Monday, September 22, 2008

Lessons from the Mouse: A Guide for Applying Disney World's Secrets of Success to Your Organization, Your Career, and Your Life

Dennis Snow will be the guest on this week's podcast. He will be interviewed by Sarah Moore, the podcast coordinator and author's assistant for Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services. The following book review was written by Sarah as part of Dennis' press kit.

Be sure to listen to the interview this Friday on Writers in the Sky blog.

Lessons from the Mouse: A Guide for Applying Disney World’s Secrets of Success to Your Organization, Your Career, and Your Life
Author: Dennis Snow
ISBN-13: 978-1-932021-29-5
Publisher: DC Press (2008)
Genre: business, customer service, training
Pages: 134
Reviewed by Sarah Moore for Writers in the Sky (8/08)

When families visit Disney World, their attention is focused on the majesty of Cinderella’s castle, the cultural experiences available at EPCOT Center, and the kids’ eager dash to hug Mickey Mouse as he walks down Main Street. Guests can forget that Disney World is an intricate corporation employing thousands of people who must pay attention to every detail of the park’s operation. Without fanatical focus on customer satisfaction and an organized business model, Disney World could not be the fantasy destination for millions of tourists every year. In his new book, Lessons from the Mouse, Dennis Snow shares his experiences as a former Disney manager and trainer. Along the way, he provides the readers with wonderful advice that can be applied to any business or organization.

Snow develops each chapter of his book to serve perfectly as a training session for staff meetings or corporate conferences. Each lesson presented by the author begins with a memorable heading, my favorite being Lesson 3 and “What Time is the Three O’Clock Parade? is Not a Stupid Question.” (Read the lesson and you will learn that the questioner really wants to know when a parade will reach his particular vantage point.) Snow usually then dives right into specific examples from personal employment experiences at Disney World. In one chapter, the introductory story may be the way in which Snow delicately shared the bad news that Space Mountain was closed for repairs while another lesson may begin with the reminder he received from a guest to smile when doing his job. Snow also makes a point to take the lesson of each chapter and extend it beyond its Walt Disney World roots. Usually though the clear layout of bulleted points, Snow shares how his lessons can be applied to airlines, hospitals, sandwich shops, collection agencies, and many other industries. Finally, Snow ends each lesson with a distinct set of questions which members of any organization can discuss in order to apply the key points of the chapter to their specific needs.

Snow has an engaging and conversational tone to his writing. I easily can picture him leading a discussion in an auditorium filled with professionals. Therefore, I was not surprised to learn that Snow maintains a schedule of over one hundred speaking engagements every year. Readers quickly will quickly sense the passion that Snow has for superior customer service and the effect that it can have on the success for any organization. As someone who often laments the lack of common courtesy amongst one another in public settings and the seemingly increasing absence of work ethic in our service industry, I found myself nodding in agreement with each piece of advice made by Snow in this book. The lessons should be common-sense essentials for a successful business but, as Snow the author indicates through his examples, a basic discussion of these customer service details is long overdue in both boardrooms and break rooms.

Prospective readers should not be turned off by an assumption that Lessons from the Mouse is simply yet another self-help training manual for those in the business world. While the lessons are undoubtedly important to prospective corporate leaders, Snow’s approachable style keeps the context engaging and relevant for any reader. I found myself relating to many scenarios described by Snow, if only from the perspective of a customer. Haven’t we all gotten frustrated when a cashier cannot be bothered to stop her personal conversation while ringing up your groceries or we cannot place our trash in a fast food restaurant’s bins because they are already overflowing? If you have left the house and interacted with a fellow human who is somehow employed in a service capacity, you will be able to relate to this book. And, perhaps you will be challenged to think about how your own attitude may be affecting the quality of your outcomes.

What can you learn from a mouse? When that mouse has been delighting and entertaining hundreds of millions of people for decades, – it turns out there is plenty to learn. Readers of any professional background will appreciate and enjoy the advice dispensed by Dennis Snow in Lessons from the Mouse. As a consumer, after reading this book I immediately took notice of the level of customer service I received from local businesses and recognized its impact on my overall satisfaction. Concerning my own work, I am now consciously striving to apply every lesson to my communication with clients. I am confident that each reader will find unique ways to use Lessons from a Mouse in their own lives. Whether you are a physician or a mechanic or a cotton candy vendor at Disney World, Mr. Snow’s book is filled with relevant material and should be a must-read for new employees in any field.

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