Lessons I Learned From A Mouse

By Alexis Elsethagen, VYP Marketing Co-Chair

Walt Disney once said: “We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” One magical day, I followed a path of chalked Mickey Mouse’s to a presentation that would forever change my life, career, and perspective on how to run a business. That mouse path led me to understanding the importance of high-level guest service and the responsibility every employee has in protecting a brand.

The Disney College Program is an entry-level internship that brings college students from all over the world to the Happiest Place on Earth. My internship at Disney came with extensive training on guest services, both in a classroom setting and on the job. I was taught a mentality of always putting the guest first and was encouraged to do everything I could to create a great experience for everyone visiting the park. People come back to the Disney Parks, not just because of the rides, but because of the exceptional service Cast Members (Disney employees) provide.

I also learned to embrace the Disney brand. When I worked at Disney, I used to say my life revolved around the company. Especially when I was in the Disney Parks, I felt a great amount of loyalty to the company. I valued what the company valued, learned Disney’s expectations, and lived them. I understood that no matter what role I had at Disney, I was an extension of their brand. Whether I was hosting media partners or assisting with recruitment, I knew that being true to the brand was key. When I had my Disney name tag on, every action I made directly reflected on the company. Disney trained me to understand that protecting the Disney image was the responsibility of every Disney Cast Member.

The Walt Disney Company has built a reputation of delivering superior service that goes above and beyond guest expectations. They’re so good at what they do that businesses want to know their secret. The Disney Institute was created to teach other companies how Disney inspires a culture of happy Cast Members that deliver exceptional service. During my time at Disney, I was fortunate enough to take Disney Cast Member trainings and internship classes as well as engage with the Disney Institute. It was an insightful experience to live the Disney business model and then get a behind-the-scenes look at their company culture decisions as they shared them with other companies. If you don’t have an opportunity to work for Disney, I highly recommend learning from the company.

Today, I find myself on a new path away from the Magic Kingdom and on a new journey in a city full of lights. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not trying to market my business. Maybe I’m not typical for a networking group like Vegas Young Professionals, but I’m glad I joined. I learned many valuable lessons from the service industry at Disney but I’m ready to add to my wealth of knowledge. The way I look at it, everyone in VYP have areas to learn and grow. I’m ready to learn from all of you and share my knowledge. My dad is a big advocate for continued learning. He’s always saying, “No matter where you are in your career, keep your education going.” That education can come from school, a business like The Walt Disney Company, or even a networking group such as VYP. This organization is full of great learning opportunities through speakers, panels, and just simply the other members you meet at mixers. For me, being a VYP+ member is my new path for building confidence, learning best practices, and getting to know the community.