In just a few weeks, I’ll be heading to Walt Disney World. Honored to return to The Disney Social Media Moms Conference, March 17-20, I can’t wait visit The Grand Floridian Hotel, home base for our events, and hear the amazing speakers including Chris Brogan, Rene Syler and Susan Egan. I am already wearing my Minnie Mouse ears covered in silver sequins (yes I “borrowed” them from my daughter), counting down to the magic will for a spectacular weekend of dreams come true. Honestly? I would move mountains to learn best practices in all things social media and otherwise from the company that sets my standard for excellence in business, period.
When I was in college, I was blessed to be chosen as a Walt Disney World College Program Cast Member. A college sophomore at the University of Nebraska, I took spring semester to head down to the happiest place on earth and can tell you without a doubt, my life was forever changed. I arrived at Snow White Campground and met 7 new best friends, each from a different university east of Denver, Colorado. For or the next 5 months we shared a trailer with 4 bedrooms, 2 buddy bathrooms and a kitchen in the center. The entire campground was full of 400 kids in groups of girls or guys, all full of excitement and adventure to be sure. After orientation at Disney University, we settled into our new roles in every corner of the park and institution, aware of how competitive admittance to the program was and that if done well, it could be the greatest accomplishment on our new resumes come college graduation. I would find out later it was often the only part of my new graduate resume anyone wanted to discuss.
A Speech Comm major with a heart for performing, I had come home to the mother ship. I worked at The Universe of Energy, proudly sporting my orange polyester uniform and closed toe low black pumps, minimal jewelry, and modest makeup, all in accordance with the strict rules of The Cast Member handbook. I was excited to work 30 hours a week for minimum wage in exchange for the opportunity to learn from the greatest company in the world. I loved attending weekly classes at Disney University, covering every aspect of the business including employee relations, management philosophies on food, entertainment, resorts, marketing, finance, merchandise, facilities and design, and the core role of the guest experience in it all. Taught by Disney Management Team Members from each of the specialties, responsible for operations, training and development of the Walt Disney World Cast in their care, these were Disney’s leaders. These same leaders now share their insights worldwide through The Disney Institute, making the magic of Disney available to organizations everywhere.
The final unit focused on Career Planning. I can’t think of a more brilliant way to harness fresh young minds full of talent and diversity to fill your employee pipeline with a wonderful reserve of energy and promise. Had I not met my husband, I would have surely returned post college like so many of my program mates to seize that career opportunity and begin my life inside the Walt Disney World organization. I would have both dabbled in auditions to perform live in the countless productions that happen everyday and pursued public relations, training and professional development.
Attending The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is the equivalent of what Disney University is to the immensely successful College Program and the Disney Institute to organizations that truly succeed. Its your opportunity to learn how the the company that sets the standard for excellence across all channels harnesses social media to positively impact each unit of its business and in turn make your experience as a guest truly unmatched. In an industry where authenticity is so desperately needed, Disney alone can set the compass leading by example. Taken from my program curriculum guide typed and copied circa 1986:
“Public Trust and Integrity: We protect the confidence of our audience by never sacrificing our ideals or integrity. Honesty, genuineness, sincerity, these are concepts which are integral in every Disney product.”
My foundation in business was built over those 5 months and I could never be where I am today without having been dusted in pixie dust at such a formative time. My career in meeting planning gave way to motherhood, entrepreneurship, consumer products, licensing, all forms of media, and now teaching through live video and webcasts, speaking, tutorials, and brand partnerships. I can’t thank The Walt Disney World College Program enough for shaping my views with such life guiding impact. My gratitude today is for The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration giving me the rare opportunity to continue my lifelong journey as a business student of the Mouse. I can’t imagine giving anything less than 110% to this opportunity and thank God for its blessing and to be open to where it may lead. What business goals will you bring to The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration table?