Chess Not Checkers by Mark Miller - Header

As leaders, we must constantly be evolving and learning. One way we do that is through books as learning resources, and Mark Miller writes some of my favorite leadership books.

Mark Miller is the Coauthor of the international bestseller The Secret, and he doesn’t disappoint with his newest book. In Chess Not Checkers he continues the stories of Blake Brown and Debbie Brewster as Blake takes on a new role as the CEO of a failing organization. Mark highlights the necessities of a mentorship in the success of leadership. Through this new mentorship, Blake is given the tools to elevate his leadership game with a simple formula of recognizing, and overcoming, when your organization’s game has “flipped.”

“Leadership growth always precedes organizational growth.”Click-to-tweet this leadership quote
– Mark Miller

The four strategic phrases Blake’s mentor teaches in Chess Not Checkers: Bet on Leadership, Act as One, Win the Heart, and Excel at Execution provide Blake with insight in the development of a high performing organization.

While some critics will say there’s nothing new, or different than any other book, I’m here to tell you that there isn’t another book that puts the topic of leadership into such fantastic teachable, quick-reading, perspective. I highly recommend this book to all organizations who have experienced a change in their performance, or are searching for the “next level” performance.

Buy on Amazon!

Do you play Chess? What’s your number?

Disney Leadership ‘F’ Words

Walt Disney Leadership Lessons

It isn’t news that Disney is one of the most recognized brands in the world, and it didn’t get there overnight. Walt Disney’s tenacious leadership established a foundation of creating magical memories for families around the world. His passion for service didn’t stop at the Guests visiting his parks, or the viewers of his movies. He expressed deep interest in the people he worked with, and that worked for him. By creating internal personal and professional development opportunities, Walt recognized that anyone can have the next great idea. His career was an adventure in itself. I sometimes imagine the voice of Rod Serling giving me a biographical tour of Walt, every time I’m reading an interesting account of Mr. Disney.

Walt Disney’s leadership is best represented in 3 ‘F’ words.


“Leadership implies a strong faith or belief in something.”Click-to-tweet this leadership quote
– Walt Disney

Walt was resilient in his work. His first big creation was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1927, staring in Trolley Troubles. Walt signed a deal with Charles Mintz, and Mintz brokered a deal with Universal, which profited greatly from the 26 cartoons produced by Walt’s team. That was just the beginning. Walt later found out, in 1928, that he no longer owned the rights to Oswald, and Mintz secretly signed many of Walt’s character artists to continue Oswald cartoons in his own studio.
With resounding diligence and tenacity to his vision of entertaining families around the world, he put his pen to paper on a long train ride. Mickey Mouse was born, with the help of Ub Iwerks, and voiced by Walt Disney himself.
His faith in the vision, and in his people was demonstrated when he later invited Ub to join his team in 1940 and gave Ub free reign over all his resources. Ub’s work is still experienced, but often not recognized, every single day in Disneyland Park® in California; the illusions in The Haunted Mansion, and animatronics for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Pirates of the Caribbean.


“A man should never neglect his family for business.”Click-to-tweet this leadership quote
– Walt Disney

A family man at heart, Walt would frequently take his daughters to the carousel at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Sitting on the park benches, next to other parents watching their children play: Walt sparked a dream. He wanted to create a “Mickey Mouse Park” near his Burbank, Calif. studios where families can play together. Entertaining families was Walt’s central value, and it is still very centered to the vision of the company today.

“Almost everyone warned us that Disneyland would be a Hollywood spectacular—a spectacular failure. But they were thinking about an amusement park, and we believed in our idea—a family park where parents and children could have fun—together.”
– Walt Disney


“We keep moving forward–opening up new doors and doing new thingsClick-to-tweet this leadership quote–because we’re curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. We’re always exploring and experimenting.”
– Walt Disney

It was Walt’s knack for innovation that has inspired many of his park guests of today. Although many know the Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, at the Disneyland Resort®, as the first completed installation of Audio-Animatronics in 1963, Walt envisioned the use of these animatronic innovations years before Disneyland broke ground. Imagineers Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers convinced Walt to use the mechanical devices in larger applications. This is when Walt’s imagination began to run wild with ideas. One of those ideas was to have a Chinese man, like Confucius, in front of a Chinese restaurant at the Disneyland Park. Guests would be able to ask questions and receive a response of wisdom. This idea wasn’t adapted into the park how Walt wanted, but something very similar is still there today. Abraham Lincoln, of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland Park®, first made his appearance at the World’s Fair in New York in 1964 and 1965.
Walt’s inspirational innovative vision for the future is what keeps the Walt Disney Company® steamrolling new technology and receiving awards from the Themed Entertainment Association (Thea), and most recently received a Thea Classic Award for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Would you like to see more leadership lessons by Walt Disney and Disney Parks? What leadership lessons or inspirations have you experienced by Disney?

Share your thoughts in the comments below and follow me on Twitter at @AlexGaskins

Source: Oswald The Lucky Rabbit 85th Anniversary
Source: Mickey Mouse Co-Creator Ub Iwerks
Source: Disneyland History
Source: From Dream To Reality: Disneyland Starts 60 Years Ago
Source: Disney Parks Attractions Honored with THEA Awards
Source: Early Days of Audio-Animatronics by Walt Disney

3 Phases To Leadership Development

Water Ripple photo by Bill Gracey

Great leadership doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. But, companies are increasing their budgets on leadership training programs. Leadership contributor on Forbes, Mike Myatt, wrote in an article, “U.S. businesses spend more than $170 Billion dollars on leadership-based curriculum.” While he identifies “The #1 Reason Leadership Development Fails,” here are 3 phases to leadership development.

Find Your Talent

Sometimes easier said than done. Finding the right fit talent for leadership is essential to the success of the team and each individual. The individual doesn’t need to be friends with everyone. They don’t even need to be liked by everyone. Leadership isn’t about making everyone like you. However, people should still want to follow the talent’s vision. Along with this, your talent should be closely scrutinized for values alignment. It will be a long, hard, road to development if the leadership coach and future leader don’t see eye-to-eye on the core values. This isn’t to say that future leaders can’t overcome this hurdle, but it should be approached with caution.

Individualized Impressive Experiences

Follow the 3 Easy E’s to understand your team on an individualized level. This will provide the framework to your leadership development program.

This video of Always #LikeAGirl campaign to Champion Girls’ Confidence shows how we can impact a person’s life through relevant experiences. How do you think the boy at 01:06 felt? There’s no doubt that what he experienced in that moment has made an impression he will never forget.

This video of END IT Movement brings trafficking awareness to Atlanta, Georgia. Take a moment to pause the video at 01:55 and share what you think she is feeling in the comments below. Impressive experiences are what will mold future leaders for a lifetime.


Like a brand new sponge under running water, self-reflection is needed to allowing this immersive experience to be completely absorbed. You can often find tools online to help enhance this period. Use these tools as a resource to create your own. Allowing your growing leader to have a sabbatical during this time can provide exponential returns. A sabbatical is meant to allow for the development of 3 perspectives: How you view others? How you view work? How you view yourself? “Great leaders hunger for life-long learning.” and part of that learning is self-reflection.

Do you have a leadership development program?