"I learned a valuable lesson while at Disney and I like to pass it along to my audience in every program I teach. ’Unless we continually strive to improve our products, service or leadership style, we automatically concede defeat to the competition; no one is ever too good to stop improving.’"Doug Lipp
Doug enjoyed a unique career with Disney, beginning in 1981. He achieved recognition as a college intern in the Disneyland Marketing Department in Anaheim, where his natural speaking skills and leadership capabilities caught the eye of Disney’s executive leadership. After graduate school, he was fast-tracked into an exclusive Disney management training program, where he was quickly promoted to a leadership role in the prestigious Disney University.
During this time, Tokyo Disneyland (TDL) was in its initial stages of development. It was vital that the "Disney Way" be implemented in its first theme park overseas. Doug was chosen to help train visiting Japanese executives in this philosophy before TDL opened. His success and acute sensitivity to intercultural management issues earned Doug a position on the team of American executives assigned to build and open TDL. For two years, Doug helped manage both the construction and operations phases of TDL, including hiring and training more than 4,000 Japanese employees. Doug later penned the first of seven books titled The Success of Tokyo Disneyland. The highly acclaimed book is one of the first to address the effects of culture on business.
After completion of TDL in 1983, Doug returned to Disney’s headquarters to lead corporate training initiatives. At the time, Disney was undergoing tumultuous change. Not only was the company preparing to release its first-ever PG-rated movie, but it was also experiencing change in leadership, away from a family-led business. Disney was threatened by hostile corporate raiders, and the leadership team was under constant attack. Eventually, Michael Eisner stepped in as CEO, joined by COO Frank Wells. A modern era of a Walt and Roy Disney-like partnership had begun.
Doug continued to work at Disney’s corporate office during this period of new leadership and strategic growth. The new Disney strove to cater to a broader audience, developing a product line to appeal to both youngsters and adults—from The Little Mermaid and Toy Story to Pretty Woman and ESPN. Eisner and Wells demonstrated an ability to respect the company legacy and brand, while also creating new markets. Doug worked alongside Disney’s leadership team, where he witnessed these strategic developments first-hand. When Doug is hired to speak about "Disney," "customer service," and "change,” he brings an intimate perspective from a time of historical significance at Disney. This is also where he met his wife, Pam.
After heartfelt soul-searching, Doug decided to leave the Walt Disney Company to pursue his passion for researching and analyzing successful global corporations. Doug’s fluency in Japanese, combined with his recent experience at Tokyo Disneyland, fueled his decision to go independent. After experiencing first-hand the successes and frustrations faced by international teams with the TDL project, Doug wanted to help other multi-national organizations facing issues related to international teamwork. With a professor from Stanford University (and co-author of Doug’s second book), Doug helped lead a private, Palo Alto-based consulting firm and think-tank called the Intercultural Relations Institute (IRI). Through IRI, Doug worked with international corporations based in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the U.S. Doug specifically taught IRI’s clients, such as Procter & Gamble and Intel, to develop and implement strategies for better leadership and management of diverse teams of professionals in the growing global business arena.
After years of consulting Fortune 500 clients, Doug joined NEC, a major U.S.-based Japanese corporation. For the next seven years, Doug consulted NEC’s multi-national executives at their newly constructed semiconductor plant in Northern California. During this time, Doug also worked extensively with a local economic development group called SACTO (Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization). As Chair of SACTO’s Pacific Rim Committee, Doug served as an ambassador to the Sacramento region and helped the organization fulfill its mission of recruiting international companies to the Sacramento area. Doug travelled to Japan a dozen times on this mission, often accompanied by city mayors and university presidents. Doug and the SACTO teams helped attract such companies as Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Gekkeikan Sake and Mitsubishi Rayon to Sacramento, resulting in millions of direct-investment dollars and hundreds of jobs for the region’s economy.
Doug’s entrepreneurial spirit overtook him-again! In 1993, The Pebble Beach Company contacted Doug to lead a 30-day "Disney-esque" customer service training initiative. After successfully completing this contract, Doug established his own training and consulting firm. G. Douglas Lipp & Associates.
In the early years, G. Douglas Lipp & Associates primarily provided corporate training programs for long-term service and leadership projects for several large U.S.- and Canada-based clients. During this time, Doug became intrigued by how many "experts" spoke and wrote about Disney, many of whom had never worked for the company nor could match Doug’s professional background. In 1994 and 1995, Doug tested the public’s interest in his wealth of Disney and Corporate America knowledge by conducting a series of public seminars. This success, along with two books on service excellence and leadership, led to demand for keynote speeches and his compelling message.
Since 1995, Doug has given more than 1,500 keynote presentations to 500,000 attendees on five continents. He is represented by the most prestigious speaking bureaus in the world, and has shared his message with an impressive client list in countries around the world. He is also the author of eight books, several of which have been translated into Japanese and Spanish.
G. Douglas Lipp & Associates was launched the same year as Doug and Pam’s third child! "What were we thinking?" they sometimes wonder. Pam and Doug learned to juggle family and business, stick to their dreams, and dig deep! The three Lipp kids all enjoy career interests that focus on speaking. Allison, a Fulbright Scholar and UCLA graduate, is a math teacher in Denver with Teach for America.
Amanda will pursue a Human Development Degree at UC Davis. She was recently elected to the California Board of Directors for NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) and speaks at schools and conferences about mental health awareness. Keith, a UC Berkeley political science and legal studies major, was a 2011 Sacramento Area Moot Court Champion and MVP and wants to work in law enforcement.
And let’s not forget how Doug met Pam! It is only fitting that the couple met at the "Happiest Place on Earth"—Disney! They actually met while working at Disney Studios, where Pam (a former tour guide and candy maker) was managing the Mickey Mouse Cast Activity Center. One of their favorite stories is this:
Pam had just been assigned to organize Disney’s corporate-wide cast member Donald Duck 50th Birthday Bash. She wanted to celebrate with a "Quack-Off" to spotlight apprentice "quackers" and honor Clarence Nash, the voice of Donald for over 50 years. Sign-ups began but Pam needed more contestants. Doug, a closetquacker, offered to help. The contest was emceed by Clarence and Wayne Allwyne (the voice of Mickey). Doug won the contest in an infamous run-off between himself and Tony Anselmo, an animator who is the current voice of Donald.
What product is made by Disneyland’s main street candy palace that sells out in minutes during the holiday season?