J. Jeff Kober

Meet the keynote speaker for Communication Around the "World"

There's no class this week. But that doesn't mean there isn't a reading assignment.

Groans? I haven't told you the reading assignment. It's by J. Jeff Kober, and about J. Jeff Kober, too.

Jeff Kober, of course, is the author of 'The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney', one of the two textbooks assigned for the course. He is also one of the folks who will present a student seminar at Disney World.

Here's your chance to 'meet' Jeff before, well, you meet him.

I've been in the business of training and development for more than 25 years. During an internship at Brigham Young University, where I earned my Master's Degree, I created communications training for Southern California Edison. Since then, I've helped organizations create stronger corporate cultures and deliver powerful brands, which is at the heart of really good communication.

I've had a love of all things Disney my whole life. I wanted to be an animator and later a film director for Disney. I went into college with the intent of doing just that. To work my way through college, I taught pre-school/kindergarten children. I learned a lot about teaching others, and in time grew to love the science of instruction.

But still I wanted to bring Disney into my life.

After several starts and stops, I finished my Master's Thesis: 'An Historical, Descriptive Study of Disney Educational Media as Informative and Entertaining'. I had spent weeks at the Disney archives in Burbank researching my topic and trying to to determine what made all of those great Disney educational films stand out above the rest.

Growing up in Phoenix, I spent many a summer at Disneyland. I was married and working my first big job after college before I made it to Walt Disney World. It was an unbelievable experience and I returned to Arizona hoping that I would be able to return to Disney World in another 10 years.

Jeff Joins Disney

Through a series of unexpected events, I found myself in Florida within a few years, and in Orlando shortly after that. I made several attempts to find work with Disney. In time, I finally got the chance of a lifetime to work with the professional development programs of the Disney Institute.

My role was a dream job. Where most people are assigned to work in one park or resort, I had the chance to move throughout the entire property looking at great examples of customer service and business excellence that could be shared with others. I've been to the top of the Tower of Terror and to the bottom of the Living Seas. I was at Disney's Animal Kingdom a year before it opened, and at the Magic Kingdom in the middle of the night hours before it opened for its 25th Anniversary celebration.

Working for Disney was the greatest experience of my life.

Jeff Leaves Disney

But leaving Disney was probably the most important decision of my life. While I sorely missed wearing a Disney name tag, it gave me an opportunity to take all that I learned and apply it to a wide arrange of public and private sector organizations as a consultant.

Still, after a few years I started to realize that no one at Disney had really taken my place, nor did anyone seem to take ownership of the stories and ideas I had not only gleaned but still observed.

I needed an outlet to write and to really share those stories before they were lost. My column with MousePlanet helped me to discipline myself into writing, which had always been second to my teaching skills. The experience was refreshing in that it allowed me to share the real story of how Disney works - not a sugar-coated story but a real one with real insights as to what works at Disney, and why.

Jeff Becomes an Author

In time I published The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney as well as a later book titled Lead With Your Customer, which I co-authored with a former Disney Institute colleague, Mark David Jones, with a foreward by former Disney Executive Vice President Lee Cockrell. Lead With Your Customer not only benchmarks Disney but other great organizations such as Nordstrom and Ritz-Carlton.

I also started to create a series of apps for the iPhone and iPad known as Disney at Work which offers an amazing virtual tour of the parks from a best-in-business point of view. My audience is not necessarily a typical Disney fan. Instead, I've targeted those who want to know how to take the ideas of Disney and other companies and apply them back home. But it's been really rewarding as well to hear from ordinary, loyal Disney fans who simply enjoy the stories and insights on their own merit.

Jeff Joins David

It was during this time that David Zanolla approached me about his course on Communication Around the "World". I was honored that he wanted to use my book as a text for his class. I work with a lot of staff and executives in a wide range of organizations, and I have even worked with universities to improve the level of their service. But I have never really had the opportunity to share these stories to students directly.

David's students are great. They've made a commitment and even sacrifices to learn about Disney and later to attend a field experience in Orlando, Florida. My conversation with them springboards from Disney, but it usually spreads to other great organizations to examine what they do to better communicate their culture and their brand. That's what great organizations do, after all. They focus on creating highly engaged workers in providing a powerful customer experience. It looks different from organization to organization, especially in the public sector, but it's all relevant, and really needed.

I'm amazed how many people in the workforce have the necessary job skills but lack the experience to effectively work with others in attaining results. In the context of Disney and other great organizations, we talk about how to make that happen. It's all very exciting - and even fun! David's class is in its second year, and we look forward to having those same experiences as last year.

Jeff as Mary Poppins

I absolutely love what I do - perhaps more than ever. I meet fantastic people. I work in the trenches of organizations to help them attain real results. And I share the Disney legacy with those I've come in contact with.

In a sense, I'm kind of like a Mary Poppins for the business sector. I don't use an umbrella, but I do use tools that can truly help organizations.

And the results can be...well...sort of magical!

Class dismissed! Come back next week for more Communication Around the "World".


Stuff Not to Skip

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