When Bob Iger became Disney's CEO in 2005, there was much to do.

Michael Eisner, Disney's former CEO, had led the company through some of its most amazing years of growth.

But its crowned jewel, Disney Animation, had lost its mojo. It's films were underperforming and it suffered multiple box office flops in the late 90s and early 2000s (anyone remember Treasure Planet? Me neither.).  

The company was at odds with Disney family and company board member, Roy E. Disney, son of Roy O. Disney Sr. who cofounded the business with his younger brother Walt.

The partnership between Pixar Animation and Disney had soured due to a "clash of CEO egos" (the CEOs being Michael Eisner and Steve Jobs).

Beyond that, Eisner had designed Disney's corporate structure in a way that centralized decision-making around a group called "Strategy and Planning." Strat and Planning conducted financial modeling and rationalized every major business decision and opportunity that company executives wanted to pursue.

When Iger took the reigns, he identified three straight-forward and immediate priorities:

  1. Repair the broken relationship with Roy Disney.  
  2. Repair the broken relationship with Pixar and Steve Jobs.
  3. Empower Disney's operating executives by decentralizing decision-making.

The results of these initial actions paid dividends for Iger and Disney.

Roy Disney and the Disney Corporation settled their differences, reducing board-level tension and avoiding a potentially major distraction to the busienss.

Iger offered an olive branch to Steve Jobs and began to rebuild trust. This led to a new partnership that placed ABC content (ABC is owned by Disney) at the center of the video iPod launch, and set the stage for the eventual acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Fox.

He reduced the size of Strat and Planning by 80%, initiating the transition toward decentralized decision-making and increased the autonomy of his business unit executives.

Combined, these actions set in motion an era of explosive growth for Disney, and Iger did it by focusing on what he could control.

His mindset toward partners like Jobs.

His attitude toward key stakeholders like Roy Disney.

His preference for executive autonomy and ownership of their business decisions.

It's easy to get upset about situations we inherit and externalities we didn't create. But successful leaders identify what they control and expend their energy on only those things.  

While times are certainly tough in software Sales and Customer Success, it won't stay this way forever.

And there are some things that won't change with the market...  

Customer Success can't control customers who decides to consolidate their tech stack. They can control how many customers they get in touch with each week, and how they empathize with, challenge, and coach them.

Account executives can't control buying behaviors and slashed budgets. They can control how many outreaches they make each week to develop their pipeline of relationships and opportunities.

Product development can't control how customers use their products. They can invest their time and energy into making the product more valuable to customers and easier to use.

The market is what the market is.

None of us can control it.

But we can control the attitude we bring, the effort we expend, the activities we priorize.

Now is the time to build for the future by controlling what we can control.

For us there is only trying, the rest is not our business.

- T.S. Eliot

What are you trying to control that you shouldn't be?

What are you not controlling that you should be?