Episode #53: Making Magical Experiences

Guest: Lee Cockerell

How do you create experiences so amazing that they're nothing short of magical? According to this week's guest, it all comes down to leadership. Join host Shawn Nason as he sits down with Lee Cockerell, former executive vice president of operations for the Walt Disney World Resort, to talk about the role that people-centric leadership plays in creating experiences that change people's lives.

About Shawn Nason

shawn@mofi.co | ShawnNason.com | @manonfiresocial

Shawn Nason, founder and CEO of MOFI, best-selling author, and former Walt Disney Imagineer, lives his life with a commitment to create radical relationships with everyone he meets. Armed with the gift of discernment, he has the uncanny ability to walk alongside people and organizations as they struggle to connect with their deepest passions and engage their most debilitating demons. He challenges the world around him to be fully present, get real, and lead with empathy.

Prior to launching MOFI, Shawn was the chief experience & transformation officer for Healthways and served as the chief innovation officer for Xavier University. He also spent six years at The Walt Disney Company in various capacities within Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Cruise Line. He’s an in-demand speaker and coach, the author of two books, Kiss Your Dragons: Radical Relationships, Bold Heartsets, & Changing the World (2021) and The Power of YES! in Innovation (2017), and the host of The Combustion Chronicles podcast.

About Lee Cockerell

Chief Learning Officer at Cockerell Academy

Former Executive Vice President for the Walt Disney World® Resort

Author, Speaker, and Consultant Specializing in Creating World-Class Customer Service Through Great Leadership

About mofi

A human-obsessed, boutique design firm ready to rethink your entire Experience Ecosystem™

hello@mofi.co | mofi.co | @mofisocial

Organizations who can’t grow get left behind. And, getting left behind isn’t good for anyone. But growth is hard. Why? Because it involves humans and humans tend to complicate things. That’s where we come in.

Consider MOFI your full-court-press game plan for growth. We engage, humanize, and redesign your interactions with the people and processes that make up your Experience Ecosystem.


Customer & Employee Experience—Increase your revenue and market share by aligning, equipping, and empowering the people in your Experience Ecosystem to create game-changing experiences.

Consumer-Centered Innovation—Move at the speed of your customers by harnessing the mindsets and tools of consumer-centered design to dream up, test, and launch fresh ideas into your business model.

Organizational Transformation—Position your organization for long-term sustainability by shifting the strategy, mindsets, and heartsets of the people who represent your brand in the world.

Episode Takeaways

  • Great leaders take care of the people who work for them and make sure that they're going to be successful.
  • Everybody wants to matter and get ahead in life. In business leadership, it’s key to teach instead of bulling or intimidating your employees. Your job is to help people get ahead and have hard conversations with them to help them grow.
  • Leaders need to see themselves as chief environmentalists because they’re in charge of creating a healthy environment (culture) for their teams to thrive.
  • Your people are your brand. Reliability only comes through people. You got to have great people to be reliable.
  • Great service doesn't cost any more money than average or poor service.
  • Customers (guests) want to feel special, be treated as an individual, and be shown respect.
  • If leaders apply empathy and discipline in the workplace they will be extremely successful.
  • Clarity of expectations is probably the most important thing leaders can do, which many leaders don’t do because being clear is hard work.
  • As more workers become remote, there's a lot of trust that comes into play. For a remote workforce to be successful, organizations must be able to trust them. If organizations don't trust the people they've hired, they've either hired the wrong people or there’s a serious problem.
  • People cannot get into the brain until they go through the heart. Good leaders connect with the people on an emotional level. People who work for you have to know that you care and that you respect them.
  • Good leaders work to be the best they can be every day and then forgive themselves and then wake up the next day to do it all over again.

[Overheard on the Podcast]

“I converted myself from the boss to being a teacher. And I really think that's the key in business…. It's not to bully people, or intimidate them, or push them around I mean, I don't even know why people think they have the right to do that…. So I just pay attention to helping people get ahead.”
“People don't leave the culture. They leave their manager.”
“Hire [employees] right, train them right, and treat them right. That's a simple recipe for success.”
“Your people are your brand.”

[Overheard on the Podcast]

“If you don't trust people you've hired, you've hired the wrong person, or you have a serious problem.”
“You got to have great people. Be clear what their work is. Give them the right resources, trust them, and then treat them right and make sure they know you haven't forgot them.”
“Clarity of expectations is probably the most important thing leaders can do. And they don't do it because being clear is hard work. And being clear means you got to have hard conversations when they don't do it. And people don't like to do hard things and that's the problem in life. If you don't do the hard things, life gets harder.”

[Overheard on the Podcast]

“You cannot get into the brain till you go through the heart. You've got to connect with the person emotionally. They got to know you care, you respect them. They will then listen, and they will trust you. And then it'll send that little message up to the brain to do whatever you need them to do.”
“Be your best every day and then forgive yourself and then wake up tomorrow morning. Do your best every day and forgive yourself. And don't underestimate what you can achieve in your life.”
“You know, somebody told me the other day… ‘Lee, you'll be the same person you were today five years from now, except for the people you meet and the books you read.’ And boy, there's a lot of truth to that. If you don't get out of the village, you'll be the same person. You'll believe the same things. And about half of them are not true. About half the stuff your parents taught you is not true. You got to think for yourself, and you got to get out there and… meet people, know people.”

Selected Videos


Created with images by Fabrizio_65 - "microphone vintage cromatic" • B_Me - "pedestrians people busy" • Alexas_Fotos - "shake hands handshake helping hand" • Simon - "trekking hike rockclimbing"