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Thinking Outside the Box

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Michael Eisner
Michael Eisner
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Michael Eisner Interview (page: 4 / 4)

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  Michael Eisner

Do you regard risk-taking as an important component of achievement?

Michael Eisner: When you're trying to create things that are new, you have to be prepared to be on the edge of risk. First of all, research will tell you, which I do not believe in at all, that people want what they saw yesterday, and that's fallacious. They don't know what they want. They want something new, and different, and unusual.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

When you go from new, and different and unusual, whether it's architecture, or paintings, whether it's a Michael Graves building, or an Oldenburg, or Jasper Jones, or Eric Fischl, or whomever, whether you have a playwright who is willing to take a risk, or a playwright who's not, makes all the difference between success and failure.

Are you self-conscious about the fact that your company is moving towards this superinformation highway and inducing people to stay home instead of going out to the movies?

Michael Eisner Interview Photo
Michael Eisner: No. I'm an advocate of getting out of the house. I've never wanted a date and my parents in the same room. I think that people are not -- as long as there's some sanity and we finally encourage people to put in gun control, and we deal with our problems on the street and we make it safe to go out -- even if it's not safe, people are not going to stay home. But the safer it is, the more numbers of people will go out.

So, there is a parallel track that we're on as a company, and I'm on personally. And that is, outside the house: sports, arts, Broadway, hockey, Disney theme parks, regional centers, movie theaters, concerts. That's all valid, and more of that will exist. And then there's the whole concept of inside the house, which is movies on demand, information on demand, and of course, education on demand.

I think they'll move in a parallel way. I hope, and I have a suspicion, that our company will be the pioneers. We are nowhere near ready. We are not in the papers, we do not do symposiums. I've only done one, I think, in my career. We are not the spokesmen for the information highway. And I think we may actually be the flagman on the information highway before it's all said and done.

That's my hope. Now, we'd better get moving, I guess. But I'm sitting back, and I'm studying, and I'm listening to everybody else talk about it. I don't quite get it yet. I'm a subscriber to Compuserve, and America Online, and Internet. I'm watching the experiments in Orlando and elsewhere. I'm meeting with all the telephone companies. I'm reading as much as I can. Pretty boring. It's pretty monotonous, it's pretty heavy, it's pretty technical, which is not my field, but I think we'll be there.

Do you ever get a sense of vertigo with all these things that you're in charge of?

Michael Eisner Interview Photo
Michael Eisner: I don't know if I get a sense of vertigo. I think I get much more credit than I'm due, and will eventually get much more blame than I probably will be responsible for. That goes with the interest in my industry.

I've always believed in the team; I love teams. I hated singles at tennis, I love doubles. I love team sports. I love being a cheerleader. I love surrounding myself with people that are much better than I am. That's the key. It makes you look good. It doesn't make you look weak to have strong people around you. I've never really had a chance to sit back and enjoy our successes. Maybe someday . It's not my style to sit around and do the garden and think about The Lion King, or whatever.

But I really am isolated from any possibility of vertigo because, as I said earlier in this conversation, my children don't know about it, they don't care about it. My wife is interested in family, things like that, and we just don't pay attention to it. This is probably the only kind of an industry function I've been to in years. It's just not my interest.

Well, thank you for talking with us today. It's been a pleasure.

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This page last revised on Sep 22, 2010 09:24 EST
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