The Ride Of A Lifetime Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Ride Of A Lifetime illustrates Robert Iger’s journey to becoming the CEO of Disney, and how his vision, strategy, and guidance successfully led the company through a time when its future was highly uncertain.

Read in: 4 minutes

Favorite quote from the author:

The Ride Of A Lifetime Summary

Audio Summary

Listen to the audio of this summary with a free account*:

Disney is crushing it right now in a lot of different realms. In just the last decade or so they’ve acquired Fox, Marvel, ESPN, and others. It seems that everything you see these days to do with entertainment comes from it. Looking back, it appears that it’s rise to power was almost inevitable.

But did you know that it was struggling back in 2005 when Robert Iger took charge as CEO? After expensive failures and drama with the previous CEO in the late 90s and early 2000s, Iger took the company to places it had never been before.

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company shares the story of how Robert Iger rose to his position and to the calling to bring the company to its current state. You’ll find inspiration in the man’s innovative and daring leadership style and the successes that he brought with it.

Let’s see how much we can learn from Iger’s career in just 3 lessons:

  1. Pay attention to what you think is coincidence — it just may end up leading you to success.
  2. Even if an idea you have sounds crazy, try it anyway, because you never know what great opportunities might come from it.
  3. Don’t give up on even the toughest of aspirations, and use your connections to make great things happen.

Ready to see how dreams really can come true? Let’s go!

If you want to save this summary for later, download the free PDF and read it whenever you want.

Download PDF

Lesson 1: You might be just one “coincidence” away from success.

Call it luck or fate if you want, but Iger’s career success began as no chance. After surgery in Manhattan, his uncle Bob was recovering and just so happened to be sharing a room with an executive at ABC. 

For whatever reason, this hospital roommate decided to share his reputation with Iger’s uncle. When Bob said that he had a 23-year-old nephew that needed a job, the executive gave him his number to give to Iger.

Although embarrassed when Iger actually called, the man used his influence to get Iger an interview in a small department within ABC. While the pay wasn’t great and the schedule difficult, Iger had his first job with the company. 

There were benefits to the position, however. While working on one show he got to meet Frank Sinatra, for example. He also got to meet other influential people at ABC, one of whom offered him a different position in the Sports division. 

While there, Iger got to experience a lot more luxury than in his previous role. He got to spend time with celebrities and athletes, enjoy expensive lunches, and travel the world. It wasn’t all fun and games though, as Iger worked hard and learned a lot.

All of this was laying the foundations for his work with Disney. And it was from a simple connection his uncle made in a hospital and Iger’s diligence to follow up on it.

Lesson 2: Unbelievable opportunities come from trying ideas that initially sound impossible.

After an eventual promotion to COO of ABC, Iger found himself working for Disney when the two companies merged in 1996. Working hard through difficult circumstances, Iger proved himself. 

When it was time for the company to appoint a new CEO, his efforts and plan for moving forward landed him the position. He had his work cut out for him, of course, because Disney had been struggling under its former leader. 

One of the biggest parts of his plan to regain lost ground was to purchase Pixar. The studio had a rough past with Disney, and Steve Jobs, who owned it at the time, wasn’t happy with Disney either.

When Iger suggested his plan to the board, they had a hard time believing this was possible. Pixar had a $6 billion valuation and Jobs would be a tough nut to crack. Determined that this would save Disney, Iger persisted.

It was 2005 when Iger called Jobs to pitch his crazy idea. Although Iger asked for a meeting, the eager Steve Jobs wanted to hear it right then. With apprehension, Iger laid it out. After a long pause, Jobs responded:

“You know, that’s not the craziest idea in the world.”

It wasn’t long before the two companies had hashed out a deal and everything was set in motion. And we can see how well this went for Disney. Just look at the successes of movies like Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and Toy Story 3!

Lesson 3: Your network is a powerful asset that you can use to achieve even the biggest aspirations.

The acquisition of Pixar was a big deal, but Iger wasn’t done yet. He had big plans for Disney, and the next step of his plan was to get the rights to Marvel. 

It was clear that the stories that the company owned the rights to were interesting, and many of them hadn’t been told on the big screen yet. They’d been struggling financially for a while, too. 

But the path to ownership over Marvel wasn’t easy. The owner at the time was a stern and isolating man named Ike Perlmutter. It would be hard to convince him to sell.

Iger had his experiences with Steve Jobs on his side though. Although Jobs hated comics, he set that aside to help. Although tough, Perlmutter couldn’t resist being impressed with Iger when Jobs personally called to vouch for him.

In 2009 Disney made the purchase of Marvel final for a little over $4 billion.

Others critiqued this decision as the deal couldn’t include many important characters. Spider-Man, for example, was owned by Columbia Pictures. And Fox owned X-Men and The Incredible Hulk.

Iger was smart though and knew that the untold stories of characters in the Marvel Universe would be a hit. 

And he was right. In 2019, as the 20th movie in the franchise, Avengers: Endgame became the highest-grossing film of all time, making $2 billion.

The Ride Of A Lifetime Review

Wow, what a power-packed book! There is a lot of information in The Ride Of A Lifetime and some pretty incredible lessons too. I knew Disney was becoming a giant in the entertainment industry, but getting a better look at how it’s all happened has been really interesting!

Who would I recommend The Ride Of A Lifetime summary to?

The 30-year-old parents who have always loved Disney and are curious to learn more about its recent acquisitions, the 48-year-old leader that wants some inspiration to try bold innovations to help their company move forward, and anyone that loves to hear an inspiring story.

Last Updated on January 27, 2023

Rate this book!
This book has an average rating of 4.4 based on 7 votes.

Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.