Michael Eisner First Job Camp Counselor

March 26, 2012 by staff 

Michael Eisner First Job Camp Counselor, First Job: Michael Eisner
Interviewed by Tom Van Riper 05.23.06, 3:00 PM ET

What was your first job?  I was a camp counselor.

How old were you?  16.

How much did you make?  I made $100 for the eight weeks.

What did you learn?  To be part of a team. I remember making it through things like rainstorms and big waves in the water. Those issues made an enormous impact on me.

Who was your best, or worst, boss and why?  My best bosses were the Disney shareholders, because they were so enthusiastic about the company. That was always true, whether it was a new movie, a park opening or return on investment. Individually, my best boss was Barry Diller, because he was smart. When you walk in with a good idea and your boss gets it, that’s what you want. He or she will either say “yes, go with it” or tell you something that adds value. If she isn’t smart, you’re in trouble.

What was your big break?  I did the jobs no one else was willing to do. When daytime wasn’t the glamour spot at ABC, I went and worked there.

What has been your biggest failure?  Often when you feel you know right and wrong, you want to express it to a boss. There’s that frustration you exhibit when you can’t get out what you want to. So I wish I had the ability to articulate myself better.

How many hours do you work in an average week now?  I’m working all the time, probably 12 to 15 hours a day. I’m giving speeches, writing books, traveling, looking at investments and sitting on boards.

What is the worst thing about work?  If it becomes an addiction and causes your family to suffer, it’s sad. I never missed a school function–a play, a ballgame or anything else. I was adamant about telling people at Disney that there was never a reason to give up family for work.

What is the best thing about work?  Certainly the economic protection for your family. It’s also the incredible emotional and intellectual stimulation you get.

Michael Eisner was the CEO of The Walt Disney Co. from 1984 to 2005. Prior to that, he worked at Paramount Pictures and ABC. He now sits on numerous corporate boards and recently authored Camp, a book about the summer camp experience.

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