The Auburn Student Center was full of laughter and learning as leaders from all walks of business met Thursday morning for a Disney-inspired seminar on leadership, customer service and improving the workplace.
Sponsored by the Auburn University Office of Professional and Continuing Education and part of the AU Leadership Series, “Put a Little Disney Magic in your Service & Leadership” taught those in attendance how to improve their business using the techniques of the world-famous company.
“We offer these talks to everyone in the community because we believe that professional development shouldn’t stop after school, it should go on past their education into their careers,” said Program Developer Brent Gibson.
The four-hour seminar was led by Pete Blank, a professional leadership trainer, and speaker who previously spent 13 years working for the Walt Disney Company. During his speech, Blank used Disney’s business practices as examples for how other organizations should be run.
“Disney is a global organization that resonates with most people,” Blank said. “If the Walt Disney Company is known for anything it is their customer service, what better group to learn from than one who does it this well in the industry.”
The seminar emphasized the importance of leadership, but also how everyone in an organization should be willing to do whatever job needs to be done to improve their company. Even at the highest level, according to Blank, effective workers need to “remove their blinders” and pay attention to all aspects of the company.
“If there are 55,000 people working at Disney World, that means there are 55,000 custodial employees,” Blank said. “Everyone works to make the park as good as it is.”
Attendees to the seminar were constantly engaged with slogans, sayings and other ways to remember the training. Laughter and agreeable nods could be heard and seen throughout the room as new techniques to improve a company’s message or fix an organizations image were shared. Susan Allen, director of enrollment services at the University, said that it is the focus on customer service that made the seminar worthwhile.
“Disney’s practices are so simplistic, but they make it fun,” Allen said.