Luke starts getting to know his team.
|It was important to me to get in as much team building as I could with the board before we took control. I had some big ideas on how I wanted us to work together and that required us to become close before the end of the year. I wanted to have a party of some kind of get together right away to get the ball rolling.
“Hey, can we have the party here on Saturday?” I asked Aaron and Will while I was at their house, a couple days after I hired everybody.
“For sure.” Will answered.
“Your place kind of small?” Aaron jokingly added.
“For 10 people? Just a little.” I fired back.
“You are going to get a bigger place, right?” Aaron asked.
“Eventually.” I said. “I want to wait until I take full control.”
“I guess that makes sense.” Will agreed.
“Hey, do you think I could get Disneyland food for the party?” I asked, changing the subject.
“I don’t know, you should ask Dad.” Aaron suggested.
I excused myself for a few minutes to go find Dan and ask him about my idea.
“Hey, Dan, do you have a sec?” I asked in the doorway of his office.
“Sure, Luke. What’s up?” He asked, ushering me into the office.
“Is there a way I could get Disneyland food for the get together I’m having on Saturday to get to know my board better?” I asked. “Like, churros and Dole whips and stuff like that.”
“You know, there’s probably a way. It’s just a little short notice.” He told me.
“Ooh, that’s true.” I agreed. “It’s not the end of the world if I can’t.”
“Why don’t you shoot an email to Bob Chapek and see if he knows who you should connect with about this?” Dan suggested.
“Will do. Thanks, Dan!” I said as I turned to leave his office.
I emailed Bob as soon as I got home from Dan’s house. I explained what I was hoping to do and asked if he had any suggestions on who to talk to. The next morning, I had a reply from Bob. He sent me the contact info for the person in charge of food and beverage at the resort. It was Thursday and the party was on Saturday, so I knew it was asking a lot.
I gave them a call that morning and explained the situation. I had to explain who I was first. My name wasn’t exactly well known yet throughout the company. Once they realized who I was, they pulled some strings and we were able to work something out. I was able to get a couple of cast members to come hang out and manage the snacks for us.
Well, Saturday came before I knew it. I spent the day at Dan’s house getting ready. The cast members in charge of the food showed up a couple hours before the party, so I showed them where to set up and gave them a hand with a few things. They seemed to think it was weird that I was helping them, but I didn’t just want to watch them work. I had Disney Scene It ready to go, projected on a screen in the backyard. I was excited, these were people I would hopefully be working with for a very long time.
Eric had come with me to set up and Aaron and Will were obviously already there, it was their house after all. Everybody else showed up within the first fifteen minutes or so. Lilly actually arrived a few minutes early. Johnny had some ice breakers ready for us to get things started. We all made a trip to the snack table and divided up for a game of Scene It. We chose teams of two, and I was bested for perhaps the first time in recorded history. It was a heavy blow, but it sure gave me a lot of confidence and respect in the team I had assembled.
Well, in all the chaos that was now my life, July snuck up on me. That also meant that it was almost my birthday. I talked to Dan and he happily told me to take off the week of my birthday and get some well-deserved rest and relaxation. I went home and told Steph and we decided to take a trip. Being the nerds we are, we decided to go to Disney World. I used my connections to get a nice suite at the Contemporary and first class plane tickets. It felt strange to have such nice accommodations. We were so young and I was not used to it.
We flew out the Monday of my birthday week. It was a very different trip for me. I could no longer see the resort as just a guest. I’m sure it was very annoying for Stephanie. For instance, I didn’t realize how much wasted space there was at Epcot.
I still had a good time, don’t get me wrong. I just kept putting things on a list that I wanted to look into when the new year started. On my birthday we went all out. I did something I’ve always wanted to do, I got a VIP tour guide for the entire day. It was insane. We went all over the resort and got on every ride in record time. The best part? Dan payed for the whole day as a birthday gift. Oh, and we also got spend the night in the castle suite. So, yeah, pretty much the best birthday ever.
Throughout the rest of the summer, I was beginning to spend less time shadowing Dan and took more time on my own organizing my plans for the company. Every Friday that I was in town I got together with my team to go to Disneyland and then we discussed work over dinner. Every week I was feeling better and better about things. I was so excited about the way I was planning to run things. I was going to have the ultimate say on anything and be held the most accountable, but every decision would be collaborative.