended up choosing three main strategies and then he repeated them at regular meetings with implementers and listened to their advice pertaining to shifting market trends that would affect the implementation of such strategies. At the beginning Bob mentioned that it was important for both the company and the leader to be clear on their priorities, because it would determine how the leader is to spend his/her time. It made me think of explicitly adjusting my calendar so that I'm spending the most amount of time on my priorities during the week.

A fellow student

This lesson really mirrors what I did when I took my job in the currently company and basically has to "sell" the strategy to the internal stakeholders before getting them implemented. I think most of the times people underestimate the work to engage & communicate with internal stakeholders throughout the process.

Gladys P.

A good strategy is only as good as your ability to articulate it, and re-articulate it, again and again. Powerful lesson in cascading strategies to team members, and ensuring through regular feedback that everyone is on the same page.

Melissa I.

I think a challenge can be found in how your define / operationalize "priorities." I've reported to people who define them so large that they are meaningless ("be the international leader in ...") or so narrowly that they're basically a to-do list. What I wouldn't give to hear Iger talk more about how he uses the concept!